Jaeger-LeCoultre continues its dialogue between watchmaking and the arts with the announcement of its latest ‘Made of Makers’ instalment. Titled Origin, the 3D-video sculpture by Korean digital media artist Yiyun Kang explores the relationship between the Golden Ration and the design of JLC Reverso.
Through a series of collaborations with artists, designers and craftsmen from disciplines outside of watchmaking, Made of Makers explores the dialogue that naturally exists between horology and art. With nature at its core, this programme explores new forms of artistic expression through different and often unexpected materials and media. Each Made of Makers commission is an original artwork.
The previous Made of Makers programme was titled The Stellar Odyssey, with a focus on the relationship between astronomical phenomena and watchmaking. The stand-out installation of this programme was ‘Passengers: Through Time‘ – the second chapter in French artist Guillaume Marmin’s acclaimed ‘Passengers’ series.
Recognised for her immersive audio-visual installations that recast space with moving images and sound, Yiyun Kang is one of the most active, not to mention talented, Korean digital media artists in the international art scene. She also happens to be a highly respected teacher and researcher.
After graduating from Seoul National University with a BFA in Painting, Kang continued her studies at UCLA. She then earned her PhD at the Royal College of Art in London, where she is a visiting lecturer. Alongside her art practice, she is currently an assistant professor at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology)’s engineering school. Kang is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in the UK.
In both her art practice and her research, Yiyun Kang explores the intersection of art, technology and experience to investigate what she describes as “the in-between – between the finite and infinite, reality and unreality, surface and depth, absence and presence.” Valuing art as a medium for communication, she invites us, through her work, to contemplate where the boundaries are and what those boundaries mean – for humanity and the important questions that we face in today’s world.
Through the relatively new art form of projection-mapping, Yiyun Kang’s works play with the symbiotic relationship between moving images, narrative and space, going beyond the conventional screen. Her installations can range from relatively small-scale works created for indoor environments to very large site-specific works created for outdoor spaces.
In each case, Kang’s installations are immersive environments that involve the viewers as participants, taking them into another dimension. The effect is awe-inspiring, and occasionally disconcerting as the sense of space, dimension and time is dissolved and re-formed. Fractal geometries move and flow in a way that seems almost organic, lending grace and fluidity to each work that makes it seem effortlessly natural. However, the beauty of her work is underpinned by intellectual rigour, complex mathematical calculations and extreme precision.
For her Origin installation, Kang spent time at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s facility in the Vallée de Joux, to better understand the significance of the Golden Ratio theme to the watchmaker.
“It was fascinating to see how the Reverso was made at the Manufacture, says Kang. “As an artist who works at the intersection of creativity and technology, I found it very interesting that the original design of Reverso was driven instinctively by the Golden Ratio, and I sought out scientific research that could explain why humanity has been drawn to the concept for so many centuries. Jaeger-LeCoultre inspired me to explore, to draw a continuous line from the natural world into my digital space.”
This became the starting point for Kang’s Origin installation. Presented in a very large three-dimensional screen that has been purpose-built for display in public spaces, Origin is a tribute to the ubiquity of the Golden ratio in the world around us. Through its narrative, it builds a parallel between the symmetry in nature and the geometry of Art Deco design.
“There are astounding examples from nature that literally represent the Phi number, the Golden Ratio, in their organisms,” Kang observes. “Perhaps we are attracted to it because it identifies the origin of life – not just an aesthetic pattern, but an anchor for evolution. Seen in this light, the meaning of Golden Ratio becomes even more significant for us now that we are living in an Anthropocene age.”
Origin will make its debut in Seoul in June, before being presented at a series of Jaeger-LeCoultre events in key cities around the world, such as Chengdu, Singapore, New York and Zurich.