Before the opening of his first solo photo exhibition, Kang Seungyoon a.k.a. Yooyeon has graced Men Noblesse for an interview where he talked about how he came up with his photographer alias, why he chose the title ‘Sky Roof’, his inspirations and more.
TO BE YOOYEON Interview
It’s a name I came up with to separate myself from the music maker (Kang Seungyoon). However, it was impossible to become two completely independent selves. Because Kang Seungyoon’s music is also influenced by Yooyeon’s photography work. I see it as a good symbiotic relationship.
This is an interview with Yooyeon, not Kang Seungyoon. Has it been 3 years since you debuted?
That’s right. The first exhibition of the pictures I’ve taken was at Korean Art Fair in 2020.
You’ll open the exhibition on March 23rd, right? It must be different feeling since it’s a solo exhibition.
I think it is. I don’t know if it’s because it’s my first solo exhibition but this one was actually feels like my official debut. The START Art Fair held at Saatchi Gallery in 2021 was also a valuable experience. When I was invited at the time, there were quite a few photos I took in my spare time, so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate. It was a good opportunity to spread the name ‘Yooyeon’.
Is Yooyeon taken from (the word) “flexible”?
That’s right. It’s a name I came up with to separate myself from the music maker (Kang Seungyoon). However, it was impossible to become two completely independent selves. Because Kang Seungyoon’s music is also influenced by Yooyeon’s photography work. I see it as a good symbiotic relationship.
That’s a positive part.
There were many times when I was having a hard time while doing music for a long time. At those times, I was healed and enlightened while taking pictures. I even wrote a song inspired by this solo exhibition.
Can we hear it at the exhibition hall?
I think it’ll be possible. Actually, I have to finish this interview and go to the recording. It’s a song of the same name as the title of this exhibition, ‘Sky Roof’. I expressed what I felt while looking through the exhibition works. If you listen to the lyrics and see the exhibition, I think it’ll open a different perspective.
Why did you name the exhibition ‘Sky Roof’?
When I put together the pictures I took, most of them had the sky or roof hanging in the frame. I’ve been thinking about the reason. It was like my desire. Or should I say it’s a longing for the top? It seems to contain my longing to keep going upwards.
How far will you reach to satisfy that longing?
I don’t want to live a complacent life. I want to constantly create something and show something that has never existed before in the world.
It’s ironic. Hearing that, you seem like a rigid person, quite different from the name, Yooyeon.
Even in terms of tone, it seems like a name that is soft and round and far from desire. It’s a name given for myself as I wanted to flexibly absorb the things around me. I think the reason I was able to fulfill my dream and rise to where I am today is due to my flexible attitude.
I heard that you will show a whopping 100(pictures). That’s a large number of works.
It will be that much. There are also small size works. I think I’ll show some more recently taken pictures. There are also works exhibited at the Start Art Fair.
There are quite a lot of pictures taken in Busan.
Busan is my hometown and my roots. As this is my first solo exhibition, I thought it would be meaningful to show the pictures of Busan, which served as my starting point. It’s the same when I worked on an album. My first full album <PAGE> also contains autobiographical stories.
The title attached to the work is interesting. The picture with two clothespins hanging on the clothesline reads “Double Date” and the picture of a house gathered on a steep uphill road reads
(laughs) Since I wrote lyrics, I was very careful about naming the piece. The audience will look at the picture first rather than the title, right? If you just look at the pictures, you’ll feel what you see, and (if you look) at the title, you’ll see my eyes. I think that point is interesting.
In addition to pictures of the sky and roofs, there are various subjects, including works with an architectural sense of structures. What makes you press the shutter?
The subject that gives me a message. It may be a meaningless subject to someone, but when I see a scene where my experience’s melted or it seems to tell a story, I press the shutter. I’m not a person who majored in photography. I think that the photos that only I can take, can tell my story.
There’s a work where a loudspeaker and a CCTV are hanging in one frame. Looking at the loudspeaker, I was reminded of the way words spread through people’s mouths. You just have to believe what you see. The title of this picture is ‘Rumor’.
You can see it (in that way) because you’re an artist and a public figure.
That’s right. When I take a picture, I observe it through the viewfinder, not with my naked eyes, and press the shutter. ‘Rumor’ was also captured while looking at the sky through the viewfinder and moving the camera around.
Do you mainly shoot in black and white?
I think the photos that make me keep looking at them are in black and white. It’s fun to imagine what’s hidden behind achromatic colors, such as the colors of the sky, wind direction, and air, right?
When did you start holding a camera?
I’ve been taking pictures since I was little of course. Either with a cell phone or a camera. Even when promoting as WINNER, I’ve always brought a camera and took a lot of pictures of the embers. But one day, Minho recommended a camera. Minho collects cameras too. That was the beginning of it. That’s when I got into photography seriously.
Which camera was recommended?
It’s a model called Rollei 35, it’s a manual film camera smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s so famous that there’s no one—among those who are interested in film cameras, not recognize it. While using it, I learned the taste of taking pictures. The ‘click’ sound, the feeling when turning the rewinding lever, the thrill of waiting for it to develop.
It seems that the camera you use is also different from time to time.
I also use Leica MP edition, but I actually bought it when I was full of vanity about cameras. (laughs) It’s a camera in collaboration with Hermès, and it was produced in a limited edition of 500 units. It’s a model that collectors usually purchase for collection purposes rather than actual use. I’m actually using it because I have no intention of reselling it! Most of my black and white photos are taken with this camera and Rollei 35. I also have a few cameras that I use for color photography, for daily use, I use Contax products. It’s an automatic film camera.
I’m also curious about your taste in photos. Do you have a particular favorite photographer or works?
He’s a very famous person. I like the sensibility of the artist Henri Cartier Bresson. And when I participated in the Start Art Fair, there’s an artist whom I was actually impressed by the work. He’s Chris Fallows, he travels the world taking pictures of wildlife. Like a giant shark tail, a shark leaping out of the water, he captured a dynamic yet valuable and precious moments. It’s kind of awe-
Creative activity is a repetition of emptying and filling. If there is something that is filled through each work of music and photography.
Music is a tool that expresses me directly through lyrics, and photography, on the contrary, is a work that reveals me indirectly. But there are also commonalities. That I can lock myself in at a certain time. While I was doing music, my color tone kept changing, and when I hear my voice or singing method from 10 years ago, I naturally think of myself at that time. Same goes for photos. When I look at the photos I took in the past, I can think of myself back then. Along with the air and mood at that time.
Do you have any images you would like to capture this spring?
I want to go see the flowers, but I don’t know if I’ll have time.
You’re right. Spring flowers fade quickly.
I hope I have the time to spare and have the luck to see the spring flowers. And since being a photographer isn’t my full-time job, I’ve been filming in my spare time during other schedules. If possible, I would like to go somewhere this year to take pictures wholeheartedly.
Translation by: @vivivisyh
Source: Men Noblesse’s Official Site