Wondering how long it would take to consume all the air in the apartment that he rented while he was in Korea for the Busan Biennale in 2006, Pak decided to collect all of his breath in transparent plastic bags every day until, by the 10th day, they filled up the entire apartment.
While most people cannot tolerate doing repetitive work for an unbearably long time, Pak has a different take on boredom. He attributes this to spending time at church when he was growing up. There, he developed the habit of praying and reading a Bible passage for two hours. At first, he found it difficult to sit through a sermon and listen to the pastor’s repeated elaboration of the meaning behind a single Bible verse.
“But once you have gone through the whole boring process, you’ll discover something very valuable, “he says. “And when you try chew on it and apply what you get out of it to daily life, the whole situation becomes more vivid and means much more.”
Pak takes pride in the fact that his artwork contains different levels of meaning and that the audience can often participate in the creative process as well.
He cites the example of a newspaper project he did in 2004, in which he wrote the English word “Win” and drew a church by marking 24 numbers on each of two Mark Six lottery tickets.
“On the first level, readers participate by noticing my work and finding it interesting. Some of them may then follow suit and buy a similar ticket. By doing so, they have furthered their engagement in the process,” he says. “I regard them as having already ‘won’ the moment they bought the “Win” ticket as it will leave a lasting impression in their minds.”
Pak says the audience reaches the third level of participation when they start to think about what else can be drawn on a Mark Six ticket because, “they will begin to see the world around them from other perspectives which will make their lives more fulfilling.’’
Pak prefers to see himself an art demonstrator rather than as some eminent artist. “This is because I believe that everyone has the capacity to do creative work,” he says. “It’s just that I have more time than the others to do it, or I am willing to put time into it.’’
Editor: Grace Wong