JeeYoung Lee created fantasy rooms. All completely different, but they’re all the same room: her studio. She created a range of different scenes, she photographed them, and she played the lead role. The result is a series of stories that inspire our own dreams and emotions. JeeYoung Lee gave us an insight into how she applies colors to express her fantasy worlds. To see the original prints of her photo’s visit Opiom Gallery this month, from February 7th to March 3rd, in Opio near Cannes in France.
(photo above: Resurrection)
– The colors often seem very strong. Why is that?
I guess the biggest reason for that is my personal preference. Colors are an important element of my work because it determines the atmosphere. Let’s say I am trying to choose a shade of yellow. I will have to consider what mental impact it would have on the audience. People may say the colors are strong because I want my images to be powerful and gripping. When I compose the pieces I am fully immersed in my inner thoughts. This could be another reason behind the strong contrasting colors.
– Do you adjust the colors in the photoshop?
The platform I use is 4×5 film. I scan the processed film and have it printed with an inkjet printer. I do not modify colors using Photoshop, although I make minor adjustments on blemishes. Sometimes I have to adjust the color balance to restore the objects’ original colors.
– There are many quite monochromatic photo’s. Please explain.
I try to stay away from using more colors than necessary to keep the audiences focused on the subject. Because colors are such an important element in my work, adding too much can divert the audience’s attention and come in the way of the overall ‘flow.’ My works are often real and surreal at the same time. I feel the use of monochromatic colors make a real-life object look surreal, making it a bit metaphoric.
– What role to colors play in general in you work?
The world portrayed in my work is a mental scape. Color is a multifaceted tool that I use to emphasize my theme. I often apply the universal perception of colors or utilize its mental effect to set a certain mood in my photography. My personal experience and the emotions are also determining factors of the overall color theme. I would like give you some examples to help you understand.
1. Using universal color perception
For instance, the red backdrop in The Best Cure implies danger and caution. The blue color of the candy wrapping represents reason, peace, calm, and level-headedness. If the red is associated with problems we face in life, the person sitting against the backdrop represents a person in a difficult situation searching for a solution burrowed in candy. The blue candy draws a stark contrast with the background and is ironically offered as ‘the cure.’ Another good example would be My Chemical Romance. The theme of this piece is miscommunication and discord. I used black and yellow stripes to project danger and caution. I chose a warm yellow tone to build tension. In Nightmare, the clips represent burden and life issues. The color gold represents wealth and riches. I wanted to emphasise the theme by using a color that is completely opposite from the subject.
2. Color by association
I find myself using representative colors. In Food chain, the warm peach color is associated with the womb. I used a similar color for This Is Not Enough to give the hive patterns a feel of skin cells. In I’ ll Be Back, The blue color is associated with whirlpool of water.