Sunday, May 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Chang-Hoon has been a choreographer for more than a decade. He has worked with big names in Korea, like Rain, the Wondergirls, Drunken Tiger, and 2PM. These days he can be found in his studio, the Noah Art Studio in Seoul, doing anything but taking it easy.
Before the fame, it was a simple ad for a dancing group in a local newspaper that awoke his interest in dancing. This interest was further nurtured by his grandmother. He remembers the day she brought home Michael Jackson’s Thriller – which has inspired his dancing since. “My grandmother fully supported my dancing. She was also creative and artistic.”
Making a breakthrough in the dancing community was helped by being talented and the role of his former teacher, Young-Jin Yoo, a well-known composer. Yoo gave him the opportunities he needed to get his foot in the entertainment business.
His most memorable performance came early in his career. In his early twenties, Chang-Hoon found himself responsible for S.E.S’s dance choreography for their first concert. He had to train 20 people. “For about a month before the concert we worked really hard. I was pretty nervous about it, but the concert well,” he remembers fondly.
A few years later Chang-Hoon again helped a now famous Korean artist on his first album. Rain and Chang-Hoon worked together from 2001 until 2002. “Rain is one of my favourite artists to work with. He is always prepared and passionate about the job. Even if he could sleep for only 2 hours, he would still be ready.” Rain’s passion for dance inspired Chang-Hoon and the two dancers gelled together very well.
Shortly after his success with these Korean stars, Chang-Hoon entered military service. When he completed his military service in 2002, he decided to focus on training and opening his own studio.
Since he started training students, Chang-Hoon realised that being a teacher is a two-way street. “I train students, but I can also learn from them. That’s why I value good communication with my students.”
When he has time, Chang-Hoon is also working on developing a new genre of dancing. One that takes its inspiration from dancing, drama and the circus.
His own style is inspired by music. “I don’t want to copy the western style of dancing. I enjoy listening to new music. And my style changes with the music. “
Chang-Hoon expresses emotions through dance, but it’s something he feels is limited with the available K-pop. “Most of the songs are about the same emotion – love.” A place where he has been able to touch on different dance expressions, has been the musical, Hi Dharma!, an adaptation from the Korean movie that he is currently doing the choreography for.
“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to sleep. There are too many things going on in my head. There are so many things I want to learn about and things that I want to do.”
“I don’t necessarily plan too far ahead. I think about the present and I work hard on what’s happening now.”
Dancing takes up most of his time and effort, but he doesn’t see it as something he loves. Instead it’s a part of him. “It’s my life. When I started dancing it filled a loneliness in my life. I found myself through dancing and I met people who became part of my development, through dancing.”
Young Kim first donned the Suitman suit two decades ago. Since then the Kim/Suitman creative collaboration has produced thousands of photos and worn through about 900 suits.
For Kim the suit started out as only that –a piece of clothing. But it soon became the material representation of his resistance against alienation.
Having been born and raised in Seoul, his first cultural identity was Asian. When he moved to the United States as a young boy, he became Asian-American. Something he describes as having two cultures in one skin, with neither one quite fitting.
While in the USA he regarded himself as American, but “people who could see me could not accept me as American, because of the way I look”.
When he returned to Asia in later years, the alienation from society was still there, but in reverse.
“My face fitted but my ‘Western’ persona did not. This circle, which my return to Asia had completed, eliminated the possibility of fitting in anywhere.”
Then came Suitman. Kim’s relocation to a new job left him feeling isolated from his surroundings. “The motivation for choosing a suit as a ‘uniform’, to see me through this period of disconnection, was vague and unclear to me. Several thousand photos later, the ‘suit’ as resistance from alienation became more solid.”
Suitman and Kim have the “the freedom to create [their] own world anywhere and everywhere.“
They don’t have to try to fit in anywhere. And somehow the images of the man in the suit who stands out from his surroundings is something people can often relate to.
“Suitman represents a universal message. He is an agent, transcending and questioning the notion of identity, time and place, fiction and reality.”
Suitman has already been to at least six continents and to about 150 cities. Out of these places Kim recalls Hong Kong, New York, London, and Paris as the easiest places to adapt to. “There are diverse ethnic groups of people from all over in those cities. That makes us feel less like a foreigner.”
In preparation for Suitman’s 20th anniversary, they have recently traveled to Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, and Ethiopia to film a collection of short films for this.
Kim considers traveling the best education because “...we are always learning and observing from each other.
“Everywhere we go. We are all the same kind. Humankind.”
In Ethiopia Kim recalls how happy people there seemed. “It was amazing to see people so happy and respectful to each other. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor...”
During the past 20 years, Suitman hasn’t changed much, says Kim. “He’s just more experienced in travel and has more friends.”
Suitman and Kim have become a creative collaboration. Suitman products are available, they are working on children’s travel shows, a new collection of suits, and DJ street sessions.
“When you love what you do, there’s no separate line between business and personal life. I am fortunate enough to utilize my past experience as advertising creative to market my own art and brand.”
And something Suitman hopes people learn from his experience is to “be yourself! Have respect for yourself and others. Follow your own drum beat!”
Popular songs turned into mini-musicals, an elaborate stage and a line-up of some of Korea’s biggest stars kept audience members entertained during breaks from the actual awards presentation.
The evening’s performances were kicked-off by a booming performance by Drunken Tiger, sending hundreds of schoolgirls into a frenzy of screams not five minutes after the show started. And it didn’t stop.
The audience’s loud enthusiasm lasted until the end pitching at every sight of G-Dragon (who performance of Heartbreaker was followed by a ‘duel’ with Tae-Yang).
When 2NE1 came to the stage for a musical skit of “I don’t care” the audience kept cheering and it reached a feverish climax when Ivy was bent over Nichkun putting her lips very close to his during their performance.
Leading current Korean artists, like Epik High, Kim Tae-Woo and Seo, In-Young wrapped up the performances with a tribute to veteran singer Sim, Soo-Bong.
The night’s other big winners were 2NE1 (Song of the Year – “I don’t care”, Best New Female Group, and Best Music Video), 2PM (Artist of the Year, and Best Male Group), and G-Dragon (Album of the Year).
Best New Male Group – Supreme Team
Best Dance – Kara (Honey)
Best Male Solo Artist – Drunken Tiger
Best Female Solo Artist – Baek, Ji-Young
Best Female Group – Brown Eyed Girls
Best House and Electronic – Brown Eyed Girls
Best Ballade, R&B – Kim, Tae-Woo
Best Asian Star – TVXQ
Best Asian Composer – Park, Jin-Young
Best Trot – Hong, Jin-Young
Best Mixed Group – Eight(8)
Best Hip Hop – Leesang
Best Rock – Boo Hwal
“I’ve actually had to ban myself from buying high-tops,” says Justin, from Australia. “I reckon they look heaps better on the shelf, but I always get so much more burn out of the lows.”
When Justin M Maller is not indulging his sneaker addiction, he is in front of his computer, working as a freelance digital artist.
Justin’s success as an illustrator is notable, as his major at university was in creative writing. “I am self taught in illustration... I got my first copy of Photoshop 4 back in 1998, and have been playing around with it ever since.
By the time he graduated university in 2006, Justin was already booking his first freelance jobs. Soon he decided to quit his job to freelance full-time. Work started off on an un-glamorous note with mostly editorial work, but Justin had only to wait before he started booking small scale illustration work. Nowadays, he gets to work on some “pretty excellent” projects.
He has also found the time to work on an artistic collective called Depthcore Collective. He co-founded the group with fellow artist, Kevin Stacey. to create an artist’s collective with a 3D and abstract vision. “It seemed to me as if the internet had been custom designed to facilitate interaction and collaboration between artists across the globe.”
Justin calls himself an “unaffected artist” as he hardly ever looks at what other artists in his field produce. “I simply sit down and create the things that occur to me – as such I feel that my work stands on its own, and doesn’t come off as inspired or influenced by other illustrators.
Justin takes pride in quality work and spends time experimenting and refining new techniques in his work. His inspiration comes from anything and everything he comes across in his daily life.
“I would hope that my approach to my work creates my signature more than any specific content or execution.”
It this individual signature that attracts clients to his work, Justin says. “Most clients come to me because they want my style of work, so even jobs that are rather guided still afford me a greater deal of freedom than I expect a lot of designers enjoy”.
Freelancing has paid-off well for Justin, but he admits it has its ups and downs. “There is only one person to do whatever work you take on; if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done, and the buck stops with you.”
He says this immense freedom is one of the bigger challenges of working as a freelancer. “Having no oversight and no enforced structure is something that I think a lot of freelancers struggle with initially; they’re challenges to be reckoned with.
After some years as a solitary freelancer, Justin has learnt to deal with these challenges in his own way. “They’re offset by some pretty wicked plus sides – I don’t have to wear pants if I’m not inclined, and I can nick off to buy some sneakers whenever I feel like it.”