River is…, 2012

Gwangju, South Korea

The installation is based on the principle of caustics, the way light refracts on water. A chrome-plated surface with complex wavy facet structures depicts a frozen moment in time of the continuously flowing Yeongsan River, where the exhibition space is located.

Computationally designed and 3D-milled, the 23-square-metre abstract wave sculpture carries hidden Korean characters encoded in its facets. These characters become legible with the help of light that is reflected by the surface, thus forming words of light on the wall. Above the mirror sculpture there are two light sources gently moving independently, creating a constant play of light spelling out two words: “River is…”. Viewers are invited to use a torch to discover the hidden meanings encoded in the surface to complete the sentence. These words — evocative descriptions of the river — are taken from Korean poems. The river reveals its layers of meaning only through interaction and reflection. Combining strong physical presence and immateriality, the installation offers a contemplative moment within the exhibition.

River is… was commissioned by the South Korean government for the Four Rivers Pavilion, a newly constructed space for art and culture in the artificial river isle in the Yeongsan river.