I am a photographer who traces absence in all of its manifestations. I see this series as portraiture without people.
My point of view as a foreigner is crucial to my curiosity. In South Korea, my family and other families did not hang many decorations on their walls. In the US, such decorations are common. I wish to investigate some of the larger social and cultural motivations in differences such as these, in the ways that people collect and use objects. Since I was 20 years old, I’ve moved apartments once a year. I buy very little furniture because I know I will move again soon. So I am interested in long-established homes that people have furnished with items meant to last for years. None of us choose our physical appearance, but we do choose where we live, how we live, and what possessions we live with. This is why I examine human beings by photographing their homes.
This project began from my first experience with estate sales. In my area of North Carolina, almost all sales happen because somebody has died and their family wants to sell everything in the house—sometimes very personal items. When price tags are placed on these private belongings, the real value of the objects is lost. The dead can only tell stories with what they leave behind and their homes become collections of these stories. We can see traces of presence through a mark, a stain, a track in the carpet and so on. I see these marks as expressing the personality and mood of the subject who made them.
I’m keenly interested in human beings and the tension between presence and absence. I explore what material choices we make in our lives and how those choices help determine who we are. I strongly believe that photography has its own language. My photographs are an invitation to see the unseen.