My photography expresses my deep fascination with the role of art as a catalyst transforming what we see into moments of emotional or philosophical insight. These moments can be sublime or terrifying, affirming or unnerving--but they all occur when our hidden, subconscious emotions suddenly resurface into our waking awareness.
I explore this dynamic in my art by confronting the viewer with images that suggest elusive memories, dreams, and intuitions. I specialize in creating haunting, evocative compositions balanced between elusive beauty and the potential for violence. I achieve the tenuousness of this aesthetic space by juxtaposing opposing ideas—charm and danger, aggression and mystery, innocence and brokenness—in striking and visceral arrangements. In this space, anything can happen. The viewer’s conscious judgment and hidden, unacknowledged instincts must both assist in interpreting the paradoxical inputs. By providing a space of contact for active and unconscious ways of thinking, my works allow onlookers to catch a glimpse of their own internal topologies through the negotiation of their own sight and psyche.
The end goal of my art is the creation of exterior worlds that rekindle an understanding of the viewer’s unspoken interiors. I aim to devise pieces that guide viewers through uncomfortable emotional terrains to a more nuanced and fulfilled understanding of self. Through reciprocal processes of visual externalization and psychological internalization, I strive to inspire moments of realization in others, invisible dramas more alive than I can begin to imagine.
Nina Chung is an artist and fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. Ms. Chung’s highly suggestive imagery focuses on the emotional and psychological conflict arising from the interplay of challenging landscapes and their inhabitants. Her work emphasizes the origin and transference of atmospheric power between nature and the human psyche as perceived on an intuitive level. She specializes in capturing moments of animality in human subjects, and breathing emotional complexity into natural phenomena. Ms. Chung employs a range of techniques to enhance the dramatic quality of her work, including photo composite layers, chiaroscuro lighting techniques, and various cinematic effects. The diversity of her methods and clarity of her vision imbue her work with a richness of texture and tactile impact that spans a remarkable range of energy and emotion.
Ms. Chung was born in Seoul in 1969 and raised in the Brooklyn. She received her BFA at the School of Visual Arts in 1993 and began her artistic career experimenting with variety of mediums, including silkscreen, etching, collage, and silver pointe, before concentrating on photography. Her distinct style is the product of her rich background in classical painting, art history, kinesiology, and deep interest in Jungian psychology. Chung mentors young inner city children in Brooklyn during her free time. Her most recent project, "Skin and Stone", explores some of the least accessible reaches of the Icelandic terrain and their impact on the human psyche.
STORMS IN BLACK ASH: Spirit of Nemesis
My photographs capture the rare phenomenon of the transient volcanic ash on Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull glacier shortly after the 2nd volcano eruption April 2010.
I took a helicopter up towards the eruption site in June 2010, a few weeks after the eruption. As we flew, I experienced a gasping attack of hyperventilation and bewilderment induced by the aftermath of the cataclysmic eruption, which had annihilated the region into massive chars of blackened ice. My adrenaline soared as we flew towards rising clouds of smoke thickening a crown above the crater. The breath of the atmosphere possessed an electricity, and the power was irrefutable. The eruption's upheaval, seared the glacier's pristine surface into avalanches of jagged black ice. Charred and smoky, the scorched landscape evoked a multitude of questions to form.
Volcanic ash a remnant of the fiery eruption manifested on the ice. The presence of ash reverberated, but, shifting the eruption to post cataclysmic topography. The glacier polarized into infinite optical illusions. The presence of ash transformed the virtuous white glacier into the spirit of nemesis. Tons of meltwater expanded inside the deep unstable fractures stirring a reactive turbulence to occur. Veins of freezing meltwater released violently over the ice flooding the region. The jagged crevasses were brittle from the forces of expansion. The excessive speed of melt formed deep chasms, disturbing the continuity of the ice structure. Towering by the crater are the seracs, emerged by the cataclysmic forces, towering precariously around 500 feet. Ready to become a thundering violent avalanche. While the surface had labyrinths of mazes carved characterizing more instability on the ice. The evidence of destruction moves onto land, combustive internal pressure torn out a new landscape. Those forces pushed the glaciers tongue onto land, staged in front of enormous kettles holes bombed out by immense ice sheet exploding off the tops of the mountain which also drained the entire lake that flowed in the region.
In another few weeks the wind currents whisked the ash, while rain rinsed them toward the ocean and snow buried the rest inside the crevasses. The rarity of the event is explicit to an aftermath of a sub glacial eruption and specific affects within the chemistry of magma and water.
The presence of volcanic ash created a distinctive presence of dichotomy on the glaciers topography. The contrast being highly aesthetic engaged me with its fragility. On the other hand, with it's powerful reactivity as a shadow of destructive forces. This unusual phenomenon occurs once, maybe, in a lifetime. Glaciers are an immensely complex infrastructure which nurtures all of life. The forces of nature govern the planet within a sacred equilibrium, which presently is evident that humanity has crossed natures finely tuned boundaries.