ART: Myoung Ho Lee’s “Tree” Series

Seoul-based Myoung Ho Lee’s photos use a complicated process to create a simple image: trees separated from their surroundings, hinting at the world beyond. In this series, “TREE,” the “photography-act” is more than a click. The canvas that frames each tree is there by human design, turning the object into a subject, pulling it out of the landscape. More after the jump:

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Myoung Ho Lee photographs solitary trees framed against white canvas backdrops in the middle of natural landscapes. To install the large canvases, which span approximately 60 by 45 feet, the artist enlists a production crew and heavy cranes. Minor components of the canvas support system, such as ropes or bars, are later removed from the photograph through minimal digital retouching, creating the illusion that the backdrop is floating behind the tree.

The series includes diverse species of trees photographed with a 4x5 camera in a variety of seasons and at different times of day. Mr. Lee allows the tree’s natural surroundings to fill the frame around the canvas, transforming the backdrop into an integral part of the subject. Centered in the graphic compositions, the canvas defines the form of the tree and separates it from the environment. By creating a partial, temporary outdoor studio for each tree, Mr. Lee’s “portraits” of trees play with ideas of scale and perception while referencing traditional painting and the history of photography.