Hyeseon Jeong Paris FRHyeseon Jeong is wearing the Miniature Twist.
Hyeseon Jeong does not consider herself a creative but a mediator. From her early experiences in the fashion industry in Korea, where she was born and raised, to navigating the world of contemporary art and creative production in her adopted home of Paris, France, she reveals a balance between pragmatism and artistic passion. The constant in her multidisciplinary practice is a focus on empty space and silence, shaping a vision that encourages independent interpretation. In our conversation, Hyeseon touches on cultural bridging, collaboration dynamics, and the importance of walking in the mountains to enhance mental clarity.
Interviewed by Sofia Nebiolo
Photography Olivia Lorraine Tran
- N You seem to have the ability to seamlessly navigate different projects and their various aspects simultaneously. How do you ensure that your personal creative pursuits remain unbounded?
- J In a way, I do not consider myself a creative. I view my work as mediation that faciliates dialogue between ideas and things. I really like to find links between elements and that is why I am interested in so many different disciplines and artistic fields. It is not necessarily about having an exhaustive knowledge of one specific thing, but more so to catch different parts of various subjects and create a story. I often respond to the different needs of a brand or a magazine and I find a way to filter a message that makes sense to me. I started working for Korean magazines as a student when I first moved to France. I was modelling as well when I got here. When you are a student, you don’t have this concern that what you are doing is not what you planned for your career, therefore you are free to try different opportunities. Having worked in fashion in Seoul, this was something I could relate to in Paris and very naturally, it became my kind of consistent student job. My real goal was to work in contemporary art, with a focus on moving image arts and cinema. I continued on these parallel tracks, one being in the art world and the other being with Korean magazines which led to working with Korean brands doing creative production. Then suddenly, the latter became more important for financial reasons as I was a newly graduated student. I got involved in this work at a time when brands needed to start communicating in a different way and express their culture and universe from completely different angles. It became interesting for me to think about a larger way to express ideas, not only through visual production, but in a broader sense. I was working on image creation and it eventually came to include events, food, scenography, etc. In the end, what I had learned in university as an art student wasn’t disconnected with this line of work. I could find a way to blend the two aspects of my life, and my interests in contemporary art, to make balanced and beautiful projects that truly spoke to me.
- N Do you find there is one constant in your multidisciplinary practice, and if so, what would it be?
- J I always think about empty space and silence. I find it very important to present new ideas without imposing them on others. This informs my creative decision-making and thinking. I like to incorporate space and silence in my work because I think it allows people to pause and reflect when they encounter an image or attend an event. I think a lot of my artistic culture and sensibility comes from slow cinema. I appreciate elements that provoke thought without explicitly conveying a message. I don’t come from a highly educated or artistically cultured family. I am kind of separate from that environment. Through watching artist documentaries and slow cinema I learned how to look at and appreciate art. I think I have always had this innate understanding within me.
- N How do you approach building a bridge between different cultures? Are there specific aspects of each culture that you find particularly speak to each other?
- J I think Korean people in general are really curious and quick learners, much like a sponge. They catch on very fast to what is new, across all aspects of contemporary culture - food, design, fashion, and more. Sometimes it can be difficult to translate a deeper concept when we are constantly catching what is new. Here in France, the concept and brand philosophy is the most important thing. However, the freedom of Korean people is what makes the project fun because they are open-minded and ready to try anything. I have found French companies to be very different. A lot of the time, they will find themselves focusing on the brand philosophy and checking if a potential new idea is part of their “brand” or not. It is the opposite approach in Korea. That is why when you see a Korean brand on Instagram, you may have trouble visualising the editorial line. In my work, I try to balance the two approaches, by bringing something different and fresh but staying consistent with the brand philosophy or concept.
- N The collaboration process is a big part of your work and life. Can you speak to us about the ways you approach collaborating and its role for the future?
- J I am situated in between the various collaborators, bringing them together for a single goal or project. I have learned that that is really where I like to be. The creative process is essential and you need to understand what the brand wants to achieve as well as what your talents want to express. My role is trying to conciliate the two, and this is not an easy task. I think I am lucky that brands seem to understand my vision and respect it when we develop a project. On the other hand, I have great trust and support from creatives. Even though they do not always know the brand, they can perhaps understand that their expression will be considered via my role. It is really about creating good relationships. I am really grateful for those that I have built and continue to build.
- N How do your travels in nature influence your thinking and creativity?
- J Walking in the mountains is about emptying my head and just concentrating on my steps, the plants, and the landscapes around me. When I am in the city, I do not have that time for myself. It allows me to dive deep into reading. It is sad, but it is mostly during long vacations that I get the opportunity to read and get lost. Each year, I spend about two months in the mountains, camping and being in nature. I think these kinds of experiences help to change your concentration and focus. I often come back to these memories and find it beneficial to remember these times during hectic work moments. It echoes what I said earlier about empty space and silence. It is really necessary to think about what you want to do as well as what makes sense to you. This is best found when considering the silence.
- N Is there something you haven't explored yet but are curious to delve into?
- J Music is something I am interested in and want to explore more. I am terrible at multitasking so when I listen to music, I need to do just that. For example, I put music on while working but when the music stops, I don’t even realise. I would like to focus more on the music. My recent projects have included a lot of sound work. I realised that there are some genres of music, especially ambient music, that resonate with me. I haven’t unfortunately had a chance to explore this enough. I think active listening experiences will open other doors to hearing music. I know I am sensitive to sound because for example, while watching a movie, I will note right away if the soundtrack is not well balanced with the image. I can feel it. Since I often find myself involved in the editing of a project, finding the balance is always the final destination.