JKG: You worked as an abstract painter in the beginning mostly with light and colour.
MD: Yes. Light is mostly inside the gold. I use gold because it has a mystical and spiritual quality. Gold is a special thing. I always use real gold.
JKG: Then your work evolved into these seats. How did the idea of seats enter into your work? Was it a perceptual device, a place for perceiving what is outside the body as opposed to a pedestal? It is interesting because Dennis Oppenheim did platforms, so the spectator becomes the viewer and the object within a gallery. A point of perception makes the viewer and his or her body the sculpture object of perception.
MD: That is not my idea. The layers of colour on my pictures make them loaded like a battery. When people come into my studio they feel the energy or aura in a picture. I was astonished about this. Then I started to work with pictures surrounding chairs. I had two chairs, one red and gold, the other green and gold. When people had the green on the right and gold on the left 80% of them found it OK. When I changed the order, reversing the colours, people did not like it.
JKG: What humans like. Hmmm. Maybe it changes between cultures.
MD: It was mostly a feeling that it was or was not right.
JKG: And you made an outdoor site-specific project. A nature art project in private gardens in Darmstadt that was open to artists. I like that people when they start to look from the ladder you assembled are destabilized, may perceive in a different way, sense heightened by a sense of danger.
MD: I called this series of paintings Listening. It is not just about hearing but also feeling. When you are sitting on this chair three metres above the ground you can feel and see. In Wiesbaden at an exhibition I made similar large-scale pieces again seeing from above the ground. I called the piece Angel Whispering.
JKG: So with these outdoor works, the idea of environmental sensibility is entering into your work. You have gone beyond the standard white cube forum of the exhibition space.
MD: We had two huge chairs in a castle. We had the chairs and there was a long table in between the chairs with colours on it made by a woman. I made the colour chairs.
JKG: There is this structural referencing or ideation in the way you make these chair sites for perceiving colour and also with the ladder perception event, even with the paintings in the studio. How did the idea for the new piece at the Human Being, Nature & Sound Art and Nature Biennale come about?
MD: As the title of the Biennale project was Human Being, Nature and Sound I thought I could reintroduce some of the ideas with a chair for hearing sound that I used in China last year. For me, it suits the theme of Human Being, Nature and Sound. You sit in nature and you hear sounds by the Geumgang River.
JKG: And so the way you have designed this Yatoo piece the sound is coming in from two directions; from the sky above and from the sides. The direction of the sound is minimized.
MD: For me, the sculpture changed quite a bit. Originally I only had this hat that you sit under. It is like a crown on your head. Now it is more like a throne. It changed because there are stairs of stone leading up to the sculpture.
JKG: So the lead up to the sculpture from the river path is processional, even classical. That’s the way it looks as it now stands. And now you look at the river from this seat. There is a visual element introduced here, unlike your original concept. Isn’t that true?
MD: Yes. Now it is more a throne. It even resembles those paintings from the Middle Ages where you see people with an upside down funnel on their heads. The idea is that you get the energy of the earth through the openings you look and see through.
JKG: It puts you in touch with primal energy or the physics of our environment - sounds and light.
MD: Primal ? I am not sure. It puts you in touch with heaven and earth.
Sitting inside of art – be a part of art – realize art as an art person.
Realize something different
Be in space
Feel yourself in space
Realize the heaven
Hear the sound of the earth
Hear the sound of the heaven