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What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Sol Lee is an emerging female artist and final year Bachelor of Fine Arts student, at UNSW. Her work is rooted in exploring the complexities of human psychology, philosophy and sexuality.  Asked if she produces art work that is comedic or light hearted, she shakes her head vigorously, “My passion is derived from transforming political and cultural issues, into symbolic art pieces that echo a strong message.”

Sol Lee doesn’t come across as pretentious but rather someone who has a strong inquisitive nature and a passion for debate. Her curiosity is inked all over her artwork, as each project delves deeper into issues that are censored and glossed over, by mainstream media.

When asked what her proudest artistic pieces are, she tells me “Artwork that is a reflection of my personal experiences but also frames issues that have broader and universal impacts, on our society.”

‘The Afternoon Turns Red’ : The negative repercussions of physical assault. 
‘Embrace’:  Never be ashamed by the touch of your hand.
‘Untitled’ series: When you’re sitting on the top of the world, you could still feel like your life is falling apart. 

Her latest project focuses on the concept of post humanism. She looks at the advance and progression of science, as well as the dismantling of civil rights frontiers, that challenge and change the idea of humanity. With scientific research and innovations rapidly accelerating, what it means to be a human is gradually evolving. The development of 3D printing human organs, genetic engineering, cyborgs and artificial intelligence are groundbreaking inventions and Sol Lee uses her artwork to navigate the potential impact these discoveries will have on humanity. “This could modify what future humans would look like and human species will evolve either naturally to adapt to the altered environments or due to artificial modifications or even both,” she says.

Lee’s project aims to view humans, through a more fluid lens. There is comfort in retaining core values, ideas and theories but wouldn’t that also stifle the innate human desire to strive for further knowledge? Ideas that deviate from the norm, have often been met with resistance and ostracised as ‘bizarre’. Lee hopes her project will, “disassemble the notion that you have to placate to society’s standards.” She points out that, “Society’s narrow minded ideals are broadening and what was considered acceptable as a human 50 years ago, may now be illegal. Similarly what was considered a crime 50 years ago, may be accepted as normal now.”

In the face of such swift reversals, she questions the notion of what makes something human and non-human. Thus, she is compelled towards exploring “the idea of which aspects of the human being will diminish and what will remain.” What if humanity was just a blank slate, with no preconceived rules, dictated for all?  She says her post human project will reflect “the idea of the minimal human being. The shapes and details of my artwork were left simple and ambiguous, as I wanted them to have only the minimal basic human qualities. I didn’t want to impose a concrete human.”

She uses mixed media, from paintings and sculptures, to contrasting materials such as silicone, plywood boards, modelling clay and faux hair. Her aim? To represent the diversity in humanity. Lee’s post human project features hyper realistic sculptures and paintings that look like hybrid human shapes, with elements of humanity, merged with new and unfamiliar details, showcasing how humanity as we know it, may be alien and completely obsolete to humans in the future.

Post Human Work In Progress

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About Kristina Zhou

Kristina Zhou

Kristina is pursuing her PHD in professional shower singing, at the University of New South Wales. She strives to uncover the binary between mainstream media’s agenda setting and the neutral, unframed reality. In her spare time she enjoys rolling lint balls off her pants and french braiding her boyfriend’s beard. Her greatest heartbreak came when CBS cancelled the TV Show: 2 Broke Girls. Why? It was the perfect antidote to alleviating her distress, when pondering the meaning of life at 4AM.

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