INSTALLATION & EVENT > FULL OF BLUE LIGHT (滿船䨼)

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a symbolic sculpture of the largest fish market in Korea
sculpture installed in the Noryangjin Fish Market / 2015
674, Nodeul-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
l 9,000 x w 3,200 x h 4,000 mm (l 9.8 x w 3.5 x h 4.4 yd)
stainless steel, polycarbonate 1303AH-10 LUPOY, LED lights,
Master Batch, light diffusing pigment, blocking UV pigment

 

Norayangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is a bustling hub where over 2,000 employees and merchants work around the clock to distribute seafood from all over the country. Located on the rooftop of the 2015 year constructed market building, a public sculpture features numerous small fish shapes coming together to form the outline of a giant whale. Each blue fish represents the blue-collar workers, the market merchants, while the white fish symbolize the white-collar workers, the market administrators. The whale signifies the harmonious coexistence of these two groups within the marketplace. Beside, This sculpture was created to ease conflicts and promote cooperation between the market administrators and merchants during the relocation to the new Norayangjin market building. Additionally, the blue color of the fish symbolizes the cleanliness and freshness of all the produce distributed here, as well as the honest labor and sweat of the workers. The light emitted from the sculpture, thanks to the use of light-diffusing pigments and materials, symbolizes the ceaseless energy of the fisheries market, shining 24/7, 365 days a year. As an artist commissioned by the fisheries cooperative, I was responsible for the design, production, and installation of this piece.”

 

 

Sketching the Idea

I was initially inspired by schools of mackerel that come together to form a larger fish to overcome predators and other adversities. I began by sketching this idea with a pencil, and then I moved on to 3D modeling in Autodesk 3DS MAX. To create the dynamic and lifelike appearance of a school of fish forming the shape of a large whale and moving along a curved path, I ran simulations after completing the modeling.

 

Modelling the Fish

When designing this artwork, I considered the three most important safety factors in public sculpture to determine the materials and form.

1. I designed the fish sculptures to be large in size with a streamlined shape and spaced them widely apart to ensure that viewers’ hands would not get caught or injured upon collision. 

2. the frame of the sculpture was constructed with thick stainless steel to withstand viewers climbing on it, and the frame and small fish were securely fastened with bolts. 

3. the materials were manufactured to ensure that they do not catch fire in natural fires, and in case of fires involving chemical substances, harmful smoke is not emitted.

To achieve outstanding design, three key elements had to be considered:

  1. Each fish sculpture, cast from a single mold, needed to be adjustable to twist or turn the head and tail according to the position within the overall whale skeleton.
  2. A robust yet flexible connection system was required between the fish pieces and the whale frame during assembly. This system needed to allow for adjustments in both front-to-back and top-to-bottom directions for installation, ensuring that each component securely locked into place.
  3. It was essential to minimize the gaps between the fish pieces to cover the whale-shaped frame while also preventing the fish pieces from overlapping. This was crucial to ensure that the overall structure of the whale sculpture remained unobstructed, allowing for smooth installation of the fish pieces onto the whale’s skeleton.

 

Prototyping

“3D printing, remodeling, scanning repetition”

The prototype fish was 3D printed after converting the MAX file to CAD format. Numerous iterations were made thereafter, involving adjustments with epoxy putty, scanning the model with a 3D scanner, and editing it using Rhino software.

Furthermore, the first casting from this prototype revealed a weakness between the body and tail, necessitating the editing and production of a new metal mold to complete the fish model. Once assembled, each fish unit required joints to fix the head, body, and tail in place. Addressing this during the mold-making stage required the use of complex molds, including multi-cavity and spring molds, which incurred significant costs and time. Ultimately, a separate bracket was fabricated to attach to the cast fish, and holes were drilled using a drill press to align with the bracket, resolving this issue.

 

Injection Molding

I rented an injection molding machine and mixed pigments with polycarbonate and UV blockers to directly cast the fish pieces.

 

Material selection

I aimed to design the fish so that light within the metallic frame of the whale’s body would emit through the fish pieces, replicating the colors of sunlight seen underwater. I experimented with 90 different pigment colors and created 24 different polycarbonate color samples through these experiments. Utilizing lighting with a color temperature close to 4200 Kelvin to ensure the samples produced colors that did not feel cold, I finalized a selection of optical acid pigments, including 12 colors such as purple, green, and red combinations. To prevent color alteration outdoors, UV pigments were also incorporated into the mixture.

Constructing the Frame

I conducted multiple tests to ensure that the connection points between the fish pieces and bolts and nuts on the whale-shaped frame could withstand a weight of 110kg while maintaining the lightest possible weight. I tested the strength and light transmission of stainless steel sheets ranging from 0.5mm to 3mm in six different thicknesses and with four different hole diameters for the frame material. Since the final casting of the fish had not yet occurred, I used blue plastic cups made from a similar polycarbonate material. The frame was modeled in CAD and laid out flat on blueprints used to determine hole placement.

Determining the drilling positions was one of the most challenging stages in this project. Each hole had to be meticulously placed to determine the position of each fish, ensuring they wouldn’t collide while still allowing the entire whale frame to be wrapped in a zigzag pattern. Additionally, because the whale frame was curved to one side, calculations had to be done separately for each row of holes. I devised a formula to calculate the position of each hole row for the previous and next rows, considering the proportional area covered by the fish over the entire surface area of the frame. To develop this formula, I sought advice from Mr. Lee Dong-geon, who was not only the developer of South Korea’s first fighter jet but also my high school math teacher. Comparing the drilling blueprint with the 3D model, minor adjustments were necessary.

Installing the Sculpture

Due to changes in the construction schedule of the new building, I had to install the frame of the whale first before attaching the fish to it. The frame was intended to be placed in the center of the rooftop garden. The weight of the whale-shaped frame was 1.2 tons, requiring the use of a 100-ton crane to lift it to a considerable height in the narrow space. Since this operation was conducted before planting grass in the rooftop garden, my team and I had to contend with blowing sand and dust throughout the installation process.
After sunset, I projected images of a 3D model that delineated the boundaries of fish groups with different colors using a beam projector. To mark the outline on the whale-shaped pieces, I tied strings to the frame. Subsequently, I began attaching polycarbonate fish one by one. To perform this task, one worker had to secure nuts inside the metal frame of the whale, while another worker tightened bolts from the outside into the fish. I repeated this process several times, adjusting bolt lengths to achieve the desired design.

 

Lighting

I waterproofed the LED lighting along with the heat sink. To evenly distribute light across the entire sculpture, I installed six sizes of stainless steel pipes equipped with LED lighting inside the frame’s center. I also designed doors in the structure of the whale’s head and fins to allow for future maintenance access. After a final inspection of the strength and form of the fish pieces, installation was completed.

 

I am grateful to Jet Engineer Dong gun Lee, along with workers Kyeng Sik Lee, Sang Woo Gwak, Ye ji Lee, and Kay Lee, who oversaw every step of the process. Without them, this project would have been impossible to complete on my own.

Artist’s Reflections

The artwork was created in 2015, and the merchants of Noryangjin Market opposed the relocation to the new market and protested, which remains unresolved as of 2024. I appreciate your attention until the end, and I hope for the harmonious operation of Noryangjin Fish Market with the merchants and cooperative, and I wish that my artwork could contribute even a little to this harmony and peace.

 

 

 

Introductions from News and TV Show Program

Further Proposals

Recently, I made further proposals for additional work using solar panels upon request from the fish market’s management office. The proposal received a positive reaction, and I am waiting for confirmation on the new installation.