A tiny bunny sculpture is placed on a fire hydrant as part of a street art project called "Mysterabbit" to give passersby a moment to pause from their hectic routines. / Courtesy of Ji Lee
By Chung Ah-young
Korean-born designer Ji Lee is the instigator behind a worldwide street art project called "Mysterabbit" encouraging passersby's to take a moment and pause from their hectic routines.
Some 10,000 miniatures are scattered around the world, 22 of those are randomly placed in Korea. It might come as a welcomed break for Koreans who are glued to their smart phones while on the move.
"Every day, we spend our time constantly doing things: Going from one place to another, working, shopping, checking our phones, thinking about the past and worrying about the future. We rarely stop and enjoy the moment," Lee said in an interview with The Korea Times. "In doing so, we end up missing the beautiful moments of life that go by us without ever being noticed. ‘Mysterabbit' was created to disrupt this cycle," he said.
The reflective rabbit sculptures were inspired by Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." Also, these rabbits are meditating like Buddha as a symbol of "being in the moment," he said.
Based in New York, he rose to international fame with the sensational "Bubble Project" in 2005, which prompted passersby's to write their thoughts on speech bubble-shaped stickers like in a comic book.
He placed 50,000 stickers on advertisements around the city and hundreds of people started to write comments on them, after a few months, media outlets started to pay attention and soon thousands of people around the world joined in.
He began the project as he resented adverts filling every corner of the street in an ugly and intrusive manner like "visual pollution." He worked at an ad agency at that time, and felt partially guilty for the "junk," and wanted to change the concept so that people could talk back to the adverts.
"I received tons of invitations to be interviewed and to give presentations about the projects. This project changed my life forever," he said.
Now working in the creative department at Facebook, he was, in the past, a designer and creative director at the Google Creative Lab.
He said that working on personal campaigns like the Bubble Project gave him the professional opportunities to land dream jobs at companies like Google and Facebook.
Born in Seoul in 1971, he relocated to Sao Paulo, Brazil aged 10, before moving to New York to study at Parsons School of Design. The projects he created were inspired by innovative and creative ideas in the art scene.
"Creativity is the curiosity and willingness to look at the same thing from a different perspective. One day you may decide to take a slightly different path to work. In this moment, you're being creative, because you're looking at your same old commute in a different way, and in doing so, you may discover new things and this may inspire new ideas," he said.
"So, anyone can be creative, as long as you're approaching the same thing in a different way. With this minds set, inspirations can come from anywhere. All you have to do is to be open and curious," he said.
As an artist and communicator, if he were in Korea, Lee would like to create a project that deals with Koreans' obsession with appearance and materialism, he said.
"Maybe a video interview series, maybe a series of large portraits in the theme of beauty and ugliness. Or maybe I would do a project in the streets to encourage people to be in the moment, since so many people seem to be glued to their phones," he said.