DANIEL LEE / HYBRID -living in paradox
Ars Electronica 2005, Linz
The fascinating and evocative cast of creatures that appear in the work of New York artist DanielLee might at first seem jarring to the uninitiated viewer, but it can’t be denied that his blendedhuman and animal compositions, spun from his imagination and digital expertise, never fail toexcite while challenging our preconceptions and beliefs; teasing to the surface our innermostfears and desires.
Originally trained in the fine art of painting in Taiwan, Lee moved to the United States andacquired a Masters Degree in Audio-Visual arts in the early 1970’s. A professional career as aphotographer followed after rewarding careers as both designer and art director. By the mid 1990’s, Lee realized that digital technology was the future, as it allowed him to combine hisdrawing, photographic and fine art skills into one medium.
Technically, Lee views himself as a photographer, but conceptually, he strives for artisticexpression. He attributes his development as an artist to his early grounding in photographictechniques, as it gave him the necessary discipline and skills required for studio work such ascomposition, lighting methods and the ability to work with models. His commercial background has also influenced his rigorous approach, with every image accurately planned, perfectlycontrolled and executed with great attention to detail. Lee’s creativity is allowed free expressionthrough his highly original ideas and artistic themes.
In his live-in loft space in Soho, of which sixty per cent is dedicated studio space, Lee gives birthto his many hybrid creations. Preferring to use ordinary people as models, Lee’s friends andcolleagues starred in his early work. His first digital series of portraits, Manimals (1993), is a merging of human and animal facial features, based on the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac.These images reflect the Eastern belief that a person may acquire the behavioral or physical traits of their animal sign. This series heralded the auspicious development for Lee, of a highlyrecognizable and specialized “manimal’s” style.