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[Interview] The Works of Pine Tree Photographer Bien-u Bae Comes into The Frame


Forty-eight years ago, renowned photographer Bien-u Bae pressed a shutter button for the first time. Since then, he has become one of Korea’s most important artists, and is most known for his meditative landscape photographs, particularly those that feature pine trees as their primary subjects.


Today, Bae’s works are being introduced in a completely new light; eight of his famous photographs are available via The Frame’s Art Store starting February 1. And, thanks to The Frame’s cutting-edge digital technologies, viewers can experience Bae’s photographs in a way that has never been possible before.


Samsung Newsroom recently visited Bae’s workshop in Korea to talk about the digitization of his works, as well as his thoughts on art and The Frame.


One of Bae’s pine tree series, filled with uniquely Korean sentiment. The British singer/songwriter Elton John bought this picture.



The Global Appeal of Pine Trees

Bae’s most popular photographs to date are those that reflect the haunting and ethereal qualities of Korea’s pine tree forests. These images, like many of Bae’s, have an almost calligraphic quality and are saturated with a Korean-influenced visual vocabulary.


Pine trees have singular symbolic importance in Korean culture, but they also exist in various corners of the world, as Bae points out when he shows us a beautiful image of pine trees on a small island not far from Cannes, France. Pine trees are universal but there’s a subtle distinction from region to region.


Whatever the different characteristics may be, however, the pine trees in Bae’s pictures are all meant to encapsulate the traditional, meditative sentiment of the Korean culture. His unique ability to capture various pine trees in this way, as Bae playfully quips, is perhaps why he has “been able to take pictures of pine trees for such a long time.”


Bae explains how pine trees can be found all around the world, though their characteristics are slightly different depending on their environment.


The universality of pine trees, and Bae’s inspirational ability to capture their intrinsic beauty, is one of the reasons why Bae’s works are appreciated worldwide. So appreciated, in fact, that he has achieved international attention with prominent collectors owning his work. Both the singer Elton John and former US president Barack Obama have Bae’s photos hanging in their halls.



The Frame – An Extended Definition of Art


To make his work even more accessible, Bae recently collaborated with Samsung Electronics to make his photographs available on The Frame, a product he feels will change how we interact with art.


“I love the idea that by simply hanging a TV on a wall, viewers can feel as if they are inside of a museum,” Bae said. “The Frame will change the way we appreciate art in our daily life.”


To ensure that his photographs are displayed as accurately as possible, Bae participated in the detailed calibration of the digitization of his works. By taking extra care to calibrate the micro pixels of each image, he was able to make certain that his photographs maintained the best possible quality.


“I think The Frame makes my works more colorful,” Bae explained. “If we look at ‘Jongmyo,’ one of my photographs of a royal ancestral shrine in Korea, we need to closely examine the image to see the rain in the scene. But when viewed on The Frame, the rain is easier to see and the background looks livelier.”


“Jongmyo” by Bae



Merging the Analog and Digital Worlds

Bae went on to further explain his thoughts about the differences in the analog (or film) and digital.


“The experience of taking pictures with a film camera is completely different than that of using a digital camera,” he said. “In order to capture the perfect shot with a film camera, we have to calculate every aspect of the photograph before taking the shot.”


But just because Bae admires the beauty of film photography does not mean that he does not recognize the advantages of digital technology.


“When I see my works displayed on The Frame, I’m automatically reminded of my favorite poem,” Bae noted. “My photographs have become poetry for me. Thanks to digital technology, anyone can now enjoy art in their daily life as if in a gallery.”




Film Photography, in a New Light

Bae reproduces images with cameras and light is his medium. It has been said that he “paints” through his photographs.


“Both photographs and paintings are kinds of art that capture light within a specified border. It could be meaningless to categorize these forms of art because they both revolve around light,” he stated.


The Frame will provide a new way for people to enjoy numerous forms of art, including Bae’s inspirational photographs, as the digital revolution continues to change the way we experience the world around us.


Bae still uses the film cameras pictured above, which have grown old with him during his long journey as a photographer.



The Frame Is

A lifestyle TV that transforms from a television into a gallery-like art display. The Frame is designed not only to provide a premium entertainment experience, but also to enhance the look of a home, just like a piece of artwork that the consumers would hang on their walls.


Through Art Mode, users can select to display works from Samsung Collection, Art Store or their own personal images in My Collection. Samsung Collection offers more than 100 free pieces of art, while Art Store showcases more than 600 works available for purchase.


76 percent of users who connect The Frame to the internet frequently use Art Mode, with the average time of daily operation being 5.5 hours. Meanwhile, 80 percent of users are maintaining the subscription to the Art Store, which is a similar figure compared to music and movie subscription services.


The Frame vs The Gallery: Which Packs the Largest Punch?


Samsung Electronics’ The Frame TV boasts striking 4K UHD picture quality when turned on and displays a collection of dazzling artwork when turned off. Bringing the two together in one device is certainly a masterpiece in innovation. But how does viewing artwork at home on The Frame square up to the gallery experience?



Round 1 – Price


For 1,799 euros (about $2,130), an art enthusiast can secure a piece by Wolfgang Uhilig and 1,699 euros (about $2,010) can buy a single work by Tommy Clarke at the Lumas Gallery in Berlin. Even official prints can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Not to mention the cost of protecting and insuring masterpieces – purchasing a work of art is certainly a long-term financial commitment.


By contrast, access to the Samsung Collection’s 100 stunning works from 37 renowned artists is included with purchase of The Frame. To fuel the user’s passion for art, the Art Store offers additional pieces on a curated subscription basis at $4.99 per month, and works from the permanent archive retail at $19.99 each.


Altogether, The Frame can provide around 450 art pieces. With The Frame, art has never been more affordable – or offered an experience as priceless.



Round 2 – Aesthetics


Some say that nothing can compare to viewing the original. But the Frame TV’s Art Mode renders 43, 55, or 65 inches of pure artwork realistic enough to convince observers that they are studying a genuine article.


Art Mode redefines the meaning and purpose of the TV. The Frame can tastefully blend into its surroundings or become a statement piece in the home. Moreover, by displaying one’s own personal photos on The Frame TV, the user becomes the artist, muse and curator.



Round 3 – Convenience and Usability


The world’s most famous galleries are typically located in major cities and aren’t always the easiest to access. For example, tourists can travel thousands of miles simply to catch a glimpse of da Vinci’s famed “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in Paris. But the tiny portrait is almost impossible to see behind the crowds of people who flock to view the painting on a daily basis.


Whether you pause to observe every detail, or take the occasional glance, viewing an artwork every day from the comfort of your own home can offer new perspectives on the subject.


The Frame also makes a pleasing addition to any public space, such as an office, hotel or hospital, and helps to reduce concern about artwork damage or maintenance.



Round 4 – The Bonus Round


In the final round, the gallery might just throw in the towel. The Frame is not simply a stunning display for artwork, but also a TV with outstanding picture quality. The Frame weighs in with 4K HDR Pro and 4K Color Drive Extreme, which add detail and definition to every image. Equipped with the 2017 Samsung Smart Hub and Samsung Smart View, viewing content on TV has never been easier.


Finally, the One Remote Control provides quick access to almost all connected media devices, so users can effortlessly switch between their favorite TV shows, movies and video games with a single remote.


While galleries exhibit expensive originals in a formal setting, the beauty of The Frame lies in its winning combination of price, picture quality and at-home comfort. On top of these it possesses dual-identity as a 4K UHD TV. Who won this match? You be the judge.

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