Integrating both mechanical and computerized movements within his sculptures ever since the late 1990s, Choe’s works push the genre of moving kinetic art toward its newer-generation iterations, such as robotic art. His sculptures sculptures’ skeletal systems often expose the mechanisms of its movement by laying bare its machine of motors, gears, and drives, while minimally relying upon a CPU to direct their system. Many of these mechanical elements—bolts, nuts, bearings—are all custom-made; at the same time, the external materials are often hand-crafted with special finishes.
Often referred to as a sculptor who creates mechanical life, Choe models the movement of many of his works after living creatures, but also fantastically combines elements of different lifeforms. Though the focus of Choe’s practice has shifted from animal life to human society in recent years, across the arc of his practice the machine has served as a both reflection of human desire and an extension of humankind.
Choe was born in Seoul, South Korea. His parents were artists. His grandfather was a car engineer who worked on the first car developed in Korea. From a young age, Choe was fascinated with machines and science. Growing up during the Cold War and also watching many science fiction television programs, Choe aspired as a child to build robots that could protect his family. However, he ultimately followed his parents’ wishes by attending art school.
Choe attended Chung-ang University in Seoul, where he earned B.F.A. in 1992 and M.F.A. in 1999. In his third year of undergraduate studies, a course taught by the artist Geum Nuri introduced him to kinetic sculpture. Also during his studies at Chung-ang, Choe began to experiment with integrating motorized elements in his sculptures. After graduating, Choe gained work experience in robotics at a commercial company named Microrobot.