Sun in Virgo: South Korean artist Dain Yoon uses her skin to dream up surreal NFTs for “New Beginnings”
25 August 2021
Using her skin as her ultimate canvas, South Korean artist Dain Yoon creates worlds brimming with hope and fresh potential in her surreal artworks for Vogue Singapore. For Yoon, 'New Beginnings' speak of an enduring fearlessness and the courage to embrace life’s new challenges.
If the eyes are windows to your soul, artist Dain Yoon’s are portholes to warped and wonderful universes. Her feline-like, almond-shaped peepers have served as signature focal points in her artworks from the very beginning, batting lashes as early as 2017 in Noon Gil, a guerilla-style performance in Seoul featuring pink people with visually arresting ‘third eyes’—physically, ironically and metaphorically, just like all of her mind-bending masterpieces. Dain Yoon
Born in South Korea, Yoon has swiftly become one of the art world’s most intriguing stars. Part optical illusion, part surrealist art, her style of self-portraiture utilises extreme body paint as the artistic medium, while her face and physique serve as corporeal canvases with unlimited potential of expression. Sometimes, she’s so masterfully fused with her surroundings or objects d’art, you won’t even notice she’s there until she opens her eyes. The 27-year-old’s penchant for painting and impressionism has been shaped by several aspects of her life, from growing up as a top fine art student and studying scenography to become a production designer, to designing theatrical make-up masterpieces on actors’ bodies for plays. That, and being a daughter to an architecture professor dad and artist mum, who “always emphasised that a sense of humour is crucial in art”.
She took their advice and in the last seven years, her eye for irony and fine filigree has manifested global fame, racking up hundreds of thousands of social media followers, celebrity fans and multi-dimensional collaborations—and nothing’s been able to stop her since. Not even brands, who invest in her fascinations around reincarnation, escapism and trompe l’oeil to transport their products into wild and otherworldly realms. “I cannot experience rebirth, so I like to portray it according to my own perception of what rebirth would be, like a fantasy,” muses Yoon.
Another dream that she has turned into reality is putting her original works in the hands of legitimate fans—starting with the first ones that catapulted her into the spotlight, like her hairy manicure viral sensation, Let my hair grow here. What was once confined to the pristine white walls of fancy galleries, art commerce has evolved into the unimaginable: non-fungible tokens (NFTs) allow art collectors to buy and artists to sell digital assets of real-world, multimedia masterpieces, all traded online using cryptocurrency. “Over the last few years I have been creating different kinds of art involving sculptures, live performances, original paintings and illusion works. Since my body and face are my canvases, my work is transient by nature. It technically only exists for a brief moment in time, while it is attached to my skin. Unless I photograph myself, my work disappears as I wash my body”, she explains.
“Through NFTs, my works can now be explored and owned in digital format, without boundaries, and be properly secured in the blockchain. It gives new means for my art to exist indefinitely in the metaverse. That said, I’ve been reviewing all responsible solutions and alternatives to have my work available online as NFTs with the least possible environmental impact.” Yoon also received Adweek’s Technology Creator of the Year 2021 award, which came in the form of an NFT. Currently, her only works of art that are living on the Internet can be found on her official social media platforms for all to see, and in the form of augmented reality filters she developed for Snapchat, having been a judge on the platform’s original show Fake Up. She adds: “Just like the music industry has been evolving from vinyl records, cassettes, CDs and MP3s, the art world now has NFTs alongside canvases—digital and analogue versions of art working in tandem.”
And with Vogue Singapore’s September issue marking our first foray into the world of NFTs, our collaboration with Yoon couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. When tasked to interpret our global theme of New Beginnings, the hyper-detailed Virgo set her sights on the beauty of Mother Nature, albeit with her signature plot twists, breathing new life into everyday encounters—like a blazing (and blinking) sunrise, a budding romance, spring blooms and “the light at the end of the tunnel”. “Despite the awkward reality we are living in, I am finding myself more introspective. I am thinking and talking to myself a lot more. Although this can sometimes be a painful exercise, I also believe that pain and sorrow can be fertile ground for my personal and artistic growth,” adds Yoon, elaborating on how her creative perspectives have shifted and evolved over the pandemic so far.
Purchase the NFTs: Own a part of fashion and art history
The September issue of Vogue Singapore is a special NFT issue that explores the new creative renaissance born out of technology.
The six artworks by Dain Yoon will be available for purchase as NFTs. They form part of the Vogue Singapore September NFT collection, which will be available for auction on the Binance NFT marketplace starting from 20 September at 8PM SGT till 25 September 8PM SGT.
The auction is in collaboration with Brytehall—a premium NFT platform developed by Media Publishares in partnership with VIDY and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
Enter the metaverse: Visit the Vogue Singapore ‘New Beginnings’ microsite
Vogue NFT Covers: Discover the two digital-only September covers for Vogue Singapore inspired by the global theme of ‘New Beginnings’
Fashion NFTs: Explore the ‘flame dress’ designed exclusively for Vogue Singapore by Olivier Rousteing from Balmain
Design NFTs: Witness the eternal flowering vase for Vogue Singapore by Singapore-Italian design studio Lanzavecchia + Wai
Editor-in-chief: Norman Tan
Photographer and Art Director: Dain Yoon
Make-up and hair: Dain Yoon
Beauty Director: Alli Sim
Beauty Editor: Dana Koh
Stylist (Peacock and Sunrise): Kijoong Lim
Model (Deep Rooted): Sang Yi Lee
Videography: Moon Kyeong Jin
Videography assistants: Taewook Ko, Sungmin Oh
Creative Producer: Vanessa Caitlin
Video Editor: David Bay