Ways of Viewing: Workshop by Choreographer Yanghee Lee
■ Workshop led by choreographer Yanghee Lee ■ Date&Time: 10:00~13:00, October 1 (Tuesday) - October 4 (Friday), 2019
Now, we’re going to think of which language, which lens we use when we observe or create an artwork. And we start by going over what we already know. Today we’re doing this through our bodies. Where will you go? Where am I be going? Up! Look at where my arms are, what my hands are like right now at the moment. Theater is `Against`… You can go stand at some point in this Space. We can get a real closer look at… Oh, my! Someone who can accept all, give it all, try everything, this kind of attitude... This space and the stone statues are called Buksu... We’re going to do this very slowly. It’s time. Time. Something that flows, disappears to be completely gone: Disappear, Enter. (laughs) Why would I make you do this with no reason? It`s not about stepping cautiously. You don`t have to get as much as possible out of it. Just look what`s around you. You`ve got to see this. It`s very normal and not at all at the same time. We`re looking at you now. Every one of you is doing so special, I cannot even think of neglecting one... If one has to watch it more, then you`ll also have to wait. When you touch it here, you`ll know it`s quite different, the feeling and the shape of it.
You guys set up a starting point and an endpoint yourselves. You can make me do whatever you want, like we`re going to do this and then you’ll ring the bell... We`ve already begun.
These are the words, the languages we`ll be using from now on. :Begin, End, Blank space, Anticipation, Lingering sensation, Leaving behind, Disappearance, Space... (Leeum-!) Idiot, Dimension, Space, Choreography, Balance, Tempo, Recognization, Following, As time goes by, there will always be more questions. Just keep them inside you. Once you find the answers yourself? They will always be yours.
AhRa Joe (Storyteller), Jang Eun Jung (Choreographer) 10 – 12, 2019
This program is to interpret artworks into words and movements through one’s own emotions.
I’m very grateful that the students participated eagerly showing true imaginations and creative thoughts on their parts, the way in which we could not expect from us adults. We will give titles to the works in our own way.
|Moving Texts| Gloominess, depth, innocence. Artworks: Zhang Xiaogang, Boy, 2009, Lee Bul, Monster: Black (reconstruction of 1998 work), 2011
|Talking Motions| We’re going to describe the artworks we’ve seen yesterday, or express the keywords we picked together through our bodies. Can you name one object that left you a lasting impression? A piggy bank, Allotment Garden…
Rim Ziyoung: This workshop invites participants to kind of “hack” Olafur Eliasson’s artworks.
Participant: This was a story that recented what we experienced today. So whn we first met, you all received lanterns and after reproducing those, we went to the gallery and saw the works of Olafur Eliasson? So this was the work that we expressed the works we withnessed one by one.
I really like drawing. So when I grow up, I want to build a museum like Leeumto give docent tours and hold exhibitions for artists who cannot afford to do so.
I wish to build a museum on behalf of, and to serve these and to serve these people, for free. I aspire to become a docent and a curator who explains everything in an amusing and interesting way so that people can acquire interest in museums without getting bored.
I want to be a docent who helps visitors learn about things beyond a work of art when they visit an art museum.
Rather than simply delivering information to visitors, I want to be a docent who listens to people’s explanations and communicates with them to make them gain new ideas about the works of art based on their own experiences.
Performance Workshop @ <Rainbow assembly> by Olafur Eliasson
This performance workshop was a part of Leeum Kids 2017 Winter. The kids experienced Rainbow assembly by Olafur Eliasson through the five senses, and expressed this inspiration into the form of performance art.
[Choreography] Kang Jin-an, Moon Go-en
[Participants] Ko Ah-in, Kim Min, Kim Been, Park Min-young, Park Hyun-wook. Oh Eun-chan, Yoo Min-woong, Lee Si-hyun
Young-doo Jung, Songhee Jeong (sound) in Olafur Eliasson`s Rainbow assembly, 8 Feb 2017
Seizing upon the fact that Rainbow assembly is a pseudo-natural phenomenon artificially created by man-made mechanical devices, where your sensorial experience is crucial, this program is an impromptu workshop drawing on animal movements in order to reconsider the very bodily senses of human beings.
Sung-ho Cho (tap dance), Jehee (accordion) in Olafur Eliasson`s Rainbow assembly, 7 Jan 2017
In Rainbow assembly, Ahn creates a contact zone by means of dancing, the most universal language that enables you to communicate with others by simply holding their hands. She brings the participants inside and outside of the misty curtain, to experience new dimensions of contact, with raindrops, and with rainbows. Join her for the dancing habitat full of vitality and vivacity.
Seoljin Kim`s performance in Olafur Eliasson`s Rainbow assembly, the exhibition `The parliament of possibilities` on 12 November 2016
Choreography & Performance: Seoljin Kim Pansori: Seunghee Lee
Seoljin Kim’s movement is based on series of ideas which came up in his mind when he first contacted with Rainbow assembly: rainbow, child, mother, umbrella, lullaby, mist, cradle, and grave. His body is responding with Seunghee Lee`s faint but deeply resonating sound, and together they walk along the rainbow and the mist of Rainbow assembly, uniting into a whole unity. Watching their performance, spectators within Rainbow assembly can experience a cross between tradition and the present, and the East and the West.
Sensorial Body and Phenomenological Space 26 Oct 2016 in Olafur Eliasson`s Rainbow assembly
This workshop at Leeum is designed for participants to communicate with each other what they feel and think about Rainbow assembly through bodily movements caused by interactions between body and space.
2016 Summer Korean Traditional Art: Korean metal craft works
Leeum Creatives: Becoming a Decont program runs for middle school students consisting of understanding the role of docents, art theory classes on Leeum and its collection, writing scenarios, and experiencing guided tour services. Participating students will come to learn how to express their thoughts, as they undergo practical and detailed instruction.
[Teens Docent] You will view Korean metal craft works along with me today.
The architect was inspired by the beauty of Korean traditional pottery.
Small and round gold embellishments decorate the crown’s exterior, making it even more splendid.
This Mirror has beautiful colors thanks to the combination of its coloring technique.
Korean mother-of-pearl craftworks have been recognized as the best in terms of their shapes and colors.
Since this pagoda has 5 roofs, it is a 5-story pagoda.
First, this was made in the Goguryeo Kingdom.
Let me finish today’s exhibition tour here. Thank you.
Artist Interview: Olafur Eliasson <Olafur Eliasson: The parliament of possibilities>
Walking through the exhibition, you will encounter different things. Already entering the museum, you might notice the first work, <Ventilator>. It’s like a wind machine which is flying around, almost like a little weather system. And once you move further into the exhibition, you will come down the escalator and you…you see something, two spirals, which appear to be moving, just like yourself on the escalator.
I like this idea of descending into the show, as the spiraling goes on. And on one side you have a wall of moss, almost like a garden, or a vertical garden you could say. You know, like, suggesting that architecture can actually also be nature, or nature is a way of suggesting a space. And on the other side, across from the moss wall, there are very ephemeral watercolors. They are barely there, you could say. They are so, they are so thin that it is more water than color, I could say, and it almost looks like a kind of a sky.
So I think, once you are in the show, you are being welcomed by these ephemeral elements: the wind, the garden, the sky and the spiraling movement.
And as you move through, into this area of the exhibition here, things get more architectural. There’s a mirror wall, a kaleidoscopic wall, which very much is integrated into the architecture. Then there are the landscapes, the photos, which actually are a photo series of a glacier, where a big dam is being built. And what we see in these photos are not visible anymore, because the glacier now has been flooded, or this area has been flooded, because the dam is done. So the photos, they show us a landscape that once was, almost like a memory.
They are the color prints, which is a proposal to look at white light, but in spectrum, or in spectral color. And, in this part of the show here, again there is a night sky, almost like a dream of spheres, just like our planet, our small planet is also a sphere. A atmosphere, we could say. Every planet has their own spherical story to tell us.
And if you go very close to the stars, you actually see yourself. So just like the stars in the night, they are great as a perspective-taking. Like to look at the stars, in fact, could be like looking at yourself.
And of course, again, I have tried to propose that it is in fact impossible to make water run up. Almost impossible. So <Reversed waterfall> is almost like a little mountain, made with scaffold. And the water is sort of running up the mountain. I like this idea of making the impossible possible.
And the exhibition continues, with some light, some floor. And gradually I think that we have been introduced to so many elements that you could imagine that you have, you know, you have the materials to build your own environment. You have a floor, you have a wall, you have a sky, you have light. So, it’s almost like, when walking through the show, you can create your own habitat. Or you can question, what is a habitat?
And finally, once you go up the escalator again, into the black box, there is an assembly, assembly of rainbows, or one very big rainbow if you want. And, I think it’s important to understand that everybody sees something unique. Depending on where you stand, and also depending on how high you are. You should try to maybe, go down on your knees, and up again, and you will see the colors will change a lot.
I like this idea of your eyes actually being very influential in how you see things. We sort of think that, when seeing things, we take things in. But in the rainbow, or with a rainbow, we could also argue that seeing things is actually like creating things. So just like the whole exhibition, the room with the rainbow assembly is very much like where you can make your own habitat. You can make your own world. And seeing the world is, to some extent, actually, also creating the world. So I could argue that, you are, when visiting the show, in fact, the artist.
Choreography Eun-Me Ahn, Gayageum Soon-A Park 27 Sep 2016 in Olafur Eliasson`s Rainbow assembly
A performance by dancer and choreographer Eun-Me Ahn and gayageum player Soon-A Park, was presented in Rainbow assembly at Leeum for the opening of Olafur Eliasson: The parliament of possibilities. See how the rainbows of Olafur Eliasson’s work reach into the extended corners of the exhibition space as they reflect off the golden dress and circular mirror of the dancer – pacing through the artwork in poised restraint to the music of a traditional Korean instrument.
28th Sep 2016 in conjunction with the exhibition Olafur Eliasson The parliament of possibilities
[Timothy Morton, TM] Hello.
[Olafur Eliasson, OE] Hello. Thank you so much Hyesoo. And thank you for being here Tim, coming all the way to Korea. I feel much more comfortable on the stage with you on my side and I also feel comfortable with you being all here. So maybe should we start by doing a little presence check with everybody?
[TM] Let’s do that presence check, Olafur.
[TM] Comfortable, that’s a good word, isn’t it? Comfortable.
[OE] Yes, inspiring also.
[TM] It’s a feeling that I get when I walk around all of his work actually, the feeling of being both inspired and somehow soothed at the same time. It’s a very nice combination. It’s such a great honor to have been invited here and I’m so grateful to you for having me and thank you all for listening to us talk. And I hope we can, but what do I hope we can do?
[OE] I was just thinking about it. The success of this depends on our shared situation here. I’m trying to touch the floor with my feet. You are clearly halfway.
[TM] Yes, I’m halfway there. One of my feet is touching the air.
[OE] I sometimes work in a very intuitive way and then you can sense that intuition or this not yet verbalized idea shaping itself.
[TM] Yes, I do for my job philosophy, but it would be a very bad thing if I was to explain all of his work in a certain way, not that I don’t want to use words to describe it, but it’s more like all of his work helps me to explain my thoughts to myself, it’s that way round.
[OE] I sometimes welcome this intuitive state of an idea. Maybe I could also call it a gut feeling. It’s a great word, right?
[TM] It’s a physical sensation actually and I think philosophy is a physical act. It’s quite similar to geometry in a way. Plato in his Academy, over the door of the Academy, it was written: “Don’t even think about coming in here unless you are.” And then there’s a Greek word “geometrikos,” which means sort of geometried up or something like that. What does it mean? Does that mean knowing something or having a concept of something? No, not exactly because in those days geometry was nothing to do with numbers at all. It was to do with literally simply using two instruments to do calculations. A straight edge and a compass, and so it was very physical actually and the whole idea was to somehow be close to earth. The word ‘geo’ is earth and ‘metry’ is, funnily enough, it comes from the word like pacing or walking. So when I hear this word ‘geometry,’ before it turns into a word for measuring things, it’s really more like walking meditation.
[OE] So that’s the feeling I was talking about because I’m not looking at an idea as something which is standing or stopped or sitting. It’s actually something which is in the process of becoming. I like thinking of Tim sometimes when trying to apply a skin to the idea. The skin could be a language skin. So suddenly I can say, “I think this idea could be set using three words.” Maybe one word can be ‘open.’
[TM] Open. Yes, don’t you find all of his work so inviting? You feel like you’re being invited in somehow. When you’re invited in somewhere, there’s a feeling of being aware of the future in some very tangible way. I truly think, and I hope this doesn’t sound so crazy, that art actually comes from the future. And in a way it is the future, and it’s opening up a possibility for some kind of future-ness before any kind of predictable future. There’s this kind of open feeling. Open is a great word because it doesn’t mean that things don’t exist. It means that they exist but they don’t have a copyright stamp on them.
[TM] There isn’t a little Intel inside thing in every little cell of my body, saying this is a Tim Morton leg, this is a Tim Morton foot, this is a Tim Morton nose. It’s not like that. Nevertheless this is Tim, but Tim is open like that Less ego wall. I was thinking another reason why that’s such a great piece is that the wall itself has less ego in a way. Because it’s open, literally it’s perforated, and I think this perforation quality is really wonderful. I feel like things are perforated and worlds are perforated. Because worlds are perforated, we can have some feeling of community and solidarity with one another, not just human beings, but also between human beings and non-human beings.
Let’s hold on to the future just for one more moment because I think it is worth shaping a little bit as an idea, quite literally. First of all, I wanted to say that when I talked about this space just before we have a language for an idea, I wanted to address open space, which I think we all have. So I think it’s important also to include our collective focus on that particular moment or that particular passing where we have a feeling we are almost conscious about it. We have not yet given it a structure such as a language, and there is a processing or a playing. This space is interesting because, I think a lot of things that I work on exist in this space, I could propose to somebody to come. I’m not sure if this works, but I’m very interested in the idea of the future. Somebody comes and says, “oh, I have that feeling too.” I was almost giving my feeling a structure, a language, and now when looking at a work of art or listening to Tim, my feeling was given a structure, or my feeling was reflected, and I say, “oh, I was seen, my idea, my feeling, my gut feeling have been seen by the future.” I walked into the future and I was welcomed.
[TM] That’s beautiful.
[OE] I was not ignored, I was not marginalized. I felt, “oh, I’m good enough.” I was emotionally welcomed to the exhibition.
[TM] Being seen is maybe one of the nicest feelings in the whole world, you know, when you suffer from some kind of trauma, I think we all do in some ways, have some kind of wound or trauma inside us, and even maybe things also have this trauma because everything had some kind of form or structure. You could think about the structure itself as a kind of wound or trauma, so Olafur and his use of the mirror and the play of the mirror, and the way in which in fact the piece actually sees you, you feel seen literally by the artwork and being seen by the future, that’s very nice, beautiful.
[OE] Well, I sometimes think that I’m alone, but then when you are seen, you realize well you are not alone as you think at least. But you said something, Tim, last time we spoke, maybe we can repeat that. A work of art has been sent from the future and how is that.
[TM] Well, it goes back to this not-yet feeling that you’re talking about. I think it’s such a perfect, beautiful, fragile feeling and it needs to be preserved in our world. We are very hasty to delete that feeling so that we can get on with whatever we think our practical project is. But right now we’re entering an age of ecological awareness where human beings have to include so many more non-human beings in their calculation, and policies and ethics and philosophy and art and everything, and so we don’t know exactly where we are anymore. I feel like this is a very important feeling actually, not knowing exactly where you are because in a strange way, that’s exactly what being in a place really is.
[TM] It really isn’t this kind of hard, solid, rigidly-bounded thing, it’s this kind of hesitant, not-yet quality. A little bit like what happens with very tiny things. You know with quantum physics, very tiny things seem to be shimmering or vibrating. This kind of shimmering, vibrating quality is so easy to destroy so I feel like this not-yet quality is the future. That aspect of art isn’t just like from the future, but it actually is the future. There are different kinds of future. Different kinds of things open up and allow.
[TM] Olafur’s work, I feel, allows a very open, very generous future and that’s so important right now. Many philosophers like me try to talk in a very negative way about the preset moment, but I don’t think this is helpful at all. We need to find a way to imagine or even just dream or even just fantasize or even just allow ourselves the possibility of doing something a little bit different from what we have now. And I think that Olafur’s work is like a very helpful device, almost medicine, to help you to do that. It’s not just representing something, it’s actually encouraging that.
[OE] I think that being in a country with a very strong contemplative history, there’s some kind of tradition to also appreciate, the acknowledgement of the sense of presence, not as a static or solidified but rather as you spoke about it, the vibrating space. I think one of the reasons why I have been drawn to Tim’s writing is in fact because of his addressing the need for ecological coexistence. I mean how to, for instance, address the climate questions and what are in fact the motif and motivation. We know the motif. We want to have a solution, that is the motif. But the motivation, it’s much harder. When you are looking for that particular feeling, we can also sometimes find motivation. When I said, “oh, I’m not alone,” that can be very motivating.
[TM] It comes from this feeling of smile a little bit. There’s a smile quality to Olafur’s work. Since we’re in this age of mass extinction, since we’re in this time where every time you open up a newspaper, there’s some new horrible statistic about something, and these statistics always change every day. You’re like constantly being almost like hammered by these statistics, 5, 24, 100,000, 60%. It’s even confusing to keep up with it, and it’s sort of like being slapped about. We need some kind of non-violent quality. I think that when you can smile for real, then you can cry, don’t you think? When you can smile or laugh, then the emotion can come and you can start to cry. I think that’s very important right now, learning how to have this kind of genuine heart of sadness. Which is not necessarily a feeling of depression, which I know very well. But it has a kind of light, tender quality and it’s sad only because you can’t hold on to it. It’s more like a liquid. Olafur was talking about how objects aren’t solid necessarily. My idea is that maybe they’re more like a liquid; you can’t really hold on to them.
[OE] I also want to include the people translating this. I greet you. I like this idea of letting go. Yesterday, I also heard about, do we feel comfortable with letting go, or is that considered not so successful? We have children, some of us, and we know very well that in the museum parents come and they welcome the opportunity to be very discipline-oriented, even though this is not really nurturing the explorative child that you wish to bring up, so we ask the child, don’t let them go. When you see the ventilator, children start to run and then parents get nervous, not just because the children are running, but because the other parents whose children are not running look at me and they say, I’m not a good parent. We live in a culture where letting go is considered a failure. So let’s together decide that the children we have are good enough. They should feel appreciated when exploring. I see a ventilator so I have my frontal – what are they called, the two frontal things in the brain?
[OE] The frontal lobes are my impulsive reaction, right? It’s directly linked to my physical activity and I immediately start to do like this. Because I am physically interpreting my stimuli, I am letting go, I start to laugh, I get loud, I cannot control myself. Who can address ecological questions in the future? The highly disciplined children? I don’t know, or the more explorative?
[TM] Wow, that’s so deep. Do you want to write my books for me, because that’s like wow. I keep talking about this now, the way we think about the ecological future is always about efficiency and sustainability. I feel like these words are all to do with the oil culture that we live in. Oil is a precious, toxic commodity and we have to be very careful how we use it in all kinds of ways. But in an ecological future where there’s no oil – in a way, this happened to me. I got wind power for my whole house a few months ago, and for a couple of days I felt so holy and pure and disciplined and perfect like “oh, I’m being such a good boy.” Then two days later, I realized actually what this means is I can have a disco in every room of my house with decks and strobes, and people dancing. And far less life forms would suffer if I did this. Well, of course maybe the neighbors might have a bit of a problem.
[TM] I feel like the actual genuine ecological future has to do with multiplying pleasure rather than restricting or restraining somehow. The problem is that it’s actually too easy to let go. I think about this sometimes, and maybe the problem is like, we actually use things like Facebook, I feel unfortunately, to inhibit our natural capacity to let go. I feel like maybe Facebook or other forms of social media is like 52% super-tight judgmental and maybe 48% cats taking a ride on a scooter. I think that the cat taking a ride on a scooter is much more philosophically deep than this kind of guilt tweaking that can happen on social media.
[OE] I’m very interested in how we see each other and also to what extent we are aware. Do I look at my world at the expense of the values that I talk about, or do the looking actually act on behalf of the world I trust? It’s very interesting because I sometimes think we say and we know so much; we know it all. Maybe we have not verbalized it but emotionally we know enough. But how to act accordingly, how to translate our knowledge into action is so difficult. I also ask my children not to run. I make mistakes. I get really annoyed and say, “‘stop running.” I don’t think she’s here.
[TM] She ran somewhere.
[TM] We make this very strong distinction between playing and acting, doing, and I think playing and doing are part of the same thing. In part of this we also make distinction in our political world between being very serious politics and unserious stuff. But wouldn’t it be great if sometimes politicians could be playful somehow? Wouldn’t it be great if they could be, this is the English word, silly? Why is silliness not a politically acceptable emotion? There’s a very wonderful ex-mayor of Reykjavik, my friend, J�n Gnarr. He’s a stand-up comedian. He used silliness to do the most wonderful things after the big financial crash of 2008, and really helped Reykjavik actually and helped everybody.
[TM] So I feel like this category of play, again, is a fragile thing. It’s easy to kind of destroy it and turn your life into something that has to do with knowing exactly where you’re going and going there in a straight line. Unlike the fan, you know, the fan is playing all by itself. It’s having a good time whether you jump up to it or not. The mirror globe keeps on reflecting the other mirror globes whether or not you’re playing with it. Somehow these things are inviting you in.
[TM] When I go up the escalator into the rainbow room there, actually the escalator is going a little bit fast. I like this feeling, I feel like I’m being sucked into something and, ah, what’s going to happen next? You go into this void and there’s this scintillating, delicate liquid. The original work was called Beauty. That is beauty. It’s this very evanescent, evaporating quality that’s very hard to hold on to, but it’s completely real. It’s how you know actually that there are other things in this world other than just your ego really. So I very much wanted to go through that misty curtain of water up there, and I somehow wish we could be in it right now having this conversation. It would be really awesome. I might even want to be under it with the mist coming on me. I need a shower.
[OE] So as you can tell also from the way I enjoyed talking about my work, I very much enjoy the risk of being honest. The Icelandic politician/comedian, his first promise was “I will never lie,” and everybody in Iceland said, “Amazing! The first promise was the one he could not keep.” But actually he tried very hard to always be honest, so very often he said, “oh, I actually don’t know” or “I’m not sure.” So for a politician, he became quite unique because he always said, “oh, I have to look into that, I have no idea.” And in a way, people started trusting him for being insecure. He said, “I actually have to find out, it will take some time.” He expressed his gut feeling, and people said, “I know you are like me.” So normally we find it difficult to identify with politicians, because they don’t seem to be like me. They always have an answer. And I start to doubt, did I really elect that person, and suddenly I don’t identify with, politics, my god, populism, nationalism, arrogance, macho chauvinism, all kinds of challenges in the world as such.
[OE] See now, Tim, let me just go back to something, which I thought was interesting, or maybe we’ll get to it. I would like to propose that calling an exhibition a parliament is also a good word. Yesterday, somebody said to me, “But isn’t a parliament something? Why would you call an exhibition a parliament? Isn’t a parliament something boring, negative?” It’s so interesting that you would think, people today and all of us say, parliaments are horrible, I don’t identify. Still, of course, the truth is that parliaments are the places which are to represent our feelings and take our ideas and turn them into action. We call it democracy. When you don’t have a parliament, you have a dictator, like the one very close by. So I think that this house and cultural institutions like this are the parliaments of the future. I think that we should ask politicians to come and collaborate.
[TM] Oh, yes.
[OE] I promise to you that artists can learn from going to parliaments too. I’m not saying that artists are any better. Sadly, I’m not. But, you see, what a successful opportunity if we take all the museums into the parliaments and all the politicians into the museums.
[TM] Yes, and maybe also having baths or saunas in these places. Sometimes I wonder whether the UN would be better if everybody was in a bath. I’m English, right, so we have to have a bath all the time. The idea that everybody would have their own bath like the Germany bath, the Switzerland bath, the Russia bath, and everyone is in a bath, the best kind of bubble bath, hot water, this might be a good idea. I think Olafur’s work is profoundly political, but it’s not that kind of political stuff that tries to sort of push you. It’s more like pulling you.
[TM] I’m a meditator and I love meditating in groups and the reason why I love it is because everyone can feel insecure. I really liked it when you said that word. Everyone is able to feel insecure together without stepping on anyone else. The guy next to you might be having some plan to take over the universe, but there’s nothing that he can do about it right now because he’s meditating. So it’s really cool that way. It’s a way to kind of coexist in a non-violent, introverted way in public. And I think that’s one big reason why this kind of space, the art gallery space, could in fact genuinely be a fantastic public forum because it’s a place where we allow ourselves to go inside ourselves a little bit. Not necessarily to find something but literally just to turn the attention to the inside. Isn’t that interesting that a work of art could do that? It’s over there somehow but it’s kind of enticing you to go here.
[OE] Which is different than a shopping mall where you are being, or we are being, told how, what and why to take in. Here the idea is to encourage you not consuming, but you are in fact, if not producing, you are co-producing. Now, it’s good to hold on to this idea of the parliament and the fact that the room is in fact a force. We know about crowd funding. You should not underestimate the power of the crowd. It’s interesting that it’s very disruptive for hierarchical systems, we just sometimes forget. If everybody gives one pound, we can call it the power of one pound as I heard in a lecture recently. I’m just very interested in, do we feel powerful or not. If we are consuming we are less likely to feel empowered. But if we are producing we are more likely to feel empowered, and if we are producing together, and so forth. Can I make a small, maybe a quantum leap?
[OE] I actually thought of bringing something up. Have you noticed there are such amazing objects in the rest of the museum? My show is okay, but the really fantastic things are of course the pottery, the vases, the porcelain, and so on. I just thought we should include them as well. Especially in that vibrating because maybe we make a mistake to think that this piece of porcelain, which is so now; it’s interesting, is it old or is it nowness?
[TM] Yes, that’s a funny thing about our world. We have these ideas about time that don’t make any sense at all. It’s because we become so addicted to the measuring devices with which we measure time and then we assume that the measuring device is the time. So because your measuring device goes 1, 2, 3 according to some very accurate atomic clock at this point, we think that’s what time is actually. But when you analyze it, time is more like a liquid that sprays out of things like Reversed Waterfall in a way. Time is not to do with little dots of presence. I think you know this if you meditate. It’s not the case that you go from one moment to the next moment to the next moment. It’s more like some sort of feeling that I like to call nowness to make it a little bit different from present.
[TM] I’m glad you brought this up because in a way this affects, changes and alters our sense of what the word ‘produce‘ could mean and also what the word ‘consume’ could mean. Because we’ve inherited this idea of active vs. passive. That’s really a big problem somehow. We think active is super different from passive. We think passive is a little bit evil like a lot of Western philosophers are very scared of art. It’s because it makes them feel passive. It makes them feel like they got moved, talking of movement by something that they didn’t intend to happen to them, and so that must be evil. It had some kind of force operating on them, not in their control. But this feeling of nowness is very much a slippery liquid feeling that you can’t really control and it could be any kind of size.
[TM] Think about the fact that we’re all breathing oxygen right now. About 3 billion years ago, there was a huge ecological catastrophe for the bacteria. The catastrophe was called oxygen that was a big problem for these anaerobic bacteria that didn`t breathe oxygen. They released the excreted all these oxygen into their environment and they poisoned their world so they had to go and hide. They went and hid in single-celled organisms, which is why flowers and plants are green, because they contain little chloroplast which is the bacteria. It’s why I can move my lips to speak because I have this energy coming from the mitochondria which are these bacteria living inside my cells in this symbiotic way. That means we’re breathing oxygen right now so this oxygen catastrophe, this event, is happening now.
[TM] It’s now, happening right now like the Big Bang. When you turn on an old TV you see the TV snow. Snow on the TV is actually the cosmic microwave background radiation. They say it’s leftover from the Big Bang. It’s better to say that it’s that part of the Big Bang that’s happening right now. In a way, me in this sentence and this microphone are just the current state of the Big Bang. So it’s not like things over there in the past. They’re still happening in some ways just like that beautiful celadon vase is still happening. It’s now.
[OE] The vase, you could say, is vibrating or resonating, and one could also say it has been on a journey. It is a new vase because it only just arrived to greet you and say, “oh, hello,” just like you arrive at the museum. I think this is quite important. We tend to think of looking at a vase that was made a long time ago as traveling back in time, “ah, so that’s how it was when they did the vase.” But the truth is we are here in nowness or hosted or held by newness, and the vase is experiencing us, and we the vase, here and now. I think the reason why this is interesting is because, how should I say, there’s a lot of nihilistic leaning back in the past, “oh, it was much nicer before.” My point is, if we would think of the vase in this moment, we would also allow the vase more relevance today.
[TM] That’s beautiful.
[OE] We could say that the vase [vɑ:z] is in fact, or what to say, the vase [veɪs]?
[TM] I’m American now so I have to say [veis].
[OE] Okay, so the vase is vasing. The one I saw was green or greenish, and maybe I can say the vase is vasing greenishly, do you see? So I am activating, I’m asking, or no, the vase is telling me that it is on the move. It does not move very fast. But I just think as an idea of how our thinking is also very much a construct. It’s a liberating idea to say, “oh, hi vase, where did you come from and where are you going?”
[TM] Just carrying that thought on, you might even say that green is happening in the key of vase, you know, like Bach, Sinatra in the key of G. So green in the key of vase, that’s interesting to think about it that way.
[OE] Should we have a relationship with this journey, we could also say, “this table used to be a tree, but for the time being, it is a table.” But the table is on the move to become something else, maybe even again a tree, we don’t know.
[TM] It’s open. I love the vases of Cezanne. I love the paintings of Cezanne where he has a vase on a table because the way he paints is almost to allow you to feel like the opening of that vase is kind of inviting you in. Somehow your eye wants to jump into that hole. Vase is a very inviting object, and it’s inviting you to put flowers or water. It comes back to this idea of invitation that we were talking about first.
[OE] Yes, it has to do with this also, is a museum hosting the past or is it in fact a spaceship from the future, you know, which has a lot of active contemporary things. So I think that the reason why we put a vase in the museum in the first place is because it has relevance. The point is, is the museum something where we go into the past, or do we go to the museum to go into the future? Hosting the future now, that is a title for something, isn’t it? Hosting the future.
[TM] Hello. It’s so nice to be here really. The only reason why I’m having the ability to say somewhat intelligent things is because you’re all so present, right now. It’s beautiful.
[OE] We came up with a few words, open, parliament, nowness, movement, and I think breathing should be brought in. I like that bacterial story, Tim, not bad.
[OE] Now let’s go down.
[TM] Right, it’s happening now. Yes, things are breathing. You can put that on my gravestone if I die in the next five minutes, which I have no intention of doing, You can put on my gravestone, “objects are breathing.”
[OE] I don’t mean to step back and justify or explain anything but when I was a younger student, I was quite inspired in the dematerialization of the object. To work with that, I’ve focused a lot on experiential situations, and one particular philosophical school, which I think you call continental philosophy, such as phenomenology, they were kind of mapping this, how we as a subject produce an object, but still the predominant idea was that the subject was active and the object, the vase, was passive. So for ten years, I enjoyed this modality constituting that the people in the room are the one who makes sense of what Tim is saying. But later in my life, I felt that there are more to objects than just being passively waiting for you to engage in them. Why not propose that also the object has, we could call it, what do you call it?
[TM] You could call it maybe all kinds of words. Sometimes people say agency, you know, but maybe it`s a little bit of puzzle word to use. Maybe some kind of liveliness or vibrancy or some kind of quality of its own. It’s a dance, right? I think philosophy for the last 200 years in Europe and America has always been about one side of the dance, which is the so-called subject and the one that is accessing the thing. Just recently people have become interested in the accessee. We`ve been emphasizing the accessor, but what about the accessee? Because really it’s a dance.
[TM] For some reason, I’m somehow thinking of the woman who was the governor of Texas before George Bush took over. She said something very funny, which we could bring into the room right now. She said about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, these two great dancers – one was man and the other was woman. Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did only backwards in high heels. And somehow that’s what the so-called objects are doing for us. They are like dancing with us, only backwards in high heels. Maybe it might be a good idea right now, given that we’ve been very efficiently destroying quite a lot of them such as polar bears and coral, to allow them to lead a little bit this dance.
[OE] That’s exactly what I was aiming at because once adopting this idea, no, this reality I should say. It also happens to have a very funny name called, triple O, because I’m Olafur, in my studio they call it, quadruple O. it’s called object-oriented ontology, just should you wish to look it up. There’s a group of quite lovely thinkers and doers in this group so the argument is, of course it is more complex but I take it the easy way, the argument is that also the polar bear is on a mission. So how are we to see it as an object, which just dies because we happen to live the way we do? So the idea of reversing, or skipping the object and the subject to say subject-subject or object-object, it doesn’t matter. I think that’s a very healthy perspective when talking about ecology and the climate, so as a model for constituting reality, I find it quite liberating.
[TM] You know the beautiful floor with the incredible, geometrical pattern. In a way the floor is inviting you, showing you how to move like, when you drive, it’s much safer to allow the other cars around you and the road, to kind of suck you around in this almost hypnotic state. If you try to drive, you end up being dead very quickly. I think free will is a little bit overrated. Even in neuroscience now, they’re saying, when you intend to do something, you already did it, maybe, about 1/10 of a second before you intended to do. That’s scary for some people, but actually myself, I find it extremely comforting. Because it means that we don’t have to scratch your head so hard to come up with solution to problems as if we were spinning around in some kind of void, and we were trying to imitate Jehovah or something like that, trying to make the world out of nothing, going back to the subject of nihilism.
[TM] We already have all kinds of things to work with. I think artists already know that. They have paint, they have mirrors, and they have all kinds of things that they’re fascinated by. And they allow themselves to be fascinated by them and that’s why we could have this incredible beautiful exhibition that Olafur has done. Because he allows himself to be seduced and fall in love with things that aren’t him. That’s pretty healthy.
28th Nov 2014 in conjunction with the exhibition Beyond and Between
I`m coming to the end now. I thought I would say a little bit again something about the Little Sun. Before I do this, I thought I should just try to sort of summarize a little bit. And then if you have a few questions you can think about them while I wrap it up.
I think the cultural sector – art, literature, dancing, music, theater – has a special capacity. It can work with social dynamics; it can work with the shape of our society. It can investigate tolerance, and limits of tolerance. It can address inclusion versus exclusion.
A great work of art can welcome people having a good experience. Even greater work of art can welcome people who don`t have a good experience. And the great work of art can say, ″it`s okay, you can still be welcome.″
Maybe it`s clearer with a museum. I always say, in a great museum you can have many experiences. Some experiences are affirmative; they are good, intelligent, inspiring, or something. But for some people their experiences might be difficult or they don`t experience anything. Or they go like, ″Maybe I`m not good enough to experience this,″ ″It`s very sophisticated for me, you know? I feel excluded.″ So I think the cultural sector, i.e., museums, the strongest thing about the cultural sector is that it can say, Even though you feel not welcome you are welcome anyway. You can be here. And even if you have a bad experience we can hold the bad experience with you, together with you because you are not alone. That`s why I think sometimes that the cultural sector is more visionary than the political sector. Because the political sector, you say, ″Ah, if you have a problem it`s your own problem. Maybe you should go somewhere else.″
I`m generalizing a little bit, I know, but I just want to emphasize this idea that creativity, art, a sketch, a model, an action, is incredible, super strong, very robust. Of course we must not forget that on the top we have art, then we have museums and books, and everything underneath. If there was no art, there is no museum, right? It`s interesting. Sometimes the museum forgets that. They think that they are more important than the artist. But they are not.
So it`s incredibly important to say, well, if art is so strong we should trust art to do something, right? We should not be afraid. We should say, ″Well, I`m an artist.″ If you say you are an artist, and I know there are a lot of artists here, you should not underestimate what authority you have as a representative of cultural sector. It`s really interesting. If you are making a drawing, a small drawing on a napkin, and you lose your pencil, everybody in the world will feel okay to pick up the pencil for you; even the highest king or queen, they say, ″oh, you lost your pencil.″ This is so important. We must not forget this, that when we work with art we are doing something very important. I said it in a humble way and this is why I thought I should take this potential that art has and see if I can test in different projects. This is where we started.
At Tate Modern in London, I told them, ″Let`s turn off the light and give everybody a lamp.″ This is the Surrealist galleries. You know, Surrealism, it`s great. Actually Man Ray, many years ago, suggested people to walk through the exhibition with fire in the hand. Slightly different concept, but beautiful idea, very, very dangerous also. But the idea that you go like, hmm? hmm? and you see suddenly I`m going like this, and then I go like this – oh, I should turn it on. Do you know what I mean? Your arm becomes the guidance for your eyes. You go like this, you go like this, and then you go like this, take your step and go like this. So there is a physical contract which is very different, using the power of the lamp. And some paintings were more interesting in the darkness than they were in the brightness. It`s a little unfair but...
The truth is now we are selling this Little Sun and that`s the actual project. I think it`s, right now, in twelve African countries, and it`s in slightly more than twenty two countries in the world, that we are selling the lamp. Here, this is in Ethiopia in Adis Ababa. We are selling it for the price, the lowest possible price, so we are competing with Kerosene, with oil, with petroleum. So we have a business model which is kind of micro business model. And you can learn more about that by going to littlesun.com, and you can see about the project. In ten days, maybe two weeks, the film I will do will make a small exhibition on the homepage for Little Sun, and say, Little Sun visited Seoul, and together with you, we made a small project. I will put it on the homepage and you can also see here from Leeum.
And it`s a good opportunity for me to ask you to distribute the Little Sun story. That if you have power in your hand you can become powerful yourself. It`s about liberating yourself. This is one of our many kiosks. This is the next generation, nobody knows, this is a mobile phone charger. So you are the first people to see it. So can you see there is a relationship? It can charge a smart phone. And funny enough there is much more phones than electricity in the world. You know, accesses to phones have one or more electricity.
See, I thought of, just as an end, mentioning that maybe, let`s start a rumor, a small rumor. Now you are so many here, and we can start a small rumor. Maybe next year, so think about giving power to the people. Take the power from the sun, make it accessible, The sun belongs to everybody. Nobody owns the sun, not yet at least, right? Nobody owns it. It’s free. You take that and you make it available for all of us.
The rumor is, maybe you can whisper it to somebody, then maybe in a year or maybe in two years, you put many balloons – maybe the rumor is just the project, right? – you take many of these and put them on balloons. And when the wind is from the south, we send it to our friends, to North Korea. In the night, and we turn them on like this, so like a little group of stars, they fly over And then they land. It’s like giving power to the people. That’s the rumor.
The big concern of my work is the question of whether temporal chronicles or formats are operating with the right values in describing human history. So, in this exhibition I displayed 6 large paintings, works of traditional art and adaptations. In addition to this, the three videos which connect these works have also been included. The contents of the works usually consist of forms which can be seen in ancient art but the storyteller who delivers the contents leads the narrative of the images as an inanimate object or plant or animal. Since multifaceted texts have been combined with each other, visitors might feel that the works are very unkind. But actually, because there are historical texts, images which seem as though they were seen before in museums, as well as scientific or religious texts, visitors can feel free to enter and leave through whichever door they wish.
<Artist Interview> ARTSPECTRUM 2016 - Jane Jin Kaisen
Themes that tend to recur across my individual art projects are themes such as history, memory, translation and migration. And oftentimes I’m really concerned with trying to give aesthetic shape to histories that in different ways, for different reasons have been silenced or marginalized, or contested. I’m presenting three works, one of them is a multi-channel video installation titled Reiterations of Dissent, and it consists of eight different videos that are each about ten minutes long and they are looped and shown each of them on independent monitors in a circular shaped room. All the videos are played simultaneously, as you enter the space and each of the videos give a different perspective, or different approach to the suppressed history and fragmented memories of the Jeju April Third Uprising and Massacre from the present day perspective. What I tried to do with the work is to give a multifaceted account of this event and the multiple ways in which this event is commemorated at present. Another work that I’m presenting is a work titled Apertures Specters Rifts, and as you approach this work from a distance what you immediately experience is a red glow, but then as you move closer, you see that it’s a lightbox, and coming closer again, you realize that there is a number of photographs inside, but you can’t quite discern what they depict. You have to come very close to the lightbox in order to see the details, and then what is shown in the lightbox are photographs from North Korea. Some of the photographs are what I took during a travel to North Korea last year and the other half of the photographs are the ones taken from a book by a Danish journalist by Kate Fleron, who in 1951 went to North Korea. So I juxtapose the photos from the Korean War with photographs taken last year, which was the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea. In relation to this work, I show another work titled Seeing Shades of Red, and it is an unlimited edition poster that is placed on the ground and the viewer can take a poster with them. On the poster thre is a text in which I alternate between the notion of images and different associations to the color red. Red is a very multifaceted color, so it carries a lot of connotations to different emotions. The red as in love, red as in war, red as in rage, red as in blood, as in family ties, red as in red scare or red alert. So what I work with these two works actually is on the one hand, thinking about how we oftentimes encounter photographs through a filter, particularly charged images. And this filter that exists in between us and the images carry all of the different associations and cultural baggage and different connotations that we bring to the image are not necessarily inherent within the images themselves. And with the work I was interested in creating some kind of nuanced reflection around both different ways of seeing, ways of image making or technologies around image making and trying to also in some ways give a kind of nuanced commentary to the division of Korea.
Long story short, I am wary of landscapes/scenery becoming mundane. The works are about asking question yourself if it is right to not think it strange. I don’t know how many people will empathize with the works because they are personal interpretations based on my life, but they embody a variety of emotions. For example, it can be beautiful, or, it can be splendid. Or, it can be literally strange or awkward. or the scenery can be ugly or frightening or risky. Anyway, I used the word “strange” to refer to all these contexts. The landscapes here are real and accessible in our surroundings. They are scenes that have become so familiar that they cannot be seen as strange Yet, they evoke strange feelings in me at certain moments This is when I discover things that make me uncomfortable, I think. It is in that moment that I record these things… what I am recording and testifying are the shells of scenery. But what I am pointing to is the inside of the scene. However, since people may feel the inside of landscapes differently from the way I do, I used the word “strange” based on my experience But others might not feel the strangeness that I felt or they may feel strangeness in other places. That may be different according to their interpretation and their attitude towards life. I think these are works that keep me from becoming numb and help me operate better.
In our work, there are couples who are about to get married and their parents. The parents are the baby-boom generation who were born between 1955 and 1963 and their children are the so-called “Echo-generation” who were born between 1979 and 1992. To simplify the situation of marriage, we assumed that the Echo-generation marries within their generation and all parents of the Echo-generation are among the baby-boom generation. When you come inside the work, there are 200 circles on the floor. Each circle is a combination of two semicircles. The circle is divided into population and gender and shows the various combinations that an Echo-generation male and female can become couples. So visitors can find at least one circle on which they can stand after looking around and searching for the incomes of themselves or their spouse. And the pyramid above is divided into three parts according to the standard of home ownership of the parents on each side of the virtual couple. According to the three combinations of the case in which the parents have no house, when the parents have one house and when the parents have a few houses 144 combinations consisting of about 16 combinations of income, and how much money the couples can receive from their parents based on the three standards I mentioned, how much they can loan based on their own income, as well as information about the kind of apartment they can potentially find in Seoul is shown on the pyramid. Therefore, visitors can easily find where they stand in terms of starting married life based on their wage, their spouse’s wage and the financial circumstances of their and their spouse’s parents. This work is largely made of three dimens with two axes of males and females on the floor and the vertical axis is the parental dimension. To express the three coordinates of parents, male and female effectively, we installed the form of a pyramid in mid-air. We think that this was the best solution for the visitors standing on the circles to see all the combined coordinates from their positions.
Hello, everyone! We are the artists group Okin Collective. The title of our work is <Art Spectral>. As you can probably tell from the title, the subject of this work is ARTSPECTRUM. We are participating in ARTSPECTRUM and we think that the program supports the work of young artists. With this in mind, we selected ARTSPECTRUM as a theme to express what it means to create art in Korea and where artists stand. Our work consists of a wooden floor, video, sound and a book. One could say that the most important component of this work the book. The name of the book is also <Art Spectral>. The writers whom we selected conceived the writing in the book with the keywords, ‘art,’ ‘spectrum’ and ‘art spectral’ – art like a ghost or disappearing art. The book including these writings can be read only here in the exhibition. Therefore, we would like people to pay attention to the questions that the writers and Okin Collective ask through the book within the confines of time and space.
Through my recent works The Show Must Go On and Our Land of Korea I express my thoughts on my father’s life by focusing on 15 statues of notable figures in Korean history and 221 iconic images culled from selected commemorative stamps. My father was an authoritative and strong man who tried to disguise his weakness. I disliked my father and attempted to erase the memory about my father. But becoming a father of my own family, I think of my father often these days. In order to have advice from my now deceased father, I have written letters even though they cannot be posted and pursued the life of my father by searching for materials. When I think of my father, I think of him saying that he worked hard for his family and his favorite song titled ‘Father’s y\Youth’. So, I was curious about his youth and his life devoted to family and tried to follow the laborious life of my father’s generation based on Construction of Deceased National Patriots of Ancestors and National Projects for the Record of the Korean People. In this way, I thought that I could learn about my father’s life as a father and as a man. On the foot of each statue that was installed during 1967-1971 as the part of Construction of Deceased National Patriots of Ancestors project was installed plaques. Fifteen of such plaques are photographed and displayed in my work, The Show Must Go On. Words on the plaques remind me of my father’s saying that his sacrifice enabled economic development. On the hard marble and metal plate on which event’s from the figure’s life deemed memorable were inscribed in less than 20 lines, I could not feel humane qualities and personal life of the figures. Focusing on the materiality of plaque rather than the life of the figure, I found similarity between my father’s strong appearance, which eventually had been weakened, and surface of the plaques, which has been worn off. On Our Land of Korea, I painted iconic images from commemorative stamps issued from 1961 to 1979. Drawn in canvas size 300, images of commemorative stamps symbolize utopian society established by economic development. The same symbols from the commemorative stamps can be found around us, but today’s society does not seem to be an utopia. In that sense, as I consciously tried to erase memories of my father, I erased images of economy illustrated in commemorative stamps. As my memories of my father is positive and negative at the same time, I wanted to demonstrate both positive and negative connotations of images on my canvas. Our Land of Korea is the portrait of my deceased father. I hope that you can draw the differences and similarities between our fathers’ life of youth and the youthful life today through the memorials and symbols from the 1960’s and 70’s. And if time permits, I think it would be nice to write letters to your family.
I have been interested in rain rituals. Rain rituals are not only just a ceremony calling for rain but also the opportunity that a king repented after his deeds and consulate his people based on the belief that men and nature are in connection. So, I have worked with rain rituals since 2008. This work is about the alter used for rain rituals, which has been disappeared in Korea. It is the real name of the altar which was discovered at the Yongsan American military base in a poor condition. Seeing the altar in ruins, I decided to talk about the scars of modern times, and cracks and the wounds of the earth that we have to cure. The work behind us is the structure made of red bricks The foundation stones of the altar were being used by the American military as a base for a barbeque grill made of red bricks. I used Vaseline instead of cemet to lay bricks in order to propose a possibility of healing. Type of original rain ritual that took place in Akhaedokda is called as toryonggiu. Though there is very little information remaining about the toryonggiu, I was able to find in the records kept by the Joseon government general that the dragon body was formed with a wooden log wrapped in straw and covered in mud. I re-created the dragon but I did so in the modern way. I decided to work on my own project when I was impressed by certain works. I also want people to be inspired by my work, visually and contextually. I hope that such inspiration can change one’s mind and further develop ideas. I hope you enjoy my work.
This time, I made a video work titled, <Remixing Timespace> and an installation titled, <Tomorrowland>. Last year I filmed the launch pad of Apollo 1 manned lunar landing mission and the launch pad of Apollo 11, NASA, Florida, United States. and I also filmed the launch pad for the exploration of Mars performed at the Space X. And there is the place called Epcot in Florida, which Walt Disney made as his idea of the Utopian City, And I made these works filming such places. While researching space development, I discovered the works represent more than a simple scientific curiosity, that they’re more connected to a Utopian desire, surpassing the limitations of this planet called Earth, and its limited resources. And what’s even more interesting is the fact that the launch pad 39A, the launch pad of Apollo 11, will be used for the manned rocket Mars mission in the 2030s. Two different times, the moon exploration which was started from both analogue and ideological desire, the exploration of Mars and the year 2015 which looked ahead to the 2030s. Private IT companies financed all of these. Mars exploration as the capitalist fantasy in the neo-liberal context. These works are about the story of two different events in the different time zones that keep repeating themselves in the same space. Although I filmed with a focus on different places, in terms of content, these works are about time. They are also about utopian desire and where we’re heading and how we can surpass our limits, and I titled the work, <Remixing Timespace>. All the research materials related to this were combined with the video taken by myself. In case of the installation, I named it <Tomorrowland>, I connected the Utopia community with a structure named Spaceship Earth within it, and combined them with space law and still cuts from various Sci-Fi films.
<Artist Interview> ARTSPECTRUM 2016 - Kelvin Kyung Kun Park
The title of this work is <Army: 600,000 portraits>. I went to army late when I was 30 years old. Since it was such a big experience for me, I thought, ‘let’s make something about the army’ and made this work. This work will be made into a feature film in the second half of 2017. And beforehand, an installation version of it is being introduced at Leeum. This work is about the individual, and the individual inevitably belongs to a group. If there is no group, the individual cannot exist. Then, in the case of the army, how does a person become collectivized and how does individuality reveal itself in the collective… I tried to capture these things not with a story, but with the sensual expressions of people, their unique facial expressions… Maybe this work will remind male visitors of their memory in the army female visitors, on the other hand, may wonder what on earth [the people in the video] are up to. But regardless of whether you’re male or female, since women have fathers, brothers and boyfriends who have experience serving in the military, and this has become a part of the culture, I think it would be nice if they can also ask themselves why Korean men are the way they are.
Geometric box-like units that compose the building are assembled each facing different directions. Movable walls installed inside the building can create variations in display according to exhibition themes.
Members Art Talk, one of the members only programs at Leeum, is to help the members expand their art experiences and widen their understanding in other art fields such as music, film, and literature, besides fine art. For this program in December 7, 2015, we invited Minhee Park, the holder of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage no.30, Gagok. She is performing and giving a lecture while answering several questions towards traditional Korean music.
Minhee Park is a traditional vocalist who is building her own art world through the composite art works based on deep understanding in traditional Gagok. She has directed art performance series of ″No longer GAGOK″ and has kept trying to unravel the musical form and sound of Gagok conceptually.
A Homage to Korean Architecture - Wisdom of the Earth
It is compelling how 3D printers can delicately produce the models of traditional architecture. Taking a close look at the printing process in ANNEXE to the exhibition A Homage to Korean Architecture, you will also find Korean architecture much closer to you through paper kits, jigsaw puzzles, board games, and Digital Workbook, all helping you to reflect on the exhibition in an enjoyable way. WIth Digital Workbook you can create your own work of art, available in the workshop room as well as Tablet Tree in the lobby. Your paintings will be projected together with others` onto The Screen at the workshop room in real time.
A Homage to Korean Architecture - Wisdom of the Earth
It is compelling how 3D printers can delicately produce the models of traditional architecture. Taking a close look at the printing process in ANNEXE to the exhibition A Homage to Korean Architecture, you will also find Korean architecture much closer to you through paper kits, jigsaw puzzles, board games, and Digital Workbook, all helping you to reflect on the exhibition in an enjoyable way. WIth Digital Workbook you can create your own work of art, available in the workshop room as well as Tablet Tree in the lobby. Your paintings will be projected together with others` onto The Screen at the workshop room in real time.
This program consists of understanding the role of docents, art theory classes on Leeum and its collection, writing scenarios, and experiencing guided tour services.
Participating students will come to learn how to express their thoughts, as they undergo practical and detailed instruction. This program will also provide an opportunity to gain professional-level understanding of art, by learning about the museum’s collection and the artists who created them. Also, constructing a scenario for an exhibition tour and presenting it before an audience will increase interest in art history and impart joy that comes from sharing knowledge. Through these processes, students can vastly improve their presentation skills by logically organizing their thoughts and sharing them in a way that will be best understood by others.
The 2015 Leeum Kids summer program was held in association with the exhibition, Exquisite and Precious.
Leeum Kids offers programs to utilize art as a lens to see history, philosophy and society, and to create diverse art works encompassing literature, science, music and dancing. At Leeum Kids you would gain solid knowledge on the humanities that enables you to see the invisible, and learn to have open mind that leads to sound communication skill.
People generally think Korean art, especially its traditional art, is simple, artless and natural. The 2015 Leeum Kids summer program was held in association with the exhibition, Exquisite and Precious, and offered an opportunity to have a fresh view in understanding the concepts of subtlety, elaboration and delicacy that have constantly run in the Korean art history.
The Avatamska Sutra is the oldest Buddhist scripture in Korea. It is voluminous, and its contents are profound. Its manuscript could be difficult for children to learn, so Leeum Kids told them the story of Sudhana to help them feel the Sutra familiar. They were taught craftsmanship of ancestors as well.
When students were told to imitate the work by scratching boards, they took it as a new and unusual method. They began working on their assignments, expecting they could make a delicate work just like those who created the Avatamska Sutra in the past. As they scratched the boards, they could experience how the Sutra was created and feel this profound work closer.
After appreciating mother-of-pearl works made during the Goryeo period, children decorated mirrors with mother-of-pearl pieces. As those pieces were so thin and small, students wondered whether they were actually nacre. Children were also amazed by the splendid five colors of mother-of-pearl. Thanks to the innate qualities of nacre, children could make pretty and satisfactory decorations. One of them didn’t show her finished mirror to her mom, saying that she wanted to give it to her mom as a birthday gift.
Pottery tends to be perceived as something you see at the exhibition. Students got to think about ‘how this earthenware was made, and who made it in this shape’, so they felt it with their hands. They also got to wonder ‘how people moved and felt when they touched the pottery.’We had a class to move bodies and adopted dancing, especially non-verbal performance, to have children express pottery’s shapes with their own bodies.
Children were fascinated and enchanted by how the shape of clay changed. They treaded on and threw clay pieces and felt their weight. As clay shapes changed along with their body movements, they naturally felt close to clay. It was a good chance to understand the delicacy shown at the exhibition, Exquisite and Precious.
On the last day of Leeum Kids, we arranged the appreciation of modern art works. Whan-ki Kim’s painting, Sky and Land , has various shades of blue closely put together. U-ram Choe ’s work moves based on scientific principles and delicate techniques.Children really liked Do-ho Suh ’s work, which is consisted of a number of different miniature people. Children searched for some miniatures of different appearances in different clothes, as if they were playing a pictorial puzzle game. These appreciation and experience activities encouraged students to feel the delicate and subtle beauty in modern art works.
When the Leeum Kids program was over, I felt deeply grateful to students for their active participation and for having no accidents. I was touched when they showed various and unexpected approaches towards appreciation and expression, and when they seemed more sincere than teachers.
Leeum launches ‘Leeum Digital Workbook’, a special way to appreciate artworks, using smart devices.
Leeum Digital Workbook functions as supporting device to expand the spectrum of knowledge and aesthetic sensibility by utilizing various interactive functions based on digital technology. It provides equal contents as paper workbook that is to exceed physical limits of paper and pen. The digital technology that is realized in ‘Galaxy Tap A’ assists the audience for their effective appreciation of detailed and elaborated beauty, shape of patterns, and specialty of techniques in the artworks. It also provides various functions such as flash animation, video popup, and drawing section using touch pen, so that students can have higher interest in and get close to the traditional art. Leeum Digital Workbook is suitable for teenaged students to assist their exhibition tour in the museum because it is built in same proportion with paper workbook that offers high readability.
The Digital Guide Desk is located on the right side of the Information Desk. Audiovisual explanation of an artwork is provided along with high-definition images when the work is detected by the device during the tour. You can also enlarge images of an artwork to observe to details. see the detail of the work.
360-degree-rotation-functions Full three-dimensional views are available provided for the selected some ceramic works. Images can be rotated to show the back of the work, which is not visible from the conventional museum display setting. while enlarging them.
Employing the Page-turning functions are equipped for manuscripts and books of paintings., you can turn the pages by swiping your finger on the screen to read inside the pages also see works that are not on display.
AR (Augmented Reality) functions are to translate traditional Chinese characters on a painting into the Korean language.
Utilizing Download Images function, you can save the pictures of museum architecture to your own smart phone. You can download images provided by the museum to your smart phone through Download Images.
When you are finished with the tour, you can review the list of works you have looked during the tour by selecting Replay Works function. You can also revisit works after the tour through Replay Works, which shows the list of artworks viewed by the user.
Haegue Yang “Shooting the Elephant. Thinking the Elephant.” Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. Tae Hyunsun Senior Curator
Famous for her Venetian blinds works, it is the third solo exhibition of Haegue Yang to be held in Korea. After Yang graduated from university in 1994, she moved to Germany. Currently, she lives in Berlin,, often traveling between Berlin and Seoul..Now she is exhibiting in various cities around the world. The typical characteristic of Yang’s works is to illustrate many phases of society through individual lives. Since she usually works in foreign countries, this exhibition will be a good opportunity to appreciate her diverse art works that have previously rarely been whoen in Korea. For this exhibition, Yang sets up a special theme. The theme, as shown in the exhibition title, is ‘Shooting the Elephant 象 Thinking the Elephant’. In the title, the word ‘elephant’ was repeated three times including one appeared in Chinese character. The title is from two literature sources that inspired the artist. The first is an essay called Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell. And the second comes from the novel titled The Roots of Heaven by French writer Romain Gary. The elephant in the two literatures symbolizes pure nature and human nature or dignity of mankind metaphorically. What she was inspired by the two literatures was recovering essential values that we had forgotten in modern civilization and system,which is important in today’s society. Yang wants to convey the message through the exhibition. The exhibition is a kind of retrospective but also displays many large-scale new works that have never been introduced. First, the Venetian blinds, which are Yang’s representative works, are introduced. Then her important early works that have not been introduced in Korea including an interesting work called Storage Piece are displayed. Overall, works that show community.
6th Dec 2014 in conjunction with Beyond and Between
Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming despite the cold weather.
I grew up while watching great artists giving a talk here at the Leeum auditorium. It is my great honor to talk about my works standing on this podium. I also feel tremendously honored to take this opportunity to have a conversation with Kohei Nawa. I will do my best to walk you through my artworks. Today, I`d like to talk about how my works evolved, to show you the brief history of my life as an artist. Before we begin, I`d like to turn your attention to this last slide. This work is what I usually like to show first before introducing any others. It is because I feel like this work best represents who I am in short. I drew this painting with the help of my father when I was eight years old. As a young boy, I was surrounded by robots playing main characters most of the time. Such robots as Mazinger Z and Mighty Atom in old animations were from Mr. Nawa`s country. I watched these animations throughout my childhood. Also Koreans have lived with the reality of the separated country and the war likely to happen. Amidst such situation, I was educated against communism. I remember hiding in an air-raid shelter during evacuation drills every month when I was young. Moreover, people still lived in the era of Cold War, threatened by nuclear war. And the press covered stories about energy depletion every day as if all the energy sources would exhaust right away.
The environment I grew up in influenced me to think that I should become a robot scientist. For my family to evacuate safely in the case of an emergency, I thought I should build a robot that can guide us. I guess it was not in my nature to fight. As you can see here, these robots can continue their existence even after the energy depletion. The robot at the top is equipped with a stomach, and its inner parts look much like internal organs. These robots can digest anything they eat, and energy is generated from the digested. I did not change much from the time when I drew this as a young boy. The only difference is that I got older now. I am lucky to lead a life of fulfilling my childhood dream. This is why I showed you this slide first briefly. Now, I will go back to the first slide for my presentation to begin.
Well, I wanted to become a scientist but I was not really good at math. So, I had to rethink about my plan. Since both of my parents majored in painting, there were always paintings at home. And I liked to make things. I knocked things out all the time. Then, I was advised to major in sculpture at a university when I was a high school student. Fortunately, I got into the Department of Sculpture at Chung-Ang University. While focusing on the sculpture thereafter, I completely forgot about robots and machines because the sculpting itself was so mesmerizing. I carved out woods and stones and made people out of clay. All these were so interesting that I forgot about machines. Then as a junior student, I was given an assignment by professor, Yuri Geum, to incorporate the element of movement for certain changes to occur in my works. That was when all the forgotten memories about machines came back to me. Since then, I started to create machines with moving parts taking my childhood dreams as the driving force. Motionless sculptures did not excite me anymore. I started with not much knowledge, so the first work I created fell apart within five minutes.
For my first solo exhibition too, I worked every night to fix my works. The next morning, I put them on display then to fix them again at night. It became the repetitive pattern of my life. Then luckily, there is now this place named `Cheong-gye-cheon` in Seoul. That is where people like me without any taught knowledge could meet a great number of experts in diverse areas. So, I spent most of my university years in Cheong-gye-cheon and learned much about how I can express my thoughts through my works.
The concept for my first solo exhibition made me realize that I was striving to breathe life into machines by making them move. I started to wonder why and ended up thinking if it is just me making efforts on this. Then, I saw that companies, scientists or many other people desire to surmount God. I mean the desire to create life. Of course, financial aspects cannot be ruled out. Anyhow, it was not just me but many others who strive to infuse life into machines. People have already become too dependent on machines. Simply switching them off would not wean us off. That’s why I put on a solo exhibition with the statement that the human civilization is simply the host to machines.
I constructed a lab where all the electronic components move as if alive. And, as you know, machines are built covered with the energy released from the human desire. I mean machines help humans overcome physical and psychological limitations while assuming the chores for us, making things faster and easier. They grow on such desire to be fulfilled by them. This is the story I wanted to share through my works on display. This was how I wanted to make one step further. Concept-wise, all the works I put on exhibition were supposedly living creatures that I came across in a city. I felt I should tell a story as if they were alive by giving them a scientific name. I named them Anima-Machine. It means `mechanical creatures` in Korean. I added specific details to the story for the mechanical creatures I discovered. A board was used to tell the story. I mean, the picture at the top left is out of focus just like the pictures of UFOs. Normally, all the UFO pictures are blurred. So, I wanted to evoke such mood for my creatures to make people believe that they are real. That`s why I came up with a very detailed story of who accidently spotted them and when. The story continues about where and how they are assumed to live, but that nobody exactly knows the details. I wrote the story and placed it alongside the work for the exhibition. My intention was to make people believe that such creatures already live around us. Then, visitors started to take them more realistically than before. In other words, the story creates an illusion, though briefly, that these creatures are real. Of course, people would soon realize that it is just an imaginary story, but such illusory moments meant much to me. Even though they all came from my imagination, momentary illusion could be experienced as if they coexist in reality.
So, I maintained my focus on this type of works. This work started from the fact that countless mobile phones exist in the city. And I imagined a creature that feeds on its own voice. I imagined how it would live and even made its larva and imago, and displayed them in a way a museum of natural history would. What you see on these slides are creatures that live only atop skyscrapers while feeding on energy. Their story was narrated for visitors. Then with this piece, it wasn’t just about science and biology anymore. I started to incorporate more stories filled with legends or superstitions. For the exhibition held in Liverpool, U.K. I wanted to capture the nature of port city through an urban legend.
Let me show you a video clip. This is the piece, Ultima Mudfox that I mentioned previously. These city creatures float underground along the subway just as dolphins swim in the sea. Personally, this exhibition served as a significant momentum. It was in 2006 at the world-renowned Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. A small room was reserved for a solo exhibition of a young artist. Fortunately, I was given the chance, and was so determined to do my best. I was ready to find another job if not received well with no regrets behind. That is how the Urbanus species came about. What you see here is the queen. I wanted to express how the queen or the female absorbs urban energy and delivers it to the male in the form of light. Since Mori Art Museum is located atop of a 52-story building, I opened the windows at night to have a night view in the background of the exhibition. An idea for this work crossed my mind when I saw a flickering street lamp out of order. The street lamp made me think that it could be a living creature. So, I created a being that pretends to be a street lamp whilst it is just parasitic on the lamp. When there is nobody around, then it moves onto the next street lamp. This work has been on view at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea throughout this year. So I think it has been viewed by many visitors. And this work also represents another personal milestone.
I got an opportunity to hold a solo exhibition at the prestigious gallery, SCAI the Bathhouse in Tokyo, in 2008. It was an opportunity for me to do something extremely experimental. Back then, I was interested in how individual entity follows a simple program just as ants and bees do. Once each entity comes together as a whole, they move as if it is one unimaginably gigantic form of life. Therefore, I wanted to experiment what would happen once these small and simple entities are put together through the artwork. What you see here are individual units with protective outer layers that remain closed. Yet, each unit is programmed to mimic motions of neighboring units whose outer layers open wide to receive energy. Once a stimulus, the seed, is given, a chain of reactions spread out to adjacent units. Without any predetermined pattern, movements continue to ripple throughout the entire body. It was this exhibition when I met Mr. Nawa for the first time. I will talk about that story later on.
As you`ve just seen, the artwork was somewhat rough movement-wise at the outset. And may I say livelier in some sense. In short, the initial piece was untamed with the qualities of rawness and roughness. Then, over the years, there came opportunities to create more of these. They have evolved slowly to radiate a soft and meditative aura. What I’ve just shown you is the highly evolved form of the series. And, what you see here on this slide is the biggest in size.
May I say, this is so far the ultimate piece of the Una Lumino series. I got an opportunity to install this artwork in Samsung Global Engineering Center. I think it was possible thanks to many people present here. Much has changed over time in terms of expression, movement as well as system in operation. – Could you turn down the volume a little bit, please? – This is controlled by videos generated in real time. Unlike the previous approach, it was expressed more freely and softly. The piece is 8 meters in height and 7 meters in diameter. It is large in size. There is no other lighting installed here except the artwork filling the space with light.
I did not stop my imagination about what would happen once these machines acquire life. What then? What would be the relations between the machines and us? How would the relations evolve? I became curious about these questions. The closer people get to a certain being, the more they underestimate them. That`s how I came to think, on one hand. On the other hand, however, people come to recognize other values over time and end up deifying the being. That`s why I started to think these beings can exist as our gods, someday in the future. With this in mind, I worked on a piece with its own myth and characters within its own world. The first image that popped up in my mind was the Hubble telescope floating above the earth. Telescopes on the earth are limited to observe the space further due to the atmosphere. But, nothing is in between the Hubble and the space. Thus, it is possible to spot a galaxy or a nebula, tens of billions of light years away. In a sense, the Hubble can be our prophet. Because spotting stars 20 billion light years away means having a glimpse into what it looked like 20 billion years ago. The speed of light makes it possible. Then, a question pops up about how we came to be what we are. With more scientific advances, how far and further into space we can see tells us how far and further back into the past we can look at. Astronomers say that what created the universe eventually was the Big Bang. Efforts are being made to approach the time around it. So, I thought images of the Big Bang, which is in absolute form, signify our origin and we are originated from it. What grew from this thought was to create small gods using these forms, and a room dedicated to such gods.
And, for this, I will show you a video. This is what I just talked about, the Kalpa series. Kalpa means an extremely long period of time in Buddhism. The room was filled with the works of small gods from the Kalpa series. And, a piece that I am going to show you shortly is a tree-shaped artwork. I wrote a short myth for this piece. There used to be a planet exactly similar to the Earth. Then, the planet gradually drifted apart from the Sun. People living on that planet climbed the mountain and pleaded with gods to save them. To save the humankind, the gods of birds, iron, and trees sacrificed each of their organs to grow this tree. That was the myth behind the piece.
Next, I`d like to talk about the piece, Custos Cavum, to show you how an idea is developed and worked out. Custos Cavum means the guardian of the hole. There is a reason for vague Latin titles given to my works. Having a preconceived opinion, forced by a title, isn’t good for me. I just hope viewers take in what they see as a work itself. Assuming that a piece is entitled ″The Scent of Spring″, people might wonder what they are supposed to see in a piece to feel the scent. So, all the titles I use are just the utterance of sound. It’s about uttering words out. I try to attach a meaning on the title, but the meaning is of little significance.
When working on a new piece of work, the most challenging part is to come up with an idea. And I watch a lot of nature documentaries when I can`t think of anything, hoping to get some ideas from Mother Nature. This is a picture of Antarctica`s ice plain. There is nothing in sight on this plain, except this one here. This is a Weddell seal. Weddell seals are the only mammals that live in Antarctica. There is a hole right there, and the existing hole is maintained by the seal to live in. The hole is used when the seal goes underwater to hunt for food. But, the hole does not stay open due to the temperature dipping as low as 40 degrees below zero and thus freezes the hole. So, the seal gnaws a hole with its teeth every single day. It knows the hole must not freeze to stay open. By watching the documentary, I came to think that what the seal is doing is connecting two separated worlds. I thought the seal is a being that links two different other beings. In and out of the hole, the seal takes care of its pups and lives its life.
The image of the seal on the ice plain reminded me of something like these abandoned planes. Then, I got curious about how the breeding would be like for the seal. And this is Cordyceps featured in the other documentary that I saw together. There are tens of, thousands of different varieties of Cordyceps in existence. This is just one of them. I decided to mix the image of Cordyceps for a more specific sketch of the seal`s life. Then final sketches were made for constructing the artwork. How it will be placed in the space was concerned. This went through a very long process of designing. The saddest aspect of my work is that improvisation is a luxury that I cannot enjoy. Because my pieces need to function in reality. You know, there are many works that are created differently. Just as Jackson Pollock splatters paint over canvases. I truly envy this kind of performances.
My work requires detailed planning so that a hole can be drilled onto a given spot through an iron plate. Designing is usually done on a computer, followed by drawing and simulation in actual size. By using the Autodesk Inventor software, a mechanical design can be simulated as if in reality. Then, files are sent to factories with different specialties. When I say files, I mean design drawings. Based on such drawings, the process continues.
And I must mention this, as you can see, it is breathing in and out. Watch the stomach. Even though it appears to be lifeless, this creature has a myth of its own. These creatures die one by one when people care less about other worlds and exclude others that are different from them. Then, when another hole is made and someone takes interest, the creatures start to breathe again. This is what I envisioned for my work. It was expressed through Cordyceps growing from the creature’s back that grows their seeds to go into another hole.
I`ve talked about God and Myth so far. And I gave a thought about how to categorize the next part of my career. Since I was given a chance to make this presentation, I wanted to categorize my past. I tried to come up with a word that best describes the present time. Then, `free time` seemed just right. The mechanical creatures, myths and interests in the religion were how I was categorized and what guided me towards certain directions. Now I`ve gotten used to machines after many years of working. And the way I express my thoughts has become freer than before. I guess I am going through a phase of wanting to express what I see right in front of my eyes without restraint. The artworks I`m about to show you offer a different perspective into how machines can be perceived as living creatures. We can never depart from life because we ourselves are living things, and thus life is always at the center of our attention. I guess I looked further into it. It is not a matter of being alive or dead in a superficial sense. I tried new stories out of curiosity for what is really inherent in life.
I was drinking on the street when the idea came across for this work. I saw a black object passing in a flash. I asked myself what that must be and thought I finally spotted something strange living in a city. I chased after it, and it simply turned out to be a black plastic bag. Right at that moment, I had sudden realization at a time when I was lost in deep darkness while preparing for the next exhibition. I felt that the valuable and the valueless are controlled eventually by a system. I wanted to construct a system that turns the valuable into the valueless and vice versa. What you`ve just seen here is an absolute chamber, in which a plastic bag, commonly used for wrapping street food, floats in the air.
This is also another similar issue. Throughout human history, people have displayed the desire to be free and to become a free man. But at the same time, people have also voiced the desire to be governed by a mightier being who can complete their incompleteness. People always crave for freedom and eventually win it through revolution. But soon a new king is crowned. Then, people start to dislike the king who is killed eventually. And I was thinking how to capture such repetitive history of killing and being killed. Then I found this symbol of Ouroboros. Ouroboros is an ancient Greek symbol, depicting a serpent devouring its own tail. To me, the serpent seemed to be eating its own tail and body to sustain its own life in an eternal cycle.
When a mobile merry-go-round sometimes came to my town when I was young, kids would line up for what appeared to be a very exciting ride. But such excitement soon turned into disappointment for me. I also felt dizzy. This train of thought led me to think about the city I live in, Seoul. Before arriving, it is a desired destination. But once arrived, the city runs too fast. A rider struggles not to be thrown off and not to be left behind. I think Seoul is just like the carousel that continuously makes us feel this way. It`s not supposed to be like this. I took enough time without hurrying to make this pretty. As a viewer approaches the piece, it spins faster and faster, with the music also playing faster and the light growing stronger. I really had a hard time to make it pretty and safe at the same time when spinning at a high speed. The video playing at the moment is not seamless, so you may not feel the speed. But it was fenced all the way around to keep it safe.
The next is an issue facing everyone. Now, we have the internet. The network may be without substance but can be the most crucial tool that is reshaping our history. I tried to sense what I am feeling about this, and I felt the network plays the role that was once assumed by the religion. Through SNS, people talk about what they believe in and seek for agreement. They are comforted when going through hard times and are more empowered than before. Google is considered to be God with answers to all the questions. I personally think the future would be rosy, but things will change if it is also controlled by somebody. I manifested such feelings towards an uncertain future through the god of the network. It is 4 meters in height with its head looking down at an angle similar to that of statues of Buddha or Jesus. It is designed to sway as its wings move. It was intended to evoke the feeling of uneasiness around it. It was all made up of wires and its inner part was left empty.
Lastly… I wanted to use automobile parts for my works for a long time. Maybe it was because of my grandfather who built the first car in Korea. If you type in `Sibal` in a search engine, which means `beginning`, then you would find more about the history and my grandfather. So, my family and the automobile are closely related. My family manufactured not just Korea’s first car but also owned the biggest taxi company. Every business my family did related to automobiles was the first ever in Korea, but it fell apart due to the political reasons. Well, I think what is required of an engineer runs in the family. This is why I waited for a chance to work with automobile parts. Then, Hyundai Motor Company offered the parts to be used for the exhibition. I seized the chance and went straight to the junkyard. I disassembled 150 headlights and put them together to construct a star. Actually, many thoughts went into this artwork. Some of them were negative, such as negative thoughts about the automobile as an object as well as my feeling towards a chaotic city. At the same time, there were other feelings. For instance, I felt that something lifeless came to life then to become a star.
Anyway, the space of a junkyard was very interesting for me. There were cars awaiting their turn to be scrapped. I learned that hundreds of cars are destroyed at a lab to launch a new car. All the cars made to be destroyed cannot go out of the site. Instead, they are all scrapped on the site. These cars reminded me of cows dragged to a slaughterhouse, where air bags are gouged out by a knife. The oil is sucked out of the cars while all the bolts are loosened for disassembly. From the pile of disassembled engines, the engine oil flows down onto the floor along a long narrow drain. And people working in the junkyard wear deep black leather aprons. The motor oil is splattered all over their aprons. And the tools they hold in their hands are just gigantic. Just at a loss for words… So I look forward to more opportunities like this one because a car comes with everything you can ask for. So, I am thinking about telling a different life story by breathing life into these automobile parts and assembling them together.
Now, we are back to this picture. As you can see throughout my works, I was fortunate to have good parents and to do what I like in a good environment. Not to mention all the help I got along the way. So luckily, I stand here as the young boy who drew this picture. And I keep on doing what was started by me as the young boy. This piece is named Self Portrait and was made in 2012 out of such emotion. This is actually the robot you saw in the drawing. I portrayed myself as a person building a tower. And this artwork is now still in progress.
As of yet, no exact definition can be made about who I am. I am always full of anticipation about what to do in the future. My goal always stays the same. It is all about putting on a good exhibition. I wish that my works could plow the life just as a plow turns up the earth before sowing. I want to produce many more works that can awaken senses while evoking feelings of happiness and delight. I will work hard. Thank you.
6th Dec 2014 in conjunction with Beyond and Between
Thank you for inviting me here today.
Just a while ago, you’ve seen the gallery, SCAI The Bathhouse, on the screen. That is where I first met U-Ram Choe. I am one of the artists representing the gallery, and I got an opportunity to take part in disassembling his work. Such opportunity came when I really wanted to see the work up close to learn about the structure and system of his exhibited work. It goes back five to six years. Back then, I had a chance to talk to him over drinks. Those days are still fresh in my memory. This is why I am very much delighted for today’s opportunity to share my story. It was very interesting for me to hear that Mr. Choe, just like me, has been pondering over technologies, emotions and religious views held by people. Today, I`d like to talk about my works in detail, especially in terms of concept and creation.
I, myself, have never deviated from being a sculptor up until now. I was born in 1975 and majored in sculpture at Kyoto City University of Arts. Then between 1998 and 1999, I pursued my studies further, expectably, through the sculpture course offered by Royal College of Art in London. When I was studying overseas, I travelled across Europe alone and came to think about how traditional values of the East and the West had interacted throughout the history and how the cultural roots, religious views and emotions towards materials have taken shape in Japan where I was born and raised. Studying in London proved to be a chance for me to develop an objective view towards Japan and Asia, especially at a time when the pace of globalization was picking up the speed in earnest while the spread of the Internet had become noticeable. Therefore, I could see that the world would continue to change over time and that there would be innovative creations by people, all in line with the atmosphere of the times. I kept on thinking what I would create and how the world could be depicted through my creation.
While studying in London, I read a book written by a philosopher named Rudolf Steiner who carried on the works of Goethe while writing about his observations of the universe and natural sciences as a scholar. In his book, Goethe`s thoughts on natural sciences were delivered through quite mysterious and original images. Steiner offered quite detailed description of a process, through which emotions and beings come into existence. As it was analyzed to see ourselves as beings with a body that performs activities required to sustain life and that is comprised of materials, which in turn are broken into constituting elements, it came to a conclusion that we are material beings that have bodies in the universe. Just as other minerals are, such as rocks and stones.
In this physical world, a `thing` consists of atoms and molecules. There is this camp of thoughts supporting a mineral being, which exists in the mineral world that is full of brutality, energy or materials. We all think that this is how the entire universe is like. But, that is just the physical aspect of the universe. Once a certain material performs advanced functions, it becomes organic matter leading to the creation of cells. A being, then, is evolved into an advanced living thing after unicellular organisms grew to be multicellular organisms with nerves and sensors that react to stimuli. In this sense, a being that breathes, performs activities to sustain life and metabolizes on its own by looking for energy to be supplied and discharged is a biological being. It is a phyto-being with life while, at the same time, being a mineral. The plant life is the root of life and is the only being that accumulates the solar energy in the earth`s surface.
From the plant life, there came animals. Plants are rooted in one place while animals roam freely. Animals move around at their own discretion. To simply put, they take actions driven by a program designed for activities to sustain own life. For example, decisions are made depending on whether it feels good, bad, hungry or even when it sees challenges down a certain path. In other words, these beings have souls or, may I say, emotions. Animals that had been taking actions depending on its liking, disliking, pleasant and unpleasant feelings came to have many thoughts to make superior judgements not solely driven by desire. This is actually the power of the mind.
When a being makes the transition from an animal being to a spiritual being, then finally it becomes a human being. In short, human beings eat just as animals do. Similar to the case of animals, our desires are drivers behind the society while being controlled through economic activities. Once beyond such desires, however, reason acts as the force to shape the society. Without such reason, human beings are no longer human beings. Humans would face a crisis of losing human features, so to speak.
How to update human beings, how to be more humane and how to approach God, assuming that God exists, among many other such questions led to the emergence of religions, ideas and ideologies. Then, into the 20th century, religions or ideologies were not enough as technologies continued to take long strides. At the turn of the 21st century, science and technology have become the driving force of the entire society, which was no longer driven just by country, ethnic group or faction. In the future, perhaps, human beings would be required to become new beings. There are many words to describe such beings, just like post-humans or trans-humans. However, what is important is that global issues facing the world at present would not go away unless humans update themselves to become new beings.
When it comes to the power of science, there are many different types. First, the power of information technologies materialized via computers like this one. And, there are bio-technology that studies the body and our DNA as well as nano-technology that can access to cells to find answers for how our bodies are evolving internally. I believe that these three different types of technologies would go through dramatic evolution in the future. Once such future arrives, DNA present in us, animals and plants could be designed. This would completely redefine what we mean by design or creation. In the near future, we would have to ask ourselves how human beings are defined.
When my thoughts lingered over where our existence and emotions would take us, I drew the image of cell multiplication with a ballpoint pen in 2000 when the cell was my work’s main theme. Such concept has been further developed through interactions with creations and images, leading to a number of different series after images branched out from the cell placed at the center of this slide. I would like to introduce a few of the series today.
From `Cell` at the center, there came `PixCell` to the top, `Liquid` to the left, `Trans` to the right and `Element` to the bottom among many other series. As a student studying in London, I came up with just 10 concepts around the center. Then, more concepts have branched out for the following 10 years for this matrix to take form. What you see here on this slide is also from my school days. I challenged to sculpt cells and molecules made up of pellets and ended up making something like a larva. Then, I wanted to capture liquid in my next work, so I used glass beads. Those were very small transparent glass pellets. When I chose glass beads to be used for my work, I realized that there was something more to these beads instead of being just an assembly of transparent beads put together or just a sculpture.
These may seem like just small glass beads that are 8mm in diameter. But, if looked closely, you can see flickering light inside those transparent pellets. In short, this is not simply a lump of small pellets as it may appear to be on the surface. Instead, I realized that there are images reflected through the surface of these small pellets. Pellets were projected onto the monitor of a computer or a projector in great detail. Thinking out of the box, I thought these pellets could be some kind of fragments of a big lump of images with self-chosen color or texture if these transparent pellets were hung over something with distinctive color or texture. These are all transparent beads that are hung over a number of things, and directly projected images are zoomed in. This transparent sphere, cell, has lens effects, which can be attached to anything.
I coined a new term, `PixCell`, by combining the concepts of cell and picture. As for the term pixel, it has been commonly used by people for 15 to 20 years. Pixel is a computer term, which describes the resolution of a mobile phone. Instead of the original meaning of pixel, I added the concept of cell at the end to base it as the format for a new sculpture.
What you see on this slide is the sculpture named `PixCell`, which was first sculpted in 2000. I used a film camera to take pictures, which were developed and printed. I filmed the scenery by using an 8mm camera. And, I made some videos driven by my interests in movies. People talked about how camera films would disappear around 2000, which was when I started my work on `PixCell`. People believed that analog cameras would all be replaced by digital cameras and that all the pictures would be saved in a hard disc instead of being captured in a roll of film. Furthermore, people thought that pictures would be printed out at home instead of requesting the service of a photo print shop. It was assumed that significant challenges would arise if one continues to use film for taking pictures.
Then, my thoughts lingered over why people take pictures. What do you think is the reason? Anyone can take a picture with a mobile phone. I think people do that to preserve images. The reason for such preservation would be attributable to people`s desire to remember what has been seen and to share it with others. It would be enough to bring to mind what was seen since it was seen in person, but what was seen and what was remembered are unstoppable since they continue to exist. Neither the reality nor the time nor one`s consciousness can be stopped. I think people drift through these, and this is what the world of reality looks like.
Humans, in my opinion, have the desire to preserve or own certain moments. Such desire led to the invention of techniques used for painting or engraving, which evolved to become the medium that we know now as pictures. To capture each moment without losing the lively side, there emerged videos. Sound has been added, followed by 3D. All these are media used to fulfil our desire to save everything and anything that came in sight. I was lost in thought, wanting to know where such desires as well as things people wish to create would take us in the future.
My intention was not to become a digital artist just because everything around me was going through digitization. In other words, I was not interested in creating state-of-the-art new digital photos through Photoshop. What I wanted to do, instead, was to look at the mega transition the human society was making towards digitization from the outside. I felt that the world of new information was gradually expanding amidst everything being digitalized, all the pictures communicated in pixel and databases connected through the internet.
I made my first purchase on the Internet just then. Beneath the work on this slide is a stuffed deer, which is difficult to come by in Japan since there is virtually no store selling stuffed animals. So, I turned to the Internet and came across websites that posted pictures of old stuffed animals, which were no longer needed and thus awaited new owners interested in purchasing them. This encounter presented me with a special feeling beyond description. It is so common now to order things on the internet through shopping mall websites, such as Amazon. But, it was a rare experience to have a thing ordered to you at the click of a mouse back then.
What grabbed my attention was the fact that somebody took pictures and uploaded them on the web. The work `PixCell` was pursued as a project, which focused on turning things ordered from the Internet into a piece of work after seeing their pictures uploaded by someone. In short, this is a sculpture symbolizing a situation in PixCell where everything and anything in the world enter the world of information exchanged on the Internet.
One thing worthy for your attention is that all these glass beads are actually lenses, which is quite important. These are beings that became PixCells, which were once used as the lenses of somebody`s camera before being taken off. Nowadays, anyone can access to a diversity of functions offered by not just digital cameras but also cameras embedded in mobile phones. In other words, there are more lenses covering the surface of the world since virtually everyone has one. Anyone from anywhere in the world can see pictures on the internet. People upload pictures on Facebook, such as pictures of freshly served food. The surface of the world is being visualized owing to the increasing number of lenses.
In the case of London, I heard that around 300 CCTVs capture the images of tourists on a one-day city tour. This is because of more lenses on the street. There are cars driving throughout the world for archiving street views for Google. If you change your door plate or address sign, then Google would update the change before you knew it. This is a society where the world is covered with lens. Such world is visualized through the Internet. I thought it might be possible to sculpt something that symbolizes the world of visual media. I mean a sculpture of a mass consisting of lenses from around the world.
Inside this `PixCell` series, there are armor and helmet worn by a samurai. It was spun slowly for filming. You can notice that images reflected through these lenses are fluttering a little. Normally, a sculpture exists as a mass of something with its surface without any movement. But, in this case, you can see that its color and texture change at each angle. This is not just a sculpture but also a set of images. To me, it is something right in between a sculpture and images. The way the brain perceives this piece of work is somewhat different from before. There is one side of the brain that sees this as a sculpture while the other side recognizes this as images. The brain is undecided between the two. Such hesitative state of the brain, to me, is a new sense. I think this is what art is. The moments of having new recognition and new viewpoints are the moments for art to come to life in people’s mind.
Once people own images, they wish to process them next. In short, they wish to see their own interpretation of the images. This propelled the innovation behind image processing software like Photoshop or Illustrator. This piece of work, `Double`, is part of Leeum’s collection, which is exhibited right at the entrance. Two stuffed deers of same size and posture are partially joined together. The story behind this sculpture is that I came across another stuffed deer on the same website, from which I ordered a stuffed deer for my work. These two were identical in size and posture. I personally think that there is a great level of originality in each stuffed animal. This is why I was quite surprised to see another one of the same size and posture. At first, I thought the website did not pull down the image of the stuffed deer I bought previously. So, I contacted the website. Then, I was told that it was another stuffed deer on sale. I didn’t quite get it, so I started my research into this. Then, I found out that stuffed deers manufactured in Japan use a deer mold made in the States then to be covered with real deer skin. In other words, deer leather is being skinned over a plastic deer mold. It was just like manufacturing a leather bag. I was quite shocked. These commoditized deers can be said to be informatized. Such informatized deers were very modern to me.
People are the same. We are always being informatized and symbolized. So, I felt the urge to turn these informatized deers into a piece of artwork just as they are. Anyone with experiences of using Photoshop must know that images can easily be copied and pasted. With the Shift key pushed down, an image can be moved horizontally, vertically and diagonally. The deer on top was positioned over the deer underneath at a 45 degree angle from the nose of the latter.
The `Double` series presents three pieces of artwork, in which deers are positioned side by side, one above the other, and one above the other at a 45 degree angle. I got the idea from the copy and paste function. At Leeum, there are deers that are positioned 45 degrees apart diagonally. And, at Arario Museum in Seoul, deers are positioned one above the other. If you have a chance to see both, please look for the difference. These works are based on the typical image of a deer people have. These deers, their size and posture are what you can see in a book.
My next work was based on an enlarged image. This piece is 5 meters high. Underneath the beads is not an actual stuffed deer but the enlargement of a scanned image of a stuffed deer. What you see on this slide is not an image in `PixCell`, as seen in my previous works, but one image in one cell. This was out of my attempts to see a thing as an image. The image appears and disappears at different angle. This is the `Prism` series. Then, here is `Liquid`. This is the radical expression of the cell. These are just bubbles being foamed. The idea came from the ultimate principle of the cell, which is bubble foaming. The following is `Air Cell`, in which small cellular particles are up in the air. This is also part of the Leeum collection.
This is `Water Cell`, which shows how water drops fall through transparent silicone oil. Let`s watch a video clip. Inside a container full of transparent oil, water drops fall. The separation of oil-water makes water appear to be a sphere inside the oil. In other words, it is exactly how water looks like in space or inside a spaceship. What you see now is focused on where cells are produced or born, may I say. These water drops take the shape of the cell only when they pass through the oil before landing at the bottom. Once landed on the oil-water perimeter at the bottom, the sphere-shaped water drops soon disappear then to be absorbed back into the water. As you can see on the screen, this is the surface of the water at the bottom, onto which water drops softly land then to be popped after a short while before returning to the water. This is quite a scene that arrests your attention. It feels as if the life is being created right before your eyes.
This was an experiment of dropping water in silicone oil with stronger viscosity. Water here looks just like a gigantic sculpture. Water is a little bit heavier than silicone oil. By adjusting the water temperature, the speed and size at and of which water drops fall can be controlled. This is owing to changing specific gravity. From this `Cell` concept, many pieces of artwork have been created. This kind of drawing work has been done on many occasions.
Due to the limited time, I would like to show you a piece of work putting together all these elements at the end. Still, I`d like to walk you through my other works. Well, this was done using magnets. What you see on this slide is a sculpture named `Manifold`, which is installed one-hour away from Seoul in Cheonan. I challenged myself to create this sculpture using 3D modelling technology. This gigantic sculpture took me about two years, during which I used a system that allowed me to actually feel virtual clay in my hands and to create something through this computer-based clay modelling. This software, Freeform, is still expensive, which is why it is not widespread as of yet. But, within 5 to 10 years, colleges of fine arts or modelling-related companies throughout the world would use this system. To simply put, you use a device that looks just like this pen. As you move the pen, you can move around a sculpture in the virtual space. When you touch an object in the virtual space, an arm attached to the pen lets you feel the touch in real time.
The feelings of cutting, chiseling or evening out rough surfaces could be enjoyed while working on the piece. This was not just about designing a piece in 3D, but I have seen the potential of this system because it gives a chance to a user to shape things as a sculptor. So, this piece of work was designed first in 3D based on the given information but then, at the same time, shaped with hands. After finishing this work, I felt that the line dividing sculpture and architecture has been blurred. This piece is 13 meters high, 16 meters wide and 12 meters deep. It is almost the size of a constructed structure. Just as done in any construction, its structure has been measured while the groundwork was carefully carried out for the piece to take firm root in the ground.
The piece, `Biota`, came after `Manifold`. These two share a common thread. This signifies materials, energy and life born out of such things. The main theme was around the life, such as plants and animals. U-Ram Choe also talked about Big Bang in his presentation, and here also changes as big as Big Bang occur when strong rays of light shoot at this chaotic matter. Led by the great waves of such changes, a place is created where fauna and flora come to life. Of course, this type of sculpture has to be created on the site with full control of space inside a wooden house, and it had to be finished within such a short span of time.
First, I used 3D modelling to build the house in the virtual world and challenged myself to feel as if I was actually inside the house on the site. And, this is the 3D model of the piece itself. I used the software, Freeform. Then, construction materials were put together to model the house and the space in and out of it in 3D. Everything was simulated to find any structural issue or to anticipate how viewers might see the work once completed. Paths to both sides of the house leading to small gardens and animals and plants in those gardens were all 3D-sculptured in this virtual world. My ultimate goal was to replace the virtual world with the real world. The piece `Biota` was sculpted on a small island named Inujima in Japan, and the way I viewed the world through this piece has been incorporated for the concept store of the fashion brand Nemika located in Hiro-o of Japan.
The scope of my works is not limited to art but also includes architecture, so there is an architectural team working alongside in my studio to work on projects like these. This work is named `Trans`. The 3D techniques used in the work `Manifold` have developed even further as seen in this `Trans` series. In this work of `Trans/Voxel`, a whole-body 3D scan was done as if taking a picture of the entire body. Also, a program was developed to convert real data acquired from the scanning. This `Mirror` is a mass of aluminum that was carved out first by a computer then finished by hands while this `Foamy` was sculpted through 3D printing. For these, frames were first simulated using a computer then to be sculpted in reality. Anything can be sculpted regardless of the level of complexity. The `Trans` series is ongoing efforts to symbolize us human beings being informatized.
Of late, I have been putting together all my series, such as `Trans`, `SCUM` and `Direction`, in the same space instead of showing them separately in different venues, out of my wish to utilize such crossover to place my works in one matrix. When I came up with this layout plan, I approached it as architectural works. This was about how to lay out each piece, what lighting to use and what order to be applied in placing the pieces. The plan focused on designing the layout while producing viewer experiences. To me, exhibiting a sculpture is not just about sculpting each piece but about producing experiences for viewers watching what is on display in person.
Before sculpting the `Trans` series, I used a computer to present what it might look like and to check the shape first in virtual space through animation or, should I say a video clip. Nowadays, computers have advanced so much that the pace of visualization has quickened greatly, making it possible to see the external as well as the internal of a sculpture while even confirming the bolting spots. All these can be done on a computer.
I talked about Big Bang during my presentation, but there is a boy band also named Big Bang. And, I got a request from T.O.P who is a member of the group, asking whether I could make a sculpture of him. So, I made one based on his body scanning. He is said to have great interests in modern art. And, I was told that he is deeply interested in my works among those based in Japan. That served as an opportunity for us to meet for the first time in person. Since then, we have maintained cordial relations and offered motivational supports to each another. When he comes to Kyoto, he visits my studio as well. He told me that not just the completed artwork but also the place of birth for the artwork is what he wishes to see. He wanted to see me in action and understand my thoughts and my techniques behind my works. He said that he just wants to see me working as I usually do. And, one time, he actually spent some time to just watch me.
This is a picture we took together last year when he visited my studio. We meet up from time to time whenever he comes to Japan. We work in completely different professions. And, he is 12 years younger than I am even though we were both born in the Year of Rabbit. Still, I think T.O.P is very witty and creative and definitely not just an ordinary musician. He is sharp-minded, keen to learn the latest arts and creations of the world and determined to advance his work beyond such trends. He is a very special artist, also uncommon in Japan. Even though he is still young, I personally believe that he would become an influential person in the aspect of creativity.
Here, I`d like to show how works are done using a computer. I don`t know whether you`ve heard of a system named Oculus. This is a system that allows you to experience 3D images in virtual space if you wear a device that looks like swimming goggles. My recent works are about presenting architecture or sculptures through this system.
It is regretful that I cannot show you everything here, but these are images perceived by your left and right eyes through the googles. I know it would be difficult to imagine, but the 3D goggles enable you to see objects tri-dimensionally while offering you 360-degree view as you move your head. It makes it extremely easy to present architectural structures or gigantic sculptures in an easily understandable manner. In the case of an actual model, you cannot enter the inside. But, with this system, you can. For instance, you can go down to a basement while looking up at the ceiling.
This is the concept store of the fashion brand Nemika, which I explained on previous slides. Upon entering the shop, you can take a look around the store. You can look up and down. A game program was used here, so you can navigate around at your own will. You can even jump. There is no difference between the architecture and sculpture if this approach is used. There is no boundary since everything is just digital data. This is, therefore, one of innovations. I think time has come where architects, sculptors and designers can make creations on the same stage.
This piece is just at its experimental phase, which is about the convergence of `Manifold` and the architecture. I named it `VoxCell` data, where `VoxCell` is a compound word of volume and cell. This architectural structure is a five-story pagoda located in Horyu-ji Temple in Nara of Japan. There is no boundary between the sculpture and architecture even for this pagoda in the information aspect. It can be merged and at the same time detached. I wish to continue creating this type of works where sculpture meets architecture.
This again is an assembly of my works put together without any boundary dividing sculpture from architecture. Maybe once inside, this world may confuse you. Still, I spent just an hour to come up with this. Normally, this kind of work would take me tens of hours or even months. Then, how was it possible for me to complete it within an hour?
For starter, these architectural structures in the background can be downloaded for free as much as you like. I just positioned them in this space. Then, I added my sculptures to complete the scene. The way amusement parks are designed and architectural space is created would be changed gradually. For me, what is dear is not just the digital works per se but also digital materials and unconstrained transition between physical senses and digital senses.
This piece is named `Foam`. It is a sculpture made of foams. Just foams. You probably use detergent for washing clothes in the daily life, right? From the detergent, foams are created. And, this gave me an idea to turn the foams into a sculpture. Foams bubble up from the floor, and such foams are bound to subside at some point. However, foams bubble up higher if the pace at which foams subside is slowed down and if new foams bubble up before the subsiding. In this work, you can see the foams bubble up as high as 4 meters in the space sized 25m�25m. It is possible to walk in between the foams. This type of sculpture comes to life not entirely by a sculptor. The sculptor unlocks the power of materials in use and designs a system, leading to such creation. This is not artificially made. This is about creating a situation beyond control. There is this concept of the cell. And, my focus was how to present the cell in the form of foams and how such foams can be formed in this space.
This is the last part of my presentation. I`d like to show you my studio with the name of `Sandwich`. It is located at the outskirt of Kyoto City. We renovated an old sandwich factory. Our doors are open to students and young artists. There are artists in residence as well. Many from all over the world come to stay with us, including a number of Koreans. There are about 4 Koreans among our staffs. Young students, creators, architects, sculptors, painters and graphic designers among others come to our studio to work on projects every day. Of the many projects underway, there are about 50 art projects and 15 architecture projects. Naturally, many different types of works are performed. And, the current space is limited to accommodate all. So, we collaborate with other factories and offices through networking to continue our projects. Instead of locking ourselves into our own ateliers, we go out to work on this creative platform to pursue creation anytime. We just wish to employ a new approach when creating something.
This is what you’ve seen just few slides before. This is how the piece `Foam` is installed. It is dark inside, and the lighting is just directed at the foams. And, this makes the foams shine. It feels like as if walking through clouds. These are daily records of my works.
I also teach at Kyoto University of Arts and Design. And, there is one class where a number of students can participate in a project. By the way, it was good to see one of my students who came by to say hello before this presentation. This person was a graduate student I taught who went back to Korea upon graduation. With the students, I discuss new approaches, share values and contemplate over new creations. Upon graduation, they become artists and creators. It is such a splendid thing to coexist with them in this world. I think this is exactly what the word `contemporary` tries to define. The meaning of contemporary art is about leading a life in this word through contemporary moments. Artists all breathe the same air, are impacted by same incidents and share same technologies. I personally believe that the art of the 20th century and of the 21st century are entirely different. Creation is driven by the entire society, not by an individual artist. At universities, disciplinary lines dividing painting, sculpture and design among others would be blurred gradually over time. It has now become meaningless to draw such disciplinary lines. Creation would be about sharing everything at the same time.
What you see here on the screen is a drawing system. There are built-in ink tanks above to draw long and thin lines onto papers below. It works both ways. Either the tanks or the papers move to create lines. This is truly an analogue approach. Of course, a computer quickly produces graphical output at the present time. But, we challenge ourselves to create something entirely by hand. This was my first private exhibition named `Synthesis` at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2011. Each room was dedicated to respective series, such as `PixCell` and `PRISM`. In total, 11 rooms were constructed for the exhibition. This piece shows bubbles rising above the surface of silicone oil. For the past 4 years, collaborative works have been pursued with many different genres, such as music, architecture and fashion like COMME des GAR�ONS.
Good afternoon everyone. I am really happy to talk in front of you today especially in this wonderful museum. I am going to try to talk about a book which is not published yet which actually going to be published next spring. So, as it might be a bit abstract, I don’t want to read anything from the book itself. I will try to contextualize the book, starting with connecting it to a very important concept that I‘ve been workingabout for many years now. One being globalization and its effect, and the second one which is more recent,the Anthropocene, which is the subject of the Taipei Biennial 2014 as you know in which I am a curator of, which started a few weeks ago. Anthropocene is a scientific name given by scientists in the 1980’s to this geological period which sees the human impact of human activities on the planet. From globalization to Anthropocene, I will try to introduce the idea of the ‘exform,’ and its effects I would say on contemporary art.
The best way to start the lecture, I think, is to define the subject of what we are talking about. What are we talking about? The first thing would be to define, to do a very stupid thing, which is to define what art is. Because now, after all, there is nothing normal in this, we have to redefine every time what we are talking about. Art is an activity, which is first, a tool to understand the world we are living in. I’ve talked about globalization and Anthropocene. Those topics are highly visible in today’s art. Art is a specific level of understanding of the world we live in. It’s a way to apprehend the world through a sensitive cognition through what we call ‘form.’ There are four types of forms. It’s been very interestingly defined by the French philosopher Roger Caillois. The four possible types of forms that surround us, and there is not fifth one, there are only four. First, forms born out of growth like plants for example; then you have forms which are produced by accidents then you have forms created by moudlings, by moulds; and the fourth type of form is the form created through a project that is what we are talking about. Art is a form which is born out of a project. It is a projection of an individual or a collective which produces a very specific type of form - which is not growth, which is not accident, which is not moulding, but a project. But, in a way, contemporary art does include these four types of forms. In many exhibitions,you can see vegetal elements, or minerals, or moulds, and also forms born out of accidents. But, mainly to start the lecture with a very plain andsimple definition, art is an activity which consists in materializing relations to the world. It is like wearing somebody else’s glasses. And this materialization of a specific relationship to the world can be made with any type of element - it can be a gesture, it can be an object, it can be whatever is possible to materialize a specific relation to the world. Art is also different from many other activities by the fact that it interveneswithin reality by producing effects in itself. It intervenes in the real world so the result it does produce is in its own domain. Because one of the common points between all art works from prehistoric caves to now is the fact that they are reduced models. It’s a different scale. Even if the scale is one to one, it is still a different scale. Artists today can obviously directly intervene into the reality, directly work with reality in itself. It doesn’t have to be a representation, but still art is the domain where things can be seen as if it is a reduced model, in a different scale. Another specificity of this activity called art is the fact that it is also a way to bring back elements that we don’t want to seeas a collectivity. For example, the British artist Liam Gillick who actually did an intervention in the cafe here, was talking about comparing the activities of the artist as a dog who bringsall the things that its master throws away. The artist isbringing back things on the carpet in the middle of the room, but it is a kind of centrifugal, centripetal movement all the time. And this movement - centrifugal, throwing away things and centripetal, bringing back on the carpet - is approximately what I call the “exform.” It is the form as taken into a process of exclusion and inclusion. It is all the elements - all the signs, all the forms - that are actually controversial I would say in the way that the society doesn’t want to see it and artists are bringing them back into the scene.
But, as I was saying, after this introduction, which actually is a very large introduction that starts with the simplest thingpossible which is what is art, what we talk about I would like to go back to globalization. It is actually, certainly the main process where we are all involved in at the moment. The movement has started actually, let’s say, long time ago, but we see the effects in the art world today. I would date certainly 1989. It was the year when the big exhibition called “Magiciens de la terre (Magicians of the Earth)” happened in 1989. It was the first exhibition to include artists from all over the world. Before that, in the 80’s if you look at the list of artists of any importantbiennales or exhibitions, it was more or less always the same countries represented. 1989 was also obviously the year of the fall of the Berlin wall and it is the year when started this movement of spreading out, the horizontalization of the world, which initiated what we call globalization in art. Globalization as the first effect is very important, maybe even if it is not the most spectacular or visible one, but it questions the idea of origins. In a way, this concept of origins, the idea of origins, is the common point between all the books and all the texts that I’ve been writing since now. Relational aesthetics, as it has been mentioned, was an examination of the process of the constitution of meaning in an art work. Is it coming really only from the artist? Or is it a collective process or a dialogical process, a kind of sharing between people? It is not in itself something new, but it is something which came to the fore at the beginning of the 90’s. Even Delacroix was writing in his diary that for him any artwork was like a cloud. That was the artist condensing energy, condensing meaning that constituted the painting and the beholder was the one who was getting the “rain” out of it, which is the meaning. It was always a triangle. The relationship we have with the artist is always triangular one; we have the author, the artist: the object, and the beholder.
What is the origin of an artwork then? There is a very simple image which will help to make myself understood. It is an image used by the French philosopher Louis Althusser, who was defining the materialist philosopher as opposed to the idealist philosopher using a very banal image: the one of a train. For him, the materialist philosopher… Let’s start with the idealist one. An idealist philosopher or an idealist thinker is a person who waits for the train in a station, and knows where the trains comes from and where the train goes. The materialist philosopher is the one who takes the train but he/she doesn’t know where the train comes from or where the train goes. Those are two very opposed ways of seeing the world. I think I am part of the second type - I don’t know where the train goes or where the train comes from. And the best we can to do is going into the train trying to discuss with our neighbors, and do things within the train. In another book, Postproduction, I try to again ask this question of the origins in a different way, because the main statement of this book is that the borders between the producers and consumers are more and more blurred. What is the producer of culture, what is the consumer of culture? Today it is more and more challenged by many different phenomena. The symbolic character illustrating this blurring between production and consumption would be in music, for example, the DJ. He/she is playing already existing music but also he or she is doing something which is new at the same time. It is the chaining of elements which is more important than the source of the sound. If you take this metaphor again and use it for contemporary art, it describes also in many ways what is going on, into the exhibitions today. For example, artists working with already existing structures. I’d quote two which are very close to us today. Let’s take, for example, Rirkrit Tiravanija is always using already existing structures and this is an aspect of his work which is less seen by the beholders but it is really as important as the conviviality it does produce. Rirkrit is always working out of pre-existing forms. He is inhabitatingthem. He is producing a way to inhabit forms from the past.
And origins again, the last reflection I had about it is this book called The Radicant which is a word that is existing in a dictionary, which comes immediately after ‘radical’ in general many western dictionaries. As you may know ‘radical’ means belonging to the root, and ‘radicant’ means, it describes a plant or living organism, which grows its roots while advancing or progressing like ivy or strawberries, for example. The 20th century modernism was radical. We are talking about radicality, radicalism which is synonymous of getting back to ground zero, getting back to one root, one single root. I think the 21st century modernism will be about multiplying roots, multiplying our possible origins, because what we call originsis constitutive of what we call identity. What is identity? What do you have to be identical to? That is actually a major question and I think that question is answered in many ways by today’s artists. In a globalized world I think we have to re-think the question of our so-called ‘roots’ and ‘origins,’ and privilege certainly the idea of multiple identities, the idea of changing, if rooting identity, moving identity. If you think about what a radicant is, it’s the organism which growsand expands its root while progressing. It’s a new type of relationship between theindividual, the subject and his/her environment. We can actually produce new identities every time we move. And, that’s, I think, another element which is very much present in today’s art.
I defined at the very beginning the ‘exform’ as a form which is taken into a process. It is a form which is difficult to seize as a stable form. It’s a form whose identity is given by different points of views all the time. For example, if you go back to the origin of modernity, I used the term origins in a historical way; then it’s the whole history of Modernism I would say. It’s the form as taken into the world of the official politics one side, and the excluded on the other side. What we call Modernism could be narrated according to thelong fights given by the artists in order to give dignity to ideas, objects or scenes that were considered as filth or insanity by the gatekeepers of cultural morality and by the dominant ideology. At every moment in history, in every place, there is an official ideology that produces exclusions, things that cannot be considered in the public debates, things which are excluded, expelled from the public sphere. If you look at the history of Modernism since the last two centuries, you will see that those objects which are projected are exactly the ones or at the state in paintings or sculptures as rehabilitated by the artists. If we take a very academic example, Olympia by Manet in 1863, for example, or we could quote Courbet also. Olympia was a big scandal in France when it was exhibited for the first time. It was first rejected by the Salon actually, and then it was shown two years later in 1865 because it was absolutely unbearable for the audience and forthe official thoughts at the time. Because, Olympia is for, every contemporary of this painting could recognize a prostitute and her servant bringing flowers. And this was absolutely unbearable. This was something people didn’t want to see at all. It was supposed to be unseen, invisible from the public sphere. First, it was a prostitute, and second, there is a very interesting text by Hans Belting explaining that it is clearly and visibly also a painting which brings about the idea of money, and which presents itself in a way as a commodity - two things which were absolutely unbearable for the audience at this time. So you have two, ‘bourgeoisie,’ the establishment at one side and you have its contesters or outsiders on the other side. And in between,a large array of signs and images which are actually objects of negotiations between the two. And we could talk about modernism in painting as the rehabilitation of subject orthemes in painting that were not supposed to be presented. The hierarchies of subjects in 19th century paintings werevery clear and codified at the time. History painting was a noble subject but the asparagus of Manet was absolutely insignificant. One could sum up the whole history of painting in the 19th and 20th centuries as the progression of those insignificant subjects becoming major themes for painting.
Reality as we know is the product of consensus. It is discussion, negotiation that we have together. If I tell you for example that I do have a pink rabbit on my shoulder you wouldn’t believe me because you don’t see it, but, if I really persuade of it, I might tell you this is the case. And I might convince you in a way. And we all have to make an effort to establish this consensus between us. Art is a kind of break or fracture into this consensus. It does introduce into the sphere of the visible things which are not supposed to exist or are not supposed to be seen at all. And that’s, in a way, a movement of cultural life for the last two centuries - this kind of inclusion/exclusion process. I think this is the key pattern for the understanding of psychology, ideology, art and history in the 20th century. It is the cornerstone of what we call modernism. I think also the modern artists have a lot to do with what Walter Benjamin called the materialist historian. I’m going to quote the text that Walter Benjamin wrote about Baudelaire, a very interesting passage where he talks about the ragman as kind of a metaphor for what he calls the materialist historian, which could be read today as a perfect definition of the artist. So Walter Benjamin writes, talking about the ragman: “Here is a man responsible for picking up debris, from the day in the capital. Everything that thisbig city has rejected everything that it has lost, everything that it has despised, everything it broke, he catalogues, he collects. He flips the archives of debauchery, the mess of garbage. He picks up like a treasure, all the garbage shooedby the divinity of industry, which will become objects of utility or pleasure.” In this little passage of Walter Benjamin you have all the history of the 20th century modernism in the way it is a process of rehabilitation, ofthe despised, of the thrown away the dog, mentioned by Liam Gillick, bringing back the bone intothe carpet.
It is interesting to see how in the last 20 years especially, but we could go back in to the 1960s of course. Many, many artists are becoming this type of collectors, collecting debris, collecting small elements that have been rejected by society. Many of them are doing excavations trying to put into light things whichare ignored or voluntarily ignored, or rejected or buried in many ways. The artist can become a kind of archeologist of the present doing excavations. It has a lot to do with our definition of history. To quote Walter Benjamin again, it was actually one of the main elements of his political philosophy. It was the fact that history was always written by winners. Only the winners write history and impose their version of history. What’s interesting is that there are counter versions of history obviously: the versions written by the “losers,” the ones who lost the battles. Today, especially in the last 30 years, and especially in the wave of post-colonial studies, for example, one can see those versions of history which are not written by the winners but coming from minorities coming from micro-communities or collectivities which actually want to share their version of history, their version of reality. To take an image is like exploring the battle field to find what was buried in this battle field belonging to the “losers.” This is in a way the very theories of history brought up by Walter Benjamin. This ambition in art has a name sincethe 19th century. It is called Realism. Realism as Courbet was defining it, which is not trying to depict the reality in a figurative way; it is much more complex than that. Courbet’s Realism was more about bringing into the fore those elements whichare rejected, painting workers representing all the minoritarian forces in a society. That is exactly the way Courbet was defining Realism, not as optical realism but aspolitical realism, which is an attempt to fight the idealization which is proposed by the power. Any power idealizes its presence, idealizes the forms it produces. And the role of the artist is to de-idealize those elements. Idealization is a process which consists in maintaining the world at its place to justify, to give legitimacy to existing orders. What art does is exactly the opposite. In a way one could define art as a kind of editing table which does produce in a different way, this movie we call reality. Artist can re-edit the world all the time, to show us new versions of the world, to show us how different things could be, to show us how fragile and precarious the power is. Because any power is first of all mise-en-scene, something which is set, a pile of scenarios which we actually go into every day. We are following scenarios. And art, the role of art is to produce alternative scenarios. So, Realism, what Courbet calls realism, and what I call realism today - for me, Liam Gillick is a Realist, for example to give you an idea - shows it is not about being optically Realist. Realism is the critique of cultural hierarchies as they are. It puts into question the pre-supposed, the pre-thought elements that sustain the mechanisms of exclusion in any society. Realism is about looking for how we could unveil those mechanisms. An artist can show the way we exclude, the way we expel, the way we reject things. That is Realism.
It has of course connection with not only art but also politics, psychology. For example, if we take the subject of history according to Karl Marx, for example, it is the proletarian. What is a proletarian? It comes from Latin ‘proles’ which means the person who has nothing else than his/her children as wealth. This is the definition of ‘proles.’ The one has nothing than his/her biological, let’s say, state to exist. That is the proletarian. What is the subject of psychology according to Sigmund Freud still in the 19th century as you see? The subject of psychology is the unconscious, literally what is expelled from consciousness to maintain our inner order. That is exactly the same in a way: different scale but the same process. The proletarian is expelled. The unconscious is what is expelled. And the subject of modern art in the history of modernism is the undervalued, the despised, the rejected, exactly the same. An artist in this regard is someone who thinks that the most insignificant sign, the most ridiculous or despised form or image, can have an aesthetic value. And this is the major pattern in the modernist history for me.
The question we could ask to ourselves today is what is the current form of the centrifugal movement. The 19th century things were pretty much simple in a way, the power one side and the artist on the other, you know, exclusion and inclusion. But today things are much more complicated, much more horizontalized, I would say. To understand the very specific nature of this movement today - of this inclusion/exclusion movement - we have to evoke two major characteristics of our times. The first one is a very specific element of our culture of the 21st century. For the first time ever, there is no ‘terra incognita’ any more. We have absolutely discovered every centimeter of the planet, and it’s totally new. The last blank spots on the earth were actually found, let’s say, discovered, and drawn at the very beginning of the 20th century. It was in Borneo, the last blank spots. Now we know every inch, every centimeter of the planet we live in, and this is a totally new phenomenon. No human being has lived ever with this feeling of completion that we have today. There is no unknown place on earth any more. So I attempt to connect it to, to propose, the following hypothesis that this might be one reason why the artists today are so involved into the past, into archives, into history, into discovering the past, because it is the last continent to explore in a way. It is not about space any more, but discoveries and explorations are into time, mostly the future and the past. If you look at the importance taken by history in the art of the last 20 years, I think there might be also an echo of this end of the terra incognita. It is a possibility, I would say. It is a hypothesis I am producing.
What’s another by product or effect of this evolution is the fact that we are really living in a world which is presenting a kind of co-presence of times.The past has never been so present than today in the history of mankind. The main tool of knowledge used for it is the internet obviously. We have access to images of all times. In a way, a painting by Vermeer or by Frank Stella, or something that has been just produced last year, they are all at the same level today. What disappears under our eyes is the historical depth. The impression we had in previous centuries is that the past is very far away. Today for us, the middle ageor the last century are exactly the same. We have so many elements at our disposal we can see so many different things from different periods. If we look at the past, if we look at our vision of the time of the history, it is like a constellation, it’s like the sky at night. If you look at the sky at night you will see what is called a constellation. The characteristic of the constellation is the fact the elements you see, the different stars you see, are coming from different times. Some stars that you can see have actually disappeared. You can see only their ghostly presence, beside a star which is much closer to us is all at the same level, but it is coming from a different period of time. That is, I think, the perfect metaphor for our vision of history today. This kind of pattern of the constellation is perfectly embodied by the internet. Everything is very flat in front of us. You can go from one site to another and we have a kind of horizontality. The idea of constellation and its domination in our imaginary and the way it proceeds, the way we are looking for knowledge today, it’s exactly the same thing. The constellation and the internet really proceed inthe same way.
The second element which is characteristic of our 21st century is what I would call hyper-production. Even when I started as a young curator, 25 years ago now, it was still possible in a way to have access to almost everything that was produced in the very specific domain, which is contemporary art. It was still possible, and in the 60s it was really possible. Since the 90s I think we are getting into kind of the world where it is impossible for any subject to know everything about his/her field in any domain. The general production of art works, books, etc. is so high that it is impossible to know, to have knowledge of any domain. The idea of the cultivated person as in the Renaissance is impossible any more. We have to select and today knowledge is not about accumulating information it’s about finding the right way to navigate, finding the right key to select different objects. Then again, you can see the echo of this hyper-production in contemporary art, for example, through the many works which are based on archives, for example, the idea of a collection I was mentioning before, but the idea of an archive is even more specific. It is the idea of accumulating information, accumulating data, but most of it cannot be read or consulted. It is here as a kind of abstract knowledge. The first work which corresponds with the idea is the piece by the Japanese American artist On Kawara, in 1971 which was called, whose title was One Million Years. Just enumeration of one million years. Of course nobody will read it but it’s conceptually very strong. It is in the same year thatthe microprocessor was invented, in 1971. It’s interesting to see this contemporary moment when the machine develops its possibilities of calculation much beyond the possibilities of the human being. That is exactly the idea of archive. Nobody will see the totality of anarchive normally. It goes beyond our possibilities. You see many art works exceed our possibility to see them, exactly like this piece by On Kawara. So we are living in a hyper mnemonic world, a world as the museum, for example,which is a huge constitution of archives. It goes with the museum and the museum exceeds our possibility to see it. It is a reservoir and it’s a well where you can take things, but the archive exceeds our possibilities. The artist can be the gate-keeper of this memory and also can be the one who invents processes to navigate within history. I once defined the artist as a ‘semio-naut,’ from ‘semios,’ the sign and ‘nautos,’ navigating. The artist as the one who navigates through signs, who invents ways of connecting them together. And in this world of hyper-production this ability of navigation is becoming more and more important. That is our main tool of knowledge. What’s our compass through this huge cloud of data that we are confronting every day? And in a way the artist gives us patterns or models to confront what’s going on in our society.
Exclusion and the way things are expelled goes hand-in-hand with this hyper accumulation, this hyper archive that we are actually living in. It’s interesting to see very different artists, now we take three examples, Jeff Koons, Gabriel Orozco and Pierre Huyghe are actually mentioning or showing us different ways of treating or mastering the different types of signs. Jeff Koons for example is interesting in the way he applies the codes of luxury to insignificant signs, mostly childish or commercial. It’s really about the gap between garbage and pop culture. And this gap has a name in Jeff Koons’ work ? it is called ‘capital gain,’ the added value. It starts by random. If any sign or form used by Jeff Koons is coming from the world of the gifts, the exchange, this kind of sleazy things you find in airports for example, it’s really about it. Those signs he is using are coming, all of them almost, from this kind of sleazy, poor universe of the gift, of the toy, of the gadget. And the work in general is about exchange. It is about showing the capital. In this way, it’s the brutality of the capital, which is shown in Jeff Koons’ work. It’s not by random ifit is considered by many as a kind of brutal work. The exactly opposite is the work of Gabriel Orozco for me, who is actually using mainly construction materials, stones, tree leaves, animal fossils, etc. because the main tension that is given by his work is the tension between nature and culture in a world which is dominated by industry. So it is not nature and culture in an academic way. It is the way both of them, nature on one side and culture on the other side are both dominated by industry, both distorted by the industrial process. What is the human being in Gabriel Orozco’s work? It is a print or a mark, or a shadow, but nothing more. There’s no representation of human beings in his work, just the mark of it, the just fingerprint, some stains, but no more than that. The human being is actually fading away in his work. That’s interesting also to envision in this regard the work of Pierre Huyghe, because he is one of the artists that I’ve been mentioning a lot in the book Relational Aesthetics in the 90s. What is interesting in his work now is that it is going really from the human sphere into the biosphere, I would say. He is working in his last exhibition at Pompidou Center, a new version of it will be at LACMA in Los Angeles- he is working with small animals like sea shells and he even uses bacteria, like the viruses of flu, for example, or ants ? micro forms of life. What’s really interesting is to see the shift from the human paradigm to much broader sphere, which is the sphere of life forms in general. I think that is a very interesting evolution to go from human sphere to biosphere, which actually indicates also one of the most important stakes behind relational aesthetics. This has also evolved because when I wrote this book there were no social networks. We didn’t have any smart phones. Today we are talking tomachines all the time and this is absolutely natural for us. It is something which istotally new. How many minutes do we spend every day talking to or through machines? Now we have an object speak to us. It is possible that some people in the next years will talk to machines only all the time and we are more and more going into this direction.
This real stake behind relational aesthetics was the one that I am going to talk about in a few minutes: the one which is behind the Taipei Biennial this year and the idea of reintroducing the human within every possible sphere it deserted. But I am going to talk about it a bit later. To sum up this new form of rejection or the expelledtoday, I would say that, the exform is not what isrejected by one society and claimed by its citizens because every sign has become an ‘exform,’ I mean, a form taken into double movement of inclusion and exclusion. The cultural hierarchies are not binary any more, are not a dialogue between the power and itscitizens any more. It is more complex and horizontalized. Because we are living in a world which is reticular, aworld where networks, the fluxes of capitals, the fluxes of immigrants, etc., are more important than places. It is interesting to see, to take another example, ethnology since the 19th century was about sending people in Amazonia to take picture or describe the life of the other. What has changed today is actually the whole definition of the other, which is not any more taken into a binary system. If we take for example all the social networks, it shows the images of reality, the information, the documentation about one’s life is now taken by almost everyone everyone has become a reporter. Everyone produces images everyone sends images or shares them. There is a collective elaboration, which was absolutely impossible only a few decades behind us. That’s the difference between, for example, traveling and taking pictures that is an example that the film critic, Serge Daney, was using. He was saying that he never took any pictures or was never photographing because photography was violent. If you take someone in photography, it can be super-violent. What he was doing was buying postcards, because it was the representation of the people by themselves. Postcards have more or less disappeared but themetaphor is remaining.
I was just mentioning globalization. Now I want to get into another aspect of globalization because it is a very parallel movement: it is what we call ‘anthropocene.’ This geological era we entered according to the scientists since World War II which is characterized by the impact of human activities on the planet earth. What is expelled today in the Anthropocene is, that’s a paradox, the subject himself/herself, the human being. It is a paradox becausethe more our effects as species are absolutely proven, the more we as individuals, I think that, we don’t have any effect on reality. That is what I called “anthropocene paradox.” As a techno-sphere we actually have a huge, deep impact on the planet. As individuals we less and less have an impact on societies. We have the feeling that we cannot change things by ourselves. I am going to get back on it.
I think another characteristic of the 21st century is the human being as the wreck of the system. That is the way I would like to revisit in Relational Aesthetics and that is what I try to do in the Taipei Biennial exhibition called The Great Acceleration. It is interesting to see that in the recent developments of philosophy, first,the main critique that is produced by philosophy is the critique of everything that is centered. Obviously it is important to criticize and deconstruct the so called centers and try to horizontalize things more and more. But the critique today, the main critique is given, is absolutely against anthropocentrism. For example, relational aesthetics and the way as a set of artistic practices that draws from this sphere of the human relationships as a point of departure, has been criticized as anthropocentric by many thinkers and philosophers. I would quotethis current trend of philosophy called ‘speculative realism,’ which actually intends to talk about whatthey call the democracy of objects putting at the same level, objects, phenomena and human beings. There is a really interesting term pointed by French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux. He refers to the idea that our knowledge of the world is always the result of correlation between subject and object- that is what he called correlationism, which is the typical perspective of western philosophy.
The question is what would be an exhibition or what would be art without correlationism. Actually it wouldn’t exist because the concept of art itself is based on correlationism, the co-presence of human consciousness and a situation. As Marcel Duchamp was saying, the beholder makes the picture, and the picture of any art work is transformed into a pure object or pure commodity if it is not seen and animated by human consciousness. So, that is the way I started to think, to revisit in the way the concept of relational aesthetics from the point view of, let’s say,including our new relational landscape. I have talked about different types of machines that we talk to all the time. I could mention also that our relationship is really evolving with nature, with the animal, and it is impossible anymore to ignore them, if we talk about our relational sphere. So the Taipei Biennialwas an exhibition trying to take into account the new developments of our relational world in a way. But something has changed since the 90s. It’s the collapse, I would say, of what could be called the human scale, very simply. For example, our economy is normally something which is produced by the people themselves. The society is organizing itself and, let’s say, I would start like this. The word economy itself is oikos nomos in Greek it’s the “organization of house,” which is something very domestic and which is every human-scale-based. Today, 75 percent of the American economy is based on machines and robots - it is what is called ‘high-frequency trading.’ And human beings have become spectators and victims of their own infrastructure, of their own techno-sphere. To the point that 75 percent of the financial mass in America is generated by machines, not by human beingsany more. So this exhibition started while I was reading an article saying that today, on the internet, there are more robots than human beings on the web, which is absolutely amazing if you think about it. It started in the 90s as a communication tool, as a tool for conviviality, for ameliorating our possibilities of exchange. And now the human being is a minority on this internet which is absolutely crazy if we think about it. What is a human being in the internet now? It is a personal data. It is a collection of information made by robots and we have inversed the system.
What is the characteristic of the new situation we are living in is the necessity of correlation between us as individuals, as citizens and a new subordinate class, I would say, composed with animals, plants, natural elements, atmosphere all attacked by a techo-industrial system which is now clearly detached from civil society. Here lie the possibilities of a new type of dialogue between the east and the west, between the western and the Asian modes of thoughts. Being given that, the presupposed idea of western philosophy is what Meillassoux called ‘correlationism.’ The fact that it is impossible to see the world without thinking about the ego on one side and what this ego sees or perceives from the world on the other side. The world doesn`t exist according to western philosophy outside of the ego, outside of the human consciousness which is the measure of all things. Here is the starting point of the exhibition. How is it possible to establish new types of connections between objects, natural elements, animals, life forms and humans?
I will say briefly as much as possible. Because there are 52 artists, I couldn’t select one image for all of them. But, I wanted to show you a few examples of new types of connections and dialogues between different realms. It is not about diminishing or undervaluing of the presence of the human. At the opposite, it is about how it is possible today to show this huge coactivity sphere, which is the world. Coactivity is meaning the fact that at the same time human beings, life forms, natural phenomena, animals, all actually coexist in the same space and dialogue in many ways.
Here is Harold Ancart, the Belgian artist, whose work is characterized by the use of dust or fire. The huge stack on the left of the image is actually the reprinting of the catalogue of a zoo in Prague in the 1930s that he found casually. We reprinted this really strange compilation of animals coming from a disappeared zoo as a kind of new Noah’s Ark in a way. Here is Alisa Baremboym who actually works on synthetic materials, new materials, polymers. Here is Peter Buggenhout also using dust as themain component of his sculptures. Nathaniel Mellors: the two works that you see here are what he calls animatronics, the talking and moving heads whoare actually commentating on the video he did in which the main character is the Neanderthal man that you see on the left. Shezad Dawood. Here, I’m talking about this sculpture. It is a 3-D portrait. It is also interesting to see thiskind of formal combination that is showing the way that the human representation today is always intertwined with natural or mechanical elements. As you can see, this is Haegue Yang’s work which is a view of the installation: the huge wallpaper and sculptures that are totemic forms in a way which are involving both mechanical and natural elements. Camille Henrot’s sculpture, it is a part of a series of sculpture where she actually asked different practitioners, like a chiropractor, or different healers to practice their activities on clay and then she produced bronze sculptures out of this clay showing, it’s like a back of a human being but transformed into a sculpture. Roger Hiorns’ piece which is jet plane reduced to dust.
Neil Beloufa which is showing another aspect which I didn’t have time to talk about but which isinteresting: it is the way that the internet and the screen itself has made, has deeply transformed our relationship to the moving image. For example, it’s maybe not easy to see on this slide, but, there are multiple layers of information involving videos and discussions with people shown in the video, with a system of transparent screens, which makes images cutout, which moves all the time. It’s never supported by any solid elements. It’s a close up of the same work by Neil Beloufa. Laure Prouvost actually presented a video, you can see in the black box inside. All the objects on the left and the right are actually elements used to produce the video. Matheus Rocha Pitta, the Brazilian artist: another aspect which is also quite contemporary, as this will give a kind of density and a weight to casual images, it’s cement, it is a series of works which are produced in the same way really cheap graves are made in Brazil. Rocha Pitta is selecting images of hands. You see the photograph he uses on one part of thework and he produces exactly the same hands that are actually in the picture. Mika Rottenberg’s video: she actually deals with production lines, I would say, many different production lines in the exhibition, not only in videos but real ones, like Wang Po Chi, for example, does work on a production line. Here it is a totally irrational version of production. It is a very complex system and very absurd by the same way. Shimabuku actually discovered the similarity between one of the first, one of the most ancient pre-historical tools and smart phones. Sterling Ruby: another very, almost pre-historic rudimentary forms. And, Surasi Kusolwong: the visitors of the exhibition were supposed to look or dig into this huge installation to find gold jewelry which was actually hidden. It was a kind way to provoke an absurd activity within the space.
I was talking about activity: activity and passivity. Maybe that is the keyword of what I tried trying to express today. What I called “relational aesthetics” was also a commentary on the way artists are actually generating activities among the beholders, among the visitors of the exhibition. “Post-production” was also about activity, about blurring the line between production and consumption of science. Coactivity, this co-presence of the animal, the machine, the human being, the natural elements which was present in the exhibition that takes place in Taipei, is this extension of a relational sphere to machines, animals, plants or minerals. I think this is one of the main stakes, the main problematics for tomorrow’s art in a way. How will we be able to deal with the different spheres that constitute reality, that we cannot ignore any, that we cannot dominate the way we used to dominate them? That’s in a way the message that was implemented by the philosophical trend that I was mentioning, ‘speculative realism.’ It is about our relationship to objects, to nature, to animals and the way art invents connections between them. Thank you very much.
Building a New Commonwealth: Experience and Engagement in the 21st century Museum
Sir. Nicholas Serota (Director, Tate)
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here at the beginning of this series of discussions over the next two days. I would like to thank Madame Hong and also Yongwoo Lee for the invitation on behalf of all the speakers. All of us over the last decade have watched with admiration the way in which this museum and the Gwangju Biennale have developed and have become a major event and a major museum within the international world. It is with a great pleasurefor all of us to join you on this occasion. We would also like to congratulate Hyesoo Woo on the really remarkable way in which she has re-installed the collection here in Leeum and made this fascinating exhibition which brings together the contemporary and thehistoric, Korea with theinternational, in a way it hasn’t been seen here before.
In the last twenty years there has been a profound change in thebehaviourand expectations of audiences in museums. For me, this first became evident in the public response to Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Weather Project’ installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2003. Whatever the intentions of the artist in creating this site-specific work in a former industrial building, the public took over the space and used it as an arena for its own interpretation and experience so that the work gained an unanticipated performative aspect. Similar unprogrammed responses were prompted by Doris Salcedo’s ‘Shibboleth’ in 2006. This is Doris Salcedo’s ‘Shibboleth’ and many of you know this work as “the crack.” Basically it was a crack developed in the Turbine Hall almost as though an earthquake has hit London. Then, of course, there is Carsten Hoeller’s ‘Test Site’ also in the Turbine Hall in 2007. In part, these changes may be due to the fact that the Turbine Hall itself has become a new kind of interactive space within the museum, not a gallery nor a space simply for study, research or the commerce, but rather a space for social interaction in the presence of art.
A different kind of public engagement was clearly in play at about the same time when we introduced comment cards at the end of the Turner Prize exhibitions, inviting visitors to leave their views in response to the question ’What do you think’ with an encouragement to ‘Judge for yourself.’ Some of these comments were of course rather banal but others were quite profound. And the interesting issue for many visitors was to feel that they were communicating with each other as well as having an experience themselves. This opportunity to express a view and to comment on the views of others prefigured the kind of online debate that is now commonplace in the wider world, but which is rather rarely a feature of museum experience.
Both of these phenomena, an apparent yearning for the experiential in a museum, often prompted by artists engaged in a relational aesthetic - and an enthusiasm for a more participative, less passive relationship with art and with the judgments of curators reflect changes in a wider society. In particular, they reflect a willingness to challenge, to exchange views and to be a participant through social media and other more institutional digital platforms. How should we react to an appetite for these new forms of exhibition and debate? And can we respond without abandoning the commitment to the more curatorial endeavour and scholarship present in more conventional exhibitions, such as those seen recently at Tate such as Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition, or Malevich, or indeed Mira Schendel exhibition which we presented last year or Saloua Rouada Choucair exhibition, this Lebanese artist seen for the first time in a major way in an institution in Europe or America. These are very important endeavours, these kinds of classic shows. But on the other hand, there are many changes taking place in museumsin which we need audiences to respond to.
Of course, the concept of the museum is in constant evolution, driven forward by a combination of curatorial vision, artistic innovation and the demands of audiences. The process began with the translation of the idea of the private collector’s ‘kunstkammer’ into institutions that functioned in the interest of the public. In 1753, the British Museum was established as a universal collection by Act of Parliament based on the principle of free admission: “to all studious and curious persons.” In a late eighteenth and early nineteenth century age of enlightenment, the opening of national galleries arranged according to school was intended both to elevate and to educate in the histories of art and in the achievements of nations. In the late nineteenth century a more scholarly and historicist approach, introduced by Tschudi in period-room displays in Berlin, reflected a culture in which the decorative arts also had their place. By the mid twentieth century this had given way in Barr’s MoMA, to a respect for each discipline, some explanation of their relationships, but nevertheless a more restrained series of displays, in which objects were generally isolated and considered from an aesthetic as much as from a social point of view.
In the sixties, two significant developments were led by artists and they changed the nature of museums, sometimes with the support of curators. The first was an engagement with the space of the museum itself, testing the ability of the institution to respond to site-specific works and those on an environmental scale. Richard Serra’s seminal work, ‘Splashing’ 1969, conceived for a show at Leo Castelli’s warehouse gallery is now known only through photographs and from Serra’s own 1992 recreation of the work as ‘Gutter Splash Two Corner Cast’ at the de Pont Museum in Tilburg. Exhibitions like ‘When Attitudes become Form’ in Bern and ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ in Amsterdam, both in 1969, demonstrated the need for a new kind of museum space to present minimal and conceptual art. Such space emerged in institutional form only a decade or more later, and was exemplified by the installation of the Crex collection in a former textile warehouse in Schaffhausen-here we see Joseph Beuys at Scaffhausen in 1982; and by Richard Koshalek and Frank Gehry’s brilliant adaptation of a former police garage, the ‘Temporary Contemporary’ in Los Angeles in 1984. The decision to take Bankside power station and to adapt it as a museum of modern art for London with the Turbine Hall remaining in its original form owed much to the success of these examples and tothe enthusiasm of artists for showing their work in spaces that broke the convention of the ‘white box. ’
The second development of the 60s that challenged the convention of the museum was the emergence of ‘happening’ and ‘performance’ as a discipline lying between the visual arts, theatre, dance and music. Initially, such events took place in warehouses, commercial galleries, theatres and studio spaces, but in the early 60s the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, under the direction of Willem Sandberg, embraced such activities as part of a program that was intended to open the museum and engage the public in a much more democratic way. Exhibitions like Dylaby seenhere or ‘Dynamic Labyrinth’ in 1962 with Rauschenberg, Spoerri, Tinguely and here Martial Raysse and others presented interaction as a principle of art. In another sphere, Joseph Beuys began to develop his ideas about social sculpture, eventually manifesting itself in his one hundred day ‘Free International University’ at dOCUMENTA 5 in 1982. But, with the exception of some of the smaller independent institutions like the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Sandberg’s bold lead was not followed and museums generally retreated away from participation and performance into more conventional forms of presentation that left the visitor in a much more passive relationship with the object.
The first challenge for the museum of the 21st century is therefore to create spaces that can accommodate the way in which artists work and develop a program for these spaces that reflects a desire by the public for a more active engagement with art. Here we see the extension for Tate Modern taking form at Bankside in London. This slide was taken a few weeks ago and the building will be clad in bricks eventually and will open in 2016. There are signs that even the larger, slow moving institutions are beginning to respond to the needs to revive these kinds of spaces. The new Tanks spaces at Tate Modern occupy the former oil tanks of the power station and now form the foundation of this extension. They sit below the space. Some of you in this room undoubtedly would have seen some of the events, performances, installations that we installed in those spaces in 2012-13. They began with performances by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, a film by Aldo Tambellini, and other installations including work by William Kentridge.
MoMA has recently announced plans for their new building that will include a new ‘grey box’ designed for performance. Both institutions are also presenting performance works in the principal spaces in the museum with MoMA showing Marina Abramovic’s ‘The Artist is Present’ in 2010 and Tate presenting Tino Sehgal’s ‘These Associations’ as the final work in the Unilever Series of Turbine Hall commissions in 2012. Both works were characterized by the direct engagement of the audience as participants in the work. Tate and MoMA, now have curators with responsibility for performance art and both are engaged in historical research and on the task of re-presenting historic performance works. This new respect for performance has also encouraged Tate to develop a form of commission that occupies a new space, the virtual. Since 2012, with the support of BMW, Tate has been commissioning a series of performance works under the rubric ‘Performance Room.’ These are presented through live web broadcast with no audience present but thousands viewing across the world in real time. Each performance is followed by live interview in which the questions are taken from viewers mailing in from different time zones. Amongst the performers have been, here for instance, Joan Jonas, Jerome Bel, Cally Spooner and finally Kjartansson.
However, beyond the space of the buildings and the range of the program, an even greater challenge is to recognize that the museum is increasingly not simply a spacefor observation, instruction and experience, but also one for personal development and learning through participation. We seek to test ourselves, to reflect on our identity, on our relationships with others and with the world. In this respect, the museum becomes a place for debate and discussion, more like a laboratory or a university. The development of digital communication allows us to enrich this experience through the use of mobiles on site; it can precede or follow a visit, or indeed, be undertaken independently of the physical location. Here at Leeum you have a perfect example of how the digital can be used even when you are walking through the museum in the most wonderful series of presentations about the collection,on a hand-held device.
The public fascination with TED style lectures and debate online is simply one indication of the new appetite for such remote engagement. These programs and activities will require new approaches, new kinds of publication and new kinds of quiet spaces within the institution for listening and response. It’s a curious connection between the slide you are looking at the moment and this slide you more forward to, notionally two hundred years. At Tate Britain we have created a new Digital Studio to complement the more conventional workshop spaces and at Tate Modern we plan to use two floors of the new building for visitor engagement in a framework that will offer possibilities for learning, debate and creation. I am going to speak about that in a few moments.
Over the past fifty years, museums have become places where we engage in social as well as learning activity. It is easy to be cynical about the impact of the cafe, restaurant or shop spaces on the culture and character of museums, but in practice the introduction of such facilities has made museums less daunting, more welcoming and more open to general visitors. However, that democratization needs to be expressed in a way that goes deeper than the provision of opportunities to purchase or to consume. From their inception museums have, of course, offered lectures, seminars and publications. What few have so far embraced is the principle of open exchange established so brilliantly by Michael Young with the creation in Britain of the Open University in 1969. Today, the Open University, which admits students with a minimum or no qualification, has more than 250,000 students, including 50,000 from abroad. Its teaching was conducted initially through broadcast television and correspondence and is now online, coupled with intensive seminar and summer schools.
Open exchange is very different from the pattern of formal instruction in which experts debate propositions with their peers and pass on accumulated knowledge to the next generation. It is much closer to the spirit of ‘commonwealth,’ a term first deployed in about 1470 to describe a body politic, in which the whole people have a voice or interest. Later it was associated with Oliver Cromwell and with the brief period of republicanism in England captured so brilliantly by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his ‘The Leviathan,’ published in 1651, which was a treatise onpolitical structures, in which individual power would be relinquished. Now of course in Britain at least, it is most commonly connected with the British Commonwealth, an association of independent former colonies; but in its original meaning of governance in the interests of everyone, the idea of ‘commonwealth’ has a particular significance for museums at this moment.
In Britain we are fortunate in having created a structure of national museums, based on the ideals of the British Museum, in which a group of independent trustees is appointed by the nation to care for, and to promote public understanding of the works in the collections, as well as the corpus of knowledge associated with them. Trustees are appointed by government but they act independently to reflect the values and interests of the public as owners, rather than the interests of the state or of private individuals, however enlightened these individuals might be. In the nineteenth century the National Gallery was placed deliberately at the centre of the city, on the north side of the newly created Trafalgar Square, so that it could be accessible to very large numbers. In the 1850s debates in Parliament stressed the importance of making great works in the collection available to all social classes. A similar attitude led to the creation of the Whitechapel Art Gallery in East London, a poor part of London, where the founder, Canon Barnett, described the function of the Gallery, and this was in 1901, as “bringing the highest art to the lowest people.” It is not a phrase that would find favor today. Now the advent of a digital age obliges us to respond to the needs and expectations of our audiences in new ways. Here you see audiences in this space of the Turbine Hall, a space of social interaction and a place for art.
So what might this new ‘commonwealth’ entail for museums and for their relationship with their many different publics? The ‘wealth’ that we might share is perhaps the element that is the easiest to imagine. It is founded on the accumulation of the objects in our collections, animated by the knowledge and flair of our curators. It extends to the capital of our buildings, which provide safe spaces for congregation and debate, as well as places of beauty and proportion. But it also depends on the position of museums in society. In a world that is increasingly wary of power and its misuse, museums remain high on the list of trusted institutions.
But how do we give effect to the element of ‘common’ in ‘commonwealth,’ the spirit of belonging to the community, of belonging equally to more than one and free to be used by everyone? An important step is to recognise that knowledge and opinion about the collections is not confined to the experts who work within the institution. In recent years, we have become more open to collaboration with university colleagues, though the easy flow of staff between academy and museum life is still an ideal. Here we have an example of Tate working with university colleagues to produce Tate papers which appear online on our website. What I am saying is that we need to work much more closely withuniversity colleaguesthan we probably have done in the past.
Furthermore, we also still have much to learn from those university museums that make intensive use of their collections within the framework of academic research. But in the future, we might also consider opening our platforms to those who we do not yet know, appealing to those who have knowledge or expertise that can give a new dimension to research, what one might think of as the research equivalent of crowdfunding - or you could also say crowd-sourcing. Some years ago Tate invited the public to help us identify subjects within the corpus of 30,000 sketches and drawings that constitute the Turner bequest. The result has given greater definition to our understanding of Turner’s methods and travels, but it has also given a greater sense of engagement and ownership to our public. In a similar way, a BBC series some years ago brought an expert on dogs, another on horses to comment on the particular strains and breeds depicted by Stubbs. These are simple, not very challenging examples of ways in which we can open our doors. However, our aim now must to be more provocative and to take greater risk in engaging partners and individuals. But if we bring in people from disciplines that do not share our language or our assumptions, we will inevitably have to address wider questions about the nature of art and its role in society, rather than confining our enquiries simply to the history or the practice of art.
At Tate we are beginning to develop a new approach to one part of our public program that will make it more independent of the cycle of exhibitions and displays of the collection. Our aim in what we are calling ‘Tate Exchange’ is to examine the contribution made by the visual arts within the wider social and economic framework of society. We want to explore in depth but also from conflicting and contradictory positions, some of the bigger questions and themes of our age: living in cities, migration, issues of sexual and social identity, the consequences of globalism. We see art as a catalyst for a program of debate, discussion and creation that will explore a given theme in depth over the duration of an academic year, very much more like a university or indeed an open university. Here you see a couple of visualizations of some of the activities taking place as it will be in Tate Modern from 2016 in the new building.
We shall bring together artists, writers, performers, and thinkers from different disciplines to create a framework that will be tested and amplified by public engagement, discussion, dissent and creativity. And dissent is a fundamental importance in any museum. Museum has to be capable of absorbing and taking part in discussion and debate that challengesthe conventions and opens up new ways of thinking and looking. We have to be on the leading edge, literally. Artists will lead activities. Activities will include conventional lectures, seminars and workshops, but also the creation of clusters and conceivably microsites, through which each group will work on particular topics. We anticipate that there will be a different team leading the program each year and that people will affiliate themselves with the whole or parts of the program. It will become almost a kind of club that any member of the public can join. We shall also seek to explore new forms of partnership with a wide variety of groups in the community, building on the experience of our existing young people’s group, Tate Collectives. Here are a few images of a program that was done by this group Tate Collectives two years ago in the Tanks, where Tate Collectives as a group was led by 15-25 year olds. They developed a program entirely for their own age group and generation, examining some of the bigger questions and issues that confront young people living in London today. The program involved artists, people from other disciplines and it ran through series of workshops and discussions and ended with many of people beinginvolved in an active creation.
Our aim is to stimulate new kinds of less passive visitor experience and a more open, participative and creative learning. As I said, so far, we have been building the model and we plan to further pilots that will explore otheroptions. With the opening of the new Tate Modern in 2016, we hope to realize something on a grander scale. No doubt we shall make mistakes, but I believe that we have to adapt to the new demands and opportunities to claim a larger place in society for the visual, and therefore for visual literacy. I shall always want to argue for the value of the personal encounter for an individual that can flow from the intimate engagement with a work of art in a museum. However, if the museum is to flourish in the 21st century, it cannot afford to be solely a place of retreat from society. It must stimulate, provoke and engage, as well as offering a place for contemplation or consolation. It must be a place in which we can exchange ideas and share them in a spirit that Thomas Hobbes might have recognized as a ‘commonwealth’ of ideas. Above all, the museum must champion art in all its manifestations by arguing for the deep significance of the visual in our understanding of each other, and to the comprehension of our society, its history, and of course, its future.
<Artist Talk> Leeum 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Beyond and Between - Liam Gillick
This work is made specifically for this space in the museum. And it comes from studying the architecture of the building, which is actually quite a complex architecture with a lot of curves and slopes. It’s not an easy space in many ways. There’s only one flat wall, so basically the process involved building a digital model of this whole area, this whole lobby area of the building, and spending a lot of time moving around on the computer inside this digital model. And then testing different ideas, testing different artworks that might sit in a way, on the surface of the space without either becoming integrated nor being completely alien. So you have something that works in a sense in parallel to the room we’re in rather merely sitting on the surface. The matierals that I’m using here are ones that I use often. And they are the materials: aluminum, powder coated paint ? that are the materials of renovation and of what I call secondary architecture. So the architecture of the front of the store or the facade of a building, or a light-weight secondary structure. So, basically the way I see the work is falling somewhere in relation to my interest in the moment in the tension between restoration and renovation. And the difference between the idea of restoration and renovation. I see this as a gesture that is connected to renovation. Which, in a way, the work should be seen as marking a kind of point in time, a passage in time like after 10 years at the museum. Basically, a secondary skin, a parallel skin, is applied within a space that somehow indicates that time has passed. And that we’ve now reached a new relationship with the building as a whole.
<Artist Talk> Leeum 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Beyond and Between - Rirkrit Tiravanija
This is a stage design by Frederick Kiesler, an Austrian architect, and it is a stage or platform that is intended to be utilized and interact with the collaboration of people in the community. So the community in this particular case would be groups of people within the area of the museum as well as different groups and people in the city. It’s called numero station number 5 because my idea was to make a platform where people could come and make a demonstration. And the idea of the demonstration would be a kind of an action that would perhaps communicate different ideas and different relationships which is something that is not so visible maybe perhaps in the community itself, but it is a kind of a platform for the community to come together and to have an exchange. So the stage would be active and open from the beginning of the exhibition for the next 4 months and there will be a programation which will involve different groups and different kinds of activities and interests, I think, from the neighborhood and the surrounding area of the city. There would be different presentations and demonstrations from people of all kinds of interests and different ages and...At the moment from the beginning of the exhibition there is now a kind of performance with a 100 metronome composition of George Ligeti, in the next few days there will be a fashion show by some local very interesting fashion designers, and I think for the opening of the exhibition there would be some music from a group of young musicians. The stage of course is a platform for interaction and exchange and for different ways of looking at the art and exhibition. It is of course upon for everyone to enter into and go on top of and be a part of and to be active and to actually spend a bit of time looking and thinking, visiting, and interact with different situations that would be presented on this stage.
<Artist Talk> Leeum 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Beyond and Between - Subodh Gupta
Hi, since [I never] talk like this and I [am not] used to talk[ing] like this to talk about my work, but since everybody knows I work with the daily mundane, my subject [is] day-to-day life and my idea[s] for my work [come from]...this [tiffin] in marble... a [tiffan] is a very common object in my country. And [working with] marble ? marble is a very exotic material. When you think about marble, you always think about luxury. You always think about...especially in India one of the biggest monuments made, [the] Taj Mahal [made with] marble. And marble is quiet a [luxurious] material in [a] sense. And making [a tiffin] out of marble ? [a] tiffin is a every day very normal, middle class family [object]. People use it to take to [the] office or [to] take their lunch. And tiffin also [depicts] food. Tiffin also depicts hard work. Tiffin also depicts labor. And making something out of tiffin, out of marble and just [playing with a] juxtaposed metaphor between the material and the content, tiffin. Yes, so this work is about...[cut right there.] Is [that] okay? The people who know about my work know that I work with various medium[s]. I used metal, insulation video photographic performance ? various materials I use in my work. And people often ask me [the] question ’why are you [working] with various material[s] ? Since I come from [a] theater background I never hesitate to use [a] medium as long as my subject fit[s] and express[es] what I want it to say. So here I [have only started using marble in my works since the last 3 or 4 years.] Also, I get very fascinated with the marble. When I see all the Romanesque sculptures in marble. And India is a place where you get marble - Makrana marble and marble from Rajasthan and Gujarat, so marble really [is] also [a] very mundane material in India. People these days, especially middle class famil[ies] [they feel] they really have to have marble in their home. So I also find it’s a very common material [at] the same time. And [at the] same time it’s a contrast, so I made this work marble and I told you why I made this work so thank you very much.
<Artist Talk> Leeum 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Beyond and Between - Ernesto Neto
Hi. My name is Ernesto Neto and we are inside this piece named ‘Symbiointestine Time’.
And ‘symbio’ comes from  ‘symbiosis’ where the plants live together,
‘intestine’ the intestine that is inside of us. And ‘time,’ the time we move around.
We are here inside this womb [dome, this] egg and around it connected to that
we have this intestine snake pathway
from the beginning to the end we have a changing of the color from like a spectrum like the rainbow from red to purple
and outside I choose to have a kind a skin color
to [give the] feeling that we are under the earth or inside the body.
I have been thinking very much about the space[s] we are living [in] today.
When you have the idea of space we think about the emptiness, this (inaudible) space.
But I think contemporary space is much more about the telephone that is in your hand now
where you have a lot of zip codes and organisms connecting one thing to the other in a small space compressed to make things happen.
This organic world is the world that I want to express with this piece and with all my work in general,
the world of nature, the world that is inside of us and the world that [is] nowadays is [represented] very much by the bigger cities
when you have a lot pathways, roads, undergrounds, [train tracks]...
So this compression of living that we are living together, many things at the same time a lot of life happening [all the time].
You also have some spices and some herbs to excite our smelly sense because I think everything around us is about the sense we have.
From the sense we create interpretations, we find meanings, memories of our life.
All this piece here is assembled, is [put] together by relationship there’s no nails, no screws, it’s just gravity holding everything
and I like this feeling of  gravity because when I feel my weight now I feel that I am alive that I am here now.
I feel the time of the moment, like when you walk from one part to the other you are going to see the changing of piece around us. Also I like very much this area where you can take [off] your shoes and lay down
because I think sometimes you need to stop, lay down, sit down
and think about what we are doing here, what we [are planning] to do and and in a very philosophical way,
but also in a daily way, like where [are we going now,] what [are we going] to do today, who are we going to call, who are we going to meet.
And it’s very much about relationship.
Everything that is [integrated] on this piece is about relationship. 모든 부분이 관계에 관해 통합되어 있습니다
How one thing [changes] when [it meets] another thing. How we change when we meet somebody else.
How we are now, not of [the idea] of identity of who you were, 우리의 정체성에 관한 문제가 아니라
but how we are now when I am talking to you or when I am meeting somebody else,
depending on the person we meet, we become a different person.
So this is my idea to be a little bit [freer] from this idea of identity and live more by the spirituality that we have when we are in this moment now.
So I welcome you to come over here to sit down, to breathe [these smells]
to walk around, to cross your hands into the powers of the piece.
These are [some] very interesting connections in between the piece.
And I think its a brief, you know, a blow when you get in and when you get out there [are some] messages some underlying messages some spiritual breath.
<Artist Talk> Leeum 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Beyond and Between - Ham Kyungah
My motif to start this work was the leaflet that flew to my front door in the summer of 2008. On the leaflet, there were the face of Kim Jungil, the red flowers and the propaganda phrases.
Seeing it, I wanted to send my own leaflet to the area with my own artistic way. And regarding the contents, I wanted to deliver the story of our digital world that is opened to the world by one click of mouse.
To the area which is contrary to the free imagination, I wanted to tell the story of my world.
So I recall the embroidery which is more labor-intensive work than analogue and which is contrary to our digital world
The meaning of making each stitch is to spend my time. And in terms of articles or images that I see,
I could have the enough time to think it over during this work. So that’s the reason that I chose the way of embroidery. During the process, my work was delivered to the area through China. And when it came out of the area,
I had to go through the difficult process like censorship. Nevertheless, the stories and poems written on this work
can cause the imagination to the one in the area And also the visitors in South Korea can imagine the things that I have experienced during the manufacture of this work. In particular, regarding the Morris Louise series, I think the birth of American abstract expressionism is very propagandistic and political.
But this also has the irony to talk about the pure beauty to the visitors.
Seeing the works of Morris Louise representing abstract impressionism with the birth of propaganda,
the fact that the political gestures in this structure were sent to the area where only the propagandistic expression is possible
and the propaganda became the propaganda again at some point and it became the propaganda when it came back again
produced the ironic layers, I thought.
And when you look at this work, it is the color field painting like the identical twins. The color flows as if the blood or other liquids flow and it has the shape of the symmetrical identical twins. It seems to meet flowing into the middle in the frame, but it cannot meet in the frame. We just estimate the possibility to meet in somewhere out of frame.
It reminds me of our situation again, and the white space in the middle part was looked like the DMZ. I thought it was interesting because it was similar to our situation.
In addition to the various artistic forms of approach, due to the appreciation point that can be felt at once, Morris Louis came into this work I think.
The 10th Anniversary Exhibition of Leeum(Beyond and Between) Curator interview
Two perspectives were applied in planning for the exhibition.First, we thought about how we can interpret our collection and with what kind of new configuration we can deliver it to the visitors.
And the other is about how we can build a relationship with our visitors and which direction we must go on from now on.
From that point of view, three exhibition halls of Ancient Arts Hall, Modern Arts Hall and Special Exhibition Hall were reinterpreted in Sympathy, and it made the big harmony of collection, exhibition and visitors.
The most important sympathy in art museum is the one between art museum and visitors and arts and human beings.
In terms of it, the museum can be closer to the visitors, communicate with people as a local institution
and be the resting place for the people. As for our collection,
we have a wide range of collections of modern arts, ancient arts and foreign modern arts. And in these collections,
we contain our thinking how we can establish a sympathy to make new and creative conversation and inventive parts.
For M1, in order to understand the communication between our traditional arts and modern arts, the theme is the sympathy of times.
In terms of modern arts, we tried to find the possibility to make a new interpretation and creative meaning of our traditional arts.
For example of Byron Kim’s works exhibited at Celadon Hall, it treated the interesting configuration realizing the color of Goryeo Celadon
and also expressed the universal sympathy of Korean modern art and ancient arts in the artistic point of view.
And for M2 Where the collections of modern arts are exhibited,
We tried to make a configuration of Korean and foreign collections. So the theme is the sympathy of East and West.
It has the meaning to understand in what parts our modern arts around 1945 had a sympathy with the modern arts of the world
and how it has been developed until now.
There are a lot of works are displayed at Special Exhibition Hall, lobby and caf? The theme of these works is the sympathy of the visitors.
It is the lastly added exhibition under the main tile of Sympathy. It shows the vision that our museum will be the place for the sympathy of times and East and West
and will be the place with the visitors. As for the selection standard of artists,
It mainly composed the works with visitors’ participation, and on the other hand, it considered the spatial aspect
interpreting the construction of our museum
The best thing when this museum was started 10 years ago was that we can have the space for the collections.
We had the exhibition of ancient collections in the Ho-Am Art Museum in Yongin. But we had no place for modern arts collections.
So I was so sorry about that point. In 2004, we could have the exhibition place both for modern arts and ancient arts
and it made me very happy. Moreover, it was also possible for the special exhibition.
The last 10 years was very important time. It was short and long at the same time actually.
According to the change that we have experienced for last 10 years, There were a lot of changes including exhibition, human structure
and the status of Samsung Art Museum in art world. So I think it will be the very important base for the future.
Interactive media for the exhibition Beyond and Between
This is for you to commune with others. After viewing Beyond and Between, you are invited to reflect on your ideas and experiences of the exhibition and to share your feelings and thoughts with other viewers in the media space Between You and Me. Offered in the Workshop Room in the Ground Gallery, and open to all, Between You and Me consists of three interactive programs: Conversations, Imaginations and Connections.
Using the technique of digital drawing, you can come up with virtual dialogues between artworks shown together in the exhibition regardless of their being separate spatiotemporally, or create a drawing out of your imaginations exercised upon an artwork. You can then look at what other viewers have written and drawn, together with yours. Also do contribute to information graphics by selecting your favorite works and the most compelling keywords relating to the exhibition, and compare your choices with those of others.
I juxtapose social systems and art systems combined with performances and turn them into real situations in the gallery.
My exhibition work comes in two parts under the title, `I tell what you believe`. I visited Leeum to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition a while ago. The works were impressive, but what impressed me more was the great number of guards looking after the art works and guiding the visitors. There seemed to be many more of them at Leeum compared to other galleries.
The performance makes them wear tap dance shoes to walk around in, during the exhibition while making sounds. This has double meaning. First, it`s a system that makes the guards participate as a part of an art work, not as hidden beings in the shadow of the exhibition, by having them make sounds whether rhythmical or noisy. Second, the tapping sounds can make the guards be extra-cautious like shackles on motion.
The other part is a video. ARTSPECTRUM recently switched to an award system. Although awards, competitions and evaluations are inevitable everywhere including the world of art, it can be an opportunity, but also a tiresome event for participants., So I wanted to talk about that.
At the beginning of my career, my interests lay in what I had felt when I took my first step into society and what I had been feeling since I was young. I was very interested in irresistible things. I always wondered how I came to make decisions and how I came to like certain things.
I think of consumption as an act of agreement. It seems people are accustomed to agreeing with too much that they aren`t very aware of what they are agreeing with. So I went home and took a look at what food I had bought and brought back to examine what I had agreed with.
I thought, ″This food costs only a thousand won but contains hidden systems and structures of society.″ So I wanted to know what I had been agreeing with and what`s hidden inside my act of eating, so I decided to produce my own breakfast myself. My first step was to produce sugar from a sugar cane farm in Taiwan.
The stories of my work can be difficult and it may seem to talk about a lot of things. But they can be easy if you approach them casually. If my neighbors living next door or parents see my work and go back to their homes and think about things that they had never thought of before, ponder on what they have eaten and wonder what`s behind all this while they cook or wash rice, then my work has done its job.
I could say I have more senses than the average person. I`m very sensitive and I tend to see things bigger and hear things louder, and this is what drives my work.
I began with traditional paintings of Korea and now, I combine factors from the classical style into my work. Some might say traditional paintings are outdated and boring, but I believe their potential is limitless.
It`s about how the family unit stands within the society and the system when a couple begins a home together, and what causes problems and how they live.
Physically, it`s not very hard to break away from social norms and break away from your family. But people don’t easily do so. From there problems emerge and traditional houses get distorted. The exhibition space itself, which I installed in the gallery is also slightly distorted, so although it`s standing straight, it`s imperfect and doesn`t meet the standards that society demands of it.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition without prejudice keeping in mind that these stories are not far from your own and that they may be stories of your own relatives or your surroundings, which one would dare not reveal.
My works in general reveal the body to the audience Things made by humans, even if they were made using non-human materials, are the result of the human body. So I thought in that sense everything can be a performance. Recently, I came to think about projects that combine materialistic media with performance.
I decided to show a performance in an attempt to share the entire process of making the decision with the audience by going beyond the limits of what`s been already settled or decided.
When we do something with our body, what is it? And how do we do it? What are the conditions and how do we make relationships? Who are those people around me? I think my work can be related to such questions. And I will show the entire process of the constructed structure and my movements through a video to the audience.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition by feeling how your body senses certain visual situations and physical feelings because of what’s happening in this work.
My fundamental curiosity about different media and my desire to understand more fundamental problems motivated me to study photography. I may have become more curious about the media identity of photos because I was working with the medium of painting, not photography. I think that has been and continues to be expressed through my works.
I`m participating in the exhibition with a work titled, `A room with a revolving door`. The starting point came from a book called, Inappropriate Metaphors, which I made for my solo exhibition last year.
This work is in line with that book. I guess you could say that this work interprets the grid elements of the book spatially and reconstructs them in the exhibition room in the form of a photo installation.
The elements of the work were not all planned out from the beginning. I began with the book and created this work from and within that process.
It`s important to interpret works, but I think experiencing the work is a much more important issue. I think even the meaning of a work is developed through the meaningful questions that you arise from your personal relationship with the work.
As I said before, when I first started painting, my friends would keep drawing cars or people, but I found that to be too boring - to keep drawing the same thing. So I began to draw this and that and I realized drawings can be different depending on your perspective. Of course every subject in art works hold meaning, but I tend to think more about the way you see something or the attitude towards it instead of deciding on a single subject. And that`s my subject.
I visualize the gap between the visible and invisible things using different viewpoints. For example, a curator is standing in front of me right now. The perspective of the curator looking at me and the viewpoint of the audience looking at us through this video clip must be different. So I collect those different viewpoints and examine how they can help us see the essence of certain objects more closely.
I increased the scale and added more experimental factors to this work than my previous works. Although I can’t say it was successful, I was able to do something new, so it was a great chance for me to grow.
There may be people who are not interested in paintings, but my works can be enjoyable even just visually, so I hope you can appreciate them comfortably.
The art collection of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art began with the late Hoam Lee Byung-chul, the founder of the Samsung Group. His passion and enthusiasm for preserving the cultural heritage of Korea saved many traditional art works from being sold abroad while the county was suffering poor economic conditions, laying the foundation stone for the museum.
Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of Samsung Group and Hong Ra-hee, the director of Leeum, have put great efforts in enhancing the quality and quantity of the museum`s collection that encompasses a wide range from Korean art to international art. With an aspiration to share these great cultural assets and art works with the public and to preserve them, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art was founded in 2004.
Leeum`s collection ranges from traditional to contemporary, Korean to international, surveying the major trends in the history of art. Korea`s national treasures from the prehistoric age to Joseon Dynasty including the Celadon Gourd-shaped Ewer, the Overview of Geumgang Mountain, and the Gaya Gold Crown; masterpieces from Korea`s modern and contemporary art including works by Lee Joong-seop and Nam June Paik; works by representative artists of international modern and contemporary art including Mark Rothko and Jeff Koons.
Since its inauguration, Leeum has been presenting unique exhibitions where diverse genres from traditional art to contemporary art are communicated and new experiments in art are introduced. Moreover, Leeum`s educational programs and varied cultural and artistic events have closed the distance between the public and the museum.
As a creative culture complex, Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art will continue to function as the hub of art and culture through its world-class collection and exhibitions.
The unique architecture of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art was created by three architects different in each philosophy and character.
“This building is designed for a ceramic museum. I wanted to create a mysterious form like an enlarged ceramic vessel, which will attract people with its wonderful shape, inviting them to enter.”
Mario Botta asserts that today’s museum should replace the role of religious architecture – to evoke the feeling of holiness and sublimity. This philosophy of Botta’s architecture is embodied in the building of MUSEUM I.
The building consists of simple yet massive shapes of cuboid and reverse cones. Curves and straight lines of the building become one through terracotta bricks. In particular, the reverse cone shape made of terracotta bricks, product of earth and fire, symbolizes traditional Korean ceramics. The jagged outline of the upper part of the building is reminiscent of traditional fortress- the museum is a place where tradition and cultural heritage are guarded.
The culmination of MUSEUM 1’s architecture is the rotunda of a reverse cone shape. Natural light coming through the ceiling permeates the entire space of the building reaching to the lobby on the basement floor.
The unique architecture of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art was created by three architects different in each philosophy and character.
“Geometric box-like units that compose the building are assembled each facing different directions. Movable walls installed inside the building can create variations in display according to exhibition themes.”
Designed by Jean Nouvel who employs an urban, futuristic sensibility in his architecture, MUSEUM 2 constitutes a work of art in itself. Cubes in varied scales arranged freely in between glass walls not only function as exhibition spaces but also add dynamics to the exterior of the building.
Its innovative finishing material - “black stainless steel” displaying the so-called “black patina” imbues an artistic touch into the overall atmosphere of the building.
The “gabion wall” constructed with stones from excavation work is not only functional but also an artistic commemoration of the foundation of the museum.
Introduction to Leeum Architecture - Samsung Child Education & Culture Center
The unique architecture of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art was created by three architects different in each philosophy and character.
“Black Box is clearly a very established entity- it is an entirely artificial environment where there is neither a relationship with context nor daylight. Situations here are easy to manipulate. You can keep art works apart from the outside world completely.”
Rem Koolhass has been presenting provocative architecture full of imagination. For Leeum he created a special building structure that embraces yet another space inside it.
The Ground Gallery, the largest exhibition space in Samsung Child Education & Culture Center, contains another space called the “Black Box,” the most peculiar space in Leeum and an innovation breaking out of the convention of the white box.
The Black Box that seems to float in space is constructed with new, innovative material, black concrete. Blocking natural light, this space can be used best for displaying multi-media works.
In the outside garden of the museum, the visitor can get a view of these three buildings each with its distinctive features along with the spectacular view of Seoul. There is a pathway where one can walk around quietly passing by large-scale sculptures installed around the museum. Moreover, this outside garden is a meeting point where Leeum and the surrounding environments communicate, completing each other.