Buk Seoul Museum of Art presents a group show of 6 artists and teams designed to see how the virtual space has become one of the major creative media for artists today.
Art Radar takes a closer look at the works of the six contributing artists and collectives.
“Phantom Arm” shows the shifts in the creative environment that are changing rapidly with the platform of online media and the development of science and technology. The subject is illuminated by the invited emerging artists and teams working in South Korea. The participating artists were mainly born in the 1980s, the generation of no divisions between analogue and digital. They have been actively engaging in various media and experimentation under the digitally-based creative environment. In this exhibition at SeMA, Buk Seoul Museum of Art, the artists demonstrate their innovative sense of creativity on individual subjects of interest that are not only art but also present issues and questions posed in the contemporary philosophy and media aesthetics.
The title of the exhibition, “Phantom Arm”, comes from the psychological symptoms of what is called ‘Phantom Limb Syndrome’, which refers to a vivid perception of the ability to feel sensations and pain in the limbs that no longer exist. It is also a metaphorical expression of the physical limitations of artists in the digital space, while their creative scenes have been infinitely expanded into the virtual world from the given environment.
The exhibition highlights the invisible connectivity in the transition of the art form and the creative environment, which involves the expansion and oblivion of its existence in the digital world. With the exhibition, the audience can experience an improvisational embodiment of virtual reality.
The work of Kang Jungsuck (b. 1984) has begun with his imagination, where Kang wears a VR device in his studio and virtually connects to the Buk Seoul Museum of Art due to his interest in the sense of heterogeneity between the creative space and the museum space. Through the VR machine, he has made himself a game character and plays his role to present his work in the virtual space.
His Game II: Familiar. Freeze! reveals the differences between the perceptions and apprehended errors found in connecting virtual and realistic sensations. In addition, it attempts to minimise the discernment of heterogeneity between the two worlds and to express the significance of errors that are found by completing his mission.
Kim Donghee (b. 1986) has focused on finding the errors, instabilities and inefficiencies in spatial designs. With his work “Orbit, Move/Copy” he has discovered those aspects and uses them to create balance in spatial structures. Kim explains the meaning of the work’s title in the “Phantom Arm” exhibition catalogue thus:
I often experience a change of viewpoint in space design programs. SketchUp, which I most often use, has a tool called “Orbit.” Using this tool, we can look around a space either in the process of design or upon its completion. With “Orbit,” we suddenly change from a bird’s-eye view to one at the audience’s eye-level. To experience the space from different views, we need physical changes in our position.
In order to introduce the movement of the orbit’s viewpoint in the exhibition space, Kim has constructed a huge wall that leads the audience to voluntarily find the position where they can fully appreciate the work.
Gim Jeongtae (b. 1987) introduced the virtual world “Pico” via a game engine programme called ‘Engine 4’ in 2017. The Pico is not only a VR game, but also a virtual gallery where the player can enjoy the digital painting and sculptural objects created by Gim. With Pico, Gim has searched for various ways and possibilities of coexistence between the inner and outer spaces of his implemented world.
In this exhibition, Gim refers Pico as ‘Gim Jeongtae 2’, presenting an ongoing series entitled “With Jeongtae”, which illustrates the collaborative structure between himself and Gim Jeongtae 2. With Jeongtae is a piece of unit among the objects inside Pico that can be defined as a ‘Static Mesh’, which represent the basic unit of an object made in the process of level design in the Unreal Engine Program. This unit is used to embody a fundamental form of the sculptural object in the actual exhibition space.
To build “With Jeongtae”, Gim creates a simultaneous context via transferring a relatively small object from the virtual space into a 3D object in the physical space, which explicates how the scale and viewpoint are shifting between the two worlds. Ultimately “With Jeongtae” demonstrates the process of realising the existence of the objects by delivering them between the two spaces.
Ram Han (b. 1989) has been working on digital paintings,produced under the conditions of Instagram and other social networking service platforms, to create a composition of her own time, space and memories.
To produce the world of her own creation, she rearranges scenes and objects from imprinted memories which she gathered via the online media. Han’s newly constructed world seems to be the real one, but it is designed from virtual expansions mixed with unspecific time and space.
The series of work entitled “Room Type” were Han’s first attempt to a large-scale installation. In this newly formed installation, she has developed her independent narrative to explain how undefined personal and private stories can inaugurate a new account to the public on social media.
Parc Rahm (b. 1986) has been investigating the experience of invisible sensors and formative practices through various media like drawing, performance, sculpture and installation. Her new work Call Back started when she observed a window and a garden in the exhibition hall of the Buk Seoul Museum of Art.
Parc displays the shiny stage-like floor, reminiscent of a dark-blue window and a turned-off monitor, in the long entrance of the exhibition hall where the audiences pass through. With this work, the viewers can engage in an illusion where they recognise the black panel as a real window and experience it as an improvisational scenery.
Parc’s work is at once a short performance that embodies the sense of virtual space and cognitive moments of fictitious observation and also a formative suggestion to identify the time and space of the exhibition hall by viewers.
Compression/Expansion is a photography duo consisting of Kim Juwon and An Chorong. Their work Charlie Oscar/Echo X-ray demonstrates an interesting aspect of the translation and limitation between photos and online image data.
For Charlie Oscar/Echo X-ray, the two artists produced 100 pieces of raw image data each for a certain period of time with the same type of camera. After collecting 200 pieces of image data, they selected 50 related images through the suggestion of the Google Image search algorithm. These recommended images are stored as sample files on the virtual interior office, and presented with the 200 original images in the project gallery of Buk Seoul Museum of Art. This work exposes the mistakes and limitations of image search results as they are consumed and translated through online data collection and utilised by digital platforms.
The Phantom Arm exhibition serves as a testing ground filled with the results of various experiments on image consumptions and representations in the contemporary world. The digital environment and new media have made the changes on not only the condition of creative spaces but also the ways of developing processes of the artwork. These changes blur the border between the virtual and real worlds and lead viewers to re-interrogate the meaning of the art and artwork.
Soo Jeong Kang
“Phantom Arm” is on view from 3 April to 8 July 2018 at SeMA, Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, 1238 Dongil-ro, Nowon-gu, 01783 Seoul, South Korea.
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