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The Signs of Doubt

International Exchange Exhibition with Korea

Duration: Dec 26 2020 – Feb 06 2021

Opening Artist’s Talk: Dec 26 2020 (Sat.) 17:00 – 18:00

Opening Party: Dec 26 2020 (Sat.) 19:00 – 21:00

Guest Speaker: Wu Dar Kuen , Su Hui Yu 

Curators: Jyeongyeon Kim, Seungah Lee

Artist: Byungjun Kwon, Joonyoung Moon, HyunJu Kim, Jungho Oak, Zune LeeJiyoon Chun, Hyungmin Moon

Cooperation: Urban Art Lab in Seoul

Venue: VT Artsalon

Wrote by Jyeongyeon Kim, Seungah Lee

“Where there is humanity, there is doubt.” -Stewart Stafford-

Human beings have doubts about the external world as part of a self-protection system. It is a means of survival and a preemptive defense system against the looming danger. At the same time, however, humans fall into a religion that cannot be explained logically or rationally, believe in it, and sometimes give up on themselves. It also can be a different way of protecting ourselves from the unpredictable world.

Since modern science and technology were introduced, humans were neglect to protect themselves through various blind faiths. They believed that high-tech science and technology would bring about a bright future for humans; diseases disappeared and human life prolonged. It was believed that everyone in the world would benefit from technology and science, contributing to human development.

But there were constant signs that required doubt. Social, religious, and political conflicts in the world are more common than ever before, and now epidemics threaten humanity worldwide. The outbreak of COVID-19 is the result of human overlooking signs of doubt in such blind faith. The number of the signs was innumerable: demeanor of life, destruction of nature, pollution, refugees, racism, reckless faith in religion and future, and technological development. We have overlooked the consequences that such signs will bring, and we, facing the consequences, are experiencing a more severe global panic than ever before.

And for the first time, humankind has come to doubt the belief that the future is not always a human’s side despite any advancement of development. The belief that the future would protect humanity and provide a better life is now in crisis. Therefore, what we need is imagination facing the future. No matter what the imagination brings value or form, it is the role of artists of our time to sense the signs of doubt and to imagine an unpredictable future.

The exhibition, the Signs of Doubt, explores unforeseen and unpredictable futures through artists’ eyes. Human activity to predict the future is not just an assignment for the contemporaries living in the age of digital media. In predicting the future, we have witnessed the absence of imagination regarding what is happening around us. We now understand that the future cannot be told by the predictions and suggestions of a group of experts or scholars with the help of Delphi technique, trend analysis or scenario & simulation planning. It also stresses the possibility of overturning all the values we protect and believe today because of the emergence of situations that we believed were impossible or nonexistent.

The artists’ works of our time began with a few questions that imagine the ‘unpredictable future’ and ask what it means or how it will affect our lives. The development of technology has undoubtedly brought a wide range of opportunities and choices to human life, different from the past. Still, it also creates other unforeseen problems, situations, and events for us living in the present. If we can’t imagine our future, how should we prepare for the future? The exhibition, the Signs of Doubt, would like to investigate the future through the works of the artists who explore and imagine the future through technology-based works of art.

Kwon Byungjun is an important figure in South Korea’s underground music scene since the early 90s. Working currently as an electronic musician and media artist, Kwon, collaborating with the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, introduces a group of robot dancers dancing to techno music. The title <Shut Up and Dance> comes from a book of the same title by Shin Hyunjoon published in 1998. The book investigates the Techno music fever that began at the end of the 1990s rapidly spread around the clubs in Hongdae in Korea. However, rather than just explaining dance music and its scene, the book reflects the phenomenon associated with music and the culture and social backgrounds that it brings.

The work <Shut Up and Dance> is a documented video projecting young spirits dancing to the regular beats all night as if training fill the Tank 4, the Oil Tank Culture Park, replaced by robots. A dreamy atmosphere of the end of the 20th century in pursuit of freedom and liberation melts into a fantastic large-scale group dance through seamless movements of robots and video synthesis.

Kim Hyun Ju(ex-media) is a media artist working in various digital experimental films, interactive installation and robotic art nationally and internationally. Her computer interactive installations and performance projects deal with posthuman conditions in the techno-cultural society, exploring the notion of identities in such an environment with ubiquitous digital technologies.

Even though the artist majored in technology and media art, Kim mainly explores the human world through the eyes of the machine, stepped away from the human perspective of objectifying the machine. It is not a machine-centered world view, but rather a way of seeking humanity in a mechanical society. The work <Unfamiliar Scape no.2> in the exhibition tries to portray the shock and fear of the pandemic situation, the changing daily life, and the situation of digitalization as a kind of unfamiliar landscape. As an artist who has been contemplating the way of human life in a technological environment, she intends to juxtapose the image of an informational and virtual existence to be drawn in a kind of event in which the fear of the pandemic invades.

Chun JiYoon explores creative and differentiated visual methodologies and studies convergent visual language in art, design, and technology. Especially she considers augmented reality as a structure disassembled into reality and virtually, and as another reality that is reorganized by the viewers and creates an interaction structure within the relational situation with the other, that is, the viewer.Her work <The Sight from Somewhere> is another way to reveal the artist’s view of reality that connects the viewer and the object. A landscape image on an iPad looks as if it is a still image of a space. When a viewer stands in front of the image, it detects the viewer’s presence and starts slowly moving or changing at a speed that can only be noticed by careful observation.

The image must have existed there, but as soon as a subject, a self enters into it at some moment, the image becomes subjected, changed, and moved by the subject’s engagement. The self seeks memories, lost, or familiar objects related to him/herself in the image. That can be a person, a fragrance, or a sense. It is an uncertain process whether it stores new memories along the flow of gaze in space will reveal the reality that one wants to find.

Lee Zune (Studio Bottles) is the leading member of the Studio Bottles, a collective group of media artists. They pursue void media that can contain or become anything. Working with collaborators from various media, Lee tries to blur the barriers of visual art, literature, music, drama, and science & technology. For the exhibition Lee presents a video documentation of a performance performed in 2013.

The work <RAP: Random Access Performance> is a free-form music improvised by the three performers, Lee Zune, the bike-player, Pyo Jinho, the Jazz vocalist, and Yoon Jeaho, the composer. In the performance, the artist uses a bike as an instrument and Pyo Jinho extremely experiments with his voice. Simultaneously, Yoon Jeaho assembles their sounds and voices, and processes them with computers in real-time. To generate the bike sounds, the bike-player hits the bikes with screwdrivers, hammers and wooden sticks, or he turns on the spokes of the bike with a violin bow. The bike was modified using a microcomputer and various sensors for the composer to handle the bike sounds. The vocalist crosses between eccentricity and creativity through his mechanical and shamanistic voices. The composer records their sounds in real-time and makes them sound richer by looping them or applying various effectors. In their impromptu performance, the audience comes to face the quirks and novelty created by humans, machines and their hybrid networks.

Moon Hyungmin pursues formal completeness, but, at the same time, his works indirectly express social-level ideas that go beyond simple and formative-level of ideas or individual taste. Oscillating between modernism and aestheticism in formative framework, the message underneath it can be social, political, cultural and so on.His series of By Number is an ongoing project began in 2015. The work <By numbers series: The Signs of Doubt> presented at VT Artsalon is a newly programmed work for the exhibition. The central computer of the work accesses ten media sites in various countries every hour to collect articles containing the ten keywords selected by the artist: future, AI, data, virtual, COVID-19, quarantine, vaccine, antibody, and technology. The collected data is analyzed in real-time by the central computer and ranks the ten most frequently used words. At the same time, the ten colors most commonly used in the photographs used in each article are found and ranked.What we can see is the constantly changing colors through a monitor or a projector. However, the work composed of the visible color and lights and hidden layers in which they are created is the most representative form of the artist’s work, which develops ‘unclear’ personal sense or experiences into the ‘clear’ domain of sign.

Moon Joon Yong is an interactive media artist and computer programmer. He has experimented mostly on experimental media and computational art such as augmented reality, tangible interface, generative art, and sound visualization. The work <Flying Towards the Sound> was created in 2017 and has been developed over the time according to newly available technology. To experience the work, the audience takes a flying motion with both arms apart to mimic a flying position like a bird. Simultaneously the audience can recognize a small plane flying on the screen according to their movements. They can fly through the space on the screen by controlling the direction according to the angle of the arm and body. <Flying Towards the Sound> is combination of music and dance stimulates the primitive sensibility of a human. It is often used as a means to control or attain enlightenment in meditation, religious consciousness, etc. The original form of the work is an interactive media installation so that the audience can engage with the work. However, the form of the work presented at VT Artsalon is a ten-minute-long single channel video documenting the plane flying through the sky by self-driving system.

Oak Jungho is a media artist and photographer. His short film, <Freak Show 2020> features the magician’s stage. The characters in the film appear without any narratives in which the artist investigates the ‘uncomfortable feeling of irritation’ from daily lives and the real situation in Korean society. The stage of magic and play confuses the division of identities as both the space of the characters’ activities and all kinds of illusions. In this mess, the freak show stage – formerly a device of violence – becomes an active staging area. After a drag performance at the beginning of the film, the stage is handed over to the magician. The stage space in the film is a world of recognizable and complete people. In the play, the worker does not hide his desire to join the world on stage. But the logic of reality, which also works in the fantasy world, is even more destructive. The worker leaves his stage and comes out to the riverside with his half-broken body. Instead of entering the promised world of the completed, he chooses to stay in the squalor of reality.

In November 2019, the international press reported the unidentified virus infection cases in China’s Hubei province for the first time. Within a year, the pandemic completely changed our life wherever you live in the world. We know that we will not be able to return to the way we used to live. The world we used to reside will never return. Would we try to change the way we live if we were able to predict this situation? Perhaps there were enough signs of doubt, but didn’t we deliberately ignore them? Could we change the current circumstance if we ever tried? The exhibition The Signs of Doubt provide a chance to look around us if we overlook the signs of doubt which can change our future for humankind.