By Emily BUTLER and Stephanie Seungmin KIM
Supervisions brings together the work of 19 UK-based Korean artists and designers who were selected following an open call. Although there were no conditions attached to the submission and it had no particular theme, common subjects run through the exhibition. This year we have seen an interest in the issue of surveillance, networks and the visioning of space and territory. With this in mind, the title Supervisions naturally emerged, as a reference to the themes of surveillance, observation, and an examination of the world and society.
Surveillance and the act of looking are examined in the work of KIM Hwang. His interactive installation captures the audience on screen from the perspective of the CCTV bodysuit wearer, raising awareness of one’s perceptions of self. JEE Mina shares this aspiration to explore how design can contribute to alternative models of living by engaging with ethical and philosophical issues. She creates an observational record of the everyday ethical choices we face using low resolution images taken on a mobile phone. These representations act as a reminder of the ubiquitous nature of CCTV images and seek to encourage small-scale positive actions for change. The sense of watching and being watched can also be seen in the work of LEE Kyu Seon who is interested in the role of social networking sites, how they impact on our relationships and have an inherently voyeuristic side to them.
KIM A Young considers the issue of systems. By exploring this subject matter with respect to several disciplines – science, art, music, and literature – she examines the influence that structures have in the creative process. Systems of communication and the role of text are also a focus in SONG Min Jeong’s explorations in glass, as well as in PARK Young Joon’s experimental typography. CHUNG Jae investigates redundant imaginary systems for measuring the exchange value of contemporary art in her work Exchange Rate.
The relation between man and mechanical systems, or machines can be seen in HONG Kiwon’s large kinetic sculptures. Their frenetic pace and playfully bright colours seem to highlight our irrational drives for progress. SEO Jung Ju in contrast takes domestic appliances and creates new sculptural propositions. Her works appear as tongue in cheek comments about human progress, the functionality of each object or appliance taking on new meaning thereby encouraging a different interaction with the piece.
The theme of human and mechanical evolution also comes through in HONG Seung-Pyo’s work. His works feature imaginary machines and their human operators. However, each machine serves a purpose; they are actually meant to emulate animal organs based on Darwin’s theories of evolution. In KANG Sangbin’s work the artist has used found materials to make a copy of a mechanical digger, resulting in an object which looks like a child’s toy. Through this work he seems to highlight the thin line that exists between our human endeavours towards progress and their crude mechanical forms. KANG Sangbin’s work draws upon symbolical references found in mass produced religious figures in souvenir shops and develop the inspiration into making numerous hand made sculptures that reconsider religious characters, replacing typically refined porcelain ornaments with somewhat ugly and disturbing ones.
The issue of territory comes through in PARK Hye-Joung’s work. Here the artist attempts to map a simple physical object, a scrunched up piece of paper, onto a two-dimensional chart or a three-dimensional cast. In this way she maps physical reality in order to understand the process of delimiting ‘territory’. This territory is carefully captured as solid sculptural form. YOON Sang Yoon’s paintings underline the sense of physical and emotional alienation one feels when entering a new territory or environment. This sense of bewilderment is also transmitted, with humour in PARK Hyemin’s work, whether it is in her Poems on the Underground Series, which illustrate London’s ethnic and culinary diversity, or through her performances.
Artists engage audiences through a reconsideration of space. CHUNG Daun’s interest can be found with the ‘in-between’: a space in which one feels fundamentally ambivalent. PARK Yeojoo reconsiders the audience’s concept of space through the use of simple geometric shapes which engage their senses. HONG Kyu’s enables a new experience of urban space and social interaction through his petal pavilion which was created by Tonkin Liu Ltd for the London Festival of Architecture in 2008.
In Korea, with its rich background in IT development, artists and designers are particularly strong in their approach to new media. LEE Seong Jun explores new digital animation techniques through the use of conventional shadow play as well as stop-motion. KIM Hyo Myung on the other hand is interested in the transformation of static images to moving ones without loss of detail. In his work Starry Night, each video frame represents a pixel from the top left, to the bottom right, of a digital image of Vincent Van Gogh’s eponymous masterpiece.
Whilst it seems obvious that international artists and designers coming to work in the UK are put in the advantageous position of being able to see this new and unfamiliar environment in a different way, time spent here also fosters a re-investigation of familiar concepts or locations. Indeed, it gives practitioners a sense of detachment which enables them to look at subjects from a vantage point, another sense of the words ‘super visions’. Whilst the exhibition does not in any way try to direct or categorise the work of these artists and designers, the selection process and the subsequent exhibition is aimed at showcasing and revealing the quality of their visions.