By Lee Mikyung
Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art
Fascination of Emptiness is a project observing the state of being alone an individual experiences in a specific place and time. We are always alone in this enormous scene. What we experience may after all be the ‘emptiness of the world.’
There is a mountain fraught with evidence indicating it was once a volcano. Water vertically descending toward the sea has formed a waterfall. Every element seems to be created for the whole over time, but it was there from the beginning. In this way, a thing exists and dies away. We ask a question concerning the allure of existence, namely the force that makes a thing existent or nonexistent. The reason why we are emotionally influenced by one another is due to the unconsciously associated spirit of the times and sentiment in our society. When did we begin regarding loneliness as a substantial emotion? We are no strangers to being alone in recently released TV programs. How is a feeling of solitude amended after being solidified?
Our actions of looking for evidence, having our doubts whether only we or others feel alike in our society, led to our work. These are conveyed as photographs of water, forests, trees, Jeongbang Waterfall, the moment of condensed emotions, minimally reduced images, disheveled afterimages, or analog moments experienced at each site. We disclose or picture those materials’ elemental role. Water formlessly embraces emotions, the land spits out, lines and planes create boundaries, sounds form emotions, and the mind repeats its doubts.
A process of encountering images
We all need time to figure out and look into the lost world. We lost our way on the Saryoni Forest trails we habitually visited for shooting. We think it was an event that happened by chance but it was inevitably prerequisite for our work.
The world where it is possible to control and fabricate information is vaguely intermingled with the world in which we keep one another closed off and the world of loss. Our lives in which two worlds with dim territories are connected or separated have panned out depending on new aspects such as ‘truth and truish untruth’ and ‘a confrontation between movement and isolation.’ What questions do people ask, living with such aspects?
This exhibition displays images whose space and time are linked or severed under the theme of ‘anxiety and doubt’ and ‘distrust and illusion.’ We intend to convey the sense of isolation we feel from what is lost in nature, life and society, and when we mistrust what we believe to be true.
The boundary we discover in an unfamiliar place and time, the freestanding eye looking at the boundary
If we interpret our lives as ‘a confrontation between movement and isolation,’ how can we represent this? People who have long been accustomed to isolation and people who have come to understand this isolation exist in today’s everyday life. The journey of looking for an answer is no longer distant from our lives. A question our new work asks is concerned with the allure of ‘what’s nonexistent in the present world where coronavirus is rampant.'
Solitude and isolation we didn’t perceive while in a community are observed and found when we are left alone. We came to take note of the difference or the correlation between solitude and isolation. What’s most apparent was the sense of solitude and isolation when looking back on the reality we must face up to. What we wanted to show through the correlation between solitude and isolation was the boundary identified in an unfamiliar place and time or the eye looking at this.
It snowed a lot in Jeju in last winter immediately after artists moved into the art studio. The Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art located in the Gotjawal Forest area was one day literally in isolation as nobody visited because of heavy snowfall over several days. The winter calm perhaps potently reminded those artists that they were in Jeju. Those artists brought news that “We have been to Saryoni Forest” or “We are going to enter Marado today” at a point of time when the exhibition opening was drawing near. Some excitement or thrill was delivered despite their hectic schedule. The island of Jeju seems to be a new environment that gives an impetus to their work.
Everyone undergoes isolation and solitude for their respective reason. For the most part, however, each individual seems to go through isolation in a disconnected situation. The images referring to this disconnection are found all over the gallery. These images pertain to a tree root that was in Marado for some unaccountable reason, a good number of trees that are part of the woods but have their own intrinsic names respectively, or Jeongbang Waterfall that is known merely as a beautiful tourist spot. These are like several rays of light that emanate in the darkness without any interaction with something.
How does discontinuity and isolation concretely work in the radius of our lives? Disconnection from a fact is a form of isolation most experience. It is very difficult to be free of unknown obscurity and uncertainty. We stop along the way and wander. We distort and even worsen the situation through plausible assumptions and imagination. Tremblements, a video in which an ordinary scene before our eyes trembles through an encounter with weird sound effects and is presented as an obscure form portrays the situation of our perception and emotion growing along with some inner anxiety. Something very ordinary and common such as apartment units, the sky, and trees is not experienced per se but seen as objects of fear, horror, or warning, thereby bringing about some unnecessary emotion. This scene gives rise to a feeling of déjà vu. Why does this work nurture our belief in a false image? What are we losing when we delude ourselves or are deceived by ourselves?
There is an odd nexus between isolation and correlation. The point is that both isolation and correlation might be caused by oneself irrespective of any external condition. One who sees perspiration just as sticky secretion does not know any agreeable perspiration one gets when running strenuously. He dismisses or disaffirms. He excludes any joy of physical activity such as heart beats, refreshness, and a sense of accomplishment. Any severance from what one may enjoy in their life and isolation brought on by this is at times caused by oneself, not by anyone else. If one who has lived within the limitations he set himself is disheartened by his own physical fragility but he realizes he has physical strength to easily walk for three hours, how does he feel? He is likely to feel really mixed emotions. And yet, the discovery of any discrepancy or difference between himself as a real living individual and himself he has perceived enables him to be free from a variety of self-contradictions. Like this, a minimum correlation may arise when one faces and embraces himself as is. When you can see in your true light, you are able to break up with a specter within yourself, be it an emotion or a perception. Nobody can see their back. Only others can see your back. The back of a figure that stands out in the Percees series seems to showcase a clue to isolation and correlation. This is an implication for the back of one who hides his truth and the other who gives a glimpse at this back.
We picture a tree trunk that lost its root somewhere, viewing a tree root separated from its body at a corner of the gallery. And we think about a rootless thing that strangely looks like this natural object. What does it mean for one to lose his root? This may refer to as a state in which one doesn’t know who he is, losing his nature because he is divorced from himself due to some unidentified deficiency. How sad to witness those who always stay hungry or those who are living insensitively to their scar and blood. In a sense, facing any isolation or solitude means recognizing some starvation and sensing blood flowing out from somewhere. The whisper, “Hello. How are you?” is heard to be a question worth asking to ourselves. What form your isolation takes? How are you undergoing this? How will you be truly linked to yourself?