Lee Yeseung – CAVE into the Cave: A Wild Rumor

So, I was originally going to post this more than a year ago, but it got lost in the draft section. This was originally a piece in the exhibit “Low Technology”


Reconstructing the World


Behold! A precursor to a dystopian world of image over substance. Before the machines can hack directly into our neural pathways, old-school techniques must be used. Projections. Images of nature. A surround sound system to add some feeling of being.


The inversion of the traditional cave allegory is fascinating. Here, the world of lights is in the cave itself, the screen showing us the world inside the projectors. While the faux natural world is dancing on the screen, the physical tech inside is not hidden, but are actors along side. These could be audience surrogates, the cameras and microphones purportedly representing ourselves looking out at the shadows of the real.

Ah, but how would we know!

Suh Se Ok at the MMCA

If you fear basements, you will be extremely limited at the Seoul branch of the MMCA as most of it is built underground. However Gallery 1 is on the ground floor and right now they’re showing a special exhibition of the donated works of Suh Se Ok.


Suh Se Ok’s works with ink and hanji. I love the brush strokes, but I’m not too fond of extreme repetition. Many of this works give me a feeling of chained fences or plant cells.


Look at the titles and you’ll find they are abstractions of people. People dancing, twisting, holding hands, people doing many things. The repetition becomes a realisation that while we find ourselves the centers of our own world, there are hundreds, thousands, millions, billions more people out there with the same energy and capacity. This can be exhilarating or depressing depending on how you look at it.


Wether you find the multitude of similar others oppressive due to how unspecial you are or you in the grander scheme or you find the hope in the potential for all these special people to build something great, I’d recommend checking these out.

This exhibit of Suh Se Ok will be up through March 6th at the Seoul MMCA. Be sure to come, and if you aren’t afraid of basements, there is a lot more fascinating work below.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul

30 Samcheong-ro, Sogyeok-dong,
Jongno-gu, Seoul 03062
+ 02 3701 9500

our MONSTER and the preposterous Ides of Archaioposterii!

Saturdays. I hate working Saturdays, but the people are good, so it’s tolerable. I clock out at five and get home about an hour later. I get some house work done, start to get ready for a nice relaxing evening when I check up on Facebook. Continue reading

Myopia – An Exhibit Review


Down the alleys of the quickly gentrifying neighborhood west of Gueongbokgung Palace are art museums and art spaces. One such is Sarubiadabang (사루비아다방), located in a cool subterranean location.

Continue reading

After Death A Tiger’s Skin Remains; A Man Leaves Only His Skin – Exhibit Review



Gallery i 

2015.4.8 ~ 4.21

On April 16, 2014, the MV Sewol capsized and sank, trapping and drowning 304 victims, most of which were high school students of Danwon High who were on a school trip. While much discussion has occurred about the political ramifications, many forget the people involved. Both those culpable due to neglect, but also those heroes and victims who leave behind only their name.

To remind us of the actual people involved and to show solidarity to the surviving parents, Martyn Thompson has dedicated his 5th solo show to re-present the heroes and villains of that incident.

the ribbon

The Ribbon – One stamp for each of the victims



The Concept

After death, a tiger’s skin remains; a man leaves only his name is a collection of work created with custom made stamps (dojang), printing ink (inju) and paper. This method was chosen, in part, because official dojangs are often presented as a present to a child as he comes of age. Each painting uses a stamp either with a Korean word spelled in hangeul or hanja, or with some other symbol. None of the pieces, save the artist’s self portrait, use the name of the hero or victim. They are all remembered by the public impressions of their actions even as the public at large forgets their names and faces.

While the core process is consistent, the execution varies considerably. Here I will take a quick look at two pieces.

The Captain

the captain

The Captain – 蟲 (bug)


Captain Lee Joon-Seok was the first off the floundering ship, leaving an unexperienced crew to deal with the disaster. The Hanja used for the captain’s stamp is 蟲 (벌레 충) or ‘bug’. The face is red, from running for his life in the cold or out of embarrassment? The black hood is reminiscent of the ‘bringer of death’, yet this death is not the kind that seeks you out. It is a flat, shallow death that kills not out of duty, but out of indifference to others. The yellow in the background is a reminder both of his cowardice, but in this case it can also be a reminder of the victims who press upon and surround the man. The cloak then becomes shelter from their judgement. Needless to say Captain Lee quickly became the go-to scape goat for the country.

However, it might be worth noting that the captain’s face is also one of the more nuanced of the show. I see this in one of two ways. One the one hand the scandal revolving around his shocking flight and criminal neglect means he received much more media attention, thus we have a more detailed picture of the man. On the other hand it might be more detailed because the viewer might see themselves in that picture. The cowardice of Captain Lee becomes our own.

The Student

the student

The Student – 용기 (courage)

But while the country had many fingers to point, there were also people who sacrificed to help others. One of these heroes was Jung Cha-Woong. In contrast to the captain, Cha-Woong’s portrait is pixilated with intense colors. The green is the dark green of pines, potentially reflecting the spirit of undying courage. The memories of the boy are now vague as the stories of his bravery represent him to all but close friends and family.

I like that the word bravery was written in the vernacular script (hangeul) rather than in the borrowed Chinese characters (Hanja). This suggests that perhaps the deepest courage, the courage born not of duty but of caring for others, is honest and and never pretentiousness. 

The Others

There are plenty of other pieces to observe and reflect on, so go check out the exhibit yourself! If you don’t live nearby or the exhibit has expired, you can also find the artwork and artist statements in the brochure

After Death, a Tiger’s Skin Remains; a Man Leaves Only His Name 

The exhibit is up through April 21st, 2015 at

Gallery i 

서울시 종로구 낙원동 283-13


The Crazy Factory

February 11 – 24, 2015
Gallery i – Insadong, Seoul

Be ready for the twisted, meandering imaginings that are the brainchildren of The Crazy Factory – a group of eleven Korean artists. With no unifying theme, each artist puts on display what they do best. The collective result is a vivacious delight for the eyes. Or is it a serious critique on society? Well, let’s look at 5 of the artists and a few of their pieces from the show.


When the Sun comes to us
홍 광성 Kelsey Hong


Kelsey Hong continues her impressionistic foray into couple portraiture. In her last solo show she worked with large paintings of the erotic nature, pure passion glowing from each figure. This time around, the paintings are smaller, the subjects calmer, yet each figure is still alive with her brush’s energy. Everyday life, the stuff ‘in-between’ the bouts of passion, are still filled with the energy of living.


I will go my way!
홍사웅 Jean Paul, Hong


Jean Paul plays with markers and crayons, much like a young child. Each line screams unsophistication and naiveté, yet his oeuvre as a whole doesn’t care about such judgments. Rather, it basks in playfulness and creation. “I will go my way!”


The Mercy
오 화진 Oh, Hwa-Jin

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Peeking around the corner, a face is looking at me. Is it looking at me? It’s hard to tell, but it’s both disembodied and it’s licking the wall. And I love it. Hwa-Jin has a wonderful touch with fabrics and a quirky execution.


김영진 Kim, Young-Jin


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김 윤정 Kim, Yun-Jung


Kim, Yun-Jung’s Cokeeeeeeeeee!! was a surprise for me technique-wise. At first I thought it was acrylic or oils. But then I found out it was hanji with traditional pigments. Look very closely and you can see the minor imperfections of the paper – but only if you’re looking for them! If you’re into comical critiques of American capitalism as cheapening the concepts of freedom the country is founded on, this work will also do in a pinch.



There’s more there, more artists and more work. Go check it out at Gallery i in Insadong.


Or throw this address into a map app:

서울시 종로구 낙원동 283-13

Shin Seonghwan – Ever-Changing


Ever-Changing – Winter Becoming Spring



After descending Discovery, you come across a study. A desk with a computer, a bookshelf, a chair, a potted tree and other various objects. It starts off uncomfortable though. The whole scene is painted white – no variation. This tabula rasa is the setting for Ever-Changing.

Wait a little and soon the study changes. You hear an amplified water drop and color is projected.


Ever-Changing – The Rainstorm



Soon the antiseptic room becomes a cozy setting for watching the rain. As the rain intensifies, it starts filling the whole scene and the seasons change. Greens of summer change to oranges and reds – and soon the whole study becomes white again with falling snow.

This has an odd effect. The scene itself stays exactly the same, yet the changing conditions change the perspective of what is happening. Perhaps the ‘core’ of our being remains the same while the outward appearance is mere projection and influence from the outside.


Ever-Changing – Autumn and Death

Ever-Changing is simple, yet fun. Since it follows the seasons, the metaphors for life, death and renewal are easy to grasp, and the sound adds some welcoming atmosphere.


Title: Ever-Changing
Artist: Shin Seonghwan
Medium: Object, Projection
Exhibit: Low Technology: Back to the Future
Where: SeMA (Seoul Museum of Art)
When: December 9th – February 1st

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