The Harbinger Between Worlds and the Green Mountains

“You, my friend, you are not destined to be content in your stream. You are the harbinger between worlds. You are the one who travels and is traveled. You see and are seen. You are the messenger and the message.”

I returned to my 2013 Green Mountain series. This one was long due, but the departure of a good friend spurred me to get the piece finished.

Inside the frame is a night view of central Seoul. The city never sleeps and never slows down. Outside the frame is a stream in the forested mountains of the Eastern US. Such places the peace comes dropping slow, and all is green and growing.

Two principle figures appear in the painting. The first, a magpie, is a harbinger of good news. Winged, it can transverse lands far and wide. The second figure is a turtle, a symbol of stability and longevity.

Which do you reverberate with at this point in your life?

Let’s live, let us live,

Let us live in the green mountain!

Let us eat wild berries and herbs

And live in the green mountain!

Yalli yalli yallaseong yallari yalla!

-Song of the Green Mountain

Keep arting my friends!

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”

IMG_4724

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.

IMG_4726

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.

IMG_7706

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.

IMG_7707

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.

IMG_7705

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

Some Thoughts on ‘Reception’ by Maiko

 

I melted into the dream as if I had always been there. I knew where I had come from; I knew where I was going.
-Chelsie Shakespeare

Reception is a small, unassuming work. I might have missed it had the gallery director not pointed it out. This was before the titles had be put up mind you, and she asked me what I saw. 

Ah, well, it appears to be a wedding procession. Or children playing at it. But each child has a different gaze. 

These gazes were what made the painting to me. 

But before going into details on the gazes, another oddity struck me. This procession wraps around – the bride holds her own dress as she marches forward. This struck me as a cyclical view of life. If not presenting a variation of reincarnation, where we forget our previous goes and must relearn our roles as children, then as us walking in the footsteps of those who came before us, doomed to reliving their mistakes. 

  

And this is where the gazes might become a narrative of sorts. The girl at the head of the procession looks forward, meloncholy writ large on her face. She is at the edge. Is she sad because the end is near, tired because of the long journey, or is she weary of the impending restart she knows is coming. Perhaps she is a mix of Cassandra and Sysiphus, doomed to see the repetition of life yet never be believed. While she appears to be leading the party, she knows that she is actually following them. 

  

Just behind her is a boy with purpose and goal in his eyes. He is looking forward to the reception and he intends to get everyone there. The white carnation is a sign of this passion. While he might be the bride-groom, I feel he is with Cassaandra. They both look forward, but also there is something special about the bride. I’ll get to that last. 

  

Taking up the rear of the procession is another couple. The girl looks down, perhaps burdened with the worries of the here and now. Each step occupies the entirety of the world to her. She is the polar opposite of Cassandra in the lead. Likewise, the boy taking the rear is the opposite of the boy in the lead. This boy is both a day-dreaming laggard and the visionary ahead of his time. His sites are not on the tedious road ahead but in the realm of fantasy and hopeful beginnings. The lilies he peers behind are a symbol of beginnings and rebirth. Are they a sign of hope, or a sign of forgetfulness?

  

The bride is dressed in blue. This has strong allusions to the Virgin Mary. She holds her own dress train and seems to be the the most understanding of the group. But most importantly, she is gazing at the viewer directly. It’s as if she is telling us that we too are marching in circles toward goals we will never achieve, but this is just the nature of things. 

The painting as a whole is both fanciful and world weary. Which of the wedding party are you?

  

Reception (34.5cm x 34.7cm)

Tempera

Maiko, 2008

Cha, Eun-Young collection

2,000,000 won

Shin Seonghwan – Ever-Changing

IMG_4723

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.

IMG_4721

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.

IMG_4722

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

Bak Gijin – Discovery <– Previous

Next –> Lee Yeseung – CAVE into the Cave: A Wild Rumor

 

 

Bak Gijin – Discovery

IMG_4717

 

Entering the Low Technology exhibit at the Seoul Museum of Art brings you straight to a discovery. Or rather, it leads you to Discovery, an installation by Bak Gijin. (or Park Ki Jin – 박기진)

IMG_4718

 

Discovery is a metal drum, around which is a make-shift platform one can walk up to. It’s reminiscent of something out of Myst. It beacons the viewer to climb the rickety stairs and approach this metal thing. The approach becomes almost ceremonious, like one is approaching a mystery meant only for the initiated. The drum takes on the feeling of a well, and I walk around it’s periphery out of reverence. It’s what’s in the well which is the discovery.

discovery-inside

(This picture taken from a different iteration of the same piece)

This narrow shaft holds the ocean inside. Looking closely, you can see a machined metal surface, but what is eerie is the East to West rippling effect seems to be from just under the metal plane. Stare at it long enough and you might expect an epiphany – or the gaze of Sauron staring back at you.

The walk back is just as ceremonious. You have peered into another world, and you descend the stairs of the gods. They’ve blessed you with a vision, but now you’re back in your own little ever-changing world.


 

Title: Discovery
Artist: Bak Gijin
Medium: Mixed Media
Exhibit: Low Technology: Back to the Future
Where: SeMA (Seoul Museum of Art)
When: December 9th – February 1st

Low Technology: Back to the Future <– Previous

Next –> Shin Seonghwan – Ever-Changing