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Tech’s role in making memories last forever

Apr 04,2019
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Yiyun Kang’s spectacular three-channel video work “Continuum,” left, and Suh Yongsun’s paintings, juxtaposed with news clips and rotary presses, are part of the “Immortality in the Cloud” exhibition running at the Ilmin Museum of Art in central Seoul through May 12. [ILMIN MUSEUM OF ART]
The exhibition “Immortality in the Cloud,” running at the Ilmin Museum of Art in central Seoul through May 12, might confuse viewers at first. Each of the six artists participating in the show is impressive enough, but it seems to be difficult to connect them to each other and even to the exhibition title immediately.

On the first floor is the 44-year-old French artist Fabien Verschaere’s large-scale installation based on his research of Korean mythology and history and his experience in Korean contemporary culture. The installation consists of not only wall paintings and drawings, in which the motifs of spirits, monsters and contemporary characters are tangled with one another, but also inflatable signs that can often be found on Korean streets.

On the third floor, an animated film titled “The Bird Lady” by 38-year-old Korean artist Hayoun Kwon is being screened. The film reconstructs a memory belonging to an old French man of visiting an old woman’s house that was filled with birds of all kinds and colors when he was young.

Among other participants, the 67-year-old Korean artist Suh Yongsun presents his paintings and painted wooden sculptures at the Presseum located on the fifth floor. His paintings, which depict the tragedies of Korean modern history and Korean mythology in Expressionist style with bold colors and distorted forms, are juxtaposed with news clips.

So, what do these works of different media by artists of different backgrounds have in common? It seems to be memory, microhistory and mythology as a way of remembering history rather than “immortality.”

However, it is related with immortality, chief curator of the museum Cho Juhyun explained. “The human desire for immortality has driven the lives of individuals and has written history by repeating transition and progress,” she said. “In the near future, one’s memories and experiences for a lifetime accumulated in the brain [may] continue to stay in future generations and physically exist as they get stored in the cloud by artificial intelligence.”

Accordingly, the phrase “in the Cloud” in the title seems to have a double meaning of “fanciful” and ‘in the cloud storage.”

In that context, 35-year-old Korean artist Yiyun Kang’s spectacular three-channel video work on the third floor can be read as how a human body can be connected to the digital world.

The other two artists are Woosung Lee and Eunji Cho.

BY MOON SO-YOUNG [symoon@joongang.co.kr]



Admission is 7,000 won ($6.15) for adults. The museum is closed on Mondays. Go to Gwanghwamun Station, line No. 5, exit 5. For details, visit www.ilmin.org or call (02) 2020-2050.