Just a hundred years ago, or a few ten years ago, many
countries carried out public executions of criminals, and it is still happening
in some countries. In the past, those in power tried to maintain their power by
using the fear of the people as physical punishment, but the occurrence of
prisons and prison sentences has changed from a fear politics involving
violence to a system of monitoring the people through invisible surveillance.
Many scholars now refer to human society as a
panopticon- society. We are being recorded unknowingly by store security
cameras, car dash cams, and street cameras. In addition, the use of credit
cards stores personal records of where and how much we spent, and the government
uses these records to levy taxes. Michelle Foucault feared that the database,
where all the data on a person’s private life is stored, might be misused as a
tool of power to control and manage the public from birth to death, just as
Panopticon monitors prisoners. Most people have an antipathy to this
surveillance and are afraid just by the thought that they are being watched by
invisible power. Also, several artists have produced works of art and films
related to this monitoring and control, and these works of art are usually
focused on the negative.
The coronavirus has brought many changes to
human life. Many liberal countries have created laws to keep people at home for
weeks in the name of preventing the spread of infection and punish them if they
violate them. Currently, the U.S. and European countries have
restricted access to markets and public transportation without masks. In Western cultures, where
people don’t usually wear masks, viruses have changed their way of life. In the journal “the world after
Coronavirus,” Yuval Noah Harari argues that many countries will establish
a system to legally monitor the people. The government requires surveillance
programs to install smartphone apps for public safety reasons, but no one knows
if they will be used for public health. The fear of viral proliferation is also
changing people’s perception of surveillance. In South Korea, for example, one
of the recent visitors to a club in Seoul was infected with the coronavirus,
and the virus spread nationwide through those who contacted him. Although the
number of confirmed cases is not increasing as the government is coping better
than in the early days of the virus, many people are starting to hate those who
enjoy the entertainment in clubs. In addition, the government requires people
there to be tested for viruses through broadcasting and public text message and
is trying to figure out the contacts of those who were there that day through
telecom companies. If it had been in the past, this government intervention would
be considered an invasion of personal privacy, but now many Koreans hope that
those who went there will be inspected quickly and want the government to
respond more strongly.
As such, the coronavirus creates numerous dilemmas between public safety and individual freedom. Just as no one knows what life will be waiting for us after Corona, I wonder how art should adapt to people’s changed perceptions.
My work basically focuses on satirizing the ironic
situation in which the imperialist countries of the past still want to control
the whole human race. this work is ongoing, and I am producing inspired
by the incident in which the United States killed an Iranian military commander
using an unmanned drone. The United States, with its strong economic and
military power, flaunts its power to the world under the pretext of protecting
its own people and maintaining world peace for its own interests.
With advances in technology, human life has changed in many ways from the past, but the laws of the jungle still exist regardless of the passage of time. The person wearing a pig mask represents a giant power that is unsatisfied, and as if the U.S. were using unmanned drones to kill its enemies, I think, at any time, they control the world as if they were playing a game
The Brave New World series
begins with a curiosity about what era humanity will face in the future. The
development of science and technology has given mankind a more convenient and
affluent life than in the past, but there are also many side effects.
Like genres such as cyber
funk and bio funk, many films and novels tend to look at our near future from a
dystopian perspective. In the past, mankind believed that technology would
bring us utopia, but in view of the present perspective of some degree of
scientific achievement, our future is not bright.
In my childhood, I was a leader among friends for having a bigger body than children my age, and I could have greater power in the community of school than anyone else. However, my central role faced many changes as I grow up. This is because the quality of life has improved as the small country is Korea has risen to a certain level of economic position in the international world and has changed from an era when people were worried about eating to an era where they are concerned about the health and want a high standard of quality of life. In regard to this, the government and all media use various information to present social models and demand many codes of conduct under the pretext of happiness. As a result, having a body bigger and more obese than others, I slowly became a social misfit by economic logic, contrary to my intentions.
In Alders Huxley’s book, ‘the brave new world’ (1932), Just as in society where the basic human rights of misfortune and dissatisfaction have been lost, addicted to the happiness presented and brought about by the development of science and technology and capitalism, I cannot erase the idea that the human society we are living in is slowly changing. As a result, humans are living in an era controlled by fictional materials such as money, economic power.
In the book, ‘Sapiens‘ which is by Yuval Harari (2015), one of the reasons why a species of humans, called Sapiens, was able to exist at the top of the earth, is because of their belief in the money, which was created by trade. The economic logic of money with such a strong power has caused many inequalities, and these inequalities exist not only among individuals but also among nations. After Wilson’s Declaration of National Self-determination, many new countries arose, and countries that had been colonized in the past became independent from imperialist countries.(‘Self-determination’,2010) However, the former imperialist countries, which amassed a lot of wealth through the labour and resources they exploited from the colonies, still control the world in culture and politics and boast powerful powers. According to the post-colonial theorists say that countries in the Third World are still culturally and mentally colonized. (Gandhi, 1998.p.4) Countries with past colonial experience, including developing countries, consume goods from U.S. mega-companies such as Apple, McDonald’s and Nike, while many countries in Southeast Asia provide cheap labour for the production of these goods. In Lee Wan’s work ‘Made in’ series (fig1), He went to countries such as Cambodia and Malaysia to directly grow and produce rice and sugar cane, documenting how these agricultural products are exported by global companies, the working environment of workers and informing the audience about their environment.
Through these processes, I presented a question about the pains of banana-producing countries in South America and Southeast Asia through the work ‘Eat Bananas’(fig2) and ‘Trace'(fig3) expressed the feelings I felt as I looked at the British imperial monuments through the footprints of students from various countries.
As mentioned before, the interference of the great powers by economic logic can be easily seen through a lot of news and media. South Korea is a leading pro-U.S. country, and we received a lot of aid from the U.S. through the Korean War and was able to achieve the current rapid economic growth through much support after the war. However, conflicts between the generation who experienced the war and the generation that did not experience it played a major role in polarizing the perception of the United States. Moreover, many artists express this social phenomenon in their work. In particular, Korean photographer Noh Suntag approaches Korean society’s problems as universal human issues rather than merely solving them with ideological confrontations in the Red House III series.(fig4) His photos also show different perspectives of generations and perceptions of the United States.
As a generation that has never experienced war, my perception of America is negative. One of the reasons is that the U.S. has made trade sanctions against several countries for its own profit and warns its allies not to trade with them. For example, in Iran, the United States is imposing economic sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorist groups. (Dehghan and Blond, 2018) However, people know that the U.S. is pressing them to gain an upper hand over Iran regarding its oil exports.(Wintour, 2019) Another reason is that in inter-Korean relations, South Koreans can be guaranteed safety by the U.S. decision. South Korea has a high level of economic strength and defense capability, but the U.S. military is still stationed in the country, and the U.S. requires South Korea to pay a huge annual increase in defense costs.(Jeon, 2019) In addition, the America is at the center of negotiations between the North and South Koreas.(Mccurry, 2019)
These actions of the United States give a negative perception to the younger generation of Korea, and I satirized them throughout my work called American Dream(fig5) and Negotiation.(fig6)
Finally, looking at the human society controlled by these great powers, I have become curious about the future of humanity. In the past, many Asian countries have lost their own cultural identity and created new hybrid cultures, while embracing Western cultures.
The term ‘cultural imperialism’ captures the idea that political and economic power is being used to ‘exalt and spread the values of a foreign culture at the expense of the native culture’
(Tomlinson 1991, p. 3).
Indeed, no one can tell whether a new human race will emerge or be wiped out by war in the future. However, it is anyone’s guess that by economic logic, human society will become more and more uniform. This idea led to curiosity about how the closed country of North Korea would open its market through negotiations with the U.S. to maintain its regime, and then change. Based on this idea, I made a work called the brave New World.(fig7) I wonder what kind of new world humanity will face in the future.
Huxley, A. (1932) Brave new world. London: Vintage classics
Harari. Y. (2015) Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. London: Vintage. pp. 173-186
Gandhi, L. (1998) Postcolonial theory: a critical introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh university press, pp.1-21
My previous work has been expressed in various ways by economic power, that the countries of colonial experience are still in a culturally and politically colonial state.
In the latest work, it is a solemn Propaganda sculpture in front, but behind it has created an ironic sculpture holding a Mickey Mouse glove and a headband that symbolizes capitalism. When I think earlier about why imperial countries in the past still have power, the common thing is that they have considerable economic power.
Also, mega companies with considerable economic power in them are looking for new developing countries in looking for cheap labor and resources for their advantage.
Currently, many companies in the U.S. want to enter North Korea to import cheap natural resources. I wondered, when sudden external technology met, would they have a brave new world?
Even now, North Korea is trying to negotiate with the U.S. through many military actions. It is an unexpected move for North Korea, which has long been isolated from the outside world amid U.S. economic sanctions. So what are they trying to do through the market opening?
In other communist countries such as China and Vietnam, rapid economic development has been achieved through the market opening and continues to grow. Does North Korea do this for its economic growth? What do they really want?
As a Korean, it is absurd that security should be guaranteed through negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, not South and North Korea.
It is ironic that many Koreans are in a state where even safety and peace can be threatened by U.S. choices.
Also, many developing countries are threatened by the economic sanctions of the big powers, as well.
Since the Korean War, South Korea has received much support from the United States in many ways. This situation naturally made Korea a pro-U.S. nation, and my parents’ generation who experienced the Korean War is quite friendly toward the U.S. However, I think that the generation after the war has not experienced can only be quite negative about their attitude toward the United States. There are several reasons for this. First, the U.S. is demanding and paying a huge amount of defense spending from South Korea every year. The U.S. military is stationed in South Korea, and they say they protect us from North Korean threats, but they also create a dangerous situation because of the U.S. president’s political actions. Secondly, the U.S. has installed many equipment such as THAAD in South Korea to keep China in check. This situation has caused many difficulties in trade with China, and South Korea has suffered much economic damage. Finally, South Korea has no choice in improving relations with North Korea. There was a lot of negotiations between the three countries, but Korea always had to follow the U.S. decision.
I think it is true that South Korea has received a lot of support from the United States in the past, but I wonder how long we have to follow their choice. I also think this generation gap can lead to a split between parents and their children.
The whole world is still central to Western culture, they are still trying to control the world.
However, without the sacrifice and labor of the Third World countries, could they have maintained their present mighty power?
I satirize their behavior with fan and flag made in China.
After the Cold War, the United States has imposed sanctions on many countries to maintain its economic dominance. Typical the U.S. and Iranian situations show that the U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran because it supports terrorist groups, but most people know it is because of oil. The U.S. defines the Middle East as the region of the wealthiest value, which is in fact related to oil. The situation in the U.S. and China, too, has economically cooperated with each other in many ways, but the U.S. presses China with tariffs to keep a fast-growing China in check. As a result, China also kept the U.S. in check, causing much damage to neighbouring countries in the two countries’ economic struggles. In my point of view, I think the United States is trying to control many countries in order to maintain its economy. This has not changed significantly, with only different methods and methods of looting resources from colonial countries in the past. Human society no longer seems to be forming an ideological confrontation between communism and capitalism, but a new colony by the economy.
The group exhibition ; body by five Korean artists opens up a variety of discourses around human body. The participating artists, whose work covers diverse practices, investigate the social, spatial, and political possibilities of human body as a nucleus of the exhibition, and present their own artistic interpretation of body.
Youngye Cho’s(b.1988) organic interpretation of body movement and dance motions is materialised through her textile work, Silhouette(2019). Focusing on various forms of transformation through different viewpoints and shadows of object, she interprets the bodily movement based on the idea of ‘square’, and transforms the rhythmic images of the body into fibre art which features geometrical lines and shapes.
A realistic representation of the human body is more apparent in Jaehyung Um’s (b.1990) painting series Solar Eclipse (2019) and Lunar Eclipse(2019), in which the organic materiality of human bodies makes a sharp contrast to the bright colours of the geometric landscape within the frame. Jeahyung explores the ideas that exist between memory and place through the temporal and seasonal movements of human bodies in relation to the experiences of travel and tourism.
Sun-youl Kim (b.1983) has been expressing how individuals should respond to the uniformly changing social system under the economic logic of free markets through human figures. In Negotiation(2019), Sun-youl seeks to satirise the power structures constituted after the Cold War through the realistic bodies of figures.
In Sora Park’s (b.1992) oxytocin (2019), the concept of body has extended into digital space. Departing from the aesthetic trends of wearable design and lifestyle, she investigates how personal digital devices extend the concept of body, hold sway over how we feel and perceive, and change how we communicate.
Yongchan Lim re-interprets objects as sign and proposes the construction of new narratives around objects. In his sculpture Screenshot(2017), the body of a television with figurative criminal effects from the media explores the possibility of storytelling through an object.
I had my first outside group exhibition in England, not in colleges. We had several meetings and tried to keep the formality. Although they are all Koreans, most of them have studied in other colleges or are doing. We could share a lot of things. Personally, I think it was a good experience to observe people’s reactions to my new works.