Sep 03 2021

“Encounters – World Beyond”: new solidarity and encounters after the Covid-19 pandemic

by ArtAsiaPacific

*This is a sponsored post.

“Encounters – World Beyond,” a special exhibition of the 2021 ASEAN-ROK Culture Innovation Summit organized by the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE), introduces works by three media artists representing the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore, as well as the Summit archives. This exhibit asks questions about the non-materialization of modern art, which is rapidly increasing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It also addresses how societies and their peoples can meet and work together in an age characterized by anxiety and uncertainty through the works of three artists who use technology-based media, including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and holograms. In this way, the pieces adhere to the forum’s theme, “ASEANS – Koreans Thriving Together through Culture and Technology.”

ANNA KIM, Breath, 2020, real-time simulation, limitless. All images courtesy Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange.

Breath by Korean artist Anna Kim is a live simulation project that renders a virtual environment in real time using local weather and air quality index (AQI) data. By reflecting current atmospheric conditions, Kim’s artificial environment combines the virtual and the real. The VR work evokes a primeval forest, which may be rainy or cloudy depending on current external atmospheric conditions. Abnormal phenomena begin to appear in the virtual forest when the concentrations of particulate matter and AQI outside the exhibition hall rise above standard values. In relation to the respiratory disease of Covid-19, the ever growing problem of air pollution, and the marching slogan of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, the word “breath” has gained new etymological significance. Kim stresses that, as we are now living in an era of confusion, fluidity, and uncertainty, it’s important to “take a deep breath” and a close look at ourselves and what we should do. This work urges viewers to consider reality outside a human-centric perspective and instead reflect on a future where mankind moves forward by working together.

NGOC NAU, The Medium, Chapter 1: The Legend of Lieu Hanh and Chapter 2: The Blessed Child, both 2019, AR application, print on canvas, dimensions variable. Commissioned by the Singapore Biennale 2019.

Vietnamese artist Ngoc Nau presents a narrative of Vietnam’s contemporary culture through holograms and AR. The Medium, commissioned for the 2019 Singapore Biennale, is a long-term project that consists of two chapters. It explores a spiritual ritual that was held in the artist’s birthplace, Thai Nguyen, through two photos in the exhibition space and an AR-based application. In Chapter 1: The Legend of Lieu Hanh, the artist tells the story of the spiritual and social life in northern Vietnam during the French colonial period from a Vietnamese perspective. Using AR, she recounts the preparation and performance of the spiritual ritual, which was banned for political reasons from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. In Chapter 2: The Blessed Child, the artist digitally recreates the Mother Goddess’s spiritual experience through the scanned brainwaves of her followers. The artist interacts with the region’s contemporary history through the study of “Len Dong Ritual,” a Vietnamese traditional cultural practice.

SHENGEN LIM, Self-Portrait 1.0, 2017, AR app Shennanigen (free download for iOS and Android) with digital print on vinyl, 150 × 150 cm.

In Self-Portrait 1.0, Shengen Lim, who has participated in numerous exhibitions in Singapore and Korea, interacts with viewers using AR technology. The digital image fragments on the floor of the exhibition hall are transformed into the artist’s 3D portrait through the AR app he developed. Viewers can download the app on their cell phones to discover the artist’s portrait and pose for a photo with it. Self-portrait 1.0 is the outcome of research into portraiture ranging from before the Renaissance to the present. In the genre of portraiture, which was pioneered by Albrecht Dürer and established in the 15th century, a relationship is formed between the viewer and the artist. The artist, who has captured the relationship, actively invites viewers into the work. Lim goes further, taking photos with viewers and asking them to tag photos with @shennanigen on Instagram. In this way, the three artists accept reality as it is through their works and experiment with bonding and hopeful alternatives beyond reality.

In addition, through the Archive of the ASEAN-ROK Cultural Innovation Summit in this exhibition, various clips of ASEAN-ROK cultural exchanges can be found, including the highlights from the Summit and the Asia Culture Center’s Asia Traditional Orchestra, which conveys songs of comfort and hope by traditional Korean and ASEAN musicians.

  • Period: 2021.9.3 (Fri) – 9.16 (Thu)
  • Venue: Seosomun Shrine History Museum
  • Hosted by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST)
  • Organized by Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE)
  • Artists: Anna Kim, Shengen Lim, Ngoc Nau

“Encounters – World Beyond” and the 2021 ASEAN-ROK Culture Innovation Summit can be viewed on aseanrokculturesummit.kr.