JO SEUB: HISTORY IS I
By Jung Do-Ryun (Art Critic)
Artist: Jo Seub
“Photography is the product of complete alienation.” -Marcel Proust [as quoted by Siegfried Kracauer]
Here is the artist: as one of North Korean armed guerrillas massacred by vigilant South Korean soldiers, then instantly resurrected to take a commemorative group photograph; as “General MacArthur,” wearing a ludicrous wig and shades and charging on a shallow-watered shore (the same, or at least similarly unbecoming wig reappears on the artist as Marilyn Monroe, carousing with an American soldier); as one of shamelessly naked revelers in a party that spirals out of control and ends with an assassination; as a gangly track runner, barely propping herself up on painfully spindly legs; as a demonstrating student, assaulted by a policeman and bludgeoned by troops. Punctuating this stream of events are additional scenes of violence-a murder (a scowling man attacking a young woman with a pickaxe), a mayhem (a boxer with his face pummeled beyond recognition), and a torture (two men dunking another’s head into a bath tub of water, while a couple of naked backs nonchalantly washing their bodies in the background). The artist adds, for good measure, a few panels of texts-narrations that describe the atrocities depicted, and a chronology of events, circa 1945-1980, that cryptically explains the history of a country written in blood.
By Kang, Su-Mi (Aesthetics and Art critic)
Artist: Yeondoo Jung
1. Simulacrum Obscura and Simulacrum Lucida
A Chinese emperor could not sleep annoyed by the sound from the waterfall painting in his bedroom. The Greek painter Parrhasios tricked Zeuxis by drawing a curtain on his painting. The history of image is full of such anecdotes that tell us how visual images can often delude or mislead people: that mere imitation, illusion and fakeness can actually deceive and disturb actual human beings who breathe through flesh and blood, and are supposed to make rational judgment. We could name it ‘Simulacrum Obscura,’ in the sense that it hides its own imitative or imaginative nature to cloud rationality and reality. Although strictly speaking art cannot be equaled to image (coming from the Latin word ‘imago’ or ’simulacrum’), it is true that the imitative and illusionary nature of image has been appreciated as an important characteristic of art which mainly derives its source from images. In this context, we might say that art before modernism had always been an ‘imitation,’ ‘illusion,’ or ‘representation’ of the already existing reality. It was with the invention of photography that art could overcome its ‘Simulacrum Obscura’ characteristic, changing its focus from representation to abstraction. Banishing everything except the materiality of the medium, Modernism art has strongly negated the ‘Simulacrum Obscura’ nature of image and strived to become reality in itself. However, here we encounter a form of art that can neither be categorized as ‘Simulacrum Obscura’, nor modernism art. Instead of hiding its fake or imitative factors, this form of art interweaves them with fragments of reality to reveal the hidden side; the clich?s and vulgarities of our real world. This form of art could be named ‘Simulacrum Lucida,’ meaning a bright, positive illusion that enlightens and illuminates the real world.
ASIDE OF AUDIENCE
By Lee Dae-beom, Art Critic
The audiences cannot face each other. Their eyes may meet by chance, but in that moment they avert their eyes, relying on their visual systems. If two people are facing each other, one of them is not a spectator, but one may be a performer acting out the role of the audience. Let’s talk about the moment when this natural assumption turns out to be wrong.
As a viewer, I enter an exhibition venue with three screens. I go there to see something projected onto the screens. When light is projected onto the screens, some shapes appear with the hum of many voices. I think it is time to see a work of art, but suddenly 100 viewers are seated in front of me. They immediately face me. Of course, assuming I am a viewer, they could not be an audience. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that they are performers acting out the role of viewers.