2005 The Authentic Identity of Contemporary Art Veiled in Entertainment : The Power of Image Comprehended by New Media _ Whui-yeon Jin (Art History)

The Authentic Identity of Contemporary Art Veiled in Entertainment : The Power of Image Comprehended by New Media

Whui-yeon Jin (Art History)

Artist Pacchetto of 17th century once stated that the image has to be freed from the frame, which is still valid in 21st century. Certainly, images are much greater than frames. Whether physically framed or not, images still have multi-faceted relationships with the frames that border it. What frames actually mean is a socio-cultural perception and standards, for which reason the viewers tend to react in a certain way. Meanwhile, images have a persisting challenge to break down and overpower the “frame.”
In such aspect, artworks using new media are facing quite a few challenges. Like Paul Valry’s statement that the new media would eventually change the viewers’ recognition and aesthetics, it has already become obvious that the audiences are getting more and more accustomed to the communications through advanced media and technology. However, we have to pay attention to critical views about new media art that by focusing on the technological aspects, they ended up limiting audience’s perspectives. In this solo exhibition, SoYoun Jeong suggests a pleasant answer to the question about the relationship between the frame and the image, based upon her profound comprehension regarding different media.

Jeong has actively incorporated new media in her art making and still enthusiastic about learning new technologies. Jeong also has always been open to different genres of visual art by experimenting with installations, sculptures, and others. Jeong put a little jokey title for her solo show called . “Being funny” is in fact the best selling-point for the most of contemporary cultural products including visual arts, but in this exhibition the artist uses the term “funny” in a slightly twisted way by raising a couple of serious questions and issues that contemporary art encounters now.

Question number 1: The Foundation and Subsistence of Artwork.
Where does the foundation of artwork come from? Many scholars have sought for an answer, but we have yet to find any conclusion neither as a physical existence nor as an aesthetical perception. Instead, artwork became incorporated into a domain of philosophy, which created a critical mislay of an authentic nature of artworks derived from artist’s own perspective. The work of this exhibition reflects the artist’s struggle over the foundation and subsistence of artwork.
The fragments of artworks accumulate in a nook of warehouse as a form of incomplete objects. After de-installation from galleries, artworks go back to boxes as a singular cord, antenna, silicone, and a videotape, losing their original shapes and meanings.
They now become a totally different existence from what they are in exhibition space and ended up losing artistic context and its symbolic dignity.

is a sort of requiem for all the artworks that are no longer in artistic milieu. By exhibiting artwork made up of the fragments freed from an artistic context or a form, the artist attempts to revoke conservative philosophers’ premise about artwork that it should be impeccable and eternal.
Meanwhile, the work introduces a new distribution system of artworks. With this machine, artworks no longer need to wait for their audience. Instead, artworks burn themselves into a CD-ROM and sold through a vending machine. If a conceptual significance imposed on artworks can be unveiled, sooner or later we might be able to meet artworks sold in one of those vending machines.

Question number 2: Reconstructed Space and Substance, and the Distance between Artist and Audience
The work located in the basement garage is another punch line of this exhibition. Jeong documented a view inside of her apartment in New York, as well as a bird eye view of New York seen from her window in 3 channel video. She transferred the actual depth of the space in the video into the gallery, through which she attempts to convey a solid spatial perspective and the liveliness of the room. Audiences can experience the daily life of the artist in the room.

Jeong suggests in a rather paradoxical manner that there is no separation between herself in real life and her ideological self as an artist by presenting her very private space in the exhibition. However, audience remains no more than as an observer detached from the artwork. There still certainly exist a wall between audience and artist, exhibition space and flat screen, and representation and substance. Jeong brings up the ever-existing issue of art, that is” representation,” and applies it to the sphere of space and time. Perhaps, we can assume that new media is taking over the same old issues and the stance of “conventional” art after all.

Question number 3: Interactivity and Thereafter
Artworks in museums put the audience into a very submissive position. It has been a challenging task for artist to incorporate audience into an active part of their work. Here in this exhibition, Jeong commands the audience to “shout.” The sound of audience’s “shout” revokes a certain feedback on the screen. On the left screen, pre-registered words are repeatedly on and off according to the volume and longevity of the “shout.” On the right screen, the figure of audience sitting in front of the screen comes into view.

If , a work adopting a sensor system, suggests a technological aspect of communications, and , with the premise of an interaction between imagination and implementation, evoke audience another kind of feedback. The entrance of the room with PG19 warning is covered with feathers and on the screen Barbie dolls are simulating the act of sexual intercourse, which intentionally misrepresents the sexual spur of pornography. The bed located in the neighboring room induces audience to participate in actual act of sex as if it is a healing process, which is the artist’s way of mocking the healing nature of art. Is there any subject so intensely stressed yet ever remained ambiguous other than “interactivity”? Despite all the efforts made by artists to help them participating and “interacting” with artworks, audiences in fact hardly feels an urge to do so. Art might have to hold a power to heal ultimately, however it‘s a little ironic that art intends to give a direct healing or remedy.

The Remaining Question: The Prospect of New Media Art
In this exhibition, Jeong SoYoun presents various video works and installations with objects. The work features text, narration, and still photographs, which is reminiscent of a silent film. In this work featuring rapidly shifting images of daily life, Jeong presents her shrewd editing skill. She certainly has an ability to transform a serious yet tedious subject into a playful joke. Jeong restored the joy of seeing and gives an opportunity for audience to participate in pleasant discourse, and by doing so she suggests a positive function of artworks, yet maintaining various yet thought-provoking questions of art history. As McLuhan said earlier, the medium is the message, but it took us so long to figure out new meanings of the message. In this solo exhibition, SoYoun Jeong presents a positively alternative answer for new media by adopting media as a tool for her artwork, not as a pure objective. And now it’s time for a new discourse regarding the images that are greater than the frames.