Nam June Paik – Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995, fifty-one channel video installation (including one closed-circuit television feed), custom electronics, neon lighting, steel and wood; color, sound, approx. 15 x 40 x 4 ft., at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Understanding a diverse nation through technology
Electronic Superhighway is one of the most noted works of Korean Nam June Paik artist. It illustrates how he interpreted a diverse nation through media technology. The Electronic Superhighway is a large installation, constructed with 336 televisions, 50 DVD players, 3750 feet of cable, and 575 feet of multicolored neon tubing.
Electronic Superhighway creates an overwhelming impact on visitors when they first see it. The wave of audio and visual media along with flashing neon lights make it awe-inspiring. It becomes challenging to concentrate on any state that the neon lights border or the video dialogues that play for each state.
Yeesookyung is a South Korean artist living in Seoul. She is known for her complex and enchanting ceramic designs and sculptures. The Translated series series, like many of her works, is made up of shards and fragments of broken ceramic pieces that are carefully pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Yeesookyung created her Translated Vase back in 2002 after she observed discarded trash from the ceramic master Lim Hang Taek glimmering in the sunlight. The reflection of light from the shards and the organic forms of the cracks inspired her craft.
To create the Translated Vase, Yeesookyung uses epoxy resin to glue together the different fragments of the broken pots. To make the fissures and the cracks more prominent, Yeesookyung uses 24-carat gold leaf for glazing. The gold acts as the perfect addition to complement the beautifully misshapen fractures of the re-constructed vase.
The biomorphic form of the vessel helps to capture the eye immediately as the repurposed pottery created manages to surpass the original beauty of the vase. The Translated Vase combines the delicate fragility of ceramic pottery with the fortified strength of the glue and the gold, the end result of which is something truly magnificent. Yeesookyung covers the cracks in gold because the Korean word for crack and gold is similar. The use of products that share the same name also helps to add an element of humor to the work.
Yeesookyung’s technique in pottery, as stunning as it may be is not new. For years, artists in Korea have been reconstructing and rebuilding discarded ceramic pieces that would typically be considered trash in other parts of the world. The waste is sometimes restored to create new Korean ceramics while others like Yeesookyung’s are used as art. This art form, known as Kinstukuroi also uses metals such as platinum and silver for the repairing process.
The Translated Vase represents the struggle that all individuals face in life. The cracks on the vase represent the wounds that are formed from the struggle while the gold represents the beauty and maturity that people experience when they overcome suffering. Aside from denoting the suffering, Yeesookyung’s attention to detail helped to break the ceramic tradition that insists on perfection.
Rather than discard a perfect piece, like a master potter would, Yeesookyung chose to create new forms from the useless pieces to emphasize that imperfection can also give way to stunning beauty. It is safe to say that the Translated Vase succeeded in channeling the imperfections and irregularities that exist in nature.
Sea Hyun Lee – Between Red_101, 2010, oil on linen, 300x300cm
South Korea’s traditional illustrative and art history is immovable; however, cultural and artistic experimentation will always be relentless. Sea Hyun Lee demonstrates his understanding of just how true the above statement is through his art. He manages to join the two forces of past and present together to create Between the Red.
Gimhongsok – Canine Construction, 2009, 164x231x90cm
This Canine Construction by South Korean artist, Gimhongsok is one that anyone would fall in love with, coupled with the enigmatic quality it has. This work is the sculpture of a dog remains one of the artist’s most well-known works in recent times. The creation involved using garbage bags, balloons, cardboard boxes, all assembled with expensive materials like resin.
Meekyoung Shin – Crouching Aphrodite, 2002
Meekyoung Shin, a South Korean sculptor, became popular for her Translation series, using soap as her medium of art. Trained in the tradition of European sculpture, her statuettes are made factoring in the Western and Eastern style of relief. Her works are usually made from palm oil, a vegetarian soap.
Daesung Lee – Futuristic Archeology
Daesung Lee’s Futuristic Archeology project deals with the nomadic people of Mongolia. Although Mongolia has seen increasing modernization and urbanization in recent decades, approximately 35% of Mongolians still live a traditional nomadic lifestyle, thus depending on the vast land and their relationship with the land to survive. However, environmental changes have put their way of life in grave danger, as the land is becoming at risk of desertification.
Thomas Struth – Semi Submersible Rig, DSME Shipyard, Geoje Island, 2007
Thomas Struth’s work in the Koreas
In March 2007, Thomas Struth went on a first trip to South Korea. He spent time in the two largest cities, Seoul and Busan, as well as visiting religious and cultural sites, important landscapes and shipyards. At the vast DSME shipyard on Geoje Island, one of the largest in the world, he photographed tankers under construction and an immense semi-submersible drilling rig. Struth made two further visits to South Korea in 2008 and 2010, as well as visiting Pyongyang in North Korea for the first time.