In her video work Messenger(s), the artist Sejin Kim observes and comments on the inherent imperialistic ambition of human nature: the desire of man to expand territories repeatedly seen throughout history is now going beyond the Earth. The protagonist of the artwork is ‘Laika the Space Dog’, who took part in the mission Sputnik 2, and became a part of history as the first living creature to orbit the Earth. The space dog gave her life for her country, involuntarily fulfilling a canine suicide mission, with Russia announcing the cause of death 50 years later: excessive heat and stress coming from the heat adjustment error of the spaceship. The Messenger(s), reborn with a 3D digital motiongraphic’ is a tribute to the living beings that sacrificed their lives in the quest for a better life for humanity. The sad story of Laika, and the melancholy of the artwork leaves us wondering: Mankind conquered the planet Earth and is now moving towards conquering outer-space. Will this achievement provide the desired utopia or is it the quest that we seek after all?
Gihun Noh’s work Koganeshu Flip focuses on the act of observing and human nature in relation to time . The artist captured 683 photographs of Keikyu Line train passing between Hinodecho Station and Koganecho Station in Yokohama in a little under 24 hours. The photographs are the result of a static observation: the point of focus remains always the same, while the only variable between two shots is time. How does time affect the act of observing? Are two shots identical or different if the only difference between them is a few seconds? Do they belong to the same observation, or do they bring a whole new set of information?
Daniel Schine Lee's observation focuses on the human tendency to perceive the world in dichotomies and in extent, comparisons. The artist uses the fundamental comparison ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ to communicate his message. By repeating the two words in 7 different languages- Amazigh, Arabic, English, Italian, Japanese, French, and Korean- the artist detracts any political or social meaning of these words. Can we exist without the dichotomies? Dichotomies are not part of the world of Daniel Schine Lee. Blurring the lines between digital and physical, he allows the holder of the digital artwork to opt in to bring it into a physical existence as a garment print pattern.
The impact of the virtual world in comparison to the physical world, is central to Ga Ram Kim’s project #Fantasy. The artist questions a key component of our experience of the physical world: romantic relationships and the notion of loneliness. Negative views of isolation have shifted in the public imagination, and we can now form virtual relationships thanks to the advancements of technology. Isolation has shifted from being a stigma, to being a protection shield. In her #Fantasy Boyfriend, the viewer can experience a visit to the exhibition along with a partner: a virtual one. Ga Ram's work is a comment on human bond: how do humans experience emotion? Is physical contact a key indicator of human bond or not necessary after all?
Kim’s humorous approach on observation is also present in her second performative work featured in ‘Observing the Human’. Kim invites the viewer into her salon and asks him to declare his agreement with political or controversial social viewpoints with the appropriate degree of haircut. Subverting the act of haircut to an active act of protest, Ga Ram questions the integrity of our opinions and means of protest. The performance is site-specific: the diverse responses and viewpoints indicate that perhaps culture is one of the defining factors of forming humanity. Or maybe not.
However, the innermost thoughts and feelings of human beings have their roots in the subconscious, and their ultimate expression in dreaming. Humanity has always sought the meaning behind the set of information contained in our dreams in the same way that Bongsu Park’s artwork seeks to better understand human nature through the observation of dreams. Her ongoing ‘Dream project’ is profoundly inspired by the Korean tradition of buying and selling dreams as a way of sharing personal contemplation. By storing dreams in a Metaverse collective space, the Dream Library, and allowing the viewers to share, exchange and explore already existing dreams, the artist subverts the very same nature of dreaming. The personal and intimate act turns into a social and collective one. How can one enter the library? By purchasing the ‘Dream Library Pass’: the NFT artwork available at the exhibition, serves as the entry ticket to this digital dream world. The ongoing exploration of the vast world of dreams has led to many different forms of the dream project. Its latest evolution is a physical artwork, Dream Ecologies. These works, made as plaster, wood, and glass panels on canvas, reflect the outcome of a concept known as ‘social dreaming’ in which dreams are collectively exchanged and shared.
The journey of ‘Observing the Human’ is a journey that promotes questioning: the artworks invite the viewer to shape a new outlook on humanity and discover a new version of themselves.
The exhibition takes place from the 3rd until the 9th of July on 98 Curtain Road, Shoreditch.