Monday, February 8, 2010

Chemical Balance by Jean Shin

Chemical Balance , Jean Shin

A beautiful installation by Jean Shin at the University Art Museum in Albany, NY.  Born in Seoul, Shin now lives and works in New York City creating delicate installations that "transform castoff materials into elegant expressions of identity and community."

This particular installation, Chemical Balance, reminded me of Damien Hirst and his overwhelming popularity in Korea and also of a recent New York Times article titled The Americanization of Mental Illness.  Shin's piece references the same Americanized dependence on prescription medicine mentioned in the article. 
Chemical Balance speaks to our culture’s over-consumption of prescription drugs and our bodies’ dependency on these medications. The piece acts like a group portrait, mapping our society’s chemical intake. The illuminated structures radiate with an intense orange glow, suggesting that issues of health reach far beyond the physical. 
To create this work, thousands of empty prescription pill bottles were collected from nursing homes, pharmacies and individuals’ medicine cabinets. Like stalactites and stalagmites, the constructions hang down from above and grow upwards from the floor below. 

The ubiquity of Americanized medicine has changed our vernacular.  It is now 'our' dependence and 'our' society; there is an arrogance to Shin's choice of pronoun, and an absoluteness.

Shin takes society's reaction and interaction with the mentally ill to a place of beauty. The soft glow coming from within the clustered pill bottles draws us in, beckoning us to the eerie chandeliers before we realize the danger they represent.
Medicine and drugs are recurring themes in Hirst’s work as means of altering perception and providing a short-lived cure, ineffectual in the face of death. Here the honeycomb operates as the central metaphor: it potentially attracts flies, only to lure them on to a quick and brutal death. - Elizabeth Manchester

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Korean Designers - DMO (Design Minds On)

Great Korean design studio, DMO, responsible for flat lighting.  I'm a huge fan of the streetlights stuck into the concrete in the underpass leading to the Han River from Apgujeong, Seoul, these lamps give the same gorgeous effect.

International Photography Exhibition, Seoul

Olga Dou - Duza's Tears

I was just informed the Seoul International Photography Festival is still going at Garden 5 in Seoul.  It ends Jan 31st - am planning on heading over this weekend.  The Festival includes over 60 well-known photographers from around the world, and over 1500 amateur Korean photographers.
Initiated in 2006 to overview diverse aspects of domestic and overseas photographic worlds, the festival aims to meet and reflect the thirst and desire of a photographic population that has rapidly increased due to the development of the Internet and digital photography.
For info on the venue look here and for a map check here.  Go out exit 3 of Jangji Station (장지역) on line 8 and follow the map!

 Giacomo Costa - Aqua6
Wendy McMurdo - Helen, Backstage, Merlin Theater (The Glance)

Lee Minho - Portable Landscape III n2

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Han River Art Island, Seoul, Korea

The proposed Art Complex, the newest part of Seoul's grand plan to reinvigorate the Han River.  The winning design was proposed by the architecture group Designcamp moonpark and is modeled after the movement of traditional Korean dancers.

According to the Architectural Review, the complex will house "a 1,900-seat symphony hall, a 1,500-seat opera house and a performance hall with a capacity to accommodate 300 people."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Micro Urban Intervention

Walking the same streets and sidewalks, taking the same buses, turning the same corners, we lose awareness of our everyday surroundings. Artist Slinkachu creates tiny installations "aim[s] to encourage city-dwellers to be more aware of their surroundings."

The snail shell is a unique medium for Slinkachu's unexpected installations. At a time when claims of hometown or nationality have less and less validity, Slinkachu's work speaks to the transience of contemporary ideas of 'home'. His tiny urban surprises catch the lucky viewer off guard and bring a bit of warmth and humour to an often gray and desolate place, the city.

The artwork consists of the installations and corresponding photography project, all on view on his website.