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Park Hyun-Ki_Photo Essay 1986_128.5.x238cm_1986

In Art History, Park Hyun-ki is an artist who has many areas yet to be explored. He cultivated his own expressive language through an unfamiliar medium of video in 1970s, and is well known to have clearly defined his own style which harmonizes the Eastern beauty with modern technology. However, the only texts written about him are a few essays by Korean critics and a graduate thesis paper. The indifference is quite odd when he is defined as the 'Pioneer of Korean Video Art."

Actually, Park's career had long been in the making. After studying painting in university, he then majored in architecture and established his career. While an active artist, he was also a truth-seeker with a flourishing passion for learning who embarked on exploration for new aesthetics using electronic video, a cutting-edge technology at the time. On a few days of visits to the American Cultural Center in Daegu in 1974, he came across edited single-channel videos of Paik Nam-june's Global Groove(1973) and Merce Cunningham's dance. He was probably deeply influenced by a video of a new vision produced by video synthesizer. It was only a few years since Paik-Abe Synthesizer was created, and TV broadcasting seemed to be making quite a rapid progress, but Park wanted to hold this technology in the control of his hands. Hence, at first he purchased a second-hand SONY U-matic recorder and started to play around with it, then came across a video synthesizer in KBS Broadcasting station in Daegu. Then he finally met professor Yamaguchi Katsuhiro at Tsukuba University through an acquaintance, under whose arrangement he got the opportunity to experiment at the studio at the company VICTOR in 1978. Park probably experimented fully with technology for an artist of the time.

However, the discovery of Park as an artist has far to do with brilliant effect of synthesizer, or the futuristic communication and vision in history of civilization as can be seen in Paik's Global Groove; his work simply reflected the physicality of video itself, and he transplanted the medium 'architecturally' in the real world. His choices were based centrally on his contemporary art movement based mainly in Daegu in the 1970s, as he partook in discourse with artists who were interested in Mono-ha,an art movement which centered around physicality of objects.  It was also based on the fact that he was an architect who always dealt with 3-dimensional subjects. In comparing him in a filmic language, he took illusion through an approach like Auguste et Louis Lumière rather than George Melies. He led the audience to the boundary between reality and illusion, and nature and man through juxtaposing video with natural environment or material such as rivers, trees, stones and iron plates. For instance in his major work Video Pagoda, the stones in the monitor and the real stones are recognized and read as an extension of each other, as they belong to illusion and real space respectively. In Park’s works, video is a ‘reflection of the subject’, and it’s also used as one of ‘Park’s architectures’ as an object. In other words, his work is a hybrid reality within the interspace that unfolds as video, which is an illusion, merges as one with real world like an object. In addition, it also reaches a stage of meditation and transcendence realized with video through an extremely limited way.

Along with the exhibition Hyunhyun held at Daegu Culture and Arts Center in 2008, this retrospective exhibition commemorating the 10th anniversary of Park Hyun-ki’s death is a contribution to reinvigorating social interest in artists who are easily forgotten and neglected. However, it is unfortunate that this exhibition was held at a small commercial gallery rather than a space that could have allowed his work to shine.

LEE Wongoen (Professor of Dankook University)

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Posted by EYEBALL_Media Arts Webzine


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