Mioon's "Human Stream" / Courtesy of Seoul International Media Art Biennale
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Art merges with modern technology for the 5th Seoul International Media Art Biennale, at the Seoul Museum of Art, downtown Seoul.
Opening last week, the biennale showcases innovative works that define the state of media art today and pushes the boundaries of media art.
Park Il-ho, exhibition director, said the theme ``Turn and Widen'' refers to the growing influence of media art around the world. The biennale features 77 works by 70 teams from 26 countries, including Korea, Japan, China, Australia, France, United States, Netherlands and Denmark. Works range from photography and videos to computer art and digital films.
``We tried to show where new media is now. The style of the biennale is to look back and make sure what we are showing here is now `of the moment.' There is also a wider group of international artists represented here, not just well-known artists but also young artists who haven't been exposed but who are into new uses of media in art,'' said curator Maarten Bertheux, at a press conference last week.
Visitors will be treated to a sensory experience at the biennale, since the media works are not just visually stimulating, but also engage their senses of hearing, smell and touch.
At the museum lobby, visitors might be surprised to suddenly hear the sound of an aircraft flying overhead. Look up at the ceiling and there is a moving shadow of an aircraft. This is Taiwanese artist I-Chen Kuo's work ``Invade the SeMA.''
The biennale is divided into three sections, with the first one ``Light" showing how light can be used in electronic art. Singaporean artist Suzanne Victor's ``Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame'' features a row of light bulbs and mirrors. Chinese artist Hui Li explores the concept of reincarnation with the use of glowing red laser beams.
Taiwan's ITRI Creativity Lab created an interactive installation ``Flow of Qi,'' where visitors can sit on two chairs equipped with ultra wide band devices that measure the speed and depth of a visitors' breathing. The person's breathing will influence the pattern of the calligraphy created on the floor.
At the ``Communication'' section, visitors will be treated to art works that appeal not just to their sense of sight, but also their senses of hearing, smell and touch.
Visitors who stop and stare at Mexican artist Rafael Lozano Hemmer's ``Blow-up Shadow Box 4,'' may find their own image staring back at them.
At first glance, ``Life Writer," by Christa Sommerer and Laurant Mignonneau seems like an old-fashioned typewriter but it acts like a computer interface. Tap on the keys, and tiny spider-like images appear on the glowing white screen.
Visitors can put on ``Real Virtuality'' goggles created by Electroboutique features. Through the goggles, the real world is transformed into an alternative, virtual world.
Lastly, the ``Time" section features works that deal with themes of changing images through the passage of time.
Korean artist Mioon created ``Human Stream,'' two huge human torso-like sculptures covered in white feathers. Videos depicting crowds running around are projected on the sculptures.
The video ``20010218-20060218" by Japanese artist Fuji Shiro shows how a neighborhood changed in five years. He shot film out of the window of his room everyday, and compressed the video into a short film.
The Seoul International Media Art Archive, located at the archive room of the SeMA, gives visitors an overview of the development of media art from the first biennale through the fourth biennale.
The exhibit runs through Nov. 5. Admission is free. For more information visit www.mediacityseoul.or.kr.