Interview with media artist Jin Si-young (Gwangju, South Korea)


Interview & text: Akiko Inoue

In Yokohama, where the ``East Asia Culture City 2014'' is being held to promote cultural exchange between Japan, China, and Korea, there are increasing opportunities to see exhibitions and performances by artists from not only the three countries but also from Asia. Meanwhile, the other day, Jin Si-young, a media artist and director based in Gwangju, South Korea, visited Yokohama for the first time. During his stay, he served as a presenter for Zou-no-hana Terrace's ``Port Journey Project,'' interacting with artists from port cities around the world, and also toured Yokohama's diverse cultural hubs. This time, we interviewed Mr. Jin Si Young.

Gwangju City, South Korea, where Jin Si-young is based, is widely known as the venue for the ``Gwangju Biennale,'' and has been attracting attention as an art town in recent years. On the other hand, in the 1980s, Gwangju citizens were the site of a movement to denounce the military regime's conspiracy and realize democracy (the May 18 Gwangju Democracy Movement), and the energy of democratization and its dark memories are complex. It is also a town that is depicted with great contrasts. He is well known for his installation works using LED light tubes, and this time he will participate in "Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014", which "attempts to create a new night view of Yokohama", and plans to present his recent masterpiece "FLOW" series. It means.

Now, I would like to ask you some questions.

“About Yokohama” – Yokohama, a port town reflected in Jin Si Young’s eyes

- When you visited Yokohama for the first time to participate in the "Port Journey Project" at Zou- no-hana Terrace, you apparently toured several of the city's cultural sites, including the currently ongoing Yokohama Triennale and the Koganecho Bazaar. What are your impressions of the city of Yokohama? Do you have any favorite places?

The most memorable place was Osanbashi International Passenger Terminal. I am also very interested in architecture, as I teach at the Department of Architecture at Kyung Hee University in South Korea. So when I first saw the Osanbashi Passenger Terminal, I couldn't help but be surprised. The rooftop area of the terminal has a landscape design that citizens can enjoy, and I thought it was very modern. I didn't have time during my last stay, so I haven't been able to go up and see it in person, but I'd like to go there after the exhibition of "Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014" which will be held soon.

Also, the Red Brick Warehouse was very impressive. Not only does the landscape create an exotic Yokohama-like atmosphere, but it is also used as a plaza for the general public to enjoy, and instead of just leaving the old buildings, they have been renovated and used as the most memorable place. There is a lot to learn from being there.

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Photo: Jin Si-young

Osanbashi Passenger Terminal seen from Zou-no-hana Park

Daesanbashi Passenger Terminal seen from Zou-no-hana Park Photo: Jin Si-young

- Please tell us your impressions when comparing the two cities of Gwangju and Yokohama.

Gwangju has long been known as the city of Geyeon. Gwangju Biennale has been held since 1995, and the National Asian Culture Center, a facility for researching and presenting Asian culture, is scheduled to open next year, so it can be called a cultural city. Yokohama has a long history and exotic scenery, and is not only a tourist city visited by many tourists, but also a cultural city. During my recent stay, I felt this strongly when I visited Yokohama Triennale 2014 and Koganecho Bazaar 2014.

Also, Gwangju has the meaning of hometown of light, and as its name suggests, it has fostered the development of LED and light industry, and since 2011 has been included in UNESCO's Media Arts Creative Cities Network (*). I am waiting to register. "Smart Illumination Yokohama", which is held every year in Yokohama, is also an event that attempts to create a new night view using light, so I feel that they have something in common from that perspective.

*Media Arts City, one of the fields registered in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network

“Jin Si Young’s Artwork” - Possibility of Collaboration

- Looking at your career history, you have developed your creative activities in a variety of fields, including collaborations with contemporary dance, ceramic artists, cosmetic brands, and car manufacturers (Peugeot). It seems that you majored in painting at school, but how did you come to create the kind of work you do now?

I majored in painting at university, but I majored in New Forms at the Pratt Institute in New York. I think that the fact that a diverse range of majors came together to create new forms and genres without being bound by them has influenced my current work, which involves collaboration with multiple fields.

- What kind of impact does it have?

I think all artists feel the need to think seriously about the theme for a new work, but media art allows you to easily combine multiple genres and create works in new forms through various methods. I feel that there is a great advantage in being able to create new things. Encounters with genres such as performing arts, advertising, and products not only stimulate an artist's curiosity, but also create a conduit to commerce, allowing people who have not had much contact with media art to I think this will be an opportunity to make its existence known. In addition, in collaboration with performing arts, my work becomes a stage set, and the image (virtual image) brought about by the video projection intersects with the real body of the actor and becomes one on the stage, making it even better than the work itself. It can give a dramatic impression.

Shadow of Flower, 2014, 《Clay Broods Light》Collaboration Show
Shadow of Flower, 2014, 《Clay Broods Light》Collaboration Show

Shadow of Flower, 2014, 《Clay Broods Light》Collaboration Show
(Collaboration with potter)

Sulwhasoo Cosmetic CF, Stillcut, 2014
Sulwhasoo Cosmetic CF, Stillcut, 2014
Sulwhasoo Cosmetic CF, Stillcut, 2014

Sulwhasoo Cosmetic CF, Stillcut, 2014
(Collaboration with cosmetic brand)

JIN PEUGEOT ART CAR, 2013, Gwangju Art Fair

JIN PEUGEOT ART CAR, 2013, Gwangju Art Fair
(Collaboration with Peugeot)

Snow White, Green Ballet & Siyon Jin Media Art Collaboration
Snow White, Green Ballet & Siyon Jin Media Art Collaboration

Snow White, Green Ballet & Siyon Jin Media Art Collaboration
(Contemporary dance and collaboration)

“Jin Si-young’s artwork” – a continuous stream of LED lights
About the “Flow” series

- We will listen to your recent representative work "FLOW" series. The ``FLOW'' series creates a space by intricately intertwining colorful LED light tubes. Please tell us why you chose LED lights as the material.

I started using LEDs in 2008, and felt unsatisfied with the flat images of the video works I had been creating, so I wanted to combine some kind of analog elements that can be directly touched with media art. I thought it was nice. Therefore, for the FLOW series, which I have been working on since 2011, I chose linear LED tubes as the most suitable material to directly express the flow of light.

FLOW, 2013, LED Installation, Daedam Art Museum

FLOW, 2013, LED Installation, Daedam Art Museum

- The theme of ``Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014'', which you will be participating in, is ``Primary light: Light that we can talk about.'' The most primary light that is closely related to humans is fire. Since then, humans have invented various types of light up to the present day. The LED lights used in your works can be said to be cutting-edge light created by modern technology, but at the same time, the title ``FLOW'' refers to fundamental natural phenomena such as rivers, the flow of water, and the way they wave in the wind. It gives me an image. I feel like your works often feature motifs that are common to everyone, such as nature, but you dare to combine these two elements, modern technology and nature, into one work. What is your intention in trying to do this?

Contemporary art can be said to be a reflection of its times, so I think it's only natural that artists of the same era use computers and LEDs. And in the future, even more new materials will emerge. However, I want to convey the most fundamental message in order to help modern people, who lead busy lives, recover their lost humanity and respect for nature, and that is why I create my works. This is the theme.

- Please let us know if you have any thoughts about the primary relationship between cities and light, and people and light, which is the aim of the theme "Primary light."

My "FLOW" series originates from Facebook friendships on the Internet, which are inseparable to people living in cities. This is because if we assume that Facebook friends from all over the world are on a line with each other, we might eventually be able to create a world map, thinking of this as the connection of people's energies in the East. Seeing it was the beginning of this work. At this time, I thought of these "connecting lines" as light.

Facebook Map, related image with Flow 47-600

Facebook Map, related image with Flow 47

If the flow of light seen in the video works I create is, for example, a collection of light that becomes tangible by being projected onto the dancer's body, then the recent ``FLOW'' series is a collection of light that becomes tangible when it is projected onto the dancer's body. This is an attempt to create a drawing of light in an actual space through the use of line tube LEDs. This expresses the relationship with the theme of Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014, "Primary light."

Flow 47, HD Single channel video still, 2011-440

Flow 47, HD Single channel video still, 2011

Flow 47, Single channel video, projection, 2012, Gwangju City-440

Flow 47, Single channel video, projection, 2012, Gwangju City

About Japanese media art - Japanese contemporary art seen from Jin Si-young

- Lastly, please tell us about any Japanese artists or projects that you are interested in.

There are many Japanese authors that I have been interested in for a long time. Writers like Hiraki Sawa, Kohei Nawa, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, and Mariko Mori, to name a few. I think Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami's collaboration with Louis Vuitton is also a good example of the relationship between a company and an artist.

Also of interest are the Yokohama Triennale, the Media Arts Festival, and the Mori Art Museum exhibitions. In the future, I hope that Sapporo Media Art and Gwangju Media Art will be able to collaborate well as member cities of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network's Media Arts Cities.

Lastly, I am very honored to be able to participate in Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014 due to my relationship with Spiral/Sponsor Wacoal Art Center Co., Ltd., which is responsible for the art direction of Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014. . I would like to continue working to maintain steady exchanges not only with myself but also with Japan, Korea, and Gwangju.

Jin Siyoung's work, which will be exhibited for the first time in Japan, can be seen at "Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014". His work is scheduled to be displayed in two locations: an installation inside the Zou-no-Hana Terrace Cafe, and a "shuttle ship" that will be used as a means of transport for the audience to get to and from the venue during the event. ``Smart Illumination'' is a 5-day event that uses the environmental technology that will be essential in the coming era and the creativity of artists to create new night views, and this year marks its 4th year. Please come and experience the new Yokohama night view that can only be seen during this period.

Overview of “Smart Illumination Yokohama 2014”
<This event has ended. 〉
October 30, 2014 (Thursday) - November 3, 2014 (Monday/Holiday) [5 days]
Main venue: ZOU-NO-HANA Park

Translation: Chie Oshima

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