In partnership with the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) in London, esea contemporary is delighted to present a special artwork by Dr Jinjoon Lee in our Communal Project Space, accompanied by an online artist talk.
The display 'Manufactured Nature: Irworobongdo' (2022) is a conceptual extension to Lee's solo exhibition 'Audible Garden' at KCCUK. It particularly focuses on the hue of green and its quintessence in altering the mood of the spatial narrative. The colour itself, often regarded as synonymous with nature, evokes a calm and serene ambiance, immersing the visitors in a transcending sensory journey. It not only binds the essence of nature into the spatial realm but also orchestrates a reflective dialogue between the audience and the manufactured interpretation of nature as mediated by modern-day media like AI, etc. The meticulous incorporation of green is not merely visual; it also invites the audience to delve into a deeper understanding of how media manufactures and distils our perception of nature. The artist's intention is to spawn a juxtaposition between the authentic essence of nature and its media-mediated portrayal, ushering in a contemplative narrative on the nuances of our interpreted realities.
Inside Lee's current solo show at KCCUK in London, the amalgamation of AI generated Korean traditional instrument 'Geomungo' sounds with the hue of green crafts a discourse that transcends the visual and auditory senses. The resonance between the traditional and the contemporary, mediated through digital interpretations, is expected to foster a unique sensory and intellectual exploration.
On 7 October, esea contemporary will host an online talk with Dr Jinjoon Lee to further discuss the major themes of his practice and research. Lee will be joined with Social Anthropologist and Director of Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. This event will be mediated by Xiaowen Zhu, director of esea contemporary.
The project is co-presented by the KCCUK and esea contemporary, and is a part of the exhibition 'Jinjoon Lee: Audible Garden' at the Korean Cultural Centre. For more information, please visit https://leejinjoon.com/audible-garden-2.
When I would stand beneath those streetlights, I would stare at the trees lining the road. Each of those trees had been growing somewhere else until its roots had been slashed away, and it was moved to this new space, where it was forced to put down new roots and grow expressionless in the space between road and pavement. Whenever it rains or the wind blows, I feel as if those trees stand guard, acting as the true heroes of the city’s story. Is it because they’ve collected too much dust from the city? Or perhaps because of the way they stand stiffly at exact intervals perfectly spaced from each other? In their mother forests, they would have never stood this way. Clearly, those trees were living things, but somehow they felt manufactured. Manufactured nature... It formed a portal of sorts. Those trees — with their perfect spaces and intervals, covered in their city dust; casting their strange shadows as they moved under the streetlights — they whispered to me about where I came from. In the middle of the night, London can be a quiet place, but the sounds of the busy city day still linger in the trees. I would walk amongst them, as they guided me through the city maze until the early hours of morning. It always felt as though if I went just a little farther, those trees would take me to a secret place, one only they knew. A place that would take me away for a moment from the stage on which I was living. I felt almost like I was walking around inside the painting in the scroll you used to show me in your study, Grandfather. As you would unroll the scroll before me, I could see a flower, a stone, a stream, a snow hill, a tree; and they whispered to me of things which can’t be found in the city. Those whispers must have come from some wide space outside of the study, brought from nowhere in somewhere by a gust of wind. Somewhere along the way, our concept of speed has become confused, in their understanding of space and time. As the concept of ‘lived time’ has disappeared from our age of instant information, we have become virtually unable to feel space through our senses. If we hope to not lose that in-between space, where, ever-shrinking, it sits between start and finish, we will have to pay closer attention. It is said that the space between start and finish has been lost, but I yearn for that place which exists somewhere but isn’t anywhere, that ‘nowhere in somewhere’. A place like my grandfather’s garden. Is that why I miss my childhood in the shadow of Masan’s red mountains? Is it because I’ve travelled so far away — because we as people have travelled so far from the nature we were born to? Here on my plane from Somewhere to Nowhere, I feel I’m starting my own journey — one that will take me through the smells and sounds of my memory to meet my grandfather. One that will take me to nowhere in somewhere. (Courtesy of the artist)
Dr. Jinjoon Lee FRSA, MRSS, born in Masan, Korea, graduated from Seoul National University with a BBA in Business (2001) and a BFA (2005) and MFA (2009) in Sculpture. He later earned an MA degree (2017) in the Moving Image Pathway of Sculpture from the Royal College of Art. Subsequently, he pursued a doctorate in Fine Art from the Ruskin School and St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford. His doctoral thesis, titled “Empty Garden: A Liminoid Journey to Nowhere in Somewhere” (2020), manifested as a 10-meter-long scroll, intermixing East Asian Garden aesthetics with existentialism, poetry, and autoethnographic research, offering a new theoretical perspective on liminal spaces. Lee has served as a guest artist at the ZKM Center for Art and Media and is currently a professor at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).
Biao Xiang 项飙 is the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany since 2020, and he was a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford before that. Xiang's research focuses on various types of migration – internal and international, unskilled and highly skilled, emigration and return migration, as well as the places and people left behind – in China, India, and other parts of Asia. Xiang is the recipient of the 2008 Anthony Leeds Prize for his book 'Global Bodyshopping' and the 2012 William L. Holland Prize for his article 'Predatory Princes.' His 2000 Chinese book '跨越边界的社区' (published in English as 'Transcending Boundaries' in 2005) was reprinted in 2018 as a contemporary classic. His book ‘把自己作为方法’ ('Self as Method', co-authored with Wu Qi) was ranked the Most Impactful Book of 2020. His work has been translated into Japanese, French, Korean, Spanish, German, and Italian.
‘Communities in the Making’ is an ongoing series of events that unites community-led and process-driven approaches to fostering co-existence amongst diverse underrepresented cultures and communities in Manchester. Through artist-led workshops, collaborative screenings, cross-disciplinary exchanges, and roundtable discussions, we actively ponder ways of nurturing agency to lay the groundwork for community building.
Throughout the course of the programme, members of the public are invited to gather, collaborate, and contemplate with us. We believe in the inherent creativity of every individual and strive to establish meaningful connections that are reflective of our current moment, and meet the needs and aspirations of the community. ‘Communities in the Making’ activates listening, interdependency, and the cultivation of new experiences to celebrate diasporic knowledge, and ground our work in encounters and experimentations.