0. Black holes have no hair.
Black holes form when stars collapse, whereas what we can perceive of its appearance is only the immense darkness. In fact, black holes can be described through parameters such as mass, angular momentum in case they are rotating and electric charge when they have electric energy. However, it is not simple for us to determine individual black holes. When two non-rotating black holes have the same mass, there should be no way to distinguish them from one another. Physicist John Wheeler explained this aspect through no-hair theorem and stated "black holes have no hair." This would indicate that no characteristic could be effortlessly figured out due to the lack of hair. We can interpret its meaning to suggest that we can neither identify something nor see the difference if we don't look at it closely. Every incident, like the case with black holes, doesn't reveal its difference and relevance by a glimpse from distance but when we look into it from close, disparate things unravel. We might be able to read through unexpectedly inseparable relations; or in contrast, recognize subtle differences. Park Chung-hee's military coup, the dispatch of Korean troops to the Vietnam War and armed occupation of a Dabang(a coffeehouse) in Yanggu, Gangwon province seem to be individual circumstances, yet they are deeply related. On the other hand, there are always fine gaps between the actual incident, its description and interpretation as well as its representation. Black holes look alike, because they have no hair. But like how each of them is different in reality, all events and images in this world quite differ from how they appear to our eyes. Once one starts to perceive that difference, the world won't look the same any longer.
0. Lee Chang-dong,
The protagonist of Burning is a writer. He wants it to become his profession, but he must continue with side jobs to survive. Struggling between his intellectual idealism and material needs, he meets two figures that seem to represent these two different realms. He gets confused and lost somewhere in-between the fictional world (let's say, of mind) and the real world (of matter). The two worlds seem related and unrelated simultaneously. They overlay at times, drift away at others. Everything is supposed to be there, but they are invisible, whereas visible things appear fake. He neither can find the unpredictable girl nor can locate greenhouses that the guy would burn down to amuse himself. The protagonist strives to prove that his world is real and to achieve his writing. Comets, falling frivolously down from the sky, hit the earth whenever and wherever they like. While the pieces of rock precipitate nonchalantly from the space, history gets written (Black Hole 1, 2019). Park Chung-hee's coup in 1961 is unrelated to the hostage takings at coffee shops that used to be epidemic in the era, but they are actually related. After coming to power by means of a military coup, Park dispatched Korean troop to the Vietnam War, with the goal to gain support and favor from the US. While backing up North Vietnam, North Korea reinforced military attacks to jeopardize South Korea who also participated in Vietnam War. The incident on January 21, 1968, when a commando unit of 31 people including Kim Shin-jo was sent to infiltrate South Korea, was also one of those attempts. After the incident, Park established homeland reserve forces under the pretext of enhancing national security and supplied real weapon and bullet for trainings. That was why the hostage takers could easily get guns in their hands. With the stolen weapons, they took the people in Dabang (coffeehouse) hostage. Under the oppressive atmosphere of dictatorship, individual dissatisfaction tends to burst as abnormal and dramatic manifestations. Similar to how the incidents and the figures in the film Burning are interconnected, falling comets, the coup and hostage taking might be linked, even though they seem to be incidents completely remote to each other. The spiritual energy and physical movements entangle and deliberately merge together within the world of images. It is only that their connections are truly unpredictable and idiosyncratic, because everything is a result from the sequential continuation of imperfect human choices.
0. Virginia Woolf,
Orlando, the protagonist in Virginia Woolf's eponymous Orlando, is a young and beautiful nobleman who aspires to write and yearns for passionate love. In the course of its plot, this handsome figure becomes a woman and even continues to live for some hundreds of years as a woman, writing. As female Orlando reminisces about the past in London and senses the present, she hears a far-away cry of the night watchman—"Just twelve o'clock on a frosty morning," Woolf wrote. Then, Orlando feels that "all was darkness; all was doubt; all was confusion. The Eighteenth century was over; the Nineteenth century had begun." 'Just twelve o'clock on a frosty morning' is the time, when a new world begins. Black Hole 2 (2019) is a two-channel video depicting performances with actors. On one channel, the actors rotate clockwise enacting an iteration that consists of four gestures, while on the other, they sit around a round table talking about their performance. The clockwise performance shows gestures of enjoying coffee and cigarette; of anxious glimpses and praying; of crying and of repression and command. In the seated performance, they discuss its discrepancy to the other performance that included different roles and gestures; chat about the relation between actors and authors as well as the difference of theater to art and joke around about the world, creativity and the notions of order and disorder. As they proceed with acting in an unapparent way, they repeatedly drink coffee and keep asking the time. The coffee is refilled over and over, while unsynchronized times gradually start to match. The answer of the actor who tells time is always the same: "Just twelve o'clock on a frosty morning." It is a moment of revelation, awakening that the two opposite worlds of coincidences and plans, the fake and the real as well as history and image coexist and whirl together in the work.
0. Haruki Murakami, <1Q84>
The protagonists in Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, the male writer and the female killer realize suddenly that there are two moons in the sky. By recognizing two visible moons, the world they used to belong to doesn't seem to be the same. The two moons operate as a stain that marks the border between the fictional world of the novel and the real world outside of it. On the first page of the book, a verse from It's Only a Paper Moon by Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg and Billy Rose is quoted: "It's a Barnum and Bailey world, / just as phony as it can be, / But it wouldn't be make-believe / if you believed in me." The song seemingly implies that the novel is a world of fiction or that image is a world of representation. At the same time, the song seems to describe how incidents happen in the real world. Black Hole 4 (2019), a ball floating like the moon on the water contained in a basin, is not only an image from another work in the exhibition but also an image of a black hole. It could even be entitled as an image of this world, or of the entire universe. In the artificial moment when the ball's reflection coincides with the real ball, and as the face of the viewer also reflects on the surface of water, it reveals the coexistence of two worlds within the exhibition space. As the two moons in 1Q84 did, the black balls trace the borderline between the world in the image and the real world outside.
"It's a Barnum and Bailey world." Like a dream, like the real (Black hole 3, 2019).
"It's a Barnum and Bailey world." When we look into it, disparate things unravel.
Bona Park, 2019
Press release courtesy Gallery Chosun.