Jung Sungyoon's devised mechanic equipment depicts in what channel the desire for and faith in others appear, expand and come to an end. The machines help ultimately contemplate the trauma of the loss of human identity by performing the process of paradoxically reversing their subjects' general activities and deduction of outcome. The operational mechanism of the mechanic devices not concealed by sleek appearance is expressed metaphorically as the diagram presenting this circulation system, and reproduced as the aspect of the theater of the absurd between machines and humans, and among humans. It expresses the impossible spot for potential of the world surrounding individuals and their relationship.
Jung Sungyoon's artist theory: a method of survival in the message theater era, or a method of being fossilized?
Kim Sang-woo(Art critic)
"All activities aimed at attaining understanding are always simultaneously activities for non-understanding, and all consistency with others in thoughts and emotions is simultaneously inconsistency." (Humboldt)
1. Now is the prime-time era of the social media's prime-time era. We can easily get in touch with others anywhere anytime through Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or Kakao Talk. Media always whisper us into talking. It is like having to talk. Silence may be feared. We continue to be pushed to talk in various forms. Signals coercing us into talks are delivered to us, whether the subject is recommendation, comment or whatever. Furthermore, we do not write with our fingertips; touching alone is sufficient. Thus, text is faster than thinking. Ungrammatical sentences are widespread, because texting is faster than thinking. Interestingly, nonetheless, talks are possible. However, should we really talk? Do messages (information) really exist there? Or is it all just chat?
2. Chats are regarded as useless words because they do not deliver clear messages and are talk for talk's sake. They lack truthfulness. It is only certain that the speaker and the hearer exist. Think of the popular social medium Twitter. Twitter provides an environment where users regard people as friends (followers) and where a timeline (messages) is provided. Thus, a theater is prepared, and users become actors, and friends turn into audiences. Then, plays of words are staged. If he/she becomes the protagonist of sorrow, the audience sheds tears, and if he/she becomes a sharp critic of society, the audience nods its agreement. Here, there is no information, and if any, there is only the actors' pleasure. "No one always wants to need information, because information is unstable. Compared with this, communication, in reality, provides stability through the opposite of information, namely, surplus Redundenz (resonance Resonanz). In short, it is chat."(Bolz) The moment someone distributes information (truth), the stage will collapse all of a sudden. (Of course, another stage will be built in no time at all.) There are almost no times when truth is beautiful.
3. Can we reach the truth through talks? The futility of talks can be confirmed by listening to TV talk programs for just ten minutes. Myriad words are poured out, a war of words is conducted, but ultimately the talkers adhere to their arguments. If one interprets the other person's words according to his position, then what is the use of discussion? Here, messages are wrongly formed and do not get across to their recipients. If delivered at all, they are delivered in a different sense. This is true for interpersonal relations. "They begin with misconception, continue in misunderstanding, and end with truth." (Soseki) Even close lovers frequently fail to correctly receive the other person's message, misunderstand each other, and thus sever their relationships. This is where Jung Sungyoon intervenes with his works. His works do not chat. They end with a message, like a period.
4. Jung Sungyoon's work path was somewhat peculiar. His recent works involve virtual greeting simulators, i.e. assembled machines. But he did not intend to craft the simulators. He initially worked on media, which was an attempt at a sort of web art. Aside from machines, his work involved shedding the exterior skin of materials. In the 2000s, he showed one trend of the then popular media arts in the form of combining dynamic images and sounds on the Web. For instance, Memory Installation showed the changing images and sounds according to cursor movements, while Love Letter showed a different side of text in terms of sounds and images. Such works were then typical popular web arts such as hyperlinks, images and sounds, and hypertexts. Individual works delivered distinctive messages.
5. However, starting with his first solo exhibition Log: POPup (BMH Gallery, 2006), Jung Sungyoon began to deviate from the network world, gradually reverting to 3-dimensional structures and materials. Here, he installs formations that can cause visual illusions. They are three-dimensional, seen from afar, but constitute a plane when seen from a nearer distance. Two-dimensional traces still remain there. His second solo exhibition, Network Impossible (Artspace Hue, 2007), advances one step further. Through the simile of closed circuits, he implies the world of net, still embracing media as contents, but forms take a three-dimensional shape. Here, a question naturally arises. Why did he bring back the removed outer skin? Did he just follow fashion previously? It's not likely. This is because Jung Sungyoon always paid attention to media. However, where to pay attention was different. He has chosen message (content) over media (style). To solidify his messages, his work gradually changes to become heavy. The time has arrived for Virtual Greeting Simulator to soon appear.
6. The first sequence of works includes Hello Engine 2.0 and XY Engine produced in 2009. Relatively detailed machines appear, thus creating models of the sequence of works. The outer skin of metal is hard, which may imply a wish to hold (on to) messages firmly. Hold On, Please and Goodbye, crafted in 2012, show stronger messages than before. Unlike the 2009 works, these works deliver messages in terms of text. Previously, messages were implied in terms of images and pens, but this time, messages are designed to be shown in terms of text. Interestingly, the machines are insecure. They have no electric power, thus requiring others' power, and must be operated manually. As such, commonality with web arts can be found. It is a dialogue structure. However, talks have something that is essentially different. The difference involves others' bodies. The message handwritten by the artist requires the audience to move the machines with their hands. This completes the text and delivers the messages. One moment afterwards, talks are cut off.
7. "Chats casts the shadow of impossibility over communication."(Bolz) Talks will mostly fail, but may succeed on rare occasions, from which, unfortunately, mistakes arise. Jung Sungyoon will succeed in delivering messages once, but on other occasions, he will continue to fail, given that he does not chat.
Press release courtesy Gallery Chosun.