PKM Gallery is pleased to present Cody Choi's solo exhibition, "HELLO KITTY" Database Painting Totem + NFT, from 13 April to 17 May 2023. Choi has focused on the cultural identity and structure of modern society by selecting digital data as the main subject and material of his work since the late 1990s. This exhibition will display 33 new database paintings produced in 2022–2023, which combine digital data printing with traditional painting techniques, and nine NFT works produced and registered in 2022.
The works of "HELLO KITTY" Database Painting Totem + NFT began with a digital image drawn in 1999 by Cody Choi's kindergarten-aged son, Joy, using a computer drawing program called Crayola Magic 3D Coloring Book. Through this apparatus, the child created an image of the virtual world based on a combination of provided templates, using a computer mouse instead of a pencil, and identified with an image of the real world. Based on such experiences, the artist, who had been studying the concept of data creation and digitalising masterworks from 1997 to 1998, became strongly convinced that digital data would replace imagination as a resource for creativity in the 21st century, and that the self-growth of data through algorithms would be an artist's creative act during this time. He mined ****his son's picture data from the Intel 386 computer at preschool, amplified, split, and developed it into his own 'genesis data'. The genesis data underwent 'smart layering' as few as 400 to as many as thousands of times in a rhizomatic manner, and the results of the study were introduced in the United States, Germany, and Korea in 1999. Choi's attempt resembled the blockchain technique of distributing, storing, and verifying data countless times in the form of connected chains but was far ahead of its time.
This exhibition proposes new database painting and NFTs calculated by applying the artist's own algorithm to the genesis data of cats and dogs left by the artist at the end of the century. Symbolizing the death of an authoritative father and social solidarity in the primitive era, the 'totem' in his new work is replaced by an animal image stolen from his son. The artist, who declared that digitalism would become the dominant trend of the 21st century with insights beyond the times and that the 'double-brain' structure in which virtual and real coexist would become common, now questions what NFT art means. Today, when NFT art, associated with indiscriminate reproduction and eventuality, is rampant, it reveals that now is the time to establish the concept and aesthetic foundation of digital art and reconsider its art historical value.
Cody Choi, who majored in sociology, arts & cultural program, design, and studio art in Korea and the United States, has been a visual artist and cultural theorist since the mid-1980s, steadily showing potentials in the art scene both locally and abroad. He gained international recognition as an artist after his participation in a solo exhibition at Deitch Projects (New York, USA) in 1996 and an inaugural group exhibition at the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Marseille (Marseille, France) in the same year. From 2015 to 2017, he had a retrospective travelling exhibition at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf, Germany), Musée d'Art Contemporain de Marseille (Marseille, France), and Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz (Chemnitz, Germany) organized by art historian John C. Welchman. In 2017, he was selected as the South Korean representative for The 57th Venice Biennale. He was also invited to the symposium of The 2nd Seoul International Media Art Biennale, with Jean Baudrillard in the year of 2002. Choi's early database paintings are included in the private collections of prominent artists
Press release courtesy PKM Gallery.