Dear Cinema 4: Jongkwan Paik, Ayoung Kim, Ellie Kyungran Heo, Kwang-Ju Son, The Otolith Group introduces a succession of works by artists expanding the scope of media through short films, video installations and performance, or experiments with moving images. The label 'film director' applies naturally to artists such as Jongkwan Paik and Kwang-Ju Son, whose works have been screened and drawn attention at film festivals in Korea and overseas. Ayoung Kim has had her works screened at festivals, but is most familiar to us as a visual artist whose many exhibitions include a solo show at Palais de Tokyo. Ellie Kyungran Heo, who lives in London and records unique scenes from the fringes of everyday life, may still be an unfamiliar name to many of us. The Otolith Group, which previously had their works screened and conducted a masterclass at MMCA as part of the earlier Reconstruction of Story series, combines discourses and video footage in the process of researching archive material, producing works that explore the relationship between images and sounds. Dear Cinema 4 offers weekly opportunities to discover the diverse works of these five artists and groups, using material ranging from research findings to film footage, dramatic elements, performance and photographs.
Jongkwan Paik explores photographic images that record critical moments from contemporary Korean history. In Cyclical Night, which induces reciprocal interactions between quotations and images, and Frequency Resonance, comprising sounds from multiple radio programs recorded over long periods by the artist, the artist uses two works, different in form, to prompt us to imagine past moments through the nuance of language. His recent works, #cloud and Deportees, draw focus onto the contemporaneity of the situation faced by the observer, rather than evoking specific historical memories through the use of public or private records. These works prompt us to contemplate stories and minutely changing spaces captured by chance in the process of continuous observation.
Ayoung Kim takes little-known incidents, geopolitical relationships, materials and records, such as pitch, the crude oil extract that played such an important role in modern industrial civilization; Britain's 19th-century occupation of Port Hamilton; and North Star, the favorite horse of Busan Race Course jockey Jin-hee Park, while citing peripheral data and texts. Quotations recited dramatically by actors come together with repetitive use of music and film footage like an architectural pastiche. Zepheth, Whale Oil from the Hanging Gardens to You, Shell 3 uses vocal performances remixed for use with a cinema sound system for Dear Cinema 4. Now available in 7.1-channel sound, this work combines acoustic content with traces of performance video records and multi-layered dialog about crude oil resources, appearing and vanishing like ghosts on the silver screen.
Kwang-Ju Son alternates between official historical records and private memories, using mutual interference between language and images, transformation of images in both figurative and abstract realms, and analogy through rhythm and speed to prompt certain inferences. Works like Re-Search, a figurative reconstruction of the neurosis of a researcher as she tries to write her thesis; Fragmentary Landscapes, Amusement Epitome and Yoyogi Park, a series of documentaries produced from short clips of scenes taken while Son was living in the United States in 2006; single-channel works like Apparition, which shows a succession of chance scenes captured through observation; and two-channel installation work On Contradiction, produced for exhibition purposes, were produced over a period of almost 10 years, but show consistent experimentation in their leap from film footage and subjective documentary film to the motility of abstract images.
Ellie Kyungran Heo draws our attention to extraordinary yet hitherto unnoticed happenings in the most ordinary moments, such as the act of eating. She shows us small bugs moving in a bin, for example, or flies falling down onto moving water, or the movements of bees. Short works such as Skipping, I Say and Turn may be scenes from a planet cohabited by different organisms, or glances that capture the moments that passed us unknowingly by. In this respect, The Planet shows us the routes by which microscopic perspectives return to the whole. Works more than 10 minutes long, such as Haenyeo, Island and Did You Eat Rice?, appear to the observer like special places, but contemplate the movements of people stuck in everyday frames that are so ordinary as to be empty. Heo's works seem to ask if the act of observing can be a virtue.
The Otolith Group uses research to expand the scope of essay films. Their new work, The Third Part of the Third Measure, is based on a recital of text by African-American militant avant-garde minimalist composer, pianist and vocalist Julius Eastman. A strong, persistent beat integrates the power of language and music, while the performance and recital become a dialogue between language and sound that contains a political discourse.