The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA, Director Youn Bummo) announced two creator teams The Duck Among Us and After New Order... for the PROJECT HASHTAG 2021, an opencall to select next-generation creator potential to experiment interdisciplinary platforms, pave an innovative path in the visual art scene for the future. Held for the second time after its inaugural contest in 2019 in partnership with Hyundai Motor, PROJECT HASHTAG 2021 extends beyond the limits of the domain of art to discover, support, and engage in interdisciplinary collaboration with artists, writers, producers, and researchers from diverse fields. Beginning with its initial launch in 2019, this five-year project will select two teams annually (10 teams in total) as the recipients of support.
Through the cooperation and convergence of various fields including arts, computer program, design, game, architecture, astroscience, physics, biology, and etc., the applicants for the PROJECT HASHTAG 2021 have proposed project plans that well express the identity of the MZ generation (born between 1980s and 2000s) who are living within the boundary between virtual and reality. They have managed to directly connect somatesthesia with game contents, present alternative ways of using NFT (Non-Fungible Token) that has been garnering attention as a case of convergence between digital asset and arts, and have extended practical and realistic concerns to online exhibitions, publications and even virtual real assets. What was the most noticeable was the engagement with the natural science sector, which is a sign that we have now ushered in an era where the virtual reality experimentations meet with research in the natural science sector. Among 80 teams, the winners were selected based on 5 criteria: originality, experimntal adaptation, realization, potential impact, future development.
The Duck Among Us (Shin Hee-jung, Lee Ga-Young, Son Jung-Ah, Jeong Man-Keun, Shin Dong-Hui) expresses the contemporary human body metaphorically through yellow-colored pixel duck goods that are easily consumed and then discarded. As an avatar, ducks are closely associated with non-mainstream beings such as the disabled, immigrants, women, and those who are economically vulnerable, while it is also a symbol of digital mutant bodies that can be easily transformed and distorted within the digital realm. The team plans to present a visual production work, which will then be followed by a showcase where the audience can experience the status of mutated bodies.
After New Order… (Yoon Choong-geun, Ki Ye-rim, Nam Seon-mi, Lee So-hyeon, Lee Jisu) presents 7 projects to remind ourselves of the founding qualities of the web, which are openness, sharing and participation, when it first emerged by acknowledging the nature of the era during which real social issues have led to the undermining of the ethicality and basic spirits of the web. The team attempts to initiate public discussion about today’s web and seek ways to make it sustainable. Such attempts are unfolded through projects such as <#KoreaWebsitePrize2021>, <#ScreenReaderWorkshop>, <#MMCAlt> that touch upon the conceptual pollution of web and accessibility, <#DataDetox> and <#DidYouKnow> that depicts social issues that are caused by the spread of fake news, as well as <#WhatsNewDictionary> and <#WhatsNewSelection> that are meta projects designed to take an objective perspective on the aforementioned aspects.
The two teams of creators selected as finalists will each be provided with a grant of KRW 30 million for the creation of new work, a three-month studio residency (MMCA Residency Changdong), as well as an opportunity to showcase their final works of cooperation in November at MMCA Seoul, which will not be limited to the form of conventional exhibitions. They will also be invited to an event attended by major overseas institutions and experts for a chance to discuss opportunities to showcase their works internationally.
The application period of PROJECT HASHTAG 2021 was from Thursday, 1 April 2021 to Friday, 30 April 2021, during which a total of 80 teams from various sectors have submitted their application. Among them, five teams have been qualified for the final round of screening which was an online interview session. The interviews were carried out by internationally renowned writer and prominent contributor of the contemporary era, Hito Steyerl as well as Professor Lev Manovich of the City University of New York, who is also the author of Language of New Media. In the evaluation committee were MMCA Chief Curator Gim Jun-gi, senior curator Lee Chu-young and curator Hong Leeji.
Hito Steyerl notes that “fascinated by the diversity of the Korean young creators projects and interested in various attempts to improve the public accessibility of new media while considering environmental, ethical issues that we are facing now.” Lev Manovich mentions that “the project is of a merit that it opens an opportunity to young creators to challenge non-commercial experimentations in coming technologies.”