The Transubstantiation, Shin il Kim
In society, there are rules and regulations enforced by the powers that be, designed to impose a so-called “order” in, or rather on, our lives. As these systems enforce their control on us, it would seem that our minds have adapted by becoming less chaotic, and that we sometimes even go as far as to rely on those very systems to make life easier, disregardful of the fact that they actually narrow our choices in terms of life styles and blind our reason. As member of society, we are predisposed to accept these systems seem natural for the sake of a harmonious and secure society. It so happens that we follow the rules by the book even though we have forgotten about their original purpose. I personally believe that our tendency to adopt such formulas is partly based on what I call “mob psychology”, which does not really exist in individual’s mind.
In my project The Transubstantiation,
as a subject matter, I try to depict human beings’ reckless tendency to seek out and follow a leader according to the principles of mob psychology.
Researching new possible forms in art, I try to produce half-three dimensional forms – I call them 2.5-dimensional – using one of video’s main aspects – time – as object matter. One of the methods I use to produce a 2.5-dimensional form is, for instance, to make a pressed-line “drawing-video” from the outline of rotating figures.
My other concern is to revise my understanding of art history, mainly shaped by Western art historians such as Clement Greenberg, and to transcend it using my background as an Asian artist. In the present work, I have therefore decided to use an iconic painting by a renowned “Western” painter – Raphael – to convey my concept. In substance, Raphael’s seminal painting The Transfiguration
is a dramatic depiction of worshippers and a leader: groups of people praise the spirit of Jesus Christ, whom I chose as a symbol of the leader for my project.
Inspired by The Transfiguration,
I hired 8 live models to restage 8 of the most theatrical poses seen in the painting. I then put each model on a rotating stage to make a 360-degree video shoot. Each full rotation took 12 seconds so that I got 360 video frames from each model in one complete turn (normally video takes 30 frames per second). I subsequently transposed every single video frame into pressed-line drawings on paper. I thus managed to represent the three-dimensional outlines of each model by means of a drawing, in what was an extension of traditional 3D figurative sculpture. Having obtained 360 pressed-line drawings for each model, with the total number of drawings amounting to 2,880 for the 8 models, I re-shot the single drawings and used them to create final video consisting of 30 drawings per second.
After I got 8 video clips from the drawings, I projected each of them on a rear projection screen. There were thus 8 rear projection screens installed in the shape of an octagon so as to create an enclosed video booth. The entire installation is hung from the ceiling so that people could enter the octagonal room by walking underneath the screens. The shape of octagon implies geometrically perfect power, strict, and stiff, so we see ‘stop sign’ in octagon on streets in US and in many other countries. In Asia, it is a symbol of infinity and power, as well.
Video is nothing but light, devoid of physical materiality. However, with this work I intended to enable the viewer to experience the three-dimensional quality of the rotating figures in an immersive environment, and to fully appreciate the potential physicality of the video artwork.
In addition, I use a sound from the Dalai Lama's collection of talks in English, ‘Live in a better way’ as a symbol of mental leader’s speech. However, I played the talks in backward so that no one can understand what he talks even I didn't change the contents but the structure of them. This sound creates ambiguous atmosphere in the exhibition room. With this sound, there are only outlines of the rotating figures, which are pressed on white paper, on the projection screens. The effect of this drawing-video has a strong aspect of ‘emptiness’.
These sound and drawing-video relate to our tendency towards a leader in society, in terms of worshipping the ‘invisible’ power of the one in the position of authority, which is also in itself a form of blindness.