Melissa Nunes_“Keeping it Real. Korean Artists” exhibition

I attended the “Keeping it Real. Korean Artists in the Age of Multi-Media Representation Exhibition”
at CUAM Boulder.  This exhibit consisted of different displays of artworks done by several Korean artists such as Kiwoun Shin, Jaye Rhee, Yeondoo Jung, Sun K. Kwak, Hyungkoo Lee, Shin-il Kim, Yong-ho Ji, and Kyung Woo Han.  These emerging Korean artists are working in Seoul, New York, and Europe (CU Art Museum).  The work is portrayed and created in a way that makes the audience have a deeper understanding of Asian art.  The way that this exhibition is set up shows the many diverse angles that Asian artists take when creating an art piece.  The different works are different and diverse but they all seem to fit together in this exhibition. 

The same artist, Kiwoun Shin, did my two favorite pieces in the exhibition.  Shin lives and works in London and both pieces that were displayed were videos. 

The first piece that I wanted to talk about, and was my favorites work in this exhibition, was Kiwoun Shin’s “Crash Reality Test”.  “Crash Reality Test” is a video that was based on the artist’s personal experience of the loss of friends in car accidents.  The video is made up of several different people all of whom start out sitting at a table with a drink in front of them.  Then an object is thrown at them and their drink then their reactions are recorded. 

What makes this piece unique however is that the video is broken down into very slow motion so the audience gets the whole effect of the “crash”.  I thought this was a very interesting way to show real reactions.  If the video was sped up or at normal time the viewer would be able to see the beginning facial expression then the last expression.  Having this slow motion breakdown, you do not only get to see the reaction of the person, but also the changes of the face including all the aspects of the face: the mouth, eyes, eyebrows, wrinkles, etc. 

What I found interesting was for most of the people filmed, their reactions did not completely form until after the glass had spilled and the object was finished moving.  It showed just how slow humans reflexes were.  As I watched this I began to think of times when I had seen or been apart of a crash like this: a spilled glass, someone dropping something, something thrown and hitting you, etc.  I thought of the surprise that it caused and then I began to think about the reactions that I had witnessed or had myself.  I then realized that most of the reactions happen after the event has occurred.  That surprise and process of the neural transmitters to the brain, take longer than I initially thought they did. 

The “Crash Reality Test” was a true and real shot of how slow our reaction times are.  The person would sit almost completely still while the object was being thrown, hitting their drink and causing the liquid to fly everywhere.  Then there face would slowly change into either surprise, angry, or sometimes-even confusion.  That expression is usually the only thing that we see when we witness an event like that, not even thinking the reaction was after the event and not during.

Another thing that I found interesting about this piece of work was the two different ways to view it: one video in 3D and the other video in 2D.  The 3D video gave the audience more of a real view of the event and reaction.  It made the viewer feel as though they were in the video experiencing the thrown object and spilled glass.  The 3D video, I thought, was more effective because it was more of a “reality” like the title said.  It was not only the slow motion reality of the true reaction, but it also gave the reality of being there while this crash was going on. 

I liked how the artist made both the 3D and the 2D videos.  Showing the way it looked in two dimension made you really appreciate and take in the reasons why he chose the three dimensional video.  With the 2D you did get the slow motion reaction and event but it was more like you were watching someone else’s crash versus experiencing your own.  Having both gave the audience two sides of the crash that Shin was trying to convey.  Even though I knew I was not really having something thrown at me, the 3D video felt like there was.  It almost felt like I was the person with the glass trying not to be spilled on by my drink.  Where as the 2D felt like I was watching someone, like I was, having an object thrown at them and their reaction. 

The two videos made for a great piece of work giving the viewer a show causing them to think about things in a different way and taking something we do not really think about on a daily bases and trying to analyze it and have it make sense in our minds.

Another work that I found fascinating was another work by Kiwoun Shin, “Approach the Truth”.  This piece was another video using high definition digital display, showing a consumer product being sanded down into dust by a sanding machine.  The artist was inspired by Genesis 3:19, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust” and from the Buddhist scripture the quote “We come from dust and go to dust”.  What was interesting about this piece of work was not just the sanding down of the product, but that it was backwards.  The video started out with a pile of dust and the sanding machine worked its way back up taking this dust and creating it back into the product that it was before. 

I found this piece to be full of meaning and depth that was just waiting to be uncovered.  The two scripture quotes talk about the life and death of humans.  Saying that we come into this world the same way as we leave it. 

That concept is the same with our technology and products that we cherish now so much in our world.  We create these things out of nothing or dust and eventually that’s what they become to us.  Our world is moving so fast with technology that what was important, expensive, “the next new thing” so to say, one day, is unimportant, cheap and old the next. 

The last piece of work that really caught my eye was a piece done by Yeondoo Jung.  He created a series of photographic memorabilia with a group of graduate students in the art and art history department here at the University of Colorado @Boulder.  The photographs were of different people camping.  They all seem to represent the same thing but at the same time all of them were different.   I really enjoyed this work because I felt like it represented our school very well.  I love our university because we are so connected to the outdoors.  So many people hike, bike, walk, run, and of course camp.  I believe that this connects us to the art of nature exactly how Yeondoo Jung connected art to nature.  Jung is a mountaineering buff that has hiked and climbed all over the world.  His work that he created here in this exhibit is more than just memory shots of a camping trip.  He uses light, angles, background and different individuals to create this magnificent piece of several photographs that work so well together.

Overall this exhibition was extraordinary, especially for being one that you can see on campus.  It all came together as a great exhibit of the Korean Culture and all of its diversity.  It takes away stereotypes and under appreciation of Asian artists and gives the audience something beautiful.

Work Cited


“Keeping It Real: Symposium on Korean Artists in the Age of Multi-Media Representation.” CU Art Museum. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <;.

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