It’s been two years and five months since last entry…

Many things have happened in my life and I’ve been busy creating many projects of mine as well.  I will have a chance to write about it episode by episode later.

I’m in Cornell University, Dept of Information Science – Ithaca, NY now… I’m a visiting artist/scholar until the end of November.  It’s a short stay but, it’s good!
Ithaca in fall is stunningly beautiful – colors of leaves are in numerous shades of yellow, brown, orange, red etc… different shades of colors from what I am used to before in Korea and other places.  The campus of Cornell is famously beautiful and autumn colors add its beauty even more.  Looking down the valley toward lake, I wondered how it was before Europeans came to settle…  Native Indians and Buffaloes perhaps.

Since summer, I had traveled the US and S. Korea back and forth and went to Alaska, SF, and LA trip.  That was with four exhibitions before and after.  By the time, I was packing to come to the US, I was restless and I need to really have my sabbatical.   So here I am in quiet Ithaca – where everyone seems to be interested in studies and researches…  The town is small but, campus is big.  I might be a loner but, I hope to look back myself and where I am here…

I need to start this entry with the note that there have been many beautiful, meaningful video mirror interaction in some media art projects.

However, I remember one of curators I met said this to me, ‘I am tired of Video Mirror + Human Body Mouse Media Art Please…”   well, yes… I am, too!

I am tired of technology presented as if it is an art… (some case, it could be if it is well integrated with context of art piece) but, at the same time, as an artist exploring technology, I can’t help getting excited about new technologies.
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This was last blog I was writing…  like more than 2 years ago.  :-)
I’ve been busy creating new art projects and I’ve been busy living my life in Seoul…  It’s been all good.   Life is good whether it throws me a challenge or a gift!

I will continue my blogging now.

I have had quite eventful two weeks.  After TEDxHONGIK after party on Friday, I really had to stay in this weekend to recoup my energy & here is why.

Seoul Digital Forum 2010

On thursday from two weeks ago, I was invited to go to Seoul Digital Forum at Sheraton Hotel.  With title, ‘New Renaissance’ they had many many interesting panel talk about 3D, gestural interface, bio-plastic and creativity with 50 influential professionals inviteed from all over the world.  This event was aired on SBS with its highlights (& I was on TV this year again as an audience ;-)  ) It was a full day of inspiration.  I was glad that I made it there.

Rock, Paper & Scissors, Public Art under the bridge

rachel
jamie on the swing skirt by Soomi Park
graffiti artwork

A week before that, I met some global artists when I visited Namjun Peik’s Art Center to see a performance one Sunday.  They are friends with local Korean artists who mostly studied abroad and returned as contemporary artists.  I was a newbie to them as I introduced myself but, they were friendly with warm welcoming gesture.  Then, I was invited to a very interesting art event by them.  It was called ‘rock scissors paper + B.Y.O.G.B. Vol 5/ 가위 바위 보‘ organized by Kalmont Family.  I stopped by the flea market at the play ground near Hongik University area to say ‘hi’ to them after visiting lab.  After meeting them again, I definitely wanted to go to this event.  It was held under Seogang Bridge which is one of many bridges in Han River.

graffiti artwork

I left my house around 10:30 pm and took a subway to this Seogang Bridge stop knowing it’s the one way subway ride as the seoul metro closes after midnight. (I would never even had thought about going there late at night alone before.) There were drawings of rock, scissors and paper indicating the path lead to the place kindly.  Under the bridge, there were international (mostly foreign) crowd of about 50 people (later 100?.)  They were drinking beer, makguli, wine – talking in small groups here and there – typical party scene in the us.  There I met some more interesting people.  Most of all, the art, the true public art – street art were great!  I admire their efforts of putting their arts during night to have this open, under the bridge exhibition.  We did get a lovely visits by local police officers but, they weren’t doing anything to stop us – as we were peacefully having fun in public space & most of all, the majority were foreigners so they only spoke with a Korean represent.  Later on, in the tunnel, they had beautiful performance.  This artistic event has come out perfect in great spirit, spontaneously. I walked out around 2 am & got home for the next day’s salon event as I was asked to make cocktails for a salon at gallery/cafe, ‘B2Project.’  I bet the rest of them stayed until late and had more fun after they got out of the place.

Salon Day at b2project & Cocktails

at B2Project with a friend who I just met

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of my Mojito nor my signature cocktail made with fresh watermelon.  I was really busy making pitchers of cocktails – we ran out of lime quickly.  I was surprised that lime is something you cannot get easily here in Korea.  It’s quite expensive as well!   In any case, I can assure you that my cocktails came out delicious!

As I had a busy night under the Seogang bridge a night ago, I slept until 11am and slowly got ready to go to B2Project.  The weather was beautiful and sunny so I’ve decided to bike there.  It was a long bike ride.  I had no idea as it was my first time.  It almost took one hour to get there and I was sweating by the time I arrived. (oops!)

J (a friend and one of the owners of the place) was having a salon for her friend, painter from Germany and her paintings were beautiful.  Very eastern painting feel to them, in black and white oil paints – mostly landscape.  I liked them…  hew, what a weekend!

And Teacher’s Day

Following week, it was teacher’s day.  I was visited by several ex-students of mine.  They are doing great and it was sooooo sweet of them to visit me and think of me.  I had some good chance to catch up with them and I’ve ended up drinking with one of them.  Sorry that I’m too tired now so that I will have to skip about this story.  One thing is that having insightful conversation with a former student made me think that teachers like me can learn from her/his own students sometimes.  It was very pleasant week beside the fact that I was coughing non-stop with lack of sleep.  I’m feeling better now… :-)

I’m waiting for June now.  I know June will unfold with even more interesting events and meetings.

apt with forest view

Okin Apt, to be demolished

One late Sunday afternoon (march 7, 2010) – with Anna‘s invitation, I went to see Okin Apt Project in my neighborhood.  Coincidently, my cousin who just finished his master’s in urban planning and management from Hawaii was visiting Seoul so I invited him to join (& we can catch up at the same time)  He obviously had no idea where he was getting to but, happily took a small neighbor-bus to go to Okin-dong.  Okin Apt was built in 1971 and located right under Inwang Mountain therefore, it had great views of Seoul and mountain area in every direction.  The rich real estate developers won’t miss this hot spot… to demolish this old and low-income residents and build new luxury condo buildings.

apt with blue wallit looks like it's staged - Okin apt project

The Okin-apt Project was an interesting art platform as it invites visitors to experience the reality of situation with lesser interfere of artists.  It has documentary, stage-like and surreal quality to it.  It is a form of analog experiential media, following current trend of specific space and site being artistic expression.  What I paid attention was details of space that are being demolished.  How often do we get to visit all the houses in the same buildings? especially where they are all stripped out inside to be demolished?  Each space contained different stories.  With their funny looking wall papers, wall paints and found objects- tags like airline baggage tags, personal photos.  Some space was as if it was a stage set  for a play.  My experience of wandering these gutted apartments for few hours were filled with dusty smell, nerve-wracking sound of stepping on broken glasses and balancing on half broken stairs; contrasting beautifully open view of Inwang mountains and Seoul downtown.
apt buildings to be demolishedinwang mountain

Okin apt buildings were built in 70’s style – low budget, boxy  in concrete and cheap paint finish.  These project buildings were known to be lowering the city’s esthetic quality but, they were not too old to be demolished.  They could kept the old historical quality and renovate them… in my pure artistic observation. It seems like many 20-100 years old buildings are being demolished under the name of redevelopment too easily in this city and it’s becoming very rare to find the real history of the city.  In a long run, historical value could raise capital rather than modern high rise buildings.  With high rise buildings, they will have to build bigger roads for the residents’ cars and it will result more demolition of small mom & pop’s stores and traditional markets.

Sadly, demolishing these low income families’ residents are effecting people who were living in low rental plans, poor residents  – It would be very difficult for them to find places to live anywhere else in Seoul with the same rent they were spending.  They will have to migrate to cheaper neighborhood.  The owners of these redeveloping apartments would make more revenue if they have extra money to reinvest in new development and if not, they will be compensated for whatever their demolishing apartments are being valued.  I don’t want to open a can of worms with my limited knowledge on redevelopment plans in Seoul but, I’m just writing my personal limited observation here.

talking in a mobile phone away from table

Andrew at cafe, DUMBO 2010

The day after the first snow storm, I went to Brooklyn, DUMBO to visit my storage space located in Vinegar Hill neighborhood.   Andrew kindly came along with me.  Since we were in DUMBO, we decided to visit the studio “Nine Stories” in Navy Yard where another Andrew makes his beautifully crafted furniture from found objects in the street.

우선 오랫만에 덤보(DUMBO)에 가게 된 난 라이스라는 이름의 식당에 들려 치킨콘수프와 월남국수 포를 먹었다.  이 음식점은 5가지 종류의 쌀로 된 동남아와 남미풍의 요리를 전문으로 하는 곳인데, 인테리어도 좋지만 음식이 맛깔스럽다.  지난 여름에는 모히또라는 칵테일을 시켜 마셔보았는데 괜찮았었다.  어쨋든 한번도 나를 실망시키지않았다.  점심식사 후 네이비야드에 있는 우리의 친구 앤드류에게 우리의 방문을 알리기 위해 전화를 걸면서 카페를 찾았다.  넓은 로프트 스타일의 카페에서 카푸치노를 마시다 이스트빌리지의 가난한 인텔리예술가인 내 친구는 이 횡량하던 동네가 부촌으로 변한 점에 대해 상당히 인상을 찌뿌렸다. 그도 그럴것이, 난 아직도 90년대 초의 이 동네를 기억한다.  기숙사에서 짐을 옮기기위해 같은 창고에 지하철을 타고 왔었는데 꽤 무서웠던 기억이 남아있다.  아직도 비네가힐 근처는 사람들도 지나다니지 않고 좀 느낌이 좋지않아 혼자 걸아다닐 때 주의를 요한다.  순간 앤드류에게 전화를 걸러 일아나기 전에 (사람을 앞에 앉혀 놓고 전화하는 것이 예의가 아니라고 이 친구는 말했다) 그는 이렇게 말했다. “ 주의를 둘러보았니?  이 카페의 손님들 중 너 빼놓고는 모두 백인인데?” 한번 더 찡그렸다.   난 그저 뉴욕에서 이런 곳도 있었나?  하고 의아해 하면서 이런 곳에 오게 한것을 미안해 했다.

창고에 들려서 내가 열쇠를 한국에서 잘 못 가져왔다는 사실을 반즈음 깨달은 후, 깊은 한숨을 지으며 네이비야드를 향했다.  네이비야드는 덤보 북쪽에 위치해 있는 담장으로 둘러쌓여 있는 옛날에는 해군에서 배를 만들던 곳이었다.  백년이 훨씬 넘은 이곳은 올드와 뉴가 함께 공존하는 곳이다. 무엇보다 놀란것은 눈이 반즈음 녹은 길을 걸어가다 발견한 아드미럴즈 로우(Admiral’s Row)!  뉴욕에 아직도 이런 곳이 있던가 하는 놀라움이었다.  그 길은 약 10분정도를 걸어야 하는 네이비야드 입구로 가는 길이었는 데 왼쪽에 쭈욱 나열되어 있는 빅토리아시대정도의 백년은 족히 넘는 폐가가 된 타운하우스들이 즐비하였다.  나무와 담장덩굴이 웅성하게 폐허가 된 집들을 덮었으며 유리창과 벽면, 문짝들은 깨지고 허물어지었다.  간 혹 아름다운 샹들리에가 리빙룸천정에 아슬하게 걸려있는 모습도 무너진 벽사이로 보였다.  이 타운하우스는 백년전에 함장들이 살던 집이라고 한다.  이렇게 무너지고 폐허가 된 옛 건물들은 decay가 되는 그대로 보존을 시킨다는 사실이 놀라울 뿐이다. 새로 고치기에는 아마도 너무 위험하고 또 역사가 왜곡될 것 같고, 철거를 하기에는 역사적인 지역이라 주민들의 반발이 만만치않았으리라.  어쨋든 난 정말 탄성을 지으면 이런 깜짝스럽게 발견한 아름다운 모슴에 감탄을 해대었다.  물론 내친구도 마찬가지였다.

navy yard, brooklyn

Navy Yard, Brooklyn

네이비야드 입구로 들어가니, 동네가 동네인 만큼 경비가 꽤 엄했지만 그래도 친절하였다.  빌딩5번을 찾아가라고 가르쳐주었는데… 세상에 이렇게 넓은 곳에서 빌딩5를 추운 겨울날 찾기는 조금 헷갈렸다.  빌딩5로 가는 길에 옆에 꽤 큰 폐허가 된 공장이 있었는 데 근처에서 녹슨 내가 날 정도로 녹슬고, 허물고, 시각적으로도 아주 위험해 보였다.  하지만 그 아름다움은 처절했다고나 할까.  녹슨 부분의 색감은 푸른하는색과 어우러져 아름답게 살아있었다.  나중에 가구디자이너 앤드류에게 듣기로는 그 공장을 시에서 허물고 싶지만 허물면 유해한 독소가 너무 많이 배출될 것을 우려해 이러지도 저러지도 못한 체 그대로 둔다고 한다.

andrew's Tools:  *Note how well organized

tools

andrew's shop - window

scene framed with windows

앤드류의 스튜디오는 생각보다 정리가 잘 되어있었고 또 컸다.  이 앤드류는 ( 지금 이 이야기에는 2명의 앤드류가 있다) 약 2002-3년도에 이스트빌리지의 9번가의 ‘루이스’라는 바의 주인겸, 바텐더겸, 인테리어디자이너였으며 나는 그곳에서 나의 이스트빌리지 동네친구들을 자주 만나며 와인을 마셨던 기억이 난다.  (다른 앤드류도 그 동네친구들중의 하나이다.  한명 부르면 약 5명이 순차적으로 우르르 나오는…) 그 루이스라는 바앞에는 커다란 버드나무가 두그루 있는데, 루이스의 문앞 작은 타일이 깔린 계단에 앉아 와인을 홀짝이며 그 버드나무를 참 많이 쳐다보았었다.  아~  참 좋을 때 였는데…  앤드류는 2004년도에 루이스를 팔고 가난한 가구디자이너가 되었고, 우리는 그곳에 발길을 끊었다.  난 꽤 오랫만에 그를 만나서 나를 기억하지 못할 줄 알았는데 의외로 반갑게 맞아주었다.  당연히 기억하고 있다며.

serious tools at their studios

Andrew at Navy Yard, building 5, DUMBO, NY

다시 네이버야드로 가자면, 앤드류는 그의 친구 제임스(조명디자이너)의 커다란 스튜디오를 구경시켜주었다….  음… 천만원, 억대의 주옥같은 중장비들… 레이저 커팅 기계, 쇠접공기등등.  그리고 한껏 들어오는 자연광.  작가들을 위한 아뜰리에로써는 흠잡을 데가 없었다.  앤드류의 가구디자인 스튜디오는 한달에 약 45만원정도를 낸다고 하니, 시에서 보조를 받아서 그런지 꽤 저렴한 것 같았다.  두명의 앤드류와 가구작품구경도 하고, 뉴요커에게서는 빠질 수 없는 정치얘기를 좀 하다 모두 함께 맨하탄으로 가기위해 네이비야드를 나섰다.  맨하탄 다운타운 노호의 그레이트존스 다이너(Great Jones Diner 캐지안음식으로 유명한 바음식점이다)에서 세더치즈와 베이컨이 들어간 미국식 햄버거와 맥주로 눈 내린 다음날의 작은피크닉을 마감했다.

from the train (dirty) window

Somehow, I’ve managed to make one week trip to the east coast of the US during my visit to Portland and Seattle. (Thanks to airline mileage)

From the day I arrived, NY got the first biggest snow storm of the winter. It did snow for a day and half and another snow storm followed in 4 days later.  It was beautiful to watch when I was inside of course… I had only several days in NY so I had to keep myself active but, enjoying my break at the same time.

위의 사진은 내가 로드아일랜드 프로비던스로 가는 기차안에서 내 핸드폰으로 창밖을 찍은 것이다.  사진이란 매체는 정말 나의 눈을 통해 장면을 보여줄 수 있는 매체로써 저해상도의 사진이라도 꽤 흥미로운 것 같다.  가끔 이렇게 멜랑꼴리한 사진들이 찍힐 때는 그 순간의 정서가 여김없이 깃들어 있는 듯 하니 말이다.  오랜 친구를 만나러 가는 길이었다.  그 친구와는 지난 7년간 정말 많고 많은 좋고 나쁜 사건들이 있었기에 오랫동안 잊고 지냈던 추억들을 기차속에서 돌이켜보니 나도 모르게 미소가 흘러나왔다.

부르클린 창고에 물건을 찾으러 가기위해 겨우겨우 꼬셔서 차를 운전해 나오자 마자 5분만에 맨하탄 대로에서 처음으로 타이어가 완전 찢어져 펑크가 난것도, 또 바퀴가 안 빠져서 오가는 짐꾼들과 자전거를 타고 지나가던 사람들에게 도움을 받아서 겨우겨우 비상타이어로 바꾸었던 것도…(WD40의 위력을 다시 한번 알게 된 계기이었다)  한 여름이라 땀에 젖어 다시 집으로 가서 씻고 옷갈아 입고  만나 다시 창고로 가게 되어서 아침부터 준비했던 것이 무상할 정도로 해가 어둑어둑할 때즈음에 겨우 창고에서 물건들을 빼올 수가 있었던 에피소드도 있었다… 저녁약속을 하면 어김없이 20분은 항상 늦었는 데 지금은 내가 늦어서 서로 기다리지 않게 된것 같다. (아니면 지금은 오랫만에 보게되어서 나를 배려하는지도…) 와인과 노트북컴퓨터와 책이 항상 같이 하는 친구이다.  머리가 남들보다 너무 좋다보니깐, 남들과 코드가 안맞아서 본의아니게 무례한 말들을 거침없이 하게 되어 다른 사람들을 화나게 하고 많은 오해를 불러일으키는 이라고 할 수 있다.  물론 나는 그런 무례한 말을 들을 때마다 어이가 없어하면서 크게 앞에서 웃어준다.  본의를 알기 때문이다. 그리고 제발 다른데서 그런 말 하지 말라고 당부를 한다.  이번에 만나니, 나보고 자기를 박사라고 불러달라고 한다.  드디어 학위를 취득했나 보다!  축하 축하

언제였나… 약 6년전이었나보다.  그래도 꽤 자주 보는 친구사이였는데, 항상 찟어진 (필시 본인이 찟은) 면셔츠에 모든 브랜드태그를 제거한 옷을 입고 작은 월세아파트에서 살고있던 이친구가 친한 지인들 몇명을 자신의 생일파티에 초대를 하였다.  꽤 먼 뉴욕업스테이트에 위치한 본인의 별장이라고 했다.  우선 나는 기차편을 알아보면서 다른 친구들이랑 기차역에서 만나 가기로 했다.  약 7명정도의 친구들이 초대가 되었었는데 모두 처음 놀러가는 길이라고 한다.  난 1박2일 행사라 걱정이 되어서 묵을 곳은 어디에 구해야하냐고 심각하게 물었다.  크게 웃더니 그 동네에 베드앤브렉퍼스트는 많으니 구하려면 구하던지 하면서 의미심장하게 웃었다.  차로 우리들을 역에서 픽업하여 별장으로 가면서 나만은 다른데서 묵어야 하지 않겠냐고 계속 놀려되었다.  그 이유는 나중에 알게 되었는데 사실 우리가 가는 별장은 200 에이커나 되는 대규모의 시설이었다.  호수가 3군데있고 (배도 떠있다) 수영장, 사우나, 당구장등은 물론 골프차와 스노우모빌등도 배치되어 있는 집만 4, 5개가 지어져있는 곳이었다.  우리 친구들은 서로의 얼굴을 보며 넌 알고 있었니 라는 듯한 표정을 지었다. 결국에 나는 한쪽면이 유리로 된 숲속이 보이는 방에서 하룻밤을 자게 되었는데 한밤에 캠프화이어를 하면서 숲속에서 와인을 마시며 진실된 geek답게 무선전기의 속성에 대한 대화를 나누며 즐거운 시간을 보내었다.  지금 생각해보니 즐거웠던 한여름의 밤이었던것 같다.

이 친구와는 너무 많고 많은, 그냥 지나치기에는 일상적이지 않은 사고와 사건들이 있어서 무엇부터 이야기를 해나가야 할 지도 잘 모르겠다.  방문을 하게되면서 우선 몇개가 생각이 나서 젂었는데 언젠가 글을 쓰게 된다면, 아마도 좋은 등장인물이 되지 않을까.

Yeap, you’ve read the title.  I’m serious.

Ah…. Winter Olympics, it makes me happy during working winter break.  We art researchers cannot rest during winter vacation but, I had a luxury of visiting my home (US) for few weeks before the semester begins.

There are couple of winter sports during Olympics that I get excited for; Snow board Half Pipe, Ski Jump, Figure Skating…. the most of all, Curling!

Are you surprised how could I watch this silly looking game or do you trust me that I’m one of the trend setters and there might be good reasons why I watch curling games?  I’ve always loved watching Curling games from the first moment I’ve seen it.  Yes, it seems silly if you just look at it.  Players are sweeping ice with broom-like-sticks.  It’s like me watching American Football without understanding any game rules, it’s basically big guys running around in strange looking uniforms – as an example.

They often call Curling as ‘Chess on Ice’ – it’s because it takes precision and strategy.  I want to call it ‘Pool + Chess on Ice’  During each end, each team has 9 chances of sliding the curling bowls.  It is crucial how you place your defense to block the other team’s path to the house and how you can keep other bowls out of the house by hit them out while keeping your bowls in protecting againt other bowls.  The lane is actually a lot wider and longer than it seems on TV.  It’s also fun to listening to hear yellings of players in different languages during Olympics match!

For some readers who has no clue about this game, here is the link for the wikepedia.  Curling was invented in late medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, in February 1541.  more info here >>>>

Also, Youtube video below.

Anyway, any geeks out there like me would love watching Curling if you understand the rules.  I was lucky enough to be staying at my sister’s place in Seattle last week and we’ve watched Curling games (both women’s and men’s) one after another – thanks to MNBC broadcasting.  (I have to confess that I also watched the Curling match on my Delta flight from JFK to SEA.)  My niece and nephew seem to enjoy watching the Curling games.   If I were in Korea, I wouldn’t be able to watch the Curling games since most of them never watched the games.  I really had few good days of just watching how they play their strategy out with precision.  I also liked some uniforms – especially, Denmark’s women’s Curling team had very cute outfit (short black skirt with black tights)

Also, there is an interesting article about Curling in New York Times >>> Perhaps more than geeks enjoy watching Curling….
On Wall Street, a Romance With the Curling Stone

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