Today Culture

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.

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.

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.

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


The BFA Graduation exhibition was held successfully during October.  the website is at

Here are few photos of projects I liked:

Difference by Sanghwa Hong

Mirror by Jaehyuk & Wansul

Flow by Heeyun & Soyoung

I’ve been busy starting soooo many experimental research projects at the Digital Media Public Art Research Center.  It involves lots of LEDs and different materials and some feedback of ideas.  I will post it in my project site ( once they are almost complete.   Meanwhile I wrote two research papers and waiting to get them published in some journals in Korea.  I’m not sure if they will *get* my paper.

<Recent Cultural Exploration in Seoul>

Exhibition 신호탄 at KIMUSA was pretty good.  I was really happy that I made it two days before they closed.  It’s a group exhition of Korean Contemporary artists who are well recognized.  It’s not as fresh as Seoul Platform last fall at the same location but, there were few interesting projects.

Ramen Village

from 신호탄, KIMUSA

뽕짝 - KIMUSA (Note MP's shields in pink)

[ FILM ]

<Broken Embrace>

I’ve heard that it’s playing somewhere and realized that there was a special screening of films of Almodova (English subtitled as a plus) at near by theater, Cine Cube.   On Sunday morning, in the midst of writing research paper for the deadline, I had to get out of my apt and walk to the theater and watch a early afternoon movie, ‘Broken Embrace’ It was really good. I left the theater with a strong yearning impression.  I liked it so much better than ‘Volver‘  It reminded me of ‘Talk to Her‘   Also, scenes that shows a part of ‘A Woman on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown’ really made me want to watch that movie again.  It’s been a while since I watched that movie.

[ BOOK ]

<1Q84 by Haruki Murakami>

With so many work schedule, I had to wait few months to read Murakami’s new novel, ‘1Q84′  As the semester ends, finally I could get my hands on the hard cover books (there are two of them)  I couldn’t stop reading it so I finished reading them in three days.  I thought about a yougn man who went to cats’ world and lost his way back and I thought about how it would be to look at two moons. Even, like one of my student’s project ‘Moon’, I thought about looking at the same moon with someone in distant land.  Will that be possible?  If even, how do I know?

Unfortunately, I heard that English version will be released in 2011.  You have to either wait until 2011 or learn how to read in Korean or Japanese. 🙂

b2project entrance
B2Project is a gallery / cafe house in the quiet alley of Dahak-ro (Haehwa-dong), Seoul; next to traditional old houses (한옥) that are few left in that area. It’s owned by my friends, sisters.  Its interior is full of different kind of lightings, large plant and the German vintage objects and furniture.  The gallery is located in the basement and I’m planning to fill that space with interactive media art projects eventually.

b2project  - a cozy artsy cafe with lots of vintage objects at Hehwadong, Seoul

b2project old TV

Anna & I often use this lovely quiet cafe (with free wifi) as our design office & the owner always greets us warmly and we chat about daily stuff.  I also admit that I got hooked to their cheese cake that has an ice cream filling.  mmmmmmm~

Anna and I secretly want to keep this space only to ourselves since it’s really a rare gem in Seoul…. but, I believe in sharing and open-community & I would like to see this space beoming artists’ communial space.  One weekend, I’ve invited media artists colleague from my research lab to introduce them to each other.  Somebody once called me “Nokia – connector” — If I’m profiled as in “Tipping Point” by Cromwell, I would belong to Connectors.

friends over at b2project

Outside of the back alley, from the broad street, Dahak-ro may seem like a very caotic place, just like Time Square in NYC.  This area is called ‘Theater District’ and you can imagine lines of people to watch all sort of plays, musicals and many bars and restaurants….drunk people.  However, if you don’t mind walking deeper into the back toward hill, you will find artsy bars, cafe and galleries.  There is also a Robot Museum.  🙂

From my childhood memory, Dahak-ro used to be a major place for college protesters.  Yes, I grew up in a neighborhood not so far from here.

(this kind of murals were on several walls in west village)

I went to another US tour this summer and now I’m back.  I guess it’s a time to post a new blog about it.

I’ve went to Seattle (my sister  & Microsoft Campus visit for Window 7 UX design) > Portland (my family) > New York (my home city and I pretend to live there still) > New Orleans (SIGGRAPH 2009  – we had a presentation at Research Challenge – we got 2nd place!) > New York (caught up with some more friends) > LA (my brother) > back to Seoul (3 nights ago)

As you could imagine, I’m pretty weary so I will be short and sweet and only will focus on NYC.

High Line

I had to check out High Line, a new city park in Chelsea area on the railroad (about three store high looking over Hudson River.)  It’s beautifully planned and built. (photo below) I especially appreciated wooden floor of the park & the benches.  It was great to recline in the bench and drink a cup of coffee looking at the New Jersey side over Hudson river.  Wait a min, when these new interesting looking buildings were built?  cityscape around chelsea has definitely changed.

From High Line, Chelsea, NYC

PS1 MoMA, Warm Up!

It’s been years since I went to Warm Up! at PS1 so I’ve decided to check out the exhibition and the crowd.

(bottom:  Art Installation, Pool)

pool installation at PS1 exhibition

The Tea Room, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

This spacious restaurant has a long list of teas but, also good mimosa, wine and trout dish.

the tea room, williamsburg, brooklyn

’24 Hour Party People’ Film Screen, McCarren Park, Williamsburg, New York

Perfect movie, perfect location and perfect crowd.

(If you love 80’s music, I highly recommend to watch it if you haven’t.)

'24 hr Party People' movie screening at McCarren Park, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

Mojitto at Rice, D.U.M.B.O., Brooklyn, NY

Rice is an awesome fusion rice restaurant with Thai and Cuban flavor & they never failed me.  Also delightly surprised with good Mojitto.  D.U.M.B.O. is a great place to stroll and has the best view of Manhattan.

mojito pitcher at Rice, DUMBO Brooklyn

My friend Andrew’s Art Studio, East Village, New York

It was great to catch up with this upcoming artist from New York.  He was in Netherland for artist residency so it’s been many years since I’ve seen his latest work.  His collection showed Dutch influence definitely!  I’ve decided to be a fan of his art.  Hopefully, he will have a show in Seoul one day.

visiting an artist studio in e. village

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