Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Let there be light

The Museum of Contemporary Art has two hot shows on at the moment, focusing on digital art

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

A still from Jose Carlos Casado's Pandora's Box.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MOCA

The Museum of Contemporary Art's Digital Sublime: New Masters of Universe opened up to great fanfare last weekend: dignitaries gave speeches, roaming waiters served sparkling beverages and cakes, and South Korean artist Jong Bum-choi gave a live performance of sound and light images projected on MOCA's facade. After two humongous white moon-shaped balloons were ceremoniously rolled away from the entrance, the exhibition officially opened and the huge art-going crowd poured in.

The Seoul Museum of Art curator Wonil Rhee who had previously organized Media City Seoul 2002 brought together 23 international digital artists for an exhibition consisting of computers, videos, paintings and photography that is a visual delight with a happy message. Lately we've been inundated with perversely morbid images from the political realm, so it's refreshing to see images that make us see the beauty in the world around us. In these dangerous times, a little bit of awe of creation goes a long way. However, even though the technology is complicated, the exhibition has a painterly focus and is not intensely conceptual allowing easier accessibility to the viewer.

Lee Kyung-ho's Digital Moon installation epitomizes the show's theme of linking the Zen-like contemplation of the moon's reflected light with the unearthly glow of computer screens. Three large circles of light are projected in a room incorporating the viewer into a kaleidoscope of shapes, while slow moody music makes this a room for quiet

contemplation.

The exhibition often refers to Christian themes to tell us that a resurrection of possibilities exists at the click of a mouse. Strikingly, even though many of the displayed works are interactive, they don't seem deeply engaging but rather flat technical displays of what technology can do. You move a mouse around on a pad and you get a squiggle on a screen as in Golan Levin's Aurora &

Yellowtail and Miltos Manetas' Jacksonpollock.org.

Perhaps it is the limitation of technology as the imagery is controlled by its program and not by the user.

Digital art with sound easily crosses over into the domain of the nightclub scene. Wang Fujui's (王福瑞) wall projection of white horizontal lines and dots move in sync to computer-generated music to reference the light sensations that we receive in an urban environment. Atsuhiro Ito also performed at the opening using the electromagnetic noises of the mic to create a staccato jack-hammering strobe effect with a florescent light.

More conceptually, Eva Stenram wittingly uses digital means to explore the semantic meanings in how we construct our world. The architectural surfaces of royal estates such as Windsor House and Balmoral House are superimposed on a block of low-income housing estates.

Some works hint at the dystopic aspects of technology. Joseph Nechvatal's Luna vOluptuary shows a computer virus slowly consuming and eating up a pain ting image. Jose Carlos Casado's riveting double-screen video installation Pandora's Box wryly shows a woman opening the infamous box online and unleashing wonderful cyber images. Will our new technologies unleash similar troubles?

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