Paranoid Paradise

Paranoid Paradise started from the case of Dr McRae which took place in West Midlands in 2013. One day he found Japanese knotweed plant near his property and suffered from a paranoid that this terrible invasive specie will destroy his plain-private family, which in the end, he decided to kill his wife and also committed suicide. This unpredictable and odd case created weird confusion in me, who came from same region as Japanese knotweed did. I am not sure about the reason of this confusion - whether it’s because of the grotesque feeling of not-easy-to-understand murder case or perhaps a pity to Dr McRae who was frightened of the invasion of the foreign plant. Or, it would

Kenneth McRae & Jane McRae

be sympathy to the immigrant plant which became monster leaving its hometown, actually was originally used as a medicine for a sedative for hundreds years.

 

The roots of this monster, which is named the ‘tiger walking stick’, will become red-coloured Japanese knotweed tea when dried. For this tragic couple, surrounded by tiger walking sticks, this red tea is my gift to their dreadful misunderstanding about the plant. For them whose shapes turned out under the tea, I hope that this cup of tea would be a comforting relief to their fear.

Paranoid Paradise, walking sticks on the wall and Japanese knotweed tea in the wooden plates, 2018

Paranoid Paradise, walking sticks on the wall and Japanese knotweed tea in the wooden plates, 2018

Paranoid Paradise, walking sticks on the wall and Japanese knotweed tea in the wooden plates, 2018

Paranoid Paradise, walking sticks on the wall and Japanese knotweed tea in the wooden plates, 2018

Paranoid Paradise, walking sticks on the wall and Japanese knotweed tea in the wooden plates, 2018

details

mine/field

I still remember the very first CD of my whole life - it was a hip-hop compilation album called ‘2000 Korea’. I probably had listened to that album until I learn all lyrics of every song since they sounded much freer and frank compared to the other Korean pop music songs that were always about love. They seemed cool enough even though they intentionally pronounced Korean as English, or used incredibly awkward sentences for rhyme but

considered that kind of language use as a poetic license. Or maybe I might have admired their attitude and soul of resisting to the prevailing system and the search for the liberation.

Funny to think now, that the Korean - no, mainly Korean-American - rappers in early 2000 debated about the ‘real hip-hop’ in Korea. Of course, I could understand that 2000’s was the transitional period that the culture was brought into the new land, but from my present position, the childhood-idolised music is now heard as somewhere in between the proper sampling and plagiarism, their descendants are adapting Drake and Big Sean’s flows to their own musical creation. Strangely, they talk about the life of Ghetto in Korea, writes such lyrics of threatening with a pistol, or even use the n-word. Money, women, luxurious cars become their swag in the excuse of ‘started from the bottom’. Meanwhile, those who mock and despise this Korean hip-hop, naming as ‘Kimchi hip-hop’, also do exist.

 

By the time when my current favourite rappers are younger than me and my past favourites became either a maestro or a fogey, the fierce debate also turned tedious. Instead of that, I got curious of how this orange seed called as ‘Korean hip-hop’ would sprout. About 20 years after when this seed grew up and finally fruited, people darted to get this orange-like or tangerine-like, an unidentified fruit, whilst I wonder about the environment where this seed has been growing and what kind of flavour it would have.

 

A massive catastrophe could have happened during the Korean war because of the mistranslation of ‘minefield’ to ‘field of mine’. An Italian journalist who wasn’t that fluent in German triggered the fall of the Berlin Wall, by his mistranslation and misreport.

How am I supposed to take this mistranslation, whether to be a catastrophe or rather, a new possibility? The Orange seed that they brought twenty years ago - will it bloom and bear another fruit?

Hold on, do the oranges actually grow in Korea?

mine/field, orange peels on the floor, installation dimension variable, 2017

mine/field, orange peels on the floor, installation dimension variable, 2017

details

mine/field, orange peels on the floor, installation dimension variable, 2017

mine/field, orange peels on the floor, installation dimension variable, 2017

details

mine/field, TIMELAPSE, single channel video, 4min 41sec, 2017

mine/field, TIMELAPSE, single channel video, 4min 41sec, 2017

Lullaby

It was when I was arranging my new studio space, so it was probably around March 2013.

I had beers with friends after moving into the studio, small talks as always, and my eyes slowly and naturally moved upon the television screen. The channel was making a fuss of North Korea’s gunports were opened against Yeonpyeong Island, the northwest seaside of Korea. It was nothing more than just a political scheming during the election season, and still, my eyes stayed on the screen plainly.

'We are living here listening to gunfire as a lullaby because no matter what, we have to live. That’s the only matter now.’

The interview of a resident on the island came out at the end of the news as usual and the interviewee, the fisherman, says that the sound of the gunfire is like a lullaby for them, implying both accustomed inertia and fear for the violent sound. I came back to the beer time with my friends, to the unmemorable conversations.

I went back home, got online, and the news of the gunport was recalled as seeing through the headlines. The most popular search keyword of the day was the 50% discount of a cosmetic brand. The late ambivalent sensation swirled in me soon. Me, watching the news as if I can penetrate through the hidden political logic, a discount of a cosmetic brand that is regarded more important than the own nation’s threat, and them who constantly are exposed to the life-threatening danger - I didn’t know how to react in the middle of the collision of those three, gets lost in the chaos. The release of the gunport of the day was someone’s seasonal political event, or someone’s fatal reason to risk their life of work for the living, or someone’s meaningless matter.

I decided to let Seoul hear their lullaby. The lullaby made out of blast could be your lullaby, your explosion, your minor noise, or your distant hearing that cannot even reach to you.

Lullaby, single channel video, 3min 9sec, 2014

Lullaby, C-print, 2014

Drawing for Lullaby, water colour on paper, 18x24(cm), 2014

​好 Ho Whore

Regardless of the words as ‘youth’, ‘culture’, or ‘liberty’ that describes Hongdae, that specific area of Seoul was nothing but just my ‘neighbourhood’.

There, I had colleagues who spent our twenties together, a will to have naive but pretty serious conversations of what art is, perhaps that must have been something to be called as ‘romance’. But for me, Hongdae

Hongdae landscape

was a romantic, decontaminated area full of those who had passions to ‘do’ something, no matter others said that the area was changing, becoming too hedonic. The first billiard hall, a bistro visiting after the morning soccer club, and the pub that used to be a regular spot for my vacation during military service all transformed into trendy cafes or clothing shops. Retrospective landscapes of my past have disappeared, only disparateness and unknowns were left behind in Hongdae.

I used to walk the long way around to get back home instead of shortcut since it was such a noisy and messy street. When the small, chilled streets were intervened by more visitors and wanderers, my landlord raised the rent fee, and I blamed them for my misplacement instead of the landlord. Perhaps it was a bit irritating to lose the homey area, witnessing that the place is changing into somewhere I had to ‘visit’, paying transportation fees.

 

好 Ho Whore might not be about the massive discourse of transition of the culture of the certain place, gentrification, or contemplation of time and history - it might be a personal complaint, anger or languish towards the unchangeable situation.

Halloween day in Hongdae is the ultimate example of my personal sentiment and the current scenery of Hongdae. That boisterous culture is still awkward, that new strangers are still unfamiliar for me.

As the newcomers’ romance brought the locals’ sleepless nights in those days,, perhaps I might have to accept their new romanticism. Hongdae will remain as someone’s playground nevertheless those called as ‘First generation of Hongdae’, the intimate landscapes, or the sound of guitar-playing are gone.

But if this transformation is ugly, then we need to consider about it carefully. There is a proverb in Korea; ‘It is a monk who has to leave if he doesn’t like his temple’. I can’t say this is not wrong - but telling the monk to leave and just observe the transformation might be just too cruel. The changing temple and the leaving monk are severed as the lattice of the safari car and I wander around Hongdae, just as the safari car on that day , recalling the time when we were sharing the same landscape.

好 Ho Whore, single channel video, 30min 41sec, 2014  

Exhibition view

好 Ho Whore, single channel video, 30min 41sec, 2014  

好 Ho Whore- the bridge, Oil on canvas, 193x130(cm), 2014  

好 Ho Whore- the bridge, pastel on paper, 100x72(cm), 2014  

好 Ho Whore, water colour on paper, 24x18(cm), 2014  

好 Ho Whore, water colour on paper, 24x18(cm), 2014  

好 Ho Whore, Oil on linen, 72x100(cm), 2014  

好 Ho Whore- safari car making film/ TIMELAPSE, single channel video, 40sec, 2014  

好 Ho Whore- safari car making film/ TIMELAPSE, single channel video, 40sec, 2014  

Byeongcheon Soontai​

Byeongcheon Soontai​

There are about 30 sundae (Korean black pudding) restaurants in a small town called Byeong-Cheon, where the total population is only around 6000. 

They all sell the same amount of food in the same price, claiming themselves are the real, authentic originals. 

The issue of ‘originality’ is quite common in Korean society. 

Byeongcheon Market in the 1960's

Each one of them have their own narrative of being ‘original’ and are proud of their stories. The flooded originality makes the real original as the non-original, whilst non-original becomes the real original. No longer the genuine meaning of being ‘original’ is important but, in fact, the various economic interrelationships involved with the word itself - that seems much more sensible. 

The interviews with owners of two commonly known as real originator among numerous restaurants in Byung-cheon, in the last part of the video, imply not only their legitimacy but also a cartel or symbiotic system behind the Byeong-cheon Sundae Union in this small town.

Who is an originator? Or what does originality mean?

I’m questioning the identity of originality via their meaningless debate about the originator. 

Byeongcheon Soontai, single channel video, 7min 12sec, 2012  

Byeongcheon Soontai, single channel video, 7min 12sec, 2012  

The Sundae Commandos, C-print, 2012  

Byeongcheon Soontai, C-print, 149x20.15(cm), 2012  

Byeongcheon Soontai, pastel on paper, 149x20.15(cm), 2012  

Byeongcheon Soontai, oil on canvas, 65x53(cm), 2012  

A murder case of Mr Park Myung-hee

A case report of <A murder case of Mr Park Myung-hee>

I saw a mid-aged woman standing at the corner near the City Hall on my way to Seoul Museum of Art on a cold winter day. She was holding a board to manifest the tragic fire incident happened in Yongsan,but people were just passing her by, hiding from the icy wind. The spotlight from the press and the public last year upon Yongsan tragedy soon shot to other issues. It was not sure whether if it was because the fury 

towards them or shame upon myself, but I could not see straight.

‘A Murder case of Park Mr. Myung-Hee’ is a faction that is made out of photographs of the crime scene and one single short report, highlighting one specific case.

We only focus on detecting the reason why Mr.Park died, whether if it is suicide or murder,  or who the criminal is through the report and the photographs, neglecting the fact that someone actually lost his life.

A murder case of Mr Park Myung-hee, C-print, 2009  

A case report of A murder case of Mr Park Myung-hee

Exhibition view