This special inaugural exhibition Post Nature: Dear Nature commences from Ulsan, which is the symbolic city of Korean industrialization. After the transition from an agrarian society to an industrial society, Ulsan has extensively exploited the ecosystem to maintain the economic development of the world as well as Korea. Furthermore, ‘Capital’ and ‘Order’ promise us to make our future more efficient by devouring the notion of ecology. However, this aspiration of the brilliant future brought pandemic and global crises that shattered our everyday life. The ‘Post’ which is translated as ‘After’ in the exhibition’s title has various meanings such as ‘behind’ and ‘the following’. ‘Post Nature’ imagines the world we will advent through expanding humans and ecosystems to the future. Post Nature: Dear Nature does not simply present the ecosystem which humans can change, but reminds the complicated sense of intertwined history and cultural policy. The exhibition will not only raise the awareness of nature in danger, but reset our ecological sensitivity beyond the previous dichotomous perspective of human and non-human and provide a multilayered opportunity to think about “what is living in solidarity.”
Camille Henrotb. 1978, Paris. Lives and works in Paris and New York
Camille Henrot’s representative work Grosse Fatigue explains the origins of the universe using the familiar forms of the computer and Internet browsers, and it asks how the history written from ‘the perspective of power’ has been composed. The artist was able to photograph the collections of the Smithsonian art archives, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Air and Space Museum during her Smithsonian Institution artist research fellowship period. The artist was able to glimpse humanity’s infinite and paranoid desires in the objects filling the museums through forms of violence such as massacres, exinctions and environmental loss. The anthropological objects and series of images of cultural historical perspectives intersect over sensuous beat sounds and are realized in web browser screens. The museum system, which appears capable of all kinds of urges for the sake of creating history, and the human being’s inclination to collect are now connected to the digital world and amplify immense fatigue caused by an overwhelming flow of data.
Alexandra Piricib. 1982, Bucharest. Lives and works in Bucharest
Terraform is a performative environment completed by six performers and the audience. Inspired by the ‘Eastern-style’ interior designs that were popular in 1990s Romania, the artist imagines a small ecology using a satin comforter with shapes cut out. The artist tells us a story that sounds more fictional than any other story by creating imaginary organisms and their gestures with a futuristic narrative of mutation in which humans live intermixed with other species. Our bodies assume various historical and cultural references through animal or plant habits and gestures in the world the artist created in the gallery. In the work, the world does not refer to the ecology as defined by ‘humans,’ but it refers to a communal world in which people ceaselessly change and collectively transform the foundations in solidarity with the ecology. One senses direction between the lives we actually experience and the ideal world the work pictures, and fluid and assertive exchanges, i.e., switching places and mutual inflitration, become the new world order.
Zheng Bob. 1974, Beijing. Lives and works in Lantau Island
Zheng Bo is an artist who works so that various species can sympathize. He explores the past and imagines the future from the perspective of excluded communities and fragile plants. The artist invites viewers to witness exchanges between visibility and invisibility, such as weed gardens, living slogans, and eco queer film. The work closely connects the narratives of plant species in Taiwan as historical and political issues. Tawian’s ferns began growing as Japanese troops returning home after World War II used them for alternative food. It suggests that anthropocentric views of nature and the world are situated as such on the flip side of certain plant species being widely distributed and foreign plants being naturalized. Along with this, the artist transcends human exceptionalism to set up a community of people and plants and depict physcial intimacy. Reflecting the idea that the body is a fluid organism continously changed by its environment, he destablizes the boundaries of identity and gender and freshly reinterprets the relationship between the ecology and human gender. The exhibited drawing and film series poses a question about the complicated relationship between terrains and territories and what unilateral and double-standard efforts conquests of nations, land, and nature historically were.
Hito Steyerb. 1978, Paris. Lives and works in Paris and New York
Hito Steyerl’s representative recent work, This is the Future is a large media installation piece including nine projection screens. It was introduced for the first time at the 2019 Venice Biennale, and it is being exhibited in South Korea for the first time at the inaugural Ulsan Museum of Art exhibition in 2022. Appearing in the main video are an omniscient perspective narration and the voice of a woman named Heja, who is jailed in Turkey and tries to grow medicinal plants without the correctional officer’s knowledge.
In the multi-channel video “Power Plant,” which is part of the work, A.I. automatically generates and presents a virtual plant image that will flower in the future based on big data. The digital plants on these screens have Latin names meaning “social media addiction therapy,” “healing of the syndrome of being silent about hate speech,” and “dictator poisoning” and grow along construction scaffolding.
A clue about why this work is titled This is the Future can be found in the video’s narration. We enjoy all kinds of big-data-based content-providing apps such as Youtube in real time, we view videos as the algorithm guides us, and the algorithm even predicts what we will want in about the next second. Also, those predictions are considered to enrich our lives. Hito Steyerl focuses on how networks are always predicting want we want in advance and takes aim at the digital capitalist economic system running big-data-based prediction algorithms.
Ruangsak Anuwatwimonb. 1975, Bangkok. Lives and works in Bangkok
Exploring parts of the ecology that are endangered or already extinct in collaboration with experts is the depature point of Ruangsak Anuwatwimon’s art. Reincarnations is an interdisciplinary art project dealing with the hopea sangal and the sindora wallichii, endangered trees native to Singapore. The artist discovered noteworthy historical facts about these two species of trees through field research, and he studies the histories of a hopea sangal that was felled in 2002 and a sindora wallichii that was felled during WWII. In the glass cases under the tree sculptures the artist made by firing clay are documentary resources he collected on the ground that artistically reinterpret extinct trees. The artist critiques the ecological narratives created by mainstream nations by studying a wide range of plants and animals while emphasizing, through many artworks, the irony that intensifies as natural environments are subsumed by capital.
This tree, also known as the Changi tree, was thought to be extinct before a single hopea sangal estimated to be at least 150 years old was dramatically found by an expedition team that was surveying the Changi area in October 2002. However, the tree was felled for the reasons that it was infested with termintes and was leaning toward a residence and thus threatened public saftey.
Sebastian Diaz Moralesb. 1975, Comodoro Rivadavia. Lives and works in Amsterdam
Talk with Dust displays the dry landscape of Patagonia in Argentina through screens of various sizes. We can see a slowly burning candle, spontaneous drum beats, an explosion scene, and a car moving endlessly in the desert, etc. in the six video channels. These scenes the artist shows us are received in changed forms while collaborating with our memories and experiences. One actually cannot determine the exact time of the day in the artist’s Argentine scenery realized through technology. The dust in the six landscapes independently whirls, sometimes disintegrates, and is simultaneously brought together. The artist’s abstract scenarios and video boldly break down the boundary between reality and fiction. The first step for viewing each of the six screens encompassed by Talk with Dust is viewing ‘various scenery.’ The second step is to appreciate similar scenery together with time ‘intervals,’ and the final step is finding ‘forms of memory.’ The six screens are discovered as a mental realm on ‘the other side of landscapes,’ where fantasy resides, even while forming their own asynchronous narratives through similar scenery and movements. of a camera examining itself might be seen to epitomise such a practice.
Jungki Beakb. 1981, Seoul. Lives and works in Seoul
Jungki Beak focuses on how most scientific devices invented in the East had beautiful decorativeness while simultaneously having clear practical uses. The adornments found in the art consist of images about the job that the instruments were supposed to do and natural symbols. What the artist focused on here is the state itself of science and magical ornamentation being abstrusely intermixed. Function, practicality, and even the enchanting decoration fitting the device’s purpose form an unfamiliar sight quite different from the scientific implements we can commonly see today.
In the present exhibition, the artist used artifact data he collected at museums and heritage sites to 3D print various encantational ornaments like a shaman. Using this as his foundation, he also created a nuclear fusor, which is dubbed the modern artifical sun. The dragon carefully supporting this nuclear fusion with two feet and the heat sink keeping the radiator even colder adorn the nuclear fusion reactor with various sorcerous elements. Through this, the artwork presents an expanded thought system for viewing the world by converting the closed relationships between the mind and matter and between people and nature to the causal relations of the generation and flow of energy and creation.
Compact fusion reactor. The fusor is a device for heating ions using magnetic fields under nuclear fusion conditions. Electrodes in the form of double-layered spherical wire fencing are installed in a metal vaccum container the shape of a soccer ball and a hose for supplying the fuel, deutrerium, is connected. Allow a high-voltage electric current 10,000 volts or stronger to pass as the fuel is injected, and the hydrogen atoms fuse inside the vacuum container and emit powerful light and heat. Neutrons and only minimal nuclear waste are produced as byproducts in this process.
Is of: Fall is a photograph of autumn foliage. The artist collected fall leaves and mobilized various devices to print the picture using pigment extracted from leaves. This is very different from how pigment is usually made. The artist set the solvent and separator differently and conducted countless tests to achieve his desired colors. Also, he not only remodeled the printer, but he also developed a certain part to print the plant’s original colors. The picture thus printed gradually fades due to the influence of oxygen and light from the moment it is printed and throughout the exhibition. The photograph closely resembles nature’s original property of autumn foliage falling to the ground. The work is of a still object, but it simultaneously possesses nature’s quality of change. I.e., nature’s “acts of God” are wholly included in a photograph along with people’s desire to own nature.
Meiro Koizumib. 1976, Gunma. Lives and works in Yokohama
This VR piece, which connects to the artist’s previous Greek tragedy-inspired work Prometheus Bound (2019), layers the dreams of people living as laborers and migrants overseas during the pandemic over a future vision of emancipation from isolation and physical pain. The anxiety of those who have been isolated during the pandemic or have nowhere to go as international travel is restricted is unfolded as a collective experience in the VR space. This play transcends the experiences of an infectious disease, of all of us having our contact with others limited and having to rely on online communication, to ask about how we perceive and visualize images. The technical manifestation of VR Meiro chose transmits in electric waves things lingering in our conceptual memories or things that cannot be reached due to being at a physical distance, and it sometimes shares and connects stories related to the present and an unpredictable future. Therefore, viewers may reconstruct the fact of speech that actually existed in reality having been thrown into a virtual environment.
Jongwan Jangb. 1983, Ulsan. Lives and works in Seoul
The selfish and anthropocentric modern society Jongwan Jang has constantly been commenting on moves across the surface of a classical painting and unfolds as an ironic landscape. The artist’s childhood experiences in Ulsan signficantly affected the formation of his art’s identity. The Ulsan the artist remembers is a utopian place of material abundance and exceptional natural scenery. Through painting, the artist humorously tweaks human yearnings for such places, represented by utopias or heaven, and salvation. The artist’s giant painting viewers encounter in the gallery began from taking the form of a monument and contemplating the relationship between the representation of collective memory and painting’s forms. Jongwan Jang progresses from including scenery of the same places as those in so-called “calendar pictures,” collections of the most universal beauty, in his compositions to creating a setting for his art to serve as new territory in the exhibition space.
Befitting its nickname of Cradle of Industrialization, Ulsan was a materially rich place. The citizens’ average income was incomparibly higher than that of other cities, and many people lived comfortably while enjoying various benefits in a giant corporate cradle. There was the occasional large demonstration in the streets by people who were pushed out of the cradle, and they engaged in intense conflict with combat police. I viewed such scenes with a peculiar excitement, as if watching a war film, and one classmate bragged about his father who protested from high up on a crane
Akira Takayamab. 1969, Saitama. Lives and works in Saitama
McDonald’s Radio University is a project carried out by performance planner and artist Akira Takayama in Frankfurt in March 2017. The artist finds it interesting that art museums and theaters talk about accepting immigrants while mostly remaining at merely exhibiting or performing such positions while McDonald’s, which represents international capitalism, sets an example of coexistence by actively accepting immigrants and refugees as customers and staff. Such a thought led to the idea of inviting refugees as ‘professors’ and hosting lectures only they can give. The artist devises the European Thinkbelt, consisting of the network of McDonald’s Radio University, which continues from Frankfurt to Athens. This thinkbelt would jump over closed borders to connect cities and develop into a theater project connecting the ‘thoughts’ of the vulnerable class, which have broken like ceramic fragments, with a ‘belt.’ This work continues into Ulsan and will serve as roots for cultivating an Asian Thinkbelt.
The global corporation McDonald’s provides free electricity, Wi-Fi, meeting places and shelter to diverse people and realizes coexistence between multiple cultures and ethnicities.
Hong-Kai Wangb. 1971, Huwei. Lives and works in Vienna and Taipei
Hong-kai Wang’s art deals with colonialism, imperialism, or diasporic ecologies convulsing under the weight of history. The artist’s research-based works listen to ‘sounds’ arising at the intersection of vivid ‘experiences’ and recorded ‘histories.’ Borom takes as its point of departure the journey of the Korean-born Japanese poet Kim Sijong’s escape from Jeju-do to Japan in 1949 after being connected to the Jeju April 3rd Incident, and it binds together the wind’s movement using a repertoire overflowing with life. In this story of the wind pulling us, various themes including history, mythology, landscapes, geology, danger, places of refuge, existence, and objects are complexly composed. The wind fails to create borders and intermixes with or invades other things. The work asks what the history the wind presents could mean and how that could be clarified in itself today. It imagines a different space and time by critically weaving together history and a tragic geography in a land of wind with nowhere to firmly set foot on.
Ayoung Kimb. 1979, Seoul. Lives and works in Seoul
This piece is a sequel to Porosity Valley: Mobile Holes (2017). The artist was inspired by the incident of Yemeni migrants who came to South Korea to escape the Yemen war in 2018 becoming a big issue. Petra Genetrix, a mineral and data cluster in the video, is the protagonist and demonstrates the exhaustion of migration. Petra personally endures all of the painful processes migrants in the 21st century might experience, such as immigration screening and biological control. Immigrants are often considered to be virus-like, disparate entities, and the existing immune system malfunctions due to such viruslike entities. This work symbolically shows precisely such an abnormal immune response caused by foreign immigrants. However, it provides the realization that the presence of immigrants, who may seem like contaminated foreign substances capable of causing the existing organism to malfunction, is actually vital to the organism’s survival and that such hybridization itself can be a necessary element for the organism’s sustainability. Such a realization tells us that the boundaries between settled people and immigrants and between insiders and invaders are actually not firm and, on the contrary, fluid.
Yan Leib. 1965, Hebei. Lives and works in Beijing
Yan Lei uses technological media to create works focusing on political and social changes. The artist sets the pivot of his art at the dynamics between the global and the local, the center and the peripheries, and the powerful and the non-powerful, and he seeks to comment on ‘the mutual complimenting of relationalities’ through the editing of various images. His work Rêverie Reset is a new attempt exhibiting the composition and intersection of images through a computer system and network technology. The large-scale installation piece is used as a giant information repository, and mutually unrelated images are played the screens. This structure, in which 80 digital displays revolve in a circle, is tied to a single systems network and ceaselessly sends out images, and it can be linked to the viewer’s cell phone through a wi-fi network. The image transmission occurs in three stages and presents a kind of narrative after being connecting with the viewer. The original image, the image flattened into primary colors, and video consisting of text are shown in stages, and this information is then stored in a dispersed network. This series of processes offers, as the title suggests, a reverie, a visual illusion of fantastic images.
Shu Lea Cheangb. 1954, Tainan. Lives and works in Paris
UKI, virus rising (2018), composed as the sequel to I.K.U. (2000), which was a groundbreaking sci-fi movie, is an animation in the diptych format. This piece deepens the artist’s discussion of the body and gender in the technology era. The protagonist, code technician Reiko, is fired by the GENOM Co. and abandoned in E-trashville (a virtual refuse city), where Internet passwords, Tweeters, and network users collide and break down. Refugees, natives, and laborers live harmoniously here. Reiko strives to reboot her physical system, consisting of a hard drive, and finally becomes an organic UKI virus through recomposition. The artist, who is an Internet nomad and a cyber feminist, deals with and presents ethnic diversity and gender mobility in the cyber realm, where gender distinctions have become faint, in her work.
The scenery we created today appears to be evidence that people have conquered the ecology. Even so, we can sometimes sense the ecology anew by embracing slow philosophy with minimal labor, taking walks in the forest and looking for mushrooms to collect. The motor factories in Ulsan, which are producing at least 6,000 cars a day, prove that Ulsan is the heart of the South Korean Industry. Safety features are precisely tested amidst the large-scale factory production, and the cars used for testing are categorized through a system so they do not enter the retail market. These usable disposed cars that are to be assigned new roles will become a ‘totem of techno-capitalism.’ Awed by the automobile artifact, we shake off our obsession with speed and efficiency and begin hunting for mushrooms. Elastic mushroom flowers blossom between metal parts, and mycelia fragments intermix with images of acceleration to guide us to a survival story of a collaborating group and an ecology working hard to exist.
We cling to the issue of living despite economic and ecological destruction. …
progress and destruction do not teach us how to think about collaborative and solidary survival. It is time for us to focus on the ecology of mushrooms and on collecting mushrooms. This act will not save us, but it can open our imaginations.
Nam June Paikb. 1932, Seoul – d. 2006, Miami. Lived and worked in Seoul, Dusseldorf, and New York
Forest of Cage, Revelation of the Forest is a piece in which live trees are planted in earth indoors and 23 TV sets are installed on the ground and different branches. Images and fragmented scenes of John Cage’s avant-garde art performances are being transmitted from the Braun tube TVs all at once without pause. The reason this work’s title is Forest of Cage is because Nam June Paik hung the TV sets like bird cages, a pun, out of respect for the avant-garde musician John Cage, who exchanged great artistic influences with Paik, when making the piece. This piece was made so that the technological medium of television naturally blended into nature. A certain aspect exists in common between nature and the machine of the television, which Nam June Paik chose for his subject matter, and that can be summarized in a word as changefulness. Just like nature, which exists dynamically while cutting across the space between life and death, completely different sights emerge fused as discontinuous images are randomly transmitted from the Braun tubes of Nam June Paik’s art.
Cécile B. Evansb. 1983, Cleveland. Lives and works in London
Future Adaptation is a video installation piece based on a narrative traversing the space between life and death. Inspired by the classical ballet masterpiece Giselle, this piece is set in a distant future where many people have left cities devastated by climate change and have migrated into nature. The protagonist, Giselle, and her friends run a distillery called Super-Bacterium using wild microorganisms growing in the area. The microbe fuel battery actually connected to plants hanging on the work’s screens produce sustainable energy for the duration of the exhibition. This becomes the prototype of a “super bacteria” that is free from life and death and never disappears. Also, this microbe is a metaphor for the possibility of change in the work as well. This is depicted as willis, a group of scorned women and souls, in the original Giselle, but it is portrayed as a sparkling and changing entity of unlimited possibilities in this piece. The work narrates ‘adaptation to the future’ as a deliberate and intentional act for responding to the environments being diversified and the economic logic accelerated by climate change
Singular form of bacteria, a single unit of super-bacteria.