Monday, November 24, 2008

Dreaming through Wonderland

Last Wednesday I took a walk through Wonderland…well not Alice’s wonderland, but Bund18 Creative Center’s Wonderland. This was an exhibition created by two artists: Hiraki Sawa from Japan and Lee Lee-nam from Korea. Their works were all video installations which was a pleasant change to see at exhibitions.

Looking at all of their video art works, I felt surreal and dreamy, especially because the video art successfully enhanced that effect of making you feel like you were in the video. This was especially true of Hiraki Sawa’s work, in which he created this surreal world that took on the viewer’s perspective of walking through a house. This feeling of walking through the house is not the only aspect that made us feel like we were in some dreamland. It was also Sawa’s repetitive use of slow-moving swing cockhorses, water, and planes constantly flowing, rocking and flying everywhere in abnormal places, like through fluid piano keys, in water vases, etc. The other dream-like characteristic Sawa incorporates into his video installations is proportion/size. The viewers no longer feel a distinct boundary between reality and dream because the concept of real-life space, time, and size does not exist. For instance, tiny planes are flying through flower vases, tiny rocking horses and benches are contrasted with the human-sized tables in the background, and even humans are all of a sudden microscopic in relation to the background house setting. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that Sawa uses the domestic floors, even sink water and other household objects and transforms them into natural plants, trees, and rivers. Therefore, on top of everything else that is surreal about the works, the boundary between nature and human creation melt together and blur as well.

Lee Lee-nam’s works made a lot more sense. But he also did play with the concept of time, especially the changing of seasons. He also fuses old or classical paintings and scenes with modern city scenes and incorporates them together with this passing of time. This is surreal in that it brings the historical scenes out of its time so the concept of time is played around with here too. And the most beautiful thing about the use of video technology is exactly that. Pictures and artworks become free of boundaries of frozen time, the frozen capturing of the past, etc. What confused me was why he chose to focus on Shanghai and Hong Kong and criticize its modernization (if he is in fact, criticizing it) if he is Korean and works in Korea. What special connection does he have with China and if so, does he do a lot of works focused on China? Or were they created just for this exhibition?

Overall, I liked the exhibition concept. The mixing and blurring of reality, illusion, and dreams, something of the present and the past, memories, etc. Everything was interconnected and out of its expected focus.

No comments: