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The nuances of Korean digital media at Pacific Asia Museum

September 05, 2013|By Kirk Silsbee
  • Atta Kim, ON-AIR Project 160-13, from the Series "India," 2007, Chromogenic print.
Atta Kim, ON-AIR Project 160-13, from the Series "India,"… (Courtesy of Atta…)

Our national art consciousness has long had at least a vague sense of contemporary art (and a few individual artists) in Asia. Japanese and, more recently, mainland Chinese artists have been part of America’s collective art conversation and, typically, California leads the way: MOCA presented a Murakami retrospective a few years ago and Ali Weiwei’s giant bronze animal heads were displayed at LACMA.

But even on the West Coast, few art viewers have a handle on present-day Korean art. In a small but pointed way, the Pacific Asia Museum has taken steps to remedy that deficiency.

The second leg of a projected four-part series focusing on emerging Asian artists is now on view at the Pasadena museum. “Constructed Visions: New Media from Korea” brings together four artists working in digital media. Though it’s a very narrow sampling (just five pieces occupy the room off the permanent gallery), a somewhat consensual aesthetic considers flexible realities.

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“We wanted to present a range of artists in Asia and expand the notions of what contemporary Asian art looks like,” said curator Bridget Bray, who recently assembled the fine Tomo-Oka show at PAM. “For this show, we wanted to explore similar themes that address different perspectives on time and space and environment.”

Atta Kim’s “On-Air Project 160-13” is a large color print of a busy street, shot in a long, time-lapse exposure. The commerce-laden storefronts on either side of the street are relatively stationary, yet the road is one amorphous blur of action. Stillness sits side-by-side with fierce movement. The familiar signage (Nokia, Timex, Samsung, Nike) links the place in the image to many global cities.

“This show,” Bray contends, “was a great opportunity to realize that geography is something of an accident. Whether artists live in California, New York or Asia, they all live and work in their specific environments and respond to them.”

A first glance at Minkyung Lee’s “Home for Everyone” is of a contemporary Western living room replete with entertainment center, sofa, an Eileen Grey chair and a TV. In fact, it’s a collage of images, carefully pieced together and made to look like one. Lee has tranquilized the crazy-quilt interior of its antecedent: Richard Hamilton’s 1956 pop art milestone, “Just What is it That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?”

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