On display through October 9, 2023, Not Paintings, Daegu Art Museum’s special exhibition, introduces 34 works of media and photography from the museum’s collection, which it has been collecting since before its opening. The exhibition explores how art forms have been transformed and expanded through encounters between art and technological media.
For a few years, the Daegu Museum of Art has been studying its collections to identify trends in contemporary art and presenting them through exhibitions.
Modern Life, held in 2021, was a project co-organized with the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght in France. It was a collaborative study of the collections of both institutions under the theme of modernism. Held in 2022, A Season of Meditation was an exhibition that explored people and humanity through 93 works from the Daegu Art Museum’s collection, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, and new media.
The exhibition Not Paintings, which opened on June 20 and runs through October 9, introduces 34 works of media and photography from the museum’s collection, which it has been collecting since before its opening in May 2011. The exhibition explores how art forms have been transformed and expanded through encounters between art and technological media.
These mediums, driven by technological advancements, are now being widely utilized as both a method and tool in the realm of artistic creations. “This exhibition aims not to merely showcase contemporary artworks that reflect the trends of the latest technology but to explore the changes and attributes that emerged from the intersection of art and technology,” said Park Bo-ram, the curator who organized the exhibition.
As art intersects with technological mediums, the paradigm of the act of “seeing” has undergone a profound transformation, along with the essential concept of art itself. Art has expanded from canvases to digital screens and from still images to moving videos.
A significant element that has emerged in these new art forms is “time.” Photography made us able to capture singular moments within a short period of time. Video-imaging technology enabled us to capture time in motion. And digital-based technology has allowed us to express non-linear timelines, enabling time to flow in reverse or be fragmented.
Furthermore, technology-based art has transcended the material properties of traditional mediums. Conventional paintings require paints and canvases, while sculptures require materials such as clay, plaster, or metal. However, with the advancement of digital technology, contemporary artists now have the freedom to choose from various modes of expression. Today, artists can explore a wide range of mediums, including photography, videography, graphic editing, scanning, compositing, 3D animation, virtual reality (VR), and multi-channel videos. This expansion of mediums has not only brought about changes in techniques and modes of expression but also in distribution methods.
Through the museum’s collection, the exhibition aims to show these changes in art.
This exhibition features works by artists from Daegu, such as Lee Kang-So, Park Hyunki, and Kim Kulim, who used video to conduct new media experiments, as well as works by the first generation of Korean media artists, including Nam June Paik, Kim Soun-Gui, and Kim Haemin, alongside works by contemporary artists who are currently actively engaged in their artistic practices.
Daegu was a center of the textile industry at the forefront of Korea’s industrialization and urbanization during the 1970s and ’80s. As capital flowed into Daegu, several galleries emerged, fostering the development of a unique and independent contemporary art scene distinct from Seoul. The Daegu Contemporary Art Festival played a significant role in this development.
Founded in 1974, the festival served as a focal point for artists nationwide, preceding its Seoul counterpart. In particular, during the fifth Daegu Contemporary Art Festival in 1979, artists like Lee Kang-So, Park Hyunki, Kim Youngjin, and Lee Hyunjae presented video works that contributed to the establishment of video art as a genre within the art world.
The exhibition is divided into three main themes.
The first section introduces a group of artists who expanded the boundaries of art, including Kim Kulim, Kim Soun-Gui, Kim Haemin, Park Hyunki, Nam June Paik, Lee Kang-So, and Chung Jae-kyoo. This section examines video installations and TV sculptures that emerged at a time when video art was first introduced and embraced in Korea, as well as formal explorations of frames, photography as a conceptual perception, and a general interest in mass media.
The second section features work by artists such as Kim Kulim, Kim Shinil, Oh Min, Moojin, Oh Junghyang, Lim Changmin, and Jeong Jeongju. This section explores the element of “time” that has emerged with the advent of new media art. Through the digital revolution and resulting medium experimentation, artworks now have the capability to express a new sense of “temporality.” This allows for the incorporation of new elements such as sound, interactivity, and multi-channel variations within the artwork. Here, the exhibition showcases works that capture moments of simultaneity and depict non-linear temporalities.
The last section explores the blurring of the boundaries between the virtual and the real in art through works by artists such as Yoo Hyunmi, Lim Taek, Lim Changmin, Wang Qingsong, Jeong Yeondoo, Ryu Hyunmin, Jade Sujin Lee, Debbie Han, Jo Seub, and Jun Sojung. Particularly when exploring such boundaries, digital photography and video allow for editing and compositing, making them popular tools of expression for many artists. Through works that traverse between the virtual and the real, artists freely express playfulness, reflections on reality, and questions and predictions about the future.