Island Grid emphasizes “production as a condition and process of generating discourse”, above the fundamental tasks of a museum such as collecting, research, exhibition and education. In the history of art, works have been produced according to societal and technological evolution. Today, the concept of production highlights the fact of art itself, collaborations with shared objectives or industrialized production methods. These categories do not adhere to a single concept but are discussed at different levels depending on the subject or medium of the work. The concept of production has evolved according to the expansion of media and the works designated to respond to curatorial presentations in exhibitions. However, modes of production that emphasize the expansive scale of labor have become less relevant as economic growth has slowed and the global pandemic has resulted in various restrictions.
Island Grid imagines a contemporary art form that transitions from media to data and a new creative platform that can respond to this change. The exhibition configures the potentials of the World Wide Web, which transcend spatial and temporal limits and allow sharing and collaboration as a framework. For that, Island Grid sets up a production platform that crosses the virtual and the real to propose a new mode and concept of production.
SeMA Nanji Residency was founded in 2006 using vacant spaces adjacent to landfill leaching facilities with the aim of fostering the continued creative practice of emerging artists. Year after year, its strategy has grown beyond providing a physical “space” for creation. It also becomes a place for experimenting with exhibition formats for the “product” of their work. Through an incubation program that centers “the artist”, it broadens the definition of institutional support. Such programs have gradually progressed through the condition of “production” based on process and methodology. In the early 2000s, artist residencies hosted by public institutions were introduced to the South Korean scene as a model for urban regeneration and public programs using vacant spaces. Since the first phase, SeMA Nanji Residency has established various programs to support resident artists through exhibitions, reviews, rehabilitation and international exchanges in addition to providing studios as a working base. In line with this, Island Grid intends to delineate the role of production, which artist residencies have been responsible for in contemporary South Korean art. The exhibition aims to treat the keywords “space”, “work”, “artist” and “production” in a non-linear way. These keywords have been central to SeMA Nanji Residency’s programs that have evolved over the past sixteen years.
Like the digital interface that organizes data in parallel rows, the elements on display are not divided but evenly distributed in space. Thus, the works function as data and the exhibition functions as a database. The exhibition consists of three sections, each dealing with a specific node of artistic production. “Data Center” introduces ways to collect, edit and reproduce data with works by Ikhyun Gim and Woomin Hyun, Sungseok AHN and Eunjoo Hong. “Data Export” transfers intangible data into the real world as physical bodies with works by Ahram Kwon, Kim Donghee, Nicolas Pelzer, SungHong Min, Jungki Beak, Daisuke Ida x PARK Sunghwan and Jeong Jinhwa. Finally, “Metadata” examines data production and consumption trends as well as the media environment with works by Eunsol Lee, Eunhee Lee x Shinjae Kim and Suji Han.
When the lines extend horizontally and vertically, a set of sections is generated. We call this dense web of relationships a grid. An online residency has been fashioned as an online-offline traversal device and a new production condition, in which multiple creators can interact on a web-based basis. For that, Game-Sandbox-Residence (hereafter, later RSG) is designed to share data by inserting artistic mediums of flat works, sculptures, architectures and sounds as game components to create a “world”. RSG is an online residency with participants Nicolas Pelzer, Sungseok AHN, Daisuke Ida, Eunsol Lee, Jeong Jinhwa and Suji Han. It is both a creative tool and a kind of game.
Offline collaborations also continue in the physical dimension. Ikhyun Gim and Woomin Hyun formed a rather temporary collective, but they collected sound and image under the physical restriction and distance between South Korea and Japan, and presented their result in the exhibition. Together with curator Shinjae Kim, Eunhee Lee designed her work following the methodology of videomaking and executed the actual production. Daisuke Ida and curator PARK Sunghwan continued the production methodology through a type of localization strategy to overcome the physical and linguistic distance between them.
We invite viewers to Island Grid contemplate how immaterial data have become the realization of the virtual, which constantly interacts with our reality. As the exhibition reclaims the role of artist residency, it pursues recognitions of the contemporary art environment as well as opportunities for improvements at the institutional level. We hope it will be an opportunity to discover the variety of production methods and the new possibility of creating through the process of sharing and collaborating.
Artists: Ahram Kwon, Kim Donghee, Ikhyun Gim and Woomin Hyun, Nicolas Pelzer, SungHong Min, Jungki Beak, Sungseok AHN, Daisuke Ida × PARK, Sunghwan, Eunsol Lee, Eunhee Lee × Shinjae Kim, Jeong Jinhwa, Suji Han, Eunjoo Hong
Organized by the Seoul Museum of Art.