Media artist Lee Ye-Seung raises her voice that the current upheaval is the time when Oriental thought is necessary. Even with artificial intelligence learning data, which is bound to ride on the Western way of thinking, she presents <Classic of the Mountains and Seas>, which contains an old myth from China.
All kinds of factors are heterogeneously entangled. Various machines and structures, and various objects in which advanced technology is concentrated. It can be seen that the various experimental groups using the media are independent, but if the installation structure is carefully examined, it is also an organically connected structure. Again, this is a form that one after another expands into the sense of hearing and space. Although each has its own characteristics, the artist Lee Ye-Seung ‘s <Variable Landscape>, which is at the same time gathering together to compose the whole worldview, is ‘separately and together’.
Media artist Lee Ye-Seung, an installation and media artist, is interested in the way she perceives various social phenomena facing us in the contemporary media environment in her own language. Through installation based on spectacular technology created by physical devices such as light, shadow, and interaction sensors, she has mainly worked on media dealing with the hybridity and ambiguity between matter and non-matter, time and space, and virtual and real. In particular, her own “Oriental thought” is deeply rooted in the media work he presents to the world. This is why before looking at <Variable Landscape>, a media installation work in 2019, it is necessary to bring out the story of <Classic of the Mountains and Seas>, the oldest geography and mythology book in China.
The <Classic of the Mountains and Seas> is regarded as the source of East Asian imagination. It is an ancient book that contains local culture and geographic features, including strange objects, animals, humans, and gods in China, and is known that Chinese shamans left them in writing and paintings around the 3rd-4th century BC. “It is different from ‘Greek-Roman Mythology’, whose story is human-centered and has a well-organized structure like a novel. With all sorts of grotesque monsters appearing, there is no plot. This can be said to be the difference in the worldview of the eastern and western cultures.” The characteristic that artist Lee Ye-Seung paid attention to in <Classic of the Mountains and Seas> is that the story is neither structured nor systematic. It’s like a point organization (點組織). As if they were scattered like dots and not connected to each other. In <Classic of the Mountains and Sea>, images are ubiquitous according to the spatial division of mountains and seas, and distant regions without distinction between times and places, normal and abnormal, real and unreal, and compose a worldview.
A unique view of the world derived from ancient myths, the “Oriental thought”, which is latent in the depths of the artist, who has been active for a long time as an Asian painter rather than as a media artist, has been transferred intact to <Variable Landscape>, a media installation work. Rather than being forcibly drawn in for some reason, it seems that the past time she has been exploring for a long time and the thoughts that existed within her naturally permeated. On the other hand, new programming, language, and environment, all of which is like a brush for Lee Ye-Seung. It wasn’t because she went over the stage from oriental painting to media art, but only the tools she had in her hand changed. In addition, it is clear that the tools of artist Lee Ye-Seung will change and expand again as technology develops. She only ponders how to read and unravel social phenomena and discourses that she will encounter in the contemporary media environment as an artist.
In <Variable Landscape>, you can see the ambiguity between humans and creatures, humans and non-humans, and the tactile sensations of virtual reality, which are the main features of <Classic of the Mountains and Sea>, and it leads into the process of thinking that penetrates. “It’s mostly going from a western point of view. Whether science technology or art. However, in the era of technological transformation, that is the Fourth Industrial Revolution which we are facing now, and here on, the relationship between master and servant will disappear, and there will be no particular perspective and hierarchy. I see this is in line with the oriental point of view.” Artist Lee Ye-Seung explains that there is no shadow in the oriental painting as an example. Because the time is not fixed; that is, it means ‘variability’.
A world full of ‘variability’ in which everything is changeable. I think these ideas are very similar to the current media society. The data acquired by artificial intelligence has no choice but to ride on the Western way of thinking, so <Variable Landscape>, which studied the method of learning artificial intelligence based on <Classic of the Mountains and Sea> and derives the result, is very different from facing our society directly. It wouldn’t be wrong to see it as a presentation of a new value, changed to think with an oriental way of thinking. And again, we can ask ourselves questions in front of the <Variable Landscape>. How will you look into the future?
Writer Lee Ye-seung says, with the rapidly developing science and technology and the unexpected emergence of COVID-19 this year, now is the time for us to need ‘Oriental thinking’ during this upheaval. Unity of the ego and the outside world (物我一體) and letting nature be(無爲自然). How can they coexist? It’s a matter to think about. Through her next work, we will be able to ask the fundamental questions our society will face in the future. And we will walk together into the process of thinking.