What Do “Exist” in Our Contact Era?


Q. Please explain the <Between, Among, Through> project.

Mimi Jeong: Due to the pandemic, we had to carry out this collaboration without physically meeting each other. We started this project because we wanted to combine performing arts, visual arts, stage directing and classic music.

Changyeob Ok: We started this project with a bit philosophical question of what is it that exists. And we began thinking of ways for collaborators like dancers and musicians to influence and reflect each other. We’re are currently trying to come up with a virtual experiment that can be conducted while the audience watches a huge mechanism called a stage.

Q. How did you first get to collaborate with each other?

Changyeob Ok: I’m have an engineering background and I used to do research on space radiation. Working with visual elements to deliver research content naturally led me to take interest in new media art. Also, I became interested in the movements or the expressive aspect of the art. As a person who is focused more on internal thoughts rather than expressing myself externally, I also became interested in performing arts which Jeong specializes in.

Mimi Jeong: Ok and I had the chance to collaborate in 2019 through ZER01NE x thecamp. I saw a lot of potential in our collaboration then. I felt like my tendency to break up traditional forms of choreography and Ok’s multidisciplinary approach to arts could really go well together.

Q. This might be a bit of a fundamental question but what is good collaboration?

Mimi Jeong: Accepting each other’s differences and communicating a lot lead to a good collaboration. Communication does not necessarily mean we have to get to know each other very personally but it’s about sharing honest feedback during our work together. If we look at a collaboration as sort of a flow, the most important thing is how we set our relationship.

Changyeob Ok: I think having similar values is important for a collaboration. Having enough time is important as well.  But more than that, we have to be able to think that we “can” create new things and also, be able to not think that we “have” to create new things. Because, after all, the final outcome of a collaboration is showing a new composition established based on what each of us has been building.

Q. What’s your process for making the project concrete?

Changyeob Ok: After thinking about how to combine the technologies I work with and Jeong’s choreography, contradictory concepts like light and darkness or the binary system’s 0 and 1. And discussing these concepts led us to the question of existence or nonexistence.

Mimi Jeong: We then started thinking about ways to make the players of this project work independently and also together on this topic of “existence”. We wanted the players to do what they can do under a common theme or concept. And we tried to capture imaginary links that connect the players. And we finally came up with a method called “telepresence.”

Q. So the final outcome of this project would be videos and media installations.

Changyeob Ok: Images of a violinist and a choreographer will be projected on PDSC screens which we can adjust the transparency of. The background classic music for the two performers is composed by a composer that doesn’t exist but is played by someone who exists. This symbolizes an existence that doesn’t exist. The screens which change back and forth between clear and transparent, as we supply or cut off electricity, expand the meaning of existence by disconnecting or connecting the performers and the audience.

What Do “Exist” in Our Contact Era?

Technology-based visual artist Changyeob Ok and choreographer Mimi Jeong pondered over how they could collaborate without physically meeting each other in this so-called contactless era brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. This inconvenient circumstance then led them to think about a philosophical question of what existence is. Working on the project from difference locations and times, Changyeob Ok and Mimi Jeong connected through virtual meetings. The gap between their time and space was sometimes amplified or decreased by other two collaborators, violinist Jin-ju Cho and stage director Julian Brun. 

Alfred Schnittke’s “A Paganini” for solo violin which is loosely based on the famous theme from Paganini’s piece, Jin-ju Cho’s instrumental performance, Mimi Jeong’s choreography, stage direction by Julian Brun and Changyeob Ok’s technological visualization of the collaboration all stand out in their own way but are also overlapping each other. The screens, videos, sounds and lights in this project which symbolizes both existence and nonexistence, represent a possibility of new communicative method in this era of coronavirus which has been preventing us from sharing physical presence. <Between, Among, Through> explores the meaning of interpersonal relations somewhere in between arts and technology.