Since 2016, Mingyu Song has been working on his unique painting project, commonly known as “SFD” (“Science Fiction Drawing”). According to the artist, the works of SFD “translate and edit today’s landscape into signs and symbols while disguising themselves as abstraction, relying on the computer graphics and special effects typically used to create scenes of fantasy and imagination in movies and novels.” In this exhibition, the first part of the SFD project has three sections: Section 1, entitled “The Atlantic at the Edge of a Swimming Pool” (2016), is composed of abstract signs rendered in traditional colors of Thailand; Section 2, entitled “Brighter Than the Day” (2017), reflects a relatively social narrative about perfect darkness and the light that passes over it; and Section 3, entitled “The Combination of Metal and Sugar” (2018), extracts, alters, and combines various images that inundate our daily lives.
Encompassing all of these sections, the exhibition title SFD Code is also meant to invoke the characteristics of the social and cultural arrangements and compositional methodology that Mingyu Song references. His particular genre of science fiction typically features motifs relating to the universe, the light of celestial bodies, artificial objects and rays that cross between such bodies, futuristic narratives of war and migration, and landscapes tinged with romanticist or fin-de-siècle fantasies. By transforming and relocating such images, Song converts them into symbols with minimal representational traces, which eventually accumulate to form the visual “glossary” of his works: a darkness that is almost absolute; a striped moon that looks like an onion chip; a trajectory of light that discontinuously captures rapidly passing objects; and objects and events recorded by stains of ambiguous information. Viewers soon become familiar with this glossary, as the motifs are repeatedly expressed, combined, and superimposed in various ways.
Song coined the term “sensory translation machine” to describe the mechanical process that is inherent to his works. Using acrylic paint, he creates pictorial planes that are indiscernible from computer graphics. His insistence on manually painting his works, rather than simply printing out computer graphics, shows his veneration of the subjective and intuitive intervention of the artist. For example, in Other Synthesizing (2019), he directly visualizes and cites the symbols of pictorial events by repeating stains that resemble splashes of paint. Hence, the sensory translation machine that has thus far defined his unique pictorial bandwidth seems to be expanding its scope from systematic, repetitive patterns to areas where more irregular and humanized symbols coexist.
Mingyu Song’s art world is inhabited by numerous images, information fragments, and cybernetic symbols, including shining planes made from digital signals, objects in topological states of motion, images of informatization captured by machines, and the glitched, distorted, or flickering afterimages of such informatization. In his works, these motifs catch the eye momentarily, before losing their context and being re-edited. Like the alchemy inferred by the title “The Combination of Metal and Sugar,” all of the disparate elements seem to have equivalence. Standing before these manifestations of infinite reading and discontinuity, viewers come to feel like gods peering down into the fragmented depths of transcendental algorithms. The endless bombardment of rapid emissions from these massive canvasses eventually elicits a sense of absurdity, which is, after all, the essence of the paintings.
The overlapping images within Mingyu Song’s works, which express the concept of the “speed of darkness” as a place and territory, recall: 1) the headlights of cars driving through darkness; 2) a white bird flying across the night sky; 3) the infinite fractal pattern of a rias coast; 4) sperm cells in fluid motion, like the stark symbol of life-giving water; 5) turbulence of ascending air; 6) geometric patterns in cave paintings; 7) anamorphosis of time and space, dramatically curved or bent according to Einstein’s catechism; 8) clouds that cannot be mapped by equations; 9) movies that embrace broken time; and 10) images of plants and other natural matter.
from “Metallurgic Rhythm of Computer Graphics and Sense of Medium as Testimony to Life” by NamSoo Kim (choreography critic)