Hues of the Wind
MinJeong Guem is a media artist who works with videos, but also explores three-dimensional space through architectural installations. To meticulously represent the space or structure of a building with a distinct history, she uses “one frame” videos that almost resemble photographs. These videos are projected onto or surrounded by large wooden or steel frames to create installations that viewers perceive as an independent whole. Because of the gaps and openings (i.e., doors and windows) in the frame structure, Guem’s works create the illusion of peeking into an existing space, a sense that plays an essential role in her art.
The title of the exhibition—Hues of the Wind—invokes the subtle movements within the screen that eventually permeate MinJeong Guem’s works. In many cases, a screen with a fixed image is accompanied by a video of a distant view, such as a landscape seen through the window, the reflections of passing clouds, or the serene sway of bamboo leaves. The movements in these videos are so slow or intermittent that they can easily go unnoticed, such that some viewers may not even realize that they are looking at a video. Barely pushing the clouds or branches, the mild wind does not blow in from somewhere far-off, but gently wafts within the landscape before scattering. The expression “hues of the wind” encompasses everything that Guem wishes to convey through her works: softness, static spatiality, the speed of movement, and the balance of shadow and light.
Featured in this exhibition is Guem’s series Painter’s House, which recreates the home of Hee-dong Ko, Korea’s first Western-style oil painter and a pioneer of Korean modern art in the early twentieth century. Portraying different landscapes as seen from various points of view within the artist’s house in Wonseo-dong, Seoul, the work vividly realizes the daily life of Korea’s first modern painter. Guem has also produced works based on the house of Inje Paik (founder of Paik Hospital) and the Rakkojae traditional house in Bukchon Hanok Village. Driven by her deep interest in hanoks (Korean traditional houses), the artist sometimes incorporates actual rafters, pillars, and crossbeams taken from demolished traditional houses. Inside her hanok installations, these architectural materials might be used to make independent sculptures or relief sculptures that hang on a wall by a don-gwe (traditional lockbox).
The true value of the spatiality of the hanok is embodied by the concept and practice of chagyeong, or “borrowed scenery.” MinJeong Guem’s works are ultimately realized through the relationship between the immobile structure and the immaterial images that surround it, including unique shadows cast by the hanok itself, bright sunlight between the shadows, the distant landscape seen through the perforated door frames, tree branches outside the window, passing clouds, and air flowing through the yard and porch. Like the open structure of a hanok, Guem’s works continuously generate “borrowed scenery” through the combination of the sparse materiality and the landscapes in the videos. Together, the almost frozen videos and the minimal space of the hanok enact the ideal stage for the spatial and temporal affect that is the core of Guem’s art, a conception that is beautifully expressed by Hues of the Wind.