≡ ‘Futuristic Archeology’ or how the nomadic unit confronts the despotic machine ≡

586ca0010415ef35b3b79cd2156158a0-large© Daesung Lee, from the series Futuristic Archeology, 2013-14.

761383da4690aae8b1611afd21799190-large© Daesung Lee, from the series Futuristic Archeology, 2013-14.

Desertification in Mongolia- Nomadic life has been central to traditional Mongolian culture throughout history. Even with changes brought about by urbanisation in recent years, 35% of Mongolians are living a nomadic life and thus still depend on their vast, open land for survival. This is increasingly difficult because their traditional way of life is now being threatened due to serious changes in the land.

According to a survey made by the Mongolian government, around 850 lakes and 2000 rivers and streams have dried out. This loss of water is contributing to the desertification of Mongolia, as 25% of its land has turned into desert in the past 30 years. Potentially 75 % of Mongolian territory is at risk of desertification. These environmental changes directly threaten the Mongolian nomadic way of life, which has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.

This project attempts at recreating the museum diorama with actual people and their livestock in a real place where desertifying in Mongolia. It is based on an imagination that these people try to go into museum diorama for survival. This is accomplished with printed images on a billboard placed in conjunction with the actual landscape horizon. By doing this, I hope to accomplish a sense that the lives of these nomadic people occur between this reality and a virtual space of a museum. Mongolian traditional nomadic life might be only existed in museum in the future.Lee’s statement.

92fbb94b3e1af5e2bab806ddbfa55ba4-large© Daesung Lee, from the series Futuristic Archeology, 2013-14.

4d241af39bd22b125267fa21bfb7702d-large© Daesung Lee, from the series Futuristic Archeology, 2013-14.

Nomadic Thought, excerpt from an essay by Deleuze published in a 1977, pp. 148 – 149. Source: Anarchist Without Content.

One final point remains to be made. Let us go back to that grand passage in The Genealogy of Morals about the founders of empires. There we encounter men of Asiatic production, so to speak. On a base of primitive rural communities, these despots construct their imperial machines that codify everything to excess. With an administrative bureaucracy that organizes huge projects, they feed off an overabundance of labor (“Wherever they appear something new soon arises, a ruling structure that fives, in which parts and functions are delimited and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that has not first been assigned and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that has not first been assigned a ‘meaning’ in relation to the whole”‘). It is questionable, however, whether this text does not tie together two forces that in other respects would be held apart – two forces that Kafka distinguished, even opposed, in The Great Wall of China. For, when one tries to discover how primitive segmented communities give rise to other forms of sovereignty – a question Nietzsche raises in the second part of The Genealogy – one sees that two entirely different yet strictly related phenomena occur. It is true that, at the center, the rural communities are absorbed by the despot’s bureaucratic machine, which includes its scribes, its priests, its functionaries. But on the periphery, these communities commence a sort of adventure, They enter into another kind of unit, this time a nomadic association, a nomadic war machine, and they begin to decodify instead of allowing themselves to become overcodified. Whole groups depart; they become nomads. Archaeologists have led us to conceive of this nomadism not as a primary state, but as an adventure suddenly embarked upon by sedentary groups impelled by the attraction of movement, of what lies outside. The nomad and his war machine oppose the despot with his administrative machine: an extrinsic nomadic unit as opposed to an intrinsic despotic unit. And yet the societies are correlative, interrelated; the despot’s purpose will be to integrate, to internalize the nomadic war machine, while that of the nomad will be to invent an administration for the newly conquered empire. They ceaselessly oppose one another – to the point where they become confused with one another.

Philosophic discourse is born out of the imperial state, and it passes through innumerable metamorphoses, the same metamorphoses that lead us from the foundations of empire to the Greek city. Even within the Greek city-state, philosophic discourse remained in a strict relation with the despot (or at least within the shadow of despotism), with imperialism, with the administration of things and people (Leo Strauss and Kojève give a variety of proofs of this in their work On Tyranny). Philosophic discourse has always been essentially related to law, institutions, and contracts – which taken together, constitute the subject matter of sovereignty and have been part of the history of sedentary peoples from the earliest despotic states to [149] modem democracies. The “signifier” is really the last philosophical metamorphosis of the despot. But if Nietzsche does not belong to philosophy, it is perhaps because he was the first to conceive of another kind of discourse as counter-philosophy. This discourse is above all nomadic; its statements can be conceived as the products of a mobile war machine and not the utterances of a rational, administrative machinery, whose philosophers would be bureaucrats of pure reason. It is perhaps in this sense that Nietzsche announces the advent of a new politics that begins with him (which Klossowski calls a plot against his own class).

It is common knowledge that nomads fare miserably under our kinds of regime: we will go to any lengths in order to settle them, and they barely have enough to subsist on. Nietzsche lived like such a nomad, reduced to a shadow, moving from furnished room to furnished room. But the nomad is not necessarily one who moves: some voyages take place in situ, are trips in intensity. Even historically, nomads are not necessarily those who move about like migrants. On the contrary, they do not move; nomads, they nevertheless stay in the same place end continually evade the codes of settled people. We also know that the problem for revolutionaries today is to unite within the purpose of the particular struggle without falling into the despotic and bureaucratic organization of the party or state apparatus. We seek a kind of war machine that will not re-create a state apparatus, a nomadic unit related to the outside that will not revive an internal despotic unity. Perhaps this is what is most profound in Nietzsche’s thought and marks the extent of his break with philosophy, at least so far as it is manifested in the aphorism: he made thought into a machine of war – a battering ram – into a nomadic force. And even if the journey is a motionless one, even if it occurs on the spot, imperceptible, unexpected, and subterranean, we must ask ourselves, “Who are our nomads today, our real Nietzscheans’?

0e232e12a3dd395e914cb45c491728d5-large© Daesung Lee, from the series Futuristic Archeology, 2013-14.

dcc4a4be3cc55a8e79bec3e2c4c4b702-large© Daesung Lee, from the series Futuristic Archeology, 2013-14.


┐ Seo-Yeoung Won └

© Seo-Yeoung Won, Chair, from the series Compressed Reality, 2010

© © Seo-Yeoung Won, Wheel, from the series Compressed Reality, 2010

“My work starts with sublimating from a mere common object in dairy life to an entity having a particular denotative meaning. For this, I have paid attention to existing expression methods of painting and installation art that take a dairy life object as a target of expression, and have continued experimentations to realise the methods in a particular space of a photographic studio. The illusion of space created by the painting, and the relationship between an object and space, all these are compressed into a photography taken in a photo studio, for the sake of expression. Also, it presents in a photo the process of representing an object by different media and the differences between them. As the result of this, a common object perceived objectively becomes an entity of expression shared in media such as installation art, painting, and photography, and at the same time an entity of symbolic expression containing the artist’s subjective view.”

Artist statement

More of Seo-Yeoung’s work here

┐ Myoung Ho Lee └

© Myoung Ho Lee, Tree #3, from the series Tree, 2006

© Myoung Ho Lee, Tree #2, from the series Tree, 2006

“South Korean photographer Myoung Ho Lee does something rather simple — and rather similar to the working process of the late legend Richard Avedon: He separates his subjects from their environments by way of a simple yet formal backdrop. Difference here, of course, is that Lee’s subjects are full-blown, fullgrown trees, and his 60-by-45-foot canvases form merely part of the photographs rather than filling up the frames. (The backdrops are erected with cranes, ropes, and bars by a production crew—Lee edits out the extraneous supports with digital retouching, creating a floating canvas at the center of each image.) The result is a rather surprising redefinition of the nature of a portrait, the nature of a landscape, and the nature of, well, nature itself.”

source: Yossi Milo press release

More of Myoung’s work here

┐ Hyungkoo Lee └

© Hyungkoo Lee, Helmet 1 (Self portrait), from the series The Objectuals, 2000

© Hyungkoo Lee, Altering Features with RH5, from the series The Objectuals, 2003

“‘The Objectuals’ which seek the transformation of the original form is a narration of not actually changing the body, but a visual transformation created by the invention of a fictional body transformation device and the use of it. […] By inventing fictional devices and reconstituting those bodies is why Lee is known as a pseudo scientist/doctor, manque biologist/archeologist. However, isn’t he an artist who creates original artwork which is completely different from its origin?”

read full text here

More of Hyungkoo’s work here

┐ Ina Jang └

© Ina Jang, A girl

© Ina Jang, A boy

“My on-going project is an interpretation on the world I dwell. It is a world where people interact with paper objects and blank walls. They seem isolated, emotionally neutralized and void of identities.
In such a quiet world, what really matters left in the empty space in the photographs. I try to find an answer in the work by paying more attention to what is not there; I portrayed world as a giant white canvas. Nothing is too mundane and too precious in this body of work. It may suggest a disposable lifestyle of new generation, but I wish them to remain somewhat whimsical and hopeful in the end. After all, it is still the world we live in.”

More of Ina’s work here

║ Kyungwoo Chun ║

© Kyungwoo Chun, Believing in seeing #7-1, from the series Believing in seeing, 2007

© Kyungwoo Chun, Believing in seeing #2, from the series Believing in seeing, 2007

“I photograph not what I see, but what I believe exists.”1) This words of Chun Kyungwoo stated in an interview reveal his thoughts on photography and imply the meaning of the title of this exhibition, ‘Believing Is Seeing’. The title is a paradoxical response to the Western adage, “Seeing is believing” as it takes a strongly skeptical view of modern Western thought that prioritizes visual verification and of the general definition of photography of visual reproduction. In fact, the distinctive appeal that penetrates the photographic oeuvre of Chun lies in this paradoxical methodology through which established order is primarily taken to be delivered at the opposite end.
Let us start with the most basic fact. Chun photographs people. The figure in his photograph has neither clear outlines nor definite shapes. This results from his use of low-sensitivity film and a long exposure. What is interesting about this is that this method is identical to the method used for the portrait photography of the mid 19 th century when it first appeared. Since early portrait photography was requested by upper-class people to show off their social standings, one of the most important factors that had to be fulfilled was to clearly demonstrate who the figure was, and thus the realistic representation of the object was imperatively essential. The photographic technology of that time inevitably required a long exposure, and hence a photographer had to ask the subject to keep still for a considerably long time. Although Chun’s portrait photographs employ the same conditions of early portrait photography, its process and aim are entirely different. The portrait photography of that period utilized such props as a chair decorated with gold and curtains to expose one’s social rank, but on the contrary Chun intently neutralizes the background and dresses the subject in black in many photographs of his. This is to place the sole focus on the subject. The long exposure buries the background and clothes, and we can concentrate on the “subtle nuance”2) emanating from the eyes and facial expression of the subject. Chun’s photographic works necessitate a long exposure in order to render “a delicate moral texture,”3) that is, the process of minute mental change occurring only to the very subject that is being photographed during a certain amount of time.

source: Gaain gallery

More of his work can be ssen here

║ Yeondoo Jung ║

© Yeondoo Jung, bewitched #06, from the series Bewitched, Tokio, 2002

© Yeondoo Jung, bewitched #11, from the series Bewitched, New York, 2003

“In his 2004 series of portraits “Bewitched,” which takes its title from a well-known American sitcom of the sixties that gained wide popularity in Asia as well, Jung interviewed local adolescents about their dreams and visions of the future and then recreated them in photos. The series is a slide installation that shows a pair of portraits of a single subject; one is from the present real, the other is from the subject’s dream. Jung’s adolescents, as though under a magic spell cast by a sixties TV housewife who is in reality a witch, are transported from their mundane daily lives into splendid fantasy. The first portraits, staged in the large Asian cities of Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo, were inspired by the artist’s desire for a profound glimpse of unfamiliar places. Since then, Jung has included works created for exhibition in New York, Istanbul, Liverpool, and Amsterdam based on his chance encounters with subjects in these cities and during his constant travels. From chance encounter to friendship comes the realization of a dream. The photos also document the collaboration between artist and adolescent subjects in the detailed staging of their dreams. More than just photos, for Jung the cooperative process is the essential. What distinguishes his work slightly but importantly from late nineties installations that emphasized viewer participation in the production of a work is the personal relationship that results between artist and subject. Photography is the catalyst of Jung’s relationship with his subjects. The photo of a dream, in fact, makes the viewer wonder, “What if this was me?” This is a new development in relational art through the medium of photography.”

Yukie Kamiya [Chief Curator, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan]

More of Yeondoo’s work here

║ Chan-Hyo Bae ║

© Chan-Hyo Bae, Untitled, from the series Existing in Costume, 2007

© Chan-Hyo Bae, Untitled, from the series Existing in Costume, 2007

“The sun never sets over the British Empire.” The country of Queen, the country with pride in her history and tradition, still seems to be breathing in Great Britain. I try to become British just as a child pretends to be a mother by dressing in her clothes and making up with her cosmetics. The attempt to become British is to me what a child tries to do in dressing as an adult. Although the mother’s clothes are unsuitable for the child, the child still tries to dress as its mother, trying to express its existence as another person. The language of a child. In becoming a British lady, which may seem gauche, it is my language.”

More of Chan’s work can be seen here

║ Hee Seung Chung ║

© Hee Seung Chung, Untitled, from the series Nostalgia, 2004

© Hee Seung Chung, Untitled, from the series Nostalgia, 2004

© Hee Seung Chung, Untitled, from the series Nostalgia, 2004

Moments to remember are just like other moments. They are only made memorable by the scars they leave…From ‘La Jetée’ by Chris Marker.

“Nostalgia derives from a fictional story, created by the photographer. For this project, she is hugely inspired by Chris Marker’s film ‘La Jetée’ and Milan Kundera’s books entitled: ‘The book of laughter and forgetting’ and ‘Ignorance’ where she represents the memory photographically. She has been interested in the way that the photograph has the ability to evoke memories. Memory is always a retrospective representation of past events and in itself never relates entirely to what has ‘really’ happened. The events are always transformed, refracted, and can never be fully understood. She attempts to give visual form to the distorting aspect of the memory.
She confesses that her obsession with memory is related to her present situation as a stranger confused and struggling in a heterogeneous culture, but this is also seen as a cultural symptom, which we are all facing.In relation to our contemporary obsession with memory, Andreas Huyssen, in his 1995 book Twilight Memories: Marking Time in A Culture of Amnesia, argues that ‘memory represents the attempt to slow down information processing, resisting the dissolution of time in the synchronicity of the archive, recovering a mode of contemplation outside of the universe of simulation and high speed information cable networks; claiming some anchoring space in a world of puzzling and often threatening heterogeneity, non-synchronicity, and information overload’.”
Josef Whang

The rest of this text and more of Hee’s work can be seen here