Art What! Arts Preview Singapore

Art What!: Cross-cultural art project Cyborg Thinks sees Singaporeans and South Korean artists collaborate

Cyborg Thinks is a collaborative art exchange project by Singaporean artists Jaxton Su and Lynette Quek, and South Korean artists Jieun Gu and Darae Baek, which examines the correlations between the cyber and physical world – their tools, contexts, and boundaries, in an attempt to form an archive of shared knowledge across Singapore and South Korea as the artists explore everyday human experiences and issues that typically go unnoticed in the contemporary world.

Darae Baek, image still from Dust’s Gaze, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

The process-driven collaboration commenced as a fictional digital broadcasting station, where the artists regularly shared and transmitted their encounters, research and observations digitally, based on sixty specific sites located in Ulsan and Singapore. Culminating into a twopart exhibition happening in both cities, an exciting array of experimental works including interactive installations, vibrant collages and immersive new media art were created through the distinct adaptation, reinterpretation, and visualisation of the various digital and analogue data collected by the four artists. The Ulsan edition of the exhibition is currently ongoing at the newly established Jangsaengpo Culture Depot, and will be showing till 30th June 2021, while the exhibition in Singapore will be happening from 26th June to 17th July 2021 at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre.

Jaxton Su, image still from Tropical Reveries – A place for everyone, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

Through a hybrid of on-site research and online exchange that work against physical and geographical barriers, the artists were able to directly explore their home country on behalf of their overseas collaborators, as well as indirectly discover about an unfamiliar city from a different lens via digital means. The Singaporean artists acted as avatars for the Korean artists and vice versa, conducting research in another’s stead based on instructions and questions posted prior to the site expeditions, eventually helping to fulfil artistic visions of another by transforming them into physical artworks. This forms a multidimensional collaborative system that encourages new possibilities to manifest within the artists’ research and artworks. Some of the key issues investigated by the artists include alienation, digital culture, urban development and environmental degradation.

Jieun Gu, image from Docking Space, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

The exhibition stems from the four artists’ desire to formulate a multidimensional collaborative system through a robust database of shared research between Singapore and South Korea. After a six-month long digital exchange, the artists would like to draw the audiences’ attention towards the thematic ideas of diverse social, psychological and environmental issues surrounding both countries, which they have explored in a series of experimental artworks.

Lynette Quek, image still from a reminiscence blur, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

Darae Baek examines the omnipresence of digital culture in almost every aspect of our lives and the discourses that entail in Dust’s Gaze, an interactive 6-channel video. The alienation phenomenon that weaves through various individuals today, is investigated in Jieun Gu’s intricately designed Docking Space – a series of visual collages that resemble surreal islands of contemplation. In Tropical Reveries – a place for everyone, Jaxton Su questions the constant need for an ever-changing urban environment as he delves into the impacts of rapid development through a video installation that draws metaphorical connections with retro games and construction sites. Along the same vein, Lynette Quek illuminates the perpetual evolution of our everyday landscapes and its negative strain on the environment in a two-part video series, a reminiscence blur and what is left of, which is constructed utilising machine learning algorithms.

Cyborg Thinks runs in Ulsan, Korea at the newly established Jangsaengpo Culture Depot, and will be showing till 30th June 2021, while the exhibition in Singapore will be happening from 26th June to 17th July 2021 at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre. More information available online here

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