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Making New Work in Berlin: Statement of Motivation and Intent


My work is informed by an over-arching narrative which has sprung from my personal knowledge and experience in the fields of geography, anthropology and ecology. These three fields have so far been explored through my travels to diverse places around the globe, through a variety of landscapes. I would now like to extend my explorations to Berlin, where I hope to create new work as well as adding new dimensions to an ongoing project. Below, I have outlined this project and given details of two others which I feel reflect the timbre of my work.


Making New Work in Berlin: Statement of Motivation and Intent


The project I believe will be most influenced by my time in Berlin is entitled Tong-ro (‘path’), and is a reflection on the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone). It was after the 1989 reunification of Germany that my home country became the world’s only divided nation with the division marked by this heavily-guarded line across the 38th Parallel. During my time in the Korean Army I served in this area as a Forward Observer, an officer working with heavy artillery. When I first laid eyes on the vegetation and landscapes beyond the barbed-wire fences of the DMZ I was struck with an acute sense of sadness and longing. I decided then that I would one day undertake a project on the DMZ, but felt unable even to approach so loaded a subject for a long time. Now that I do feel ready to do so, my vision is to realise the Tong-ro project by recreating my diary from the four years I worked along the DMZ. As one of our closest points of reference, the fall of the Berlin Wall, that symbol of Cold War and a divided people, was and is a moment of  poignant and thought-provoking symbolism for Koreans. As such, the information and inspiration I intend to gain in Berlin will help me create new, relevant work in Korea. 


The Time Machine was a project undertaken whilst living for two years at the South Pole. The breathtaking natural landscape as well as what I learned there provided a great deal of inspiration for my work. What interested me the most was the ‘Glacier Core’ research I witnessed at the South Pole. The glacier there is more than 3000m deep and is formed by compressed snow which falls on the top of the ice, rather than by frozen seawater. Within the glacier there are therefore pockets of air, preserved perfectly through the ages, that can be extracted and analysed. This is done by drilling into the glacier and extracting a cylinder of the compressed snow known as ‘glacier core.’ Once analysed, data taken from the core can help us to predict the future of our climate. More than the glacier core itself, however, what struck me was the path  created by the drilling. It wound through history, taking us back to the time of the dinosaurs, through the beginning of human history to the present day. The air emerging from the tunnels made by the researchers’ drills contained molecules from all these times past. I was reminded of  Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth as I embarked on my own metaphysical journey through the ice. The tunnels were in themselves a kind of time machine: like black holes they warped time by changing the density of space itself.


Discovery is a project begun in Brazil and inspired by reflections on the substance of water, specifically its infinite ability to contain other substances, to network, and to connect different elements. These reflections evolved into many narratives, one of which is realised by using buoys to make lighthouses for fish originating from different lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. The piece is intended to point towards the situation of people divided by such metaphysical boundaries as religion, ideology and nationalism.


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