Sound Effects Seoul (SFX Seoul) started in 2007 as the first international sound art festival, based in Seoul. There has been a proliferation of sound artists, noise artists, and various forms of sound-oriented experimentation in Korea. For this second foreign edition of SFX Seoul, we feature the work of six Korean artists in the former US Embassy to the Netherlands, designed by Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer. Korea is still today under the occupation of the United States. Its current social, economic, and cultural conditions are all deeply affected by this pseudo-colonial position. The infusion of the sound work of Korean artists into the architecture of American foreign power now provides an opportunity to listen to and rethink these relations in the here and now.
Gina Kim’s Tearless projects visitors into the ‘Monkey House’, a medical detention center where women compelled to sexually service the U.S. military in South Korea were interned from the 1970s until 2004. Through AR and VR, Kim invites audiences to experience the irony of exploring the Monkey House inside the former US embassy.
Simple Acts of Listening: Sound Effects Seoul-Den Haag, 2022. Design: Dohyung Kim.
Byungjun Kwon’s Ochetuji’ ladder-bot crawls and flattens itself against the ground in a diligent performance of the Buddhist five-limbed prostration (Ochetuji) an act of veneration and submission that seeks to cast aside pride, hubris, and foolishness.
Ha Cha Youn’s MAT, BOAT, CARPET-my mat, a boat for family, a large carpet for all is an installation with approximately one thousand plastic bottles tied together to form a mat, a minimal living space for someone who has to leave their family, their community. A family might huddle up and cling together in the boat, while the carpet recalls a magical flying device that might transport one across the seas
In Mago Leymusoom, Heesoo Kwon recalls the ancient Korean mythology of Mago the Crone through an avatar made by 3D scanning images of her own mother. Kwon reinterprets pregnancy, birth, and the female body that performs these processes hinting at a world beyond patriarchy.
Go-Eun Im’s research details the life and practices of women botanists who were excluded from Western botanist history and proposes a non-linear narrative to reconsider our relationships to nature.
Seulgi Lee presents a sound installation piece, REUS. (The title comes from the Dutch word for giant.) Ropes thread through different corners of the Embassy building to form an echoing device in a work that articulates the paradoxical scales of power of nation and citizen.
Sound Art is an experience of art primarily accessible through listening. We hear all day, but do we listen? Sound can bring people together in a way visual perception does not. Sound surrounds us in vibrations that produce a common physical experience which connects our bodies. Sound art exists in radical openness to the world, the world as it is and not as it might or should be. The world is speaking to us, and all the evidence needed to understand the real complexity of our political and personal circumstances is available to us through listening. The simple act of listening, to oneself and to each other, is the beginning of understanding the current world and imagining emergent possible worlds.