Scroll Down Journey, HD 1080p 2D animation, 06:20, 2015
A Man with a Flying Camera, HD 1080p video, 07:20, 2015
I Will Drone You, HD video, loop, 2015
I Will Drone You, HD video, loop, 2015
Choi Sungrok’s Solo Exhibition The Height of Phantom: Being Ghost, Scrolling the World
Yoo Wonjoon (Art Critic)
#1. Fixed subject, changing reality
A car appears in the middle of a screen. The camera swiftly chases the moving car. Everything changes so quickly but the car and the frame are fixed. The car stays still in the center while the ordinary landscape is passing by. Only the trailing smoke hints at its movement, making us assume that it is going to somewhere. Through this fixed subject, Choi Sungrok’s new work Scroll Down Journey presents changing realities. This is not the change of a subject in reality, but the reality changing and following the fixed subject.
We have taken the reality (world) as a fixed constant from the past. With 'I in the world' as the variable, we got accustomed to the perspective of the shifting subject. A lot of media has focused on and reflected our reality (world). But media, with the subject viewing the world, should always adjust itself in order to frame the precise picture. This principle is based on the view of ‘a Being in the world (In-der-Welt-sein)’ who drifts around the world. Nevertheless, while exploring around, we dreamt of the environment of the world that corresponds to the changing perspective of the subject. The desire of the subject emerged naturally from the virtual game environment that is different from the real world. The simulating environment of virtual games presupposes another world that represents reality; it can subvert the frame of a Being-in-the world. In that sense, Choi Sungrok’s work seems like the screen of a game. Although he creates sceneries based on real landscapes through computer animation, they hardly seem like real referents in the screen because the screen directly presents a well-constructed artificial world.
#2 The Dialectic of Vertigo and Scrolling
If the reality(the world) moves around a fixed subject (I), as I previously presumed, what is at stake is whether or not we can recognize the world. The fixed subject in the screen can be a stable element that makes the rapidly changing landscape on the screen less important; but this is totally the perspective of the third party — the audience. What we should consider is the perspective of the subject who encounters the changes in a fixed state. The notion of acquiring one’s desired view by shifting the world can be taken as an omniscient viewpoint — metaphorically speaking, it means to be able to scroll through the entire world. But when the environment increasingly changes, our sight begins to perceive it by selecting certain perspectives within the recognizable scope. If we presume that the world actually exists in front of us, we might get exposed to the dizziness like the experience of uncontrollable vertigo.
When we get used to this dizziness, the car in the screen then deviates from the center. Interestingly, other subjects start to appear instead of the deviating subject. Instead of the car, an airplane takes a large portion of the screen and lands at the airport with a view that is different from the subject-oriented angle. However, the landed airplane soon disappears from the screen. The subject we then focus on is the presence of a surveillance airplane that sneakily appears. The surveillance airplane is another subject that adds another perspective, in addition the previous two perspectives, and becomes a medium that makes the virtual world and real world codependent. The closing scene of the work reminds the viewer that the world of scrolling — the virtual flat world — is a very thin and superficial medium. The mediating medium of the surveillance airplane disappears from the screen, and the car, which has led the video as a central figure, falls to deep darkness in the thin screen. The scrolling of the subject-oriented virtual world ends this way.
#3. Being A Ghost as a Synthesis of Vision
The expansion of human vision through the media has been a very basic theme from the past. The Toronto School’s assertions, including Marshall McLuhan’s ideas, were denied or re-configured by other media theories, but they have constructed the general paradigm about the understanding of media: through media, we overcome our bodily limitation and through our perception based on a single sense, we become cognizant of the mediated body as a multi-sensory corporeality. Yet the expanded vision through artificial eyes and mediated vision is very much based on an omnipresent vision. Beyond the humans’ existing categorizations based on our bodily limitations, the omnipresent eyes are made through a combination of different media characteristics. Thus, we become a god-like being by crossing different subject positions, and experience the view beyond a single frame. However, there emerges another view to be incorporated. This is a view of the ghostly being from the in-between-space that stems from fundamental characteristics of the medium.
In this respect, the series A Man with a Flying Camera and I Will Drone You are works that present new perspectives to us. As a medium between the world and being, the figure of the ghost has an indeterminate positionality that is neither an omnipresent perspective nor a human-centered perspective that begins from the first person and ends in the third person; its position is somewhere in-between. Nonetheless, its presence is strongly imposed by the characteristics of media that is present everywhere. Thus, its view is characterized like the aerial view of a floating surveillance airplane, but it is never the controlling view of a surveillance camera. The ghost’s view always exists around us, but it is not directly linked to our world. Additionally, the view presupposes a certain distance and thus differentiates itself from the existing binary system in which we think from the inside to the outside, and from the outside to the inside. The frame is fixed, and the subject moves within it. However, the frame does not change according to the movement of the subject. In the work that employs the technique of aerial photography through drones, the organic floater continues its activity regardless of our movement because of the characteristic of the drone, which conceptually does not have a clear position but paradoxically attains determinate coordinates. However, fundamentally, we are approved as a being of expanded vision through a synthetic gaze that is beyond the binary frame between the human subject and the media. This is like a projection from a being that transcends us, but is not really different from us, which is like the position-height of a ghost.