Euyoung Hong
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The Manual: Parts and Labour
Co-curated by John Chilver and Brighid Lowe

14 November - 14 December 2014
Osan Museum of Art, Osan

Euyoung Hong

In the exhibition, Parts and Labour, co-curated by John Chilver and Brighid Lowe, a particular condition of art-making is given to artists. The condition includes written instructions for the production of a work of art which are to be followed by using only the materials listed in the instructions, which are provided by the curators of the exhibition. A work of art should be made by the conceptual labour of the artist and the physical labour of others who participate in making art. The instruction of the artist is acted on and completed by the others. In the process, the artist plays a role as legislator. Specifically, in minimalist and conceptualist works; for example, Michael Asher’s Sculpture Project (1977, 1987 and 1997) and Michael Craig-Martin’s An Oak Tree (1973); this legislative role of the artist has been significantly considered, expanding the meaning of conceptual participation in the art-making process and finding a new material possibility of the idea behind the work. In these particular given conditions of art production, I intend to present a new installation work, titled Throwing for the exhibition. For the construction of the work, a set of instruction is proposed:

1. All materials on the list are used except for a bottle of red wine, a round mirror and balls. Use only one item if there are more than one of the same item.

2. Prepare a measuring tape, masking tape and a protractor in addition to the given materials.

3. Choose a place within the exhibition space and mark the place with a piece of masking tape.

4. Select an item from the list randomly.

5. Stand on the marked place with an object and throw it.

6. Measure the distance between the starting point and the place where the object has fallen.

7. Calculate the distance divided by 10.

8. Measure the new distance from the starting point and then move the point by turning through an angle of 30 degrees clockwise from the first flowing direction and mark this with a piece of masking tape.

9. Once you have placed the object on the marked place, remove the masking tape. The object becomes a new starting point for completing the next action on the next object.

10. Continue to apply the rule to each randomly selected object.

Mostly, an artist has a conceptual and material plan before he or she begins to work and thinks about how his or her idea and work turns out at the end in relation to the given space. For example, for Richard Serra, to build a model is an important part of constructing his large-scale sculptural installation. However, in this exhibition, it is not easy to have an image of a completed piece beforehand. An artist makes an instruction on the basis of a list of materials without the material experience of the actual objects. This indicates that the artist is required to actualize his or her imagination about the given materials, such as their sizes, colours or weights in a certain way. In addition, the artist has is restricted by the extent to which he or she is physically participating in the process of the production of art. There is also a time limit to the construction of a work of art. Every work of art is allowed to be constructed only within a total of two person-labour-hours, no matter whether the work is complete or not. This time limit can definitely be related to a certain aspect of performance. These shared restrictions may help viewers to easily discover different conceptual and material reactions between 20 participating artists through their outcomes. In the exhibition, an instruction acts as an essential factor that maximizes the visualization and materialization of differences.

In the particular condition of the exhibition, a performative installation work, Throwing explores the construction and distribution of principle through the material and immaterial relationship in the process and result of art production. It focuses on the idea of the verb, specifically, the act of throwing. In the project, objects cannot be identified simply as residues of a particular activity, as throwing does not result in a significant physical transformation of the given objects. Rather, the act of throwing rearranges established spatial relations, functions and meanings of the objects. It changes not only our traditional understanding of objects as nouns; which are considered as having strong solidity, immobility, physicality, isolation and objectivity; but also objects’ social roles and relations.

From a socio-political perspective, the movement, relationship and transformation of objects are affected and even controlled by the capitalist mode of production. In the realm of capitalism, the mode of production is considered an important factor, which changes and determines not only productive forces, but also the relations of production that make production function and cause the plan to be systemized in a certain way. This mode of production cannot be reduced to material production; rather, it is a broader concept, which includes the concept of reproduction, consisting of the act of circulation, distribution and consumption. In the contemporary condition of globalization, specifically in the course of the transition from Fordism to post-Fordism, the mode of production has been changed, in particular from the state mode of production to the flexible mode of production. [1] Stuart Elden sees the state mode of production, as focusing on three important elements, initially described by Lefebvre: (1) managerial and administrative, (2) the power of protection and (3) the power of killing. [2] The state mode of production is based on the logic of monopoly, in which the state as a political unit intervenes in the economy to protect large-scale monopolistic planning from that of private agents, by fixing a legal framework within which large developers can have a priority, to operate effectively. It is centred particularly on manufacturing. By contrast, in the disposition of globalization, the globalized system of production is not always matched by a globalized consumption pattern. This is because different income levels and types of consumption are constantly fragmentized and polarized into a particular condition of production. Therefore, rather than a monolithic production system, led by the limited dominant, the new mode of production tends to be flexible and globalized in many sectors by making products cheaper and circulating them more easily and efficiently for consumers all over the world.

Whereas the state mode of production has a tendency towards the production side of the operation, which is led by the limited dominant groups of people in society and aims at redistribution, based on the system of social classes, the flexible mode of production focuses on the diversity of consumers, who vary depending on their income levels and the sites that they relate to. On the basis of different consumption patterns throughout the world, the production process and its method are strictly subordinate to the social, cultural, economic and geographical conditions of the site. In this interpretation, the contemporary system of space, therefore, operates in the logic of flexibility, which seeks to reconfigure existing labour relations and production systems in relation to different social, economic and geographical contexts. The fragmented condition of consumer markets and the expansionary nature of capital flow are considered to be two key factors in the shift of the mode of production. The force of flexibility stimulates the decentralization and differentiation of production systems, as capital constantly seeks to enhance its value and profitability by externalizing and distributing itself through specified production lines. A new form of space can constantly emerge, resulting from the expansionary nature of flexible production systems and the fragmentation of consumption. In the process, public and private sectors work in partnership, as the flexible system of production enhances the interdependence of different forces, relations and sites.

In this changing condition of capitalist production, objects are produced, changed and move according to the logic of capital. Objects are essential for the accumulation of capital, because they become a basis for not only the circulation of capital, but also the process of production and distribution during a given period of time. The production and arrangement of objects is, therefore, subordinated to the flow of capital, which constantly seeks a profitable condition of spaces in order to absorb surplus capital. In other words, if an existing value and system of an object fails to absorb surplus capital, this means that the object is degenerated in the market, for example, the products of Nokia and Motorola and many others. In this account, the system of objects in the space of capitalism has been formed and transformed in an uneven pattern of geographic development, whereby the ephemerality of objects becomes an essential condition for the construction and expansion of a profitable space in terms of the logic of capital, rather than part of an equal development of all the spaces. Degenerate objects and the spatial relation and system of the objects usually have a long period of time to increase in value and catch up with their rival producers by restructuring their production systems and relations. The increase of the value of an object can be proved only through its survival in the space of market.

In relation to objects in the system of capitalist production, Throwing constructs a new spatial system of objects, which is resistant to capitalist orders, and which includes the system of gallery or museum and art collection. Through the action of throwing, the spatial arrangement of objects produces a certain form of movement and relationship in the space. In particular, the weight of objects and the strength of human physical force – which have been relatively ignored in the capitalist value system – are essential factors in determining the distance and direction of the movement of the objects. These factors of movement act as two contradictory forces: the one that is for gravity and the other that is against gravity. In this complex relationship between different forces, throwing does not simply free the object to go wherever it may, but creates a particular pattern and trajectory of movement and relation. The action becomes the art. Rather than functioning as the resultant objects, the objects form, change and reorganize the given space in and through a new spatial principle. The activity of throwing may invade spaces of other artworks in the exhibition space. Throwing as an expansionary yet violent force produces a new continuity between disconnected and fragmented elements by forging a new relationship between a new force and a different existing spatial system. The relationship between an artist’s legislative role and an object’s spatial function can be seen as a main engine of systemizing a new space, which makes a critical reaction to the monopolization and hierarchization of objects and spaces in the logic of capital. In the process, an existing space can be transformed into a new one at a given point in time, not simply because the objects relate to different material and immaterial forces, but also because the value and system of the objects are affected by the change in the logic of space, that is, throwing. Through this process, a new space can emerge.

[1] David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origin of Cultural Change (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., 1990) 141-172.
[2] Stuart Elden, Understanding of Henri Lefebvre: Theory and the Possible (London, Continuum, 2004) 224.

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