Euyoung Hong
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Constructed Landscape

Euyoung Hong

From 16 to 20 March, 2016, new sculpture and installation works are presented in the Young Korean Artists (YKA) exhibition at the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art (CICA) Museum in Korea. The exhibition, entitled Constructed Landscape, is composed of six sculpture and installation practices in Gallery 2 and a site-specific installation work in an open space between the museum buildings. These new works explore the relationship between the logic of capital and the structure of urban space, concerning ways in which things and ideas are transformed in the process of capitalist urbanization, particularly in relation to the changing ideas of urban land use, the politics of space and social and spatial production and transformation. By expanding the notion of displacement, artificiality, unbalance and inequality, the exhibition focuses on how our understanding of everyday objects and ideas has been changed in terms of the politics of space, especially their transformation as an essential means of participating, forming and constructing the capitalist urban system.

Settling into the Space of Vulnerability

"Taking possession of space is the first gesture of living things, of men and animals, of plants and clouds, a fundamental manifestation of equilibrium and duration. The occupation of space is the first proof of existence [...] Architecture, sculpture and painting are specifically dependent on space, bound to the necessity of controlling space, each by its own appropriate means."

Space has always been a matter of importance in my works. My current art practice and research have developed to expand the notion of space in and through its complex relationship with objects, power, politics, society, urbanism and capitalism. In the recent solo exhibition at the CICA Museum, Korea, an installation work, entitled A Study of the Space of Han Pyeong (2016), is presented. This work explores the concept of space from a new perspective, particularly looking at the complex relationship between dwelling and space in rapidly changing conditions of urban space in Seoul. The installation is constructed from everyday objects, including construction materials, various forms of container, a ventilation fan, a work light, rulers, a chair, a plastic bookshelf and a ladder. The objects in the work are mostly made of aluminium, glass, styrofoam and plastic, which are very light and fragile substances and are usually used for the purpose of the construction of a house or for domestic use. Most of the objects, for example, the containers, are of little value, as they are used temporarily for the protection of other things, rather than by themselves. Plastic bottles and containers are easily discarded once their contents are consumed. They can be recycled; however, in South Korea, the economic value of recyclable materials and things has declined dramatically. For example, the price of styrofoam per kilogram dropped almost in half from 806 won to 476 won in 2016. Some recycling collection companies no longer collect plastic sheet, styrofoam or polyurethane because of their low value and even require increasing recycling collection cost. In the installation work, these light, fragile and cheap objects support and connect to other neighbouring objects, by being stacked one on top of another or by bridging different objects. The objects construct a vertically extended form up to the ceiling of the exhibition space. They sustain the whole structure of the work, keeping precarious balance.

A Study of the Space of Han Pyeong (2016) provides a fragile and insecure construction of space, which is completely controlled by a particular spatial order, movement and relationship between the objects. This construction is sustained by a tension between heterogeneous elements and objects. The space can easily be destroyed by fine exterior influences, such as light wind, shock or movement. This work not only explores certain aspects of space, which we currently live in and produce, but also provides a contradictory relationship between space and people in the system of capitalism. Having a space is frequently considered a natural right for a human being. However, in the changing contemporary living conditions in urban space, dwelling and the possession of space cannot be understood synonymously. People necessarily live in a space, but it is a transit space, rather than a permanent space for residence. This is like a person who lives in a foreign country or transits spaces like an airport, a bus stop, a train station, a coffee shop or a hotel. People can temporarily live in or use a space, but find it difficult to have the practicality of possessing their own spaces. When we say that there is a low possibility of realization, particularly in having one’s own house, it means that things exist in one’s dream, which is at a certain distance from our actual reality.

It can be related to a certain aspect of the system of capitalist competition. In South Korea, space has always been an issue. This includes not only territorial problems in South Korea, as the country still remains one of the divided nations in the world, but also certain issues, raised from social and economic problems of housing and dwelling in the rapid changes of urban space. Urbanization has become a global phenomenon during the past four decades. Compared with some developed countries, South Korea, especially the metropolitan area of Seoul, has experienced rapid urbanization since the 1960s. In the process of urban development in South Korea, conflicts between a developer, such as a large construction company, and the dwellers of a site cannot be avoided; this has always been accompanied with forced eviction and the problems of the evicted, which have been a serious social and political issue for society. However, the current tendency of redevelopment in Seoul has changed. In the system of capitalist competition, the value of space should be increased for its survival. Spatial value has increased differently, based on land use, such as residential or commercial. In the development of residential areas, property owners, who are relatively affluent, voluntarily organize housing redevelopment and maintenance associations and actively lead redevelopment projects. These housing associations have a right to select construction and removal companies and work with the local authority. These groups of property owners pay a share of the expenses for the construction of new housing, in order to improve the quality and value of real estate and make more profit as a means of investment. In this case, poor owners in the associations cannot afford to pay the high cost of share expenses, so that they mostly oppose the redevelopment projects and come into conflict with rich owners. Consequently, once a redevelopment project has successfully been put in place, these poor owners have to sell their properties and leave their houses. This is a displacement made by internal forces, rather than external forces. South Korean urbanization can be characterized as a profit-driven urban renewal project, which takes place on a massive scale and is led by affluent housing owners, the government and large construction companies and private investors. The development process is violent, aggressive and unequal. Once degenerate areas have been redeveloped, housing and rent prices soar to unaffordable levels. Mostly, low-income families are peripheralized and displaced to low-priced spaces in the outskirts of Seoul’s metropolitan area to look for an alternative place for living. This process of uneven development brings about not only the rapid increase of homeless people in the city, but also increases in rent and estate value.

Another recognized tendency of urban development in South Korea is the increase of spatial value through the commercialization of urban space. Over the past few decades, residential areas of Seoul have rapidly been transformed into commercial spaces, replacing dwellings with trendy restaurants, cafes and luxury boutiques. This particular tendency of the transformation of land use is certainly different from large-scale planned urban redevelopment, which is mostly led by the government or large developers and construction companies, in order to provide a large number of housing units. This commercialization of space is, in most cases, led by affluent landlords or private investors, in order to earn more profit from the increased value of the property. These redeveloped areas attract more capital and investors and accordingly rent and real estate prices in the areas increase dramatically. One reason why a residential space is attractive to capital and investors is that it is less expensive than that of a commercial space. Therefore, when this residential space is transformed into a commercial space, surplus value can be maximized through the large difference between investment expenses and increasing rent price and property value.

Consider these particular urban conditions in South Korea. A Study of the Space of Han Pyeong (2016) focuses on a contradictory idea in the changing meaning and function of dwelling and space. The pyeong is a unit of area measurement used in Korea. Here, han pyeong (1 pyeong) is equivalent to the area of 3.3 m2. A space of han pyeong includes the complex spatiality in our society. It can be considered not only as the minimum size of dwelling spaces for single poor people, such as goshiwon and jjockbang. But also this space contains a desire for the possession and occupation of space. As there is no neutral space, space cannot be simplified as an empty container, which people and things can enter and occupy freely. Space is certainly related to the matter of existence, which includes the formation and transformation of conceptual and material reality. Han pyeong can be a minimum space that people desperately want to obtain for their lives. At the same time, it is the space of desire that is almost difficult to possess. In South Korea, especially in the area of Gangnam, the price per 3.3 m2 has increased dramatically, which is currently over 40,000,000 Korean won (35,000 US dollars) for domestic housing and over 100,000,000 Korean won (86,000 US dollars) for commercial space or an office building. In the metropolitan area of Seoul, people who earn an average income would have to save their whole year’s income for more than 10 years to purchase housing in Seoul. The majority of people tend to spend a large percentage of their income on repaying the housing loan. Up to now, unemployment and economic polarization have been key factors in making urban housing environment more unaffordable, unequal and unstable.

A Study of the Space of Han Pyeong (2016) looks at a particular aspect of dwelling space in South Korea through a three-dimensional work of art. The fragile structure of space is managed by a completely controlled spatial system through the balance and tension of different objects. The interior structure of the work is highlighted by a work light, which is attached to a frame low down in the construction. This light not only produces a contrast between the construction and its surrounding space, but also emphasizes the transparency and lightness of the plastic materials used in the work. Through a particular spatial relationship between different objects, this work develops a certain aspect of the space of vulnerability in the shifting idea of dwelling, particularly its position in the space between expansionary construction and fragility, between settlement and displacement and between reality and desire. The quality of life for people with average and lower income levels and the rate of the construction of new luxury high-rise residential buildings at the centre of the city are in inverse proportion to each other. In the case of South Korea, urbanization has undergone rapid growth and change after the Korean War, ending in 1953, thoroughly led by the government from its housing plan to its supply and price control since the 1970s, and has proceeded in an extreme process of constructing and destroying dwelling space. In the process of urbanization since the 1970s in South Korea, people from all over Korea, more than 90% of the total Korean population, have converged in the centre of Seoul. Accordingly, this not only caused the concentration of capital investment in limited areas of Seoul, but also makes the city contested. Seoul has developed rapidly, creating a landscape full of high-rise residential and business buildings. In the competitive construction of new luxury residential buildings, housing prices in Seoul have soared dramatically, certainly influencing the lives of low- and middle-income families. Despite the large supply of new housing, the metropolitan area of Seoul has always been short of affordable houses. In other words, people who cannot afford the increasing rents have been peripherized outside Seoul to find an alternative place to live. People who remain in Seoul have to cope with high rents or monthly repayments of housing loans. These people only just manage to scrape a living by economizing on living expenses. Although they make every effort to maintain their lives, their living site is always vulnerable, being influenced, invaded and destroyed easily by external forces and changes.

Displacement or Disappearance

In stiff capitalist competition, achieved values and technologies tend to be easily devalued and degenerated, owing to the continuous emergence of new relations, methodologies and ideas. If existing systems and relations of production are expected to be ineffective for the future expansion and movement of capital and the production of surplus value, they cannot avoid their replacements or crises, because the geographical boundary of the space itself cannot be changed or replaced with another. The transience of urban space, specifically, the repetitive process of generation and degeneration of the built environment, relates to David Harvey’s account of “creative destruction”, in which he emphasizes “the significance of crises as moments of urban restructuring.” By expanding on this particular aspect of capitalist urbanism, the exhibition presents a new installation work, entitled Constructed Landscape (2016). This work is constructed using various types of green glass bottle, to create a mountain-like form on the table. These bottles were collected from different places in Seoul over a long period. Collected objects or products; all of them green; occupy and are arranged on the table, transforming it into a densely packed space. The objects, like glass bottles and outdated wooden tables, are considered low-value things, not only because they are mass-produced from cheap materials, but also because they are easily discarded or collected for recycling or reusing.

Constructed Landscape (2016) explores the shifting changes of urban landscape in the process of urban redevelopment in South Korea. In the system of capitalism, mass production has been an important mode of production. Especially in the Fordism of the early 1900s, it has been characterized as the reduction of unproductivity, the removal of individuality and the verticalization of power structure. Mass production developed a new manufacturing technology, which is dominated by economic efficiency and high-speed operation in a unitary and standardized production system. Instead of making small quantities of different products, mass production maximizes productivity by producing a huge quantity of the same product in a short time for supply to larger sections of the population. In the process, the value and price of a product are reduced. This machinery production process is operated in the verticalized power structure, in which a production line; in which a product is assembled and sequenced in a number of highly divided sub-production lines; is constructed and controlled by a single logic of a dominant group of decision-makers or producers. Mostly, this production line is temporary, because once a product becomes devalorized and degenerated in the process of market competition, an old production line has to be destroyed and replaced with a new production line to produce a new product. However, in the case of mass production, this change of production line or system has not been easy, owing to the system’s structural inflexibility.

In South Korea, urban redevelopment projects have mostly been on a large scale, constructing communities or towns. The same designs of high-rise residential buildings are mass-produced. These houses are constructed according to the logic of economic efficiency; which can also be related to the idea of Fordism in the mid-twentieth century; in which housing is mass-produced and is organized for the multiplicity of people or the community. Mass production and consumption of housing are seen as not only a marked feature, but also an industrialized method of spatial organization and systemization of planned urbanism that unifies space in a certain pattern in terms of repetition and uniformity. In relation to the mass production and consumption of housing in South Korea, this installation work looks at the changing meaning and value of space in the system of capitalist urbanism. Old towns and degenerate areas are constantly disappearing in the process of urban development. The reconstruction market works on a cycle of 30 years in Korea. This means that once residential buildings are aged over 30 years, the buildings are under consideration for redevelopment. This relatively fast cycle of housing redevelopment in South Korea is not simply because aged housing is at risk of collapse or life-threatening conditions, but because housing owners spontaneously pre-empt redevelopment projects by establishing housing reconstruction maintenance business associations in order to invest their money to increase the economic value of their housing. Under this shifting condition of urban development, the urban landscape has been changed constantly and rapidly. Like the recycling of discarded glass bottles, dwellings, urban green spaces and city landscapes do not last long in the system of capitalism. Because of globalized market competition and demand, they are pushed into the process of transformation in the contradictory relationship between settlement and displacement, between development and degeneration and between permanence and temporality.

Another work with the same title, Constructed Landscape (2016), is a wall piece. This work is composed of two pieces of construction site wall, each of which is cut to 122 cm x 100 cm. The pieces are covered with construction fence wraps, printed with photographs of forest. The work presents two different images of architectural landscape, focusing on contrived combinations of forests and buildings in urban areas. These images are completely covered with a growing medium, such as grasses, plants and trees. At a glance, the entire images can be viewed simply as a forest or a jungle, filled with trees and plants, but when viewers take a close look, they can recognize buildings behind the green. The buildings are recognizable through the lines created by the disconnection of forest images. These architectural images are reproduced from photos of actual abandoned factories in Pyeongnae-dong, Namyang-ju in South Korea. This work focuses on the shifting conditions of the economic environment in South Korea in the post-industrial era, such as changes of industrial structure from industrial technology to information technology, which become a fundamental factor that affects the tendency of de-industrialization at the centre of the city. Industrial structure is dependent on changes of market, technology and social environment. Once a new product is circulated in the market, demand for the old products declines. An example is the disappearance of the Sony Walkman cassette player and CD player in the market. In the case of South Korea, the baby goods industry has reduced dramatically because of the changes of social structure, caused by the large decrease in employment, marriage and birth rates. In addition, the rapid increase of land and rent price in the process of urban development certainly affects the displacement of factories and companies outside the centre of Seoul. In the case of Pyeongnae-dong, dyeing processing factories have formed and established the Hyeopdong industrial complex. Recently, large-scale urban redevelopment projects were set-up in the area, replacing old housing with new high-rise residential buildings. These projects also spread to the neighbouring industrial area, owing to the slumization of the area and the problems of industrial pollution. These abandoned factories are currently under consideration of redevelopment, for transformation into new residential, commercial districts with green spaces.

Constructed Landscape (2016) also deals with the changing meaning and function of green in the system of capitalist urbanization. The construction site walls, which are completely covered by photographs of forest, can frequently be found in Seoul, as many places are in the process of (re)development or under consideration for development. This wall embeds particular characteristics of South Korean urban redevelopment, which include large-scale redevelopment through the complete deconstruction of degenerate spaces, forced removal and relocation, and social zoning, caused by changes of land use and housing prices. Recently, the aesthetic value of these construction site walls has been re-examined, to improve the image and value of urban (re)development. Despite the socio-political and environmental problems caused in the process of urban (re)development, ironically, construction site walls have been filled with images that directly refer to green, such as forests, trees and flowers. The term “green” tends to be used widely and even excessively to achieve certain economic, social and political purposes or benefits, which are not associated with or work for nature or the environment. As Neil Smith argues, “Material nature is produced as a unity in the labor process, which is in turn guided by the needs, the logic, the quirks of the second nature. No part of the earth’s surface, the atmosphere, the oceans, the geological substratum, or the biological superstratum are immune from transformation by capital.” Green, or nature, is exploited, privatized, abstracted and idealized to enhance its use value as a key commodity in the system of capitalism. The definition of green has broadly changed to include various concepts, such as nature, environment, renewable, clean, recycle, responsible and sustainable. Most of these have a tendency to project a positive idea of green, which resists or even contrasts against the capitalist monopolization of urban space, particularly its aggressive and violent process of industrialization and commercialization. In this respect, this work recognizes the changing idea of green, which produces and distributes idealized views of things and ideas, anaesthetizing people’s consciousness or awareness in order to think in positive ways, thinking of something restful, peaceful, recreational, liveable, organic, healthy, promoting well-being, clean or pure, rather than in realistic or negative ways. Green images of the construction site walls produce green commodities of urban spaces.

The construction fence wraps, which contain photographs of trees and forests, are frequently used to cover construction sites. A view of green is mass-produced, distributed and perceived in the regime of urban. In South Korea, new designs of construction fence wrap have been mass-produced and commonly applied to sections of walls for construction sites. Rather than painted walls, the construction site wall covered with photographs has become one of the most popular and essential materials for decorating the exterior of the construction site in South Korea. Recently, new designs of fence wraps have been developed and introduced, such as photographs of flower, birds, plants, trees and animals. These have been widely used to decorate the interiors or exteriors of commercial spaces and schools, such as cafes, shopping malls, hotels, airports, hospitals, and many different types of space in South Korea, to create nature-friendly images of space. The role of these fence wraps is no longer limited to the production of background, filled with a symmetrical repetition of copies of motifs or patterns or a simple construction information on the wall; rather, it is considered an easy and economic spatial method to (re)produce or even transform a given space into another, passing through the real, yet illusionistic space of photographs. Green images, which are provided through the construction fence wrap produce and distribute a shared view of green in the logic of mass production. The space; produced by the construction site wall; is exchanged into an intentionally figured product for the capitalist production system and for the visual and image-saturated culture, which establishes a mass utopian dream in capitalist society, distributing the same sense of collective satisfaction and perception from the product.

By developing further this particular aspect of the commercialization of green in its use in the process of the development of urban space, Constructed Landscape (2016), looks at the contradictory relationship between development and idealization in the production of urban space. Cities have expanded spatially in terms of their economic, social, ecological and political change and demands. In the process of capitalist urbanization, the concept of green is no longer confined to masses of trees in a natural area, untouched by human hand, nor is it simply a greening of urban areas; rather, it has functioned in a certain way in the system of capitalism as a part of the socio-political and economic organizational structures or urban infrastructure, which makes a city function. The term green has become widespread. Its definition has also changed broadly, to include various concepts, such as nature, environment, renewable, clean, recycle, responsible and sustainable. Most of these have a tendency to project a positive idea of green, which resists or even contrasts with the capitalist monopolization of urban space, particularly its aggressive and violent process of industrialization and commercialization. In this respect, the combination of urban with green produces a completely new idea and thing. As we can easily find, by considering the variety of green images, for example, on the construction site walls, in the regime of urban, green is often commoditized and regulated or, in other words, planned, produced, changed, by acting as a strategic tool to make a better and idealized image for gaining more profits. This idealized image produces an illusion, which is detached from existing functions and relationships in reality, for example, the quality of life and the relationship of the idea of green with environment, naturality and sustainability. New social and political systems, relations and orders can be generated through this externality of illusion, by transforming an existing idea and function of green into a new urban hybrid.

Removal (2016) is an installation work, composed of an aluminium structure, which has 5 cm long and 0.8 cm diameter aluminium rods protruding from the rear of the structure, and spaced at 30 cm intervals. The idea of this aluminium frame was originally derived from a part of the load space of a 1,000 kg light truck, which is frequently used for delivery and house removal. Green mesh tarp, which is used to cover the load space of a truck, is hung on the aluminium rods. On the ground, a bundle of a pillow and a brick is covered by a clear plastic sheet and tied up with a black rubber band. This bundle pulls the mesh tarp from the ground, creating a certain tension in the work. This work explores the relationship between dwelling and space in the process of urban development, particularly concerning an increasing tendency of urban displacement in the private sectors. In the urbanization of Seoul since the 1970s, the development of urban space has emerged on a large scale, necessarily accompanying different socio-political powers, which often aim to achieve their own interests through development projects. Many problems have occurred in the process of such development. An example is the Yongsan international business district development project. In this radical circumstance of development, the definition of dwelling space is changed to indicate a kind of speculative item, or an investment for making more profits in a relatively short period of time, instead of a space for protection, peace and permanent residence. In this process, conflicts between a developer, such as the state or a large construction company, and local people cannot be avoided. The development procedure is extremely violent, aggressive and exclusive. In many cases, people have to leave their homes, whether or not they can afford to buy or rent new dwelling spaces. Once old houses in slum areas have been replaced to create a new district, housing prices soar to unaffordable levels. This newly transformed dwelling space, therefore, is planned and produced not for the urban poor, because those people certainly cannot afford to buy the new houses.

In addition to these large-scale redevelopment projects, the idea of dwelling and space has been changed in a particular tendency of nomadic life in contemporary society in South Korea. The concept of dwelling has been transformed from a permanent place for shelter, rest and protection to a transit place, such as an airport, bus stop, shopping mall, where people cannot have the right to occupy or reside in the place. High housing prices turn people’s hopes of having their own houses into idealized dreams, which can hardly happen in real life. Rising rents push people out of their long-time residential places, in search of cheaper alternatives. In South Korea, houses are mostly commercialized as products, which are used as means of investment to earn more economic profits. In the metropolitan area of Seoul, the majority of people live in high-rise residential buildings and apartments. Depending on brand-name and location, housing prices vary dramatically. In the shifting conditions of urban environment and housing and rent markets, nomadic life has become a common scene, particularly for the urban poor. Mostly, low-income families are peripheralized and displaced to low-priced areas in the outskirts of Seoul’s metropolitan area. They are constantly disappearing from the centre of the city, becoming invisible.

Space and Power: (Un)balancing the Social

As Henri Lefebvre argues, “There is a politics of space, because space is political.” Space and power are inseparable. Also, they are essential elements for building, changing and making a society function in a certain way. My artistic and research interest focuses on ways in which space and power interact with each other and produce a system of space, which hierarchizes and transforms things and ideas in a new relationship and order. In the exhibition, Squeeze (2016) explores a particular aspect of the relationship between space and power in the process of capitalist urbanization. This work is an installation work, which is constructed from a planted pot and a shelf-like structure. It expands the territory of the object through experimentation with the given spatial structure and system of the exhibition space. A white shelf-like structure is placed at the upper corner of the exhibition space, where the ceiling and two walls meet, creating a small room, which is only just large enough for a planted pot, so that it can be squeezed into the constructed spatial limitation. In and through the given spatial limitation, this plant continues its own life, finding new directions and spaces for its leaves to grow. In the case of South Korean urban redevelopment, redevelopment has been mostly on a large scale, building a town or, in an extreme case, a city. These are planned and constructed spaces, which are fundamentally different from spontaneously formed spaces, such as small and old villages or towns in European countries. As large-scale redevelopment projects do not rebuild single small houses, but reconstruct whole towns, in some cases, the topography of the redevelopment area changes; a mountain is destroyed, giving way to new high-rise residential buildings. Redevelopment sites are separated from neighbouring spaces by construction site walls, which strictly restrict entrance to the sites. In many cases, the redevelopment process has always generated administrative and legal conflicts with neighbouring communities. These people ask for financial compensation for the constant annoyance of construction noise, dust, smells, pollution and disruption. Through the complete destruction of degenerate spaces, forced removal and relocation, as well as social rezoning, are inevitable, certainly affecting changes of land use and housing prices. When degenerate areas are planned and redeveloped, forming new residential and commercial districts, most housing and rent prices soar to unaffordable levels. In many cases, people, who cannot afford to buy or rent the new houses, have to find an alternative place for living outside the centre of Seoul.

From a political context, the use of a natural material, that is, a plant in this work can be viewed from two different perspectives. First, it focuses on the political relationship between the majority and minority in the system of capitalist urbanization. In Deleuze and Guattari’s theory, the current status of capitalism has been investigated through the concept of the minor or becoming-minor, particularly in the regime of sign and language. In A Thousand Plateaus, a majority is defined as a dominant system of power, which homogenizes, centralizes and standardize things and ideas. Deleuze and Guattari argue, “Majority implies a constant, of expression or content, serving as a standard measure by which to evaluate it. [...] Majority assumes a state of power and domination, not the other way around.” A minority is considered a complex concept, which does not exist in itself, but exists only in relation to a majority. Minority is a "potential, creative and created, becoming." Deleuze and Guattari distinguish the concept of majority from that of minority in terms of the dialectical relationship between the power of constant (pouvoir) and the power of variation (puissance). In the regime of capitalism, urban space becomes a point of rupture, whereby different forces and powers meet and are translated into a certain form, interacting with conflictual movements between the vulnerable side of the minority, which allows the invasion and crossing of different forces, and the military side of the majority, which has a tendency to control and protect the territory.

Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of majority and minority, Squeeze (2016) focuses on two different, yet interrelated, functions or operations of power in the spatial system of capitalism. The dominant power operates to restrict the formation and movement of hierarchical assemblages; it tends to obstruct the emergence of singularity by creating a striated space of unproductivity. In particular, it produces a space of homogeneous concentration, in and through which a central power exercises a dominant and active force, which holds and controls transit spaces, such as roads and bridges. The dominated power is, by contrast, considered a form of assemblage or the politics of the outside, which has a tendency to act against the formation and operation of the dominant power. It exercises a transformative force to weaken the concentrated power of sovereignty of the dominant, by penetrating the striated space of verticality through the dynamics of the smooth space of horizontality. The dominated power constantly moves towards the “deterritorialization” of the hierarchy of the dominant, creating a new space of difference. This contradictory, yet interactive relationship between the dominant power and the dominated power is necessary to generate a creative movement. This creative movement can be achieved only through going beyond the rigidly fixed and anti-productive space of the dominant. In this respect, the political relationship between majority and minority are crucial in its production of nomad vectors and the actualization of transformative potentiality through an established space.

Second, in this work, the concept of green is differentiated from the traditional idea of green, for example, that of modernist realist landscapes, in that green (or natural landscape) in realist paintings mostly depicts the rural, which is considered the “anti-urban”. Realists understand green as an important means of escaping or becoming free from a certain dominant power system of reality and as a place of protection, safety, peacefulness, equality and freedom. However, in the contemporary condition of capitalist urbanism, green is no longer considered a minor power or a refuge in external reality. In addition, greening urban spaces does not mean the construction of an ecological utopian space, making a certain balanced relationship between human beings and nature. In this respect, this work focuses on the spatial and political system and relation, which are produced in the logic of capital. Green acts as a constituent element of capitalism, which systemizes a space in a certain way. It is also a dynamic part of the land market, which is produced, divided and regulated by urban planning. Green as a commodity produces and is produced by the system of contradiction in social reality. Society produces, utilizes and distributes the illusion of green, by materializing a virtual space of protection, clean, safety, equality and freedom. Through the illusion of green, the urban space becomes more unequal, hierarchized, fragmented and conflictual in the process of uneven development, accelerating uneven accumulation and distribution of capital, rather than balancing the social.

By expanding these two different ideas, Squeeze (2016) explores the politics of space, concerning how things and ideas can be transformed in different structures of power; how the new can be produced in the interrelationship between different elements and powers. This work also provides a new understanding of how human beings perceive, behave from a new perspective and relate to specific conditions in everyday life, particularly in relation to the politics of space in the system of capitalism. By further developing the political relationship between the urban and the green, it concerns ways in which the concept of green is transformed in the process of capitalist urbanization, particularly in relation to the changing ideas of urban land use, the politics of greening and social and spatial production and transformation. It focuses on how the understanding of green has been transformed and commoditized in terms of the politics of space, especially moving from green or nature as a non-realistic and ideal object; which is free from the control of a certain centralized power system; to an essential part of capitalist urban system.

In the exterior of the museum, a site-specific installation, entitled A Space Made by Thirty Water Containers (2016) is presented. This project makes a space by using thirty 20 litre plastic water containers. The water containers are placed in the middle of the space between two museum buildings, which is used as a passageway and rest area in the back and as a parking space in the front. The line of the water containers creates a geometric line of space. In the metropolitan area of Seoul, these large water containers can frequently be found in spaces, such as empty parking spaces or roads in front of shops, restaurants and houses. They function as a barrier or a barricade to stop someone getting in or using the space. This installation work focuses on contested spatiality, which expands the social use of everyday objects and its relation to the production of space and spatial system in the urban context. The installation of large water containers in the streets and roads creates a contested zone, in which a continuous attempt to enter the zone from the outside cannot be avoided. In many cases, it brings about conflicts with the people who want to control the space by constructing the barrier of water containers. In the city, space is hierarchized based on many factors, such as community, culture, education, wealth and social function and position. This means that space becomes an arena not only for determining collective identity, but also for generating inter-communal disputation, which makes a city contested. Moreover, the space of cities is contested in terms of the fact that they certainly have a limited spatial, geographical and topological scope for development; conflicts are, therefore, immanent in such a spatial limitation or containment, particularly concerning how to use, develop and distribute limited land resources. In this respect, the installation focuses on the transformation of water containers into a political agency, whose role is to occupy, control, organize and systemize a space in a certain order. This work illuminates the complex spatial and political potentiality of the object, which provides a critical perspective on understanding urban space. The installation of water containers is not limited to a physical dimension of a city; rather, it allows us to expand a social phenomenon and the reproduction of social space in the conflictual relationship between shared space and contested space, between occupation and displacement and between actuality and potentiality. A space is not only produced, reproduced and transformed in relation to people’s action and reaction, but also (re)shapes human spatiality.

(Un)balancing (2016) explores the relationship between space and power in the process of capitalist urbanization. This work is constructed by vertically stacking large street flower pots on two separate slanted platforms. The stacks of flower pots lean against each other to create a balance and the stacks do not collapse. This work explores the territory of an object, which is not identical with the space that is physically occupied by an object. Rather, it includes the socio-political action of the object, which affects its relations with its surroundings. Large street flower pots are currently utilized as a means of street displacement in the metropolitan area of Seoul, South Korea. Public spaces, such as the space of street, have been used actively in South Korea for various social, political and economic purposes, rather than simply as a passageway from one place to the other place. Especially in the process of urbanization, space has not functioned as a static urban setting for social practices; rather, it acts as a complex kind of zone, in and through which different forces and relations can encounter and come into conflict with each other. Consider public spaces, particularly streets between buildings, houses and roads. This space cannot be simplified as a neutral space, which does not belong to a particular person, but is shared with the anonymity of the urban population.

From a historical perspective, the space of the street played an important role not only as a commercial place, for example as the setting for a traditional market, but also, in a larger sense, as a centre of a city’s economy, politics and culture. In the Joseon dynasty in Korea, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, most authorized shops were located in the capital city, Hanyang, whereas in rural areas there were only temporary markets that were held on particular days of the week. Government-licensed city shops, called Shijeon, had been located in the main streets in the capital city since the early fifteenth century. A Shijeon was a centre of commerce, which had exclusive right to sell various items throughout the country, such as special items for sale to the palace, luxury goods for the upper classes, and various household items for the lower classes. In the Joseon period, it was, therefore, legitimate that Shijeon had the monopoly and was allowed to prohibit an unauthorized shop, called a Nanjeon, from selling monopolized items. In the seventeenth century, however, the number of Nanjeon increased enormously throughout the capital city, not only because of the increase in production, which caused changes in the commerce system; centralized in Shijeon; but also because of the enactment of new commercial laws, which significantly weakened the prohibition on Nanjeon. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, in South Korea, a contemporary version of Nanjeon has continued, under the name Nojeom (street shop). These illegal street shops are mostly located on major street corners in Seoul, where people gather easily. The majority of traders in Nojeom cannot afford to rent space. These people tend to occupy space illegally, by setting up temporary stalls in the street. In the process of the transition from an agricultural economic system to an industrialized one in South Korea, particularly in the postwar period of the 1970s and the 1980s, people from all over Korea converged in the centre of Seoul to find better jobs and earn more money. In this period, the number of Nojeom increased dramatically. Until now, the Korean government has strictly prohibited these illegal street shops, owing to the obstruction of traffic, the lack of safety for pedestrians and ruining of the urban aesthetic. In this respect, it is clear that the street environment functions as a critical element of the formation of the city, which is related not only to how people pass along roads in urban settings, but also to how a space can be used and produced.

(Un)balancing (2016) concerns questions of the meaning and function of everyday objects, which can be a means of producing and transforming a space, particularly in the process of urbanization. The territory of an object cannot, therefore, be reduced simply to the space that is physically occupied by an object; rather, it includes the socio-political action of the object, which affects its relations with its surroundings. Large street flower pots; called Doro Whabun; are frequently used for various purposes in public spaces in the process of environmental development. A recent example is the installation of large flower pots on the streets in Seocho-gu, Seoul in 2012 as a part of the local authority’s environmental renewal project. The aims of this flower-pot project are to crack down on illegal street stalls, by filling an empty space to prevent the erection of stalls in the street and at the same time to improve the aesthetic of the public space by, as it were, “greening” the city. These flower pots are usually placed outside shops and residential buildings in two or three rows along the street, forming a new pattern of movement. The installation of flower pots serves as an essential mechanism for the formation of social interaction, because, on the one hand, it creates a particular pattern of flow and relations of people as they walk along the street and, on the other hand, the power of the local authority conflicts with different forces, which occupy and pass through the space.

The spatial arrangement of flower pots can be understood as an upright architectural structure, which not only demarcates and protects a particular area of land, but also produces boundaries for the territories it occupies. At the same time, it separates one place from the other and is shared with neighbouring properties. Compared with architecture, the installation of flower pots creates a temporary space, which can be changed or removed easily, depending on the condition of plants and the use of the space. In the streets, the flower pots; which are not merely lifeless things; are denigrated as hideous objects of the streets, not only because the local authority overlooked the necessity for continuous maintenance; for example, watering and planting; and fail to budget for this maintenance, but also because these flower pots were originally aimed to be utilized for different social purposes. The spaces, produced by flower pots, present a particular aspect of urbanism in South Korea, including changing ideas of the urban aesthetic, the principle of the use of public space and the political dynamism of the production of space. In the urban environment, flower pots not only divide a space both socially and spatially, but also produce a conflictual power relation between governance and trespassing, between minority and majority and between occupation and displacement. The function of flower pots in urban space has been transformed into a political agency, which participates in the production of space, that is, controlling spaces by exercising power through a particular spatial system constructed by flower pots. Flower pots are the property of a local authority. This dominant power of flower pots is authorized to control an area of space. Therefore, if someone moves or removes these flower pots without permission, the person will be legally punished. Large flower pots are utilized to prevent illegal use and occupation of public space, such as illegal street shops and illegal parking. A balance of power in public space is fundamental to the preservation of democracy, as public spaces should be shared and cannot be considered as private territory that is possessed and controlled by a single person. However, displaced people mostly cannot afford to rent or buy a shop in the city centre, so they have to find an alternative space or job for managing their lives. Balancing cannot be separated from unbalancing. The balance of power unbalances the social; and unbalance arouses the power of balance.

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