A wave of media art envelops Jeju Island's many museums
SEOGWIPO AND JEJU, Jeju Island – Jeju Island has been proving itself as the island of art with the abundance of museums and galleries that have sprung up over the past decade.
More recently, newcomers to the island's art scene have been focusing on getting the attention of younger audiences with media art.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism counted 19 modern or contemporary art museums in 2018. Since then, many new art museums have opened their doors, among which are museums that solely focus on media art or feature exhibitions mainly focused on such work. These media art museums typically have works projected not only onto the walls but on the floors as well that gives a sense of entering a whole new world filled with light. These projections also make ideal photograph backgrounds for social media posts.
The Bunker de Lumieres has been lighting up the eastern end of the island with the first-of-its-kind media art since November 2018, but now faces some competition. Arte Museum, which is filled with immersive media art, opened last year in September while the newly-built Podo Museum has set up camp west of Mount Halla, aiming to appeal to people who stay at the nearby Podo Hotel.
Arte Museum and Podo Museum are a 15-minute car ride from each other but take over an hour on public transportation so a taxi is recommended. Bunker de Lumieres sits on the eastern side of the island near the geographical landmark of Seongsan Ilchulbong so to enjoy each museum to the fullest, a two-day itinerary is recommended.
Arte Museum opened its doors on Sept. 30 last year, created by Korea’s acclaimed digital design company, d’strict. Its media artist unit a’strict earned critical acclaim for its public art project “WAVE” that lit up the huge wraparound LED display sitting atop Coex Artium in Seoul’s Gangnam District, southern Seoul last April. The group exhibited its work “Starry Beach” at the Kukje Gallery in central Seoul in August last year, using a similar wave image as the Coex exhibit but also using the floors and mirrors installed on the sides of the space to give an ever-expanding image of the space.
Arte Museum was funded by the Korea Creative Content Agency, which selects immersive art creators to boost the industry. The museum took over the building of what used to be a manufacturing factory, so looks like a giant warehouse from the outside, with only a small coffee truck parked outside the main entrance. Its humble outside appearance is deceiving.
Arte Museum comprises 10 different sections each with a unique concept, taking up 4,600 square meters in total. Each section is a different media artwork. It begins with “Garden #1,” a digital reinterpretation of the landscape of Jeju where visitors can experience “the sounds of the Jeju wind while walking on a sunny forest path.” Other exhibits, whose titles are self-explanatory such as “Flower,” “Waterfall,” “Beach,” “Star” and “Jungle,” all use light, sound and mirrors to give a multi-sensory experience.
“Beach” and “Wave” are similar to the works that have been exhibited at Coex and Kukje Gallery, but the depiction of the sky in “Beach” is more colorful than in “Starry Beach.”
Of all the sections “Garden #2” is the grandest. The section is a vast exhibit with a height of 10 meters at some points. “Garden #2” displays the most esteemed works from Western art history from the Renaissance to the school of Symbolism. The high walls show classical works at a scale bigger than the originals and the whole space gives a majestic atmosphere of being inside a dignified museum.
Visitors can take the time to color in different safari animals and have them projected onto the “Night Safari” wall then pop down for a drink at the Tea Bar on their way out. The gift shop is filled with the museum’s goods as well as Jeju-themed souvenirs.
Arte Museum is open all-year round from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with last tickets sold at 7 p.m. Tickets cost 15,000 won ($13.40) for adults and 12,000 won for children between the ages of 14 and 19 and 10,000 won for children aged between 8 and 13. For more information, visit www.artemuseum.com or call (064) 799-0990.
Podo Museum is located near the single-story boutique inn Podo Hotel and Pinx Golf Club built by the Korean-Japanese architect Itami Jun, a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.
Podo means grape in Korean and the hotel was given its name due to how the round-shaped roofs make the hotel complex look like a grape from a birds-eye-view.
Podo Museum opened last month within the Luceville Resort grounds. The Luceville Resort, Podo Hotel, Pinx Golf Club and Podo Museum are all owned and operated by SK Group.
For the honor of the very first exhibition, Podo Museum invited T&C Foundation, a foundation dedicated to educating children through culture, to hold “The World We Made” and “Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz — It is Spring, My Son” exhibitions until March next year.
“The World We Made” is part of the foundation’s “APoV” exhibition series. "APoV" is an abbreviation of “Another Point of View” and aims to look at the world from a different light. The first edition was showcased in Seoul last year.
“The World We Made” centers around the idea of hate and how it multiplies through word of mouth and eventually manifests through violence and war. Fifteen artworks by eight artists are on display along with some media artworks created by the foundation. Seonglib’s pen and pencil illustration series “not anyone” (2020), “scenes” (2012-2020) and “people I don’t remember” (2020) focus on people’s facial features, without other aspects such as clothes, skin color or gender, which easily become the source of prejudice and discrimination.
“It also points out how, despite having taken away all those things, we still ‘imagine’ a certain image of the people with these faces and how easily and willingly we fall into the mistake of generalization,” Seonglib said.
“LOST#13” (2020) by Kuwakubo Ryota shows the audience how a different point of view can make the most mundane objects seem unreal. In a darkened room, a small train runs slowly around a track which is lined with everyday objects like tennis balls, rulers and clothes pegs.
A light on the front of the train illuminates the objects so their shadows appear as enormous architectural monuments on the surrounding walls. Famed artists Zhang Xiaogang, Kang Airan and Lee Yong-baek as well as younger artists such as Kwon Yong-ju, Zin Ki-jong and Choi Su-jin are all showing works at Podo Museum.
The “Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz — It is Spring, My Son” exhibition consists of 32 prints and a bronze sculpture by the German artist, who was born in 1867 and died in 1945. She lost both her son and her grandson over the two world wars, hence the three most dominating subjects of her works — death, war and motherhood. Her prints became a source of inspiration for the Korean Minjung Art movement in the 1980s, or the people’s art of social realism works.
The museum opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with last entrance at 5:30 p.m. It closes every Tuesday. Admission is free until May 31 after which tickets will cost 5,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for teenagers and soldiers. Children under the age of 12 can enter for free. For more information, visit www.podomuseum.com or call (064) 794-5115.
Bunker de Lumieres
Bunker de Lumieres opened in late 2018 as the third edition of the “Amiex” exhibition series by French company Culturespaces. The Art and Music Immersive Experience — hence the abbreviation Amiex — takes place across 2979.15 square meters inside what used to be a secret bunker for communications company KT. It opened with an exhibition of media artwork featuring classic works by Austrian maestro Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) followed by works from Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000).
Exhibits within the bunker change every year and the total number of visitors has already surpassed 1 million since it opened in December last year. In February, the exhibit’s local operator Tmonet announced that Seoul will get its very own Bunker de Lumieres this year within the Walker Hill Hotel and Resorts grounds in eastern Seoul. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding and said that the museum will open by December this year.
This year, the bunker presents “Monet, Renoir... Chagall” and “Paul Klee.” “Monet, Renoir... Chagall” is a 33-minute media artwork that looks at 500 works by some 20 artists from the Mediterranean region who pioneered the Impressionist and Modernist schools of art, including Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Marc Zakharovich Chagall (1887-1985). The piece was directed by Gianfranco Iannuzzi.
After “Monet, Renoir... Chagall,” a 10-minute animation on artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) will play. Klee was a Swiss-born German artist who is known for his colorful Cubism paintings that use simple shapes — mostly squares and triangles — to divide up the space like tiles and depict his subjects. Also known for his musical creations, the animation will feature his accomplishments in both the visual and auditory field.
Both exhibits will be on display until Feb. 28, 2021. The bunker is open all-year round. It opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. (last entrance at 6 p.m.) until September and closes at 6 p.m. (last entrance at 5 p.m.) from October to March. Tickets cost 18,000 won for adults, 13,000 won for teenagers and 10,000 won for children. For more information, visit www.bunkerdelumieres.com or call 1522-2653.
BY YOON SO-YEON [email@example.com]