Artist Yunchul Kim explores connections at the Korean Pavilion's 'Gyre'

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Artist Yunchul Kim explores connections at the Korean Pavilion's 'Gyre'

″Chroma V″ (2022) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

″Chroma V″ (2022) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

VENICE, Italy — In William Butler Yeats’ (1865-1939) “The Second Coming” (1919), the Irish poet fathoms a world in which past civilizations in history have continuously diminished and morphed into a new one, and a gyre that spirals with strong force is used as a metaphor.
The first three lines read: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
Artist Yunchul Kim, 52, likened the present world to a gyre, or a labyrinth that represents a time of chaos.
Kim took over “Gyre,” the title of the Korean Pavilion’s exhibition at the 59th Venice Biennale, where five large-scale installations and a wall drawing are being presented. The highlight of the exhibition are three installations: “La Poussière de Soleils” (2022), whose English name is "The Dust of Suns," “Chroma V” (2022) and “Argos – the Swollen Suns” (2022).
Artist Yunchul Kim, left, and curator Lee Young-chul during the preview event on Wednesday. [SHIN MIN-HEE]

Artist Yunchul Kim, left, and curator Lee Young-chul during the preview event on Wednesday. [SHIN MIN-HEE]

Kim said during the preview event at the Korean Pavilion building in Giardini della Biennale that the exhibition sheds light on a world where humans and non-humans, like materials and nature, coexist, and that he hopes that visitors will “experience a sensational feeling.”
“Gyre” was curated by Lee Young-chul and commissioned by Arts Council Korea. Lee is a curator and an art critic who specializes in urban public design. He was previously a director at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Yongin, Gyeonggi, and the artistic director of the second edition of the Gwangju Biennale in 1997.
According to Lee, the interior of the Korean Pavilion symbolizes the earth we live on while outside the pavilion is space. The exhibit is supposed to connect the living and non-living things making visitors more than just mere humans.
″Argos – the Swollen Suns” (2022) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

″Argos – the Swollen Suns” (2022) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

This connection is achieved by Kim’s own special computer algorithms which make his installations seem like they actually breathe and move. 
One of them, “Argos – the Swollen Suns,” detects muons, which are cosmic particles that are created when they collide with the earth’s atmosphere. Using the information retrieved from this process, it is then able to send signals to his other installations — “Chroma V” and “Impulse” (2018) — triggering their movements.
In the area of the Korean Pavilion that “Argos – the Swollen Suns” is placed in, which is a separate room, the ceiling has been replaced with a wooden frame that is distinct from the rest of the brick structure.
“This is because the muons can penetrate through the wooden ceiling to the installations better than through the brick ceiling,” Kim explained. “Of all the particles that exist around us, muons are the only ones from space that make it to earth.”
“Argos – the Swollen Suns” has glass tubes that frantically flash, causing “Chroma V” to automatically change the colors and patterns on each of its 764 cells, or small-sized LED screens, that look like fish scales. All these cells join together to make up a knot-like structure. Due to its correlation to Kim’s other pieces, “Argos – the Swollen Suns” is likened to a brain.
“La Poussière de Soleils” (2022) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

“La Poussière de Soleils” (2022) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

“Based on optics, this installation creates an array of colors like the rainbow,” Kim said. “What makes it special is that the colors aren’t superficial. They have a deep presence like the color of an opal. All cells have varying appearances.”
“La Poussière de Soleils” has three hexagonal screens that are filled with yellowish liquid. They blow out air bubbles and seem to be denser than water. This piece is changeable according to the weather, Kim said.
“It’s a starchy substance that is susceptible to weather,” Kim said. “Just like how actual starch syrup hardens in cold weather and flows easily in hotter weather, the property itself is very sensitive. I’ve also looked up research papers on how light goes through it as inspiration. In this installation, the more the pressure, the bluer the color in the liquid appears.”
Kim said he has plans to connect “Argos – the Swollen Suns” to “La Poussière de Soleils.” 
″Impulse″ (2018) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

″Impulse″ (2018) [ARTS COUNCIL KOREA]

On the walls of the Korean Pavilion are Kim’s sketches.
“I thought I’d try to express landscapes of my imagination and machinery on the walls,” Kim said. “It took me two weeks to finish. I’ve gotten reactions that people enjoyed the contrast between the analog chalk drawings and the technology of my installations.”
“Gyre” officially opens April 23 and runs through Nov. 27 this year. The exhibition is open every day except Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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