I would like to ask you about your film installation titled S.O.S.-Adoptive Dissensus at the exhibition 2 or 3 Tigers. Most of the works in this exhibition are films, video, installations, and projections. But your work also refers to modern media technology. What kind of ideas are behind it and what was the staring point for this work?

In 2015, I showed this work under the title, The Promise of If: Running on Empty. I decided to show this series of works after remembering and reflecting on the historical broadcast program, Finding Dispersed Families, which was shown in 1983 in South Korea. This program was only supposed to last for three hours, but when they announced the program, the number of requests was so great that they had to broaden it to match the reaction. When the public broadcaster of South Korea the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), announced this program on June 30, 1983, no one had expected such an explosion of requests. It started in June and lasted until November. There were so many people separated during the Korean War in 1950. Thus, everyday it was a live broadcast: and the people who had lost relatives during the Korean War—or who where lost—invaded the KBS station. Sitting in front of the TV it seemed the time‒space of the whole country was suddenly reduced or expanded, rather I would say “paralyzed.”

You saw these yearning and longing people who made and created their own media, signboards and posters for instance, illustrating dummy lookalikes or monuments; whatever they could use to express their memory or the similarity, etc. I saw it as some kind of ritual playing out in stages. At the moment of meeting, when finally they confirmed their memory, we, every family, the neighbors, we all cried in front of the TV. So, this TV program, together with Good Morning, Mr. Orwell by Nam June Paik in 1984 and former President Park Chung-hee’s funeral, the nation’s first state funeral, this nine-day mourning period in 1979 is still deeply rooted in my mind. I realized that the media had some other meaning or role at that time. I saw several different notions of time. It seemed “the time is out of joint,” like Shakespeare said. The TV program, seemed out of control, was occupied by people who suddenly appeared from nowhere like ghosts. This is what lies behind The Promise of If: Running on Empty from 2015 and its sculptural objects.

You also mentioned Nam June Paik. What kind of influence has he had on you?

I have more questions for him rather than influence from him. I think he dominated the model for video work. His work was full of the joy and power in video art. As I mentioned, for me, the KBS program was more about sorrow and loss. That’s why I wanted to start chasing something I felt we have lost. Paik could see the capacity of TV as universal and a huge hope for humanity. In one way he is right. But I have slightly deviated: I decided to take a detour to the untold history. I think about Paik’s work as a very positive aura during the 1970s and 1980s. But now, after Fukushima and the ultranationalist tendencies we see everywhere, also being conscious of living in a divided country, I became pessimistic regards Paik’s view that TV is a positive vision for humanity. But his way of object installation saved me and replenished my will of optimism.

You have been working on video works, but as in this group exhibition at HKW, you also often work with objects and sculptures as installations. How do you drop these considerations of the media into the installation work?

I might take as an example an installation work I did title The Possibility of the Half (2012). I copied the size of an existing newsroom: Seoul’s broadcasting system News 8. In the newsroom there are always news desks, behind which the anchor is supposed to sit with cameras in front and a huge screen in the background. I always see some kind of temple set; or the anchor as my father, the screen as the paravent, the camera as me, the zimizib, reflector, light stand, the mike, etc., every single media device as a witness or ex-voto.

I realize that I am more interested in media technology, but not in the equipment or hardwear as such, more the organization of it in order to animate history. Installation, working on the arrangement of time and space, is reactivating displaced objects. I believe that this affects the scale and the form of the human, the distortion of the media. A place of invisible beings, paradoxically calling out, searching in desperation. It becomes the half of the others.

That’s why North Korean people crying after the death of Kim Jong-il in 2011 and South Korean people crying after the death of the former South Korean president Park Chung-hee are shown side by side in this video. This performance installation is called The Possibility of the Half (2012). I feel I have always been living in a constant state of déjà vu, a sequence of already-seen and already-disappeared constructions or destructions, also since the menace of war is still always there. When former president Park Chung-hee’s state funeral took place in 1979, I was twelve years old, but witnessed my parents—as the whole nation—crying in front of the TV. And can you imagine? Watching the North Korean footage on TV was so similar that it took me back thirty-two years, like going back to the future! They are crying, but you don’t really know which country’s people are weeping or for whom. The current video is like some paradoxically united sorrow. The TV set or the broadcast station seem to me a never-ending place of mourning. If I desire a change, I should make it open-ended rather than extending the end. Therefore, that installation performs through the energy of a paradox.