A Parade of Nature and Civilization that passes The Gate of Time
Sunyoung Lee(Art critic)
Round circle that surrounds the invisible core, this way, Sooman Moon’s work has several circles in that circle, we can see movement in the static condition. The circle where the ends meet is Jeongjungdong(靜中動). Such circle structure, consistently applied to every work exhibited establishes the equal background to create difference. Power is generated in the context that coincidence is inevitability. Likewise, disorder exists in order. We may add lightness in heaviness, if we include butterfly that he paints so well. This way, Sooman Moon’s works create a dynamic stage where such conflicting values push and pull each other. There’s only center within round works,
make difference among the works. The works that infinitely return in repetition and difference pass [The gate of time] just like the title of a displayed work. His works that include a complicated work process are based on temporality, however that temporality is revealed more in the first exhibit work in 2018. That grows old together with us.
[The gate of time] series, which has the image of bronze mirror relic, implies the rear of the mirror, that is, temporality as well as a space. Mirror fixates a human being to the request of imagination, however, the point of minding the other side instead of the surface of the mirror is to distribute the self to the axis of time. Generally, relics are excavated in the historic site, and the process of corrosion is delayed since they are stored in a museum. Temporality is intervened with variables a lot. The artist, also, went through quite a few trials and errors on determination whether of stopping this process getting old. According to him, some of his works were spoiled. Even it was easier to finish neatly as previous works. That belongs to the process to open a finished process. That is to apply coincidence to an inevitable context. In this exhibition, more processes were added to imply temporality, including scratched or corroded shape, or the shapes buried or coincidentally revealed. Just as vintage jeans require more handwork than normal jeans.
Accordingly, Sooman Moon’s works secure the aspect of an object that is exquisite and atmospheric like old cultural asset. The point where the artist is attracted is not a mere modern art that cannot distinguish one’s own will and freedom. However, his works that has the simulacre attribute is in the middle of modernity. It can’t be said that there are quite a few works of the theme of simulacre, nevertheless, there are few works that are accompanied with exquisiteness to be persuasive. If a work considers the value of cultural asset, isn’t it time to make perfect things more perfect. Those works that pursued beauty completed in a moment are entering into the stage of continuity. Other circles in a circle, here, [The gate of time] with dense spokes in between, looks like the sun. That revolves around the orbit of eternal recurrence that existed before human being and will exist after human history. Such event in spatial level repeats also on the earth. The works with flowers spread in the space among the circles remind of the plants as the intuitive model of eternal recurrence on the earth. Botanists say, bare trees in the winter remind human kind of resurrection, as they rebloom in the next year, though they seem to be dead during the winter.
In Sooman Moon’s works, flowers have organic forms, however they are arranged symmetrically in pairs. That repeats inner rhythm of the nature. For him, the nature is not just the appearance but a process, and such process has a rhythm. Every life with a living heart intuitively has preference to rhythm. The artist imitated the motion of life, instead of repetition of mechanical pattern. Relation among works is also rhythmical. Just like the wheels displayed on the wall of the exhibition hall, round shapes have illusions that seem to move without actual movement. Those works with different diameters that maintain equal density and intensity form a virtual perspective on the wall of the exhibition hall. For example, small things seem far away, while big things seem close. They seem to move left and right. And between the front view and the rear view. They not only revolve on their position, also, move left and right, front and rear. As the planet revolves the stars while rotating, movement is synchronic in several dimensions. Here, space becomes temporalized.
His works have lots of layers, in this exhibition, they carve the layers of overripe time just like excavated relics. Some of them came up from the bottom, it can be expressed as the stratum of time. They do not merely disappear behind time and space. Because new flesh appears as old bark disappears. The relation among the layers up and down of the works essentially give latent motion to the painting work in acryl on the canvas. Some rise and some sink. Round shape has a sense of order, however the lines that continue while they look like being discontinued are the factors that disrupt sense of order. Straight shapes become dusts. Entropy(degree of disorder) increases. [Klopfen], which includes the meaning, a work made by beating, repeats circles in circles including 8 circles symmetrically arranged in the central layer, the outer circle, the biggest circle, operates a power to disrupt stability inside the world of circles. In work [Simulacre(041708)], such power occupies the whole.
Work [FRACTAL(081612)] feels like raging waves. Work [Simulacre(041708)] scarcely soothes the rough background surface where gold patterns rage, however nobody knows what would happen to the lines of the patterns. In the work [Simulacre(061709)], the space of a crane flying among the circles is not flat. The representative work of this exhibition, [To Father(021609)], shows that human history is not different from the nature. This exhibit work, which enhanced the sense of relic, implies that the universal human history including the theme of power or death is eventually similar to the nature. Modern romanticists perceived that the ruins for which they went crazy was the history of naturalization. Today, ultramodern technology intends to write a new history by rearranging the design of the nature. Human regulation imitates the rules of the nature. The nature does not appear as the nature itself. Nature does not appear as itself, but is mediated by culture. Art is in the climax of culture. So far, reenactment event is sometimes held in the historic site in Suwon Hwaseong.
Somewhere there’s the model—however, how the unknown potters of the previous period would work based on which ‘original’—but Sooman Moon’s works that were created by transformation little by little have the attribute of ceremony(儀禮) just like the painting of King Jeongjo’s parade. Ceremony is not a mere old custom or irrationality. The society itself has the attribute of ceremony. Ceremonial thing in the art is decoration. Modern art, ‘tradition of newness’ also, is impossible without the previous custom. Sooman Moon’s works, that enjoy amusement through variation, also have a connection to decoration. However, mechanical repetition as decoration or fixed technique is a bit different. However, perfect technique in the original decoration and ‘alluring aspect’(Jean Baudrier) accordingly are still remaining. His works, which contain huge energy both mentally and physically, cause surprise to the general audience. Ceremony repeats the initial model, however, the first one is ambiguous. Repetition without the original informs that his works have the attribute of simulacre, not the copy.
Round structure without beginning and end is considered as a proper image of simulacre. Round structure that surrounds the layer of time evades the finite composition. Disturbance of materials frequently occur in the process of imitation. ‘Simulacre that disassembles dual section of original/copy’ (Gilles Deleuze) abandons virtuality. Sooman Moon’s works are like ceramics as pictures, while they are like metals when they look like ceramics. In this exhibition, some of his works have the sense of celadon, while they are white porcelain. For example, let’s watch his butterflies that he paints so nice. His butterflies, very real even when he paints without watching the actual ones, are creepy rather than beautiful when we carefully look into them. When it becomes too delicate, it’s like a fantasy instead of reality. Maybe it can be said a fantastic illusion, since it’s not a butterfly but a picture of butterfly. Variation of material or technique is also definite. In his work [To Father(021609)], the original is a painting, however the images that the artist restored in digital are expressed in dual inlaid work. That technique is usually applied to potteries, however he made is with the bronze color paint that shines in a dark background.
The artist reproduces the metallic surface with the paint. Final texture that appears through the layered work process after being coated with gold color is revealed with metallicity. This work reproduced the parade of King Jeongjo who visited the tomb of his father, Prince Sado, who tragically died, as the original, in the structure of circles. He rearranged the spectacular structure in width and height 15meters with a circle. He intended to contain the spectacular and monumental work in the type of a bowl. If the original created by Kim Hongdo and painters is open to the left and the right since it’s linear, Sooman Moon’s work preserves the sense of huge parade which included as many as 1,800 persons and 800 military horses, while pursing the parade circularly. To make the linear structure round, intervals among the objects were adjusted. Soldiers were arranged more densely on the outer circle. Just like a telescopic view of a history. Round frame that pulls a distant space ahead zooms in time.
The artist’s interest in [King Jeongjo’s parade to Hwaseong Neunghaeng] was influenced by the monumental restoration art work [Monarchs’ parade] which the artist was deeply inspired in Dresden. The realized that such a treasure of Europe can also exist in Korea. White porcelain or celadon, some people consider them as dead tradition or stale cliché, inspire him. [Cloud] series spread the pattern of celadon on the circle. The work [Cloud(051709)] with flying cranes overlaps infinity with the sky where the birds fly. However, clear sky is not the one that puts on the layers of time. The title, cloud, began from Unbo Kim Gichang’s cigarette box, who enjoyed smoking, however an aspect was emphasized, which cannot be patterned differently from the first handicraft. Human being cannot define the movement of smoke particles or the outskirts of the cloud. The spokes of the work [Cloud(041708)], which looks like the wheels of time, are in organic lines as plants, not straight lines.
Sooman Moon’s works are antique, simultaneously, remind of chaos of modern science, complexity, and fractal theory. As the narration inherent in such theories went beyond the classical science based on strict causal theory, some part was overlapped with artistic narration that pursued diversity, which seemed to be related to the artist’s academic background as an engineer. The artist’s inborn language cannot be ignored, whatever he performs, henceforth. His ‘Cloud’ has a very stable composition in symmetry. However, stability is not eternal, but a momentary fixation. That is not a static balance in the strict geometry, but a metaphor of the balance inherent in the nature. James Klick says, in [Chaos theory; Order in disorder], the shapes treated by classical geometry are line segment, flat surface, circle, sphere, triangle, and cone, which intensively abstracted the reality and strongly inspired platonic philosophy of harmony.
Artists discovered ideal beauty from the figures, and the astronomers who insisted on geocentric theory established cosmology using them. However, it was revealed that the figures were abstracted in a wrong way to understand that complexity. Science determined the importance of oval, instead of geometrically perfect circle, and the earth was not the center of the universe, nor flat. However, Sooman Moon evaluated the idea, ‘the earth is flat’, is pure in some way. James Klick said, new geometry reflects rough and tough universe, which is not round and smooth. That is the geometry that has lots of holes, in hollows, cut, twisted, and mutually entangled. Geometry in Sooman Moon’s ‘Clouds’ belongs to tough geometry that such theory implies. We distinguish cumulocirrus from cirrus clouds, however the cloud is not fixed for a moment. The image of cloud or fog often appeared during the dynamic period. Imagine William Turner’s pictures which drove Michel Serna Gille Deleuze, who extremely refused all fixed and static things.
If the sky of Sooman Moon’s work is a space, the clouds or the birds (or insects) floating there imply time, instead of space. The philosopher Deleuze views time from chaos. Deleuze defines chaos, in his [What is philosophy], as infinite speed of every shape that faintly rises and soon scatters every direction, not disorder or nothing(無). According to Deleuze, chaos includes every available particle, which appears without consistency, instructions, and result, then soon disappears. That means a gap as the potential state that draws every possible shape. Sooman Moon, also, intends to draw reality from potentiality. His round works wait for the moment of open, continuing revolution as a dial of a treasure house that contains the secret of nature or art. The speed is slower than technical innovation of information revolution era, but never stops.
[Simulacre] series has a method to be applied both to art and science. The work [Simulacre](071709)], full of linear patterns, models borderless nature. Various borders that compose the work [Simulacre](061709)] become faint from the outside. Sooman Moon’s works are physically hard, however the implication of them is fluid. That is the image of hot liquid or gas, not a cold and solid matter. Linear order is rapidly changed by the energy. Energy drives linear order into chaos. The sky and the cloud swirl. How would time flow in such space? Scientific philosopher, Michel Serr, distinguished his theory of chaos from the classical linear theory in his [Explanation]. Michel Serr, who emphasizes that time flows complexly, which is complicated and unexpected, points out that the weather and time originate from the same word ‘temps’. Just like the warm current, Sooman Moon’s big and fluid whirl shows small whirls therein. The same in fractal series.
Sooman Moon’s works, where static harmony and dynamic continuity are combined, have a system, however they are not stiffly structured. His system is systematic only in respect that ‘Every system is bound energy’ (Michel Serr). Due to such fineness, the work [Simulacre](081709], which looks like a firm shield, has dynamics the whirls of vines between the area of large circle (great universe) and small circle (micro cosmos) like whirls that we do not know the beginning and the end. Also, it reminds of ‘complexly entangles relationship in human life dimension and network world’, according to the artist’s words. Michel Serr says, in [Hermes], a whirl is rhythmic and directivity simultaneously. According to him, the whirl that runs away revolving in circle becomes a metaphor of a situation. Serr says, nothing is formed without this essential whirl, and anything cannot exist in reality without this. Time comes in such chaos. However, chaos in Sooman Moon’s work has an invisible pattern.
The artist posted a point-blank title, ‘fractal’ onto this series, just like ‘Simulacre’. The work [FRACTAL(081612)], where dynamic power that rushes to the center from the edge is revealed to the rough surface, reminds of the sea which continues changeable movement of the surface with burning lava from deep inside or inexhaustible energy. That came from the rough surface(bark of Maehwa) of a bowl. Tradition becomes a source of infinite inspiration for the artist, along with the nature, here, variation of dimensions occurs when the artist creates the pattern of pottery, which he refers to, into a painting. A blank space is made as three-dimensional substance goes to flat, he follows the natural rule in the way of filling the space. ‘Fractal’, a Latin word meaning ‘broken state’ is the inner principle of the work that expresses the appearance that breaks up passing the gate of time. In [Klopfen] series, meaning ‘made by beating’, also, the space that repeats scales and the circles in circle repeat similarity. Fractal shape, regularity in irregularity latently lies in the cigarette smoke, cloud, and warm current.
Philip Bole said, in [The society from the viewpoint of physics – events that continue in the critical mass], the reason why the phenomenon of endless repetition where the structure in big scale becomes smaller scales, that is, fractal, drew attention of physicians during the early 1980s is because such patterns were similar to the organic shape of the nature. Leaves repeat the branches of a tree. Because the branches fill the allowed space with very high efficiency. Fractal level is the mathematics that expresses the efficiency to fill the space. According to Philip Bole, the representative characteristic of fractal is similarity of shape or form, nevertheless magnification is different. James Glick said, in [Chaos theory; order in disorder], research on irregular pattern of the nature and infinitely complex shape has an intellectual cross point, which is self-similarity. Sooman Moon’s works, which have self-similarity(類似), or self-likeness(相似), the substance that fills a circle or circle in circle is this fractal curve.
Sooman Moon’s work, has such complex and organizational structure hidden therein, as the fractal theory implies. Fractal, which implies self-similarity, is symmetrical. Of course, symmetry that James Glick pays attention to is, symmetry between large scale and small scale, not left and right or up and down. Sooman Moon’s works also have difference among the scales. For example, the world of circles in circle in work [cloud(051709)]. Same in the relation among the works. The cloud also is fractal like the arrangement in the tree or mountain chain, and snowflakes. All these shapes are ‘materialization of dynamics in physical form’, which ‘means return, that is, the pattern in pattern’ (James Glick). Above all, they show ‘a paradoxical result, an infinite road in a finite space’ (James Glick). That’s the aim of the art—‘Art intends to create limitedness that restores limitlessness’(Deleuze)--. Also, that is the aim of religion that human beings with limited life long for limitlessness.
The ambiguous dimension in Sooman Moon’s works also has a common ground with fractal theory. Yoshimasa Yoshinaka takes examples in [Science and philosophy, two mirrors], such as ‘the coastline of the rias coast in the natural world, the shape of trees, winding river, and straightly continued mountain’ that Mandelbrodt paid attention in 1975. The writer says, the fractal dimension of the landscape of the mountains on earth is about 2.1. That is above flat surface, however below three dimensional level. In other words, that’s above two-dimension below three-dimension. There’s such ambiguous dimension also in Sooman Moon’s works. He paints three-dimension like pottery into ‘painting’, and he creates them precisely, however they are not flat as picture. The thickness of his works is thick, which is treated formatively, and some works begin from the edge. The frame of his works is not transparent. There’s material opacity. System is disrupted by energy, and the energy forms another system. In Sooman Moon’s works, which fill the space with diverged time just like fractal figures, ‘gate of time’ is not only one. Here, time that includes history flows long with ‘complex diversity’(Michel Serr).