Saturday, November 29, 2014
I find myself walking down a poorly lit alley in a dingy little industrial neighborhood in Mullae. The gates are shuttered, graffiti on a few. The art space our MONSTER is my target this Saturday night. The entrance is easily missed in the dark, no lights to bring attention to it. Actually I do miss it – walk right past. There isn’t any sign of life in the neighborhood, save a welder getting in some extra hours around the corner. I retraced steps and started noticing hints of an artist community. A painting leaning against a wall. Signs of second story art spaces or studios. I fantasize doing steel work by day and retiring to a studio in the evenings. Then I stumble across the signboard hidden in the shadows about where the studio should be. Shine a light from my phone. Yep. It’s the place. The entrance is even darker than the surroundings, an eternal pit of nothing beckons. Not suicidal, the light from my phone illuminates my path. I tentatively climb the stairs and turn the corner into the world of light.
UnMaru has a background in printmaking, a very process oriented art. Unfortunately, it also requires a lot of equipment, so for most artists it’s necessary to be in a printmaking group. Digital media, however, is much more readily accessible and allows for a different kind of manipulation and creation process. Dream Wave is UnMaru’s first solo show, exploring her journey in glitch art. The exhibit is divided into four parts – four types of exploration of these brave new media.
Three Giclee prints follow UnMaru’s exploration with digital manipulation – pushing boundaries with graphical editing tools. Each image started as a photograph, perhaps a flower or a street scene, and were then distorted and twisted using various tools. Personally I felt that the translation to print here did not display the vibrancy of the original digital work as seen below.
Glitch Gifs Given Vigor
As opposed to using software designed to manipulate the image, here UnMaru manipulates the images’ base code through various means and then animates them. Online they’re presented as gifs, but in a gallery setting a more physical form is attainted via lenticular prints. She works with a group called ‘GifPop’ based out of Brooklyn. Look like fun folks.
Suburb was a common favorite amongst visitors of the gallery. Probably due to the yet recognisable suburban scene being glitched out.
The physical lenticular prints have a distinct feeling. It’s something that could very easily come off as cheesy, yet UnMaru married to her glitch art style quite beautifully. While the prints here are also not quite as vibrant as most of their online digital counterparts, their physicality and in some cases their recoloring were strong enough to make a powerful parallel experience.
One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was the installation. Two feeds, one composed of clips taken around Seoul, the other a live hack into a camcorder that points towards the participant are spliced into each other. The viewer is invited to manipulate the feeds with three input controls sans instructions. The sense of control, voyeurism, and narcissism are all toying with your mind as you fiddle with the enigmatic device. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeJha-Ytk9k
A Generative Feedback Loop
The last segment is hidden away in a dark recess of the gallery. Three videos are displayed on a loop. Up on the wall is projected an untitled work. This is pure glitch art,: start with 32 original image files, each file manipulated four different ways, then glitched out by encoding them in different programs in various languages and retranslated into an image file – 10 different ways – then orchestrated into a video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XeUL6QzBco If this were not enough, GENFEED2 is then recursive generative feed of the original projection – and GENFEED3 then a generative feed of that. These have an oddly nostalgic feeling to me. The pixelated representation is reminiscent of old school video gaming. The dark cave of a room becomes an echo chamber of half forgotten memories and appropriated culture. Pure Zen or pure horror depending on the viewer.
Places to Visit
If you want to keep up with UnMaru’s works, she regularly updates her site at http://unmaru.com/ If you feel like braving the gallery, our Monster can be found on Facebook at
or offline at
영등포구 문래동3가 54-20 2층