‘ Korea ’ category archive



The saturation of paradox is perhaps the wonder of contemporary society. The world has never been so strikingly contradicting. We are more globally connected, shared, and opened than ever. More spaces are locked, controlled, and surveilled than ever. We are able to communicate with the entire world within a closed room. Cities have never been so crowded. Surfacing images now redefine urban spaces as we know it. We walk in streets of unreality. More and more, we run into faceless strangers we will never see again. We have never felt so isolated. Our true emotions are less relevant. We regain a sense of the real in our dreams. Nothing is absolute. Everything is blurry. It is now difficult to grasp what’s real from what’s visible. Women are men. Men are women. The unreal has never been so real. The real has never been so unreal.

Cocoon is a house in which everything we know of a house ceases to exist. A house divides a space into smaller finite spaces of different events. Cocoon is in itself a space of infinite events. A house is situated somewhere and provides us with the sense of stability that tells us where we belong. Cocoon is nowhere and everywhere. It exudes the sense of identity. It is our body. A house is physical in that it has clear material distinctions among windows, walls, ceilings, and doors. Cocoon is both material and ethereal like light in that it has ambiguous boundaries. A house is fenced and gated in human efforts to ensure security and to protect privacy. Cocoon is a form of human desire to relate and to connect.

with Dong-wook Hwang


Gwangju Urban Folly

Recent competition entry with Jiwon Hur


in sync



PechaKucha Night Seoul

Some images from the PechaKucha event last month.



Students’ Works from KNUA-MS2 (IM)MATERIAL

It’s been an interesting semester working with the students at KNUA. Definitely a great learning experience. These are some of the works by them.




















The two silos at the expo site are standing at an outstanding location- situated between the ocean and the mountain- and also surrounded by two large public plazas. It is critical to redesign the current silos with foundational understanding for the importance of its current location. Since the silos stand at a focal point in viewing the ocean (from Silo A) and the mountains (from Silo B), this connection to its surrounding nature must be kept intact even when advances are made to its current design. Our design exploits the territory between the natural and the digital. The two silos will become an interesting destination where the world between nature and technology becomes strangely ambiguous without subtracting the original element in each.

In our design, the two silos are wrapped by bundles of semi-translucent plastic tubes/pipes, thereby creating a new space, a third void, in between the silos. This design is representative of the concept behind our project- the merging of the two different spheres in today’s world (the digital and the natural). Our design is unique in that when the two spheres blend, one does not necessarily take away from the other or dominate the other. Just as the two silos are standing intact, it is possible for the two cylinders to exist separately while in harmony. The void created by wrapping the two silos is a middle ground, a unique third space situated between the two silos. The plastic pipes are dichotomous, acting as a railing towards the edge but when it reaches towards the middle (the third space), they also act as a fibrous screen where images and movies can be projected. The pipes are manmade and artificial but by acting as a railing, provides an unobstructed view looking out towards the ocean and the mountain. Because the fibrous screen is porous, when the digital art is projected on to the screen, the landscape behind the screen is also vaguely visible through the gaps between the pipes- an ambiguous spatial experience of digital and nature. The screen is visible from both front and back (or from outside and inside) of the building.

The oceanic landscape pierces through the fibrous pipes that connect the silos, enhancing the visibility of nature through the screen during daytime. The digital world becomes alive at night, in the dark. The projected art on the screen is accentuated as the day turns into night and as the scenery fades away. Interestingly, the inside of the silos are always dark. However, this does not mean that the digital world has won over in the dark stillness. As scenery still seeps between the digital screen, nature exists in the seemingly lifeless interior of the silos- it is an ocean without water, a dark void filled with robotic fishes, another merging of the nature and the digital. These robots are equipped with helium balloons and built-in mechanisms to maneuver around the silo as well as to communicate with other robots through wireless telecommunication technology. The robots will illuminate an eerie but comforting light (resembling a glowing jellyfish) to the people who enter the dark void to climb up the stairs on the way to the observation deck. The robots will follow after the fish-swarming rule, a behavior of aquatic animals moving together in a similar pattern. There are three main rules for the swarming behavior found in nature- 1) the fish will move closer to its school when it gets separated, 2) the fish will move away if it’s too close to another, and 3) the fish will be attracted to its attractors. The robotic aquatic animals will imitate these behaviors and will be systemized to be attracted to the visitors made possible by sensors embedded in the stairs, which will signal the robots allowing them to cast guiding light around the visitors’ footsteps.

Visitors have an option to choose between three different speeds for reaching the observation deck situated at the top of the silos. Walking around the ramps wrapping the silos is the slowest way to reach the top. The ramps are also handicap-accessible and act as a facade for the silos; as people slowly spiral up, one can experience the surrounding nature and the third space sandwiched by the fibrous screens (front and back), a space where nature and digital coexist. To speed up the ascending process, one can also choose to cut through and enter Silo A to access the stairs (steeper than the ramps) and experience the robotic ocean. The fastest way to reach the observation deck is to take the glass elevator installed in Silo B. The swarming fishes are also positioned in Silo B but they move faster in tune to the speed of the elevator.

The newly designed structure will stand in full view from the plazas below, capable of housing various installation arts and exhibitions in addition to the projected screen for public display. The structure can also hold office/maintenance space on the first floor of Silo A, inside the structural walls. The first floor of Silo B will be the main exhibition space with easy access to the glass elevator. Once at top, visitors will be able to relax at a Sky Café or enjoy the view by looking through movable binoculars stationed on top. The binoculars will be attached to tracks, which allow for the visitors to slide them and view the desired angle of view. Outside of the building, the ground floor surrounding the silos will be filled with landscape (trees, plants, grass, etc). In order to provide seating area and a viewing spot for the fibrous screen outside of the building, an amphitheater will be built as well, providing ample opportunity for various performances to take place.
Renovated to embrace the two domains critical to today’s world- the nature and the digital- this highest structure at the expo site, providing the best location for observation decks as well as taking stance at a place central to the site, will become a signage and a distinctive emblem for Yeosu.


Extremes and Balances


Pictures from the Computational Workshop


Computational Workshop @ Kookmin University + Kyonggi University

I will be running a Maya workshop for Jinbok Wie’s studios at Kookmin and Kyonggi University this coming week.

Tutors: 김지호 (http://www.ynotwhy.com, http://crtl-i.com) + 위진복 (http://wieandpartners.com)
The workshop will be dedicated to constituting the artificial process of transformation of material information. This process will target comprehension of how extensities are formed into intensities. The STUDIO will deal with form as field which is full of dynamic strengths, rather than reductive physics. The STUDIO will work with the materiality of matter implying the changes of modes and the shifts of energy, rather than materials in modern manner. The introduction of dynamic modelling tools from Maya will give the STUDIO the learning of the capabilities of the program, coupled with the understanding of the relevant parameters of the subject studied: nCloth, IK, particle-dynamics, soft bodies, expressions, and etc. If relevant, some other parametric synchronization tools like grasshopper and scripts will be possibly introduced.

‘Bone’ will be dealt with in two scales of material system and two levels information exchange that enriches the subject, ENGINEERING VERTICALITY. TWO SCALES: 1. The microscopic level of the internality and the individuality 2. The macroscopic level of bone as collectivity TWO LEVELS: 1. The relation to other system of the body 2. The relation to external forces.



I have been asked to teach a course at the Korean National University of Arts. The course is set up to explore the complex relationship between the material and the immaterial elements of design through a few experiments. This would be my first full-semester teaching experience apart from teaching as an assistant or running shorter workshops. I’d like to thank Jieun Lee and Jinbok Wie (http://wieandpartners.com) for this opportunity.

Course Description:

This course aims to explore the complex relationship between the physical and the metaphysical territories of design. The act of creation is often complete when conceptualization and materialization both take place. We will situate ourselves in 5 sets of experiments that are conceptually connected, but physically separated. The very nature of these experiments will actively seek to develop a new sense that will perhaps enable us to see the invisible, to touch the intangible, and/or to materialize the immaterial.




Just a few more weeks.


Pixel Forest

This is a recently finished competition in Yongsan, Korea. The project was shortlisted: http://www.yongsanpark.org




NY – Korea

These are some polaroid shots by an artist friend from New York. He’s been living in Korea for a little more than a year now. Enjoy what a New Yorker sees in Korea.

All photos by Duke Donohue.


Learning through Repetition?

It’s been interesting to see how Korean students are almost always forced to memorize infinite amount of information as part of their education. If one fails to do so, unwanted consequences ranging from lower test scores to physical punishments follow. In efforts to compete and be successful in this system, the students often choose a path that maximizes their ability to memorize facts: learning through repetition. From this a type of art emerge, the process of learning is expressed through blank pieces of paper, ink, and time. The students refer to this as Ggamji meaning black paper.


It’s interesting to find that Koreans from few hundred years ago also had very similar ways of learning. These are scans of old books that you can easily buy all over Korea. These are traces of students from the past copying their textbooks over and over to memorize the contents. It’s a funny feeling buying thousands of hours of one’s effort to learn with just a few bucks.




Korean Mud

The west shoreline of Korea got some amazing tidelands. Miles and miles of mud. These pictures are from Gwanghwa Island, truly an awesome place.

Pictures by Yang Min Jong