Rain

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Seung Yul Oh opens the Screens online series with Rain, a playful, chaotic interactive which invites users to germinate an unpredictable kaleidoscope of objects, images, and sounds.

Opening with a cloudy, formless non-place, the work is initially devoid of instruction or feedback, provoking a series of trial and errors, a participatory process where the user must first play, in order for the work to play in response, bringing ourselves to life by discovering and uncovering, in order to animate Oh’s world.

Setting up a playground landscape of glossy pastel coloured variations at recent exhibition Bogle Bogle, Oh returned again to an egg motif, an allusion perhaps to discovery, new life, and birth, in all its yolky messiness. In Rain, embryonic water in the foreground takes on this role, literally catapulting a host of objects into existence, some of which are bright yellow birds, spinning, hovering, and splashing back into the nether as quickly as they came.

In 2009’s Odooki, the artist setup several gargantuan sculpted eggs on the terrace of Te Papa, allowing the gusts and breezes of Wellington (‘the windy city’) to rock and tip them, harnessing the environment to provide his creations with motion and sound. The player in Rain is instead tasked with this responsibility; inputting taps, stabs and cascades of energy in the form of keyboard presses to generate an ameobic sea – a thundering, gushing, chaotic pond teeming with creatures, or things.

Interestingly, Oh includes not just animals in his cast of creations, but traditionally inanimate objects too – alongside water weeds and logs spring up a series of Korean consonants, spinning and flipping, defying gravity with one limitless bound. These scraps of language mix seamlessly with tumbling boxes in pastel shades and Oh’s unique animal creatures, moving quickly past a realistic environment to become something more primal, abstract – an inner space rather than an outer one.

At some point, a thunderclap sounds, and this ecosystem seems to run on it’s own accord, as if some critical mass of energy has been achieved. Skies open up and objects start moving top to bottom, left to right, before the whole environment starts spinning, like an in-built attempt to throw off swathes of excess kinetic energy, before righting itself and returning once more to it’s embryonic state: a still pool floating in the nether.

-Luke Munn

 

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