Media Art Exhibition at Incheon Airport – Korean Traditional Culture Combined with Technology

The arts have the power of making us empathize and communicate beyond time and space. It also gives us new perspectives for perceiving objects and circumstances. Lately, with the combination of technology, it has become possible to appreciate cultural arts from a multidimensional perspective.

Incheon Airport prepared a special exhibition for all travelers who have been feeling trapped amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a media art exhibition organized in collaboration with Amorepacific and Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture (SFAC), reinterpreting the traditional culture of Korea from a modern perspective. Let’s dive into it and find out more!

Screens Seen From a Different Perspective

This media art exhibition is part of the “2020 Sulwha Cultural Exhibition,” a mécénat program under the auspices of Amorepacific’s main beauty brand Sulwhasoo. The brand has been hosting this annual event since 2006, reinterpreting the traditional culture of Korea from a modern perspective and realizing communication and understanding among generations.

This year’s exhibition is themed The Screen, Overlap of Traditions and Modern Society. It makes use of the screen as a space where tradition is reinterpreted and a medium through which tradition and modernity can be seen simultaneously. Just like how our ancestors gazed through screen windows to view sceneries, this exhibition makes use of the screen as a window to modernity through media art technology!

Incheon Airport will be exhibiting two main pieces, one at a time, on the large media wall at Terminal 1 and the Transportation Center, from January 1st to March 31st, 2021. Let’s take a look at what the pieces are and who created them.

Media Art Exhibition 1) Pivotal Tree

Pivotal Tree is an exhibition that serves as a modern reinterpretation of the tree of life as a symbolic objet that represents the wellbeing of a chaotic and unstable society.

Pivotal Tree also signifies “long life” and “space for communication,” and it has been created as an interactive content to express these vital meanings through media art. This piece installed inside Incheon Airport makes us believe as if a real and enormous tree has taken root indoors.

The Pivotal Tree in the screen is not evergreen; it changes along with the four seasons—sometimes wet under the rain, and sometimes white covered in snow. After the leaves fall in winter, sparkling text grows from the bare branches as if new leaves are sprouting.

These texts are actual wishes left by actual people on the Pivotal Tree website (! You can see just how interactive it is, right? Pivotal Tree, to which our ancestors made their wishes, has been transformed to a modern media art to console our souls.

The promotional video of this media art exhibition is also eye-catching. A dance performance of the Ambiguous Dance Company that drew a lot of attention with the “Feel the Rhythm of Korea” campaign is featured with the Pivotal Tree in the background.

The dance was inspired by “Dangsanje,” a traditional festival that our ancestors observed wishing for a good harvest. It was expressed with modern choreography and props. Thanks to the dance, the media artwork stood out well featuring the traditional culture of Korea.

The Pivotal Tree is designed by Pivotal Lab, a special group created to participate in the Sulwha Cultural Exhibition. Jang Su-ho (Visual Art Director), Yoo Jae-heon (Creative Art Director), and Chu Bong-gil (Media Technical Director) got together to create this artwork that mixes virtual and real life. They brought life to this piece by combining art with technology under the theme “reinterpretation of Korean tradition.”

Media Art Exhibition 2) Jeong-Jung-Dong, Dong-Jung-Dong

The second piece is “Jeong-Jung-Dong, Dong-Jung-Dong.” This AR piece presents floating images that make visitors experience themselves becoming one with art. The images constantly shift from 3D to 2D, from matter to non-matter, and from existence to non-existence.

After a 90-second video clip is over, the subjects inside the video appear to vanish along with the artpiece. However, the artist applied artificial reality having visitors encounter bits of the artpiece from around the exhibition. Just like the once popular Pokémon GO, visitors can scan hidden image tags to see the art pieces again. They get to explore real space overlapped with images, feeling the afterglow of the screening.

This piece is created by media artist Lee Ye-seung. Lee has held several solo exhibitions, including The Green Cabinet (2014) and Moving Movements (2015). Lee was an artist-in-residence in domestic and overseas institutions, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (2011), SeMA Nanji Residency (2013-2014), Seoul Art Space Geumcheon (2015), Asia Culture Center (2016), and ZERO1NE (2019). Currently, Lee is exploring future scenarios of technology-based art, and “Jeong-Jung-Dong, Dong Jung Dong” is one of them!

“The year that we longed for consolation more than ever. Hoping for visitors to interact through the large screen in the city, and for us to get back to our peaceful lives.”

Today, we went over the media art exhibition in Incheon Airport as part of the 2020 Sulwha Cultural Exhibition. We saw how Incheon Airport is collaborating with various arts institutions to become a cultural venue. Incheon Airport will continue to provide visitors with bountiful and rich cultural experiences and become an airport of cultural arts. Stay tuned for more art-related posts! 😊

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