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"Reading meta_identity through meta_fiction"


 
 
 

Written by YOO Seungdeog (Artist & Prof. Kwandong Univ.)

 


I turned my destination to Boksagoal Gallery where the exhibition is held as I received a text message saying "Invitation to LEE Min Exhibition! 6 o'clock on August 25th 2007. No floral garland, please!" It was not LEE but a man wearing red shirt typed 'I¡¯m LEE Min' who greeted me as I step inside the exhibition. He introduced himself as LEE when I asked where she was. It was already 7 o'clock passing s6 which was the opening hour. LEE who I was looking for never showed up and the man with red shirt start hosting 'The Interview With Artist.'

When we say 'individual exhibition', it means an exhibition is consist of an artist's gathered artworks. Artist never opens an exhibition by using other artist's name. Without an explanation, we consider it natural that there is a strong link between the exhibited artworks and artist. Confrontation with a man who pretends to be LEE confused my mind set. How am I going to explain this situation when the relation between yesterday's LEE and today's LEE brokes? Didn't psychologist E. H. Erikson, made it clear about Self Identification which links myself and I in the past, present and future considering myself as different beings from others?

Putting away my disturbed minds, I began to study the exhibition. In front of the exhibition, I found a mirror which was titled Intro-mirror. As I took a step toward the mirror, a phrase saying 'You're me!' appeared as my reflection disappears in a minute. Mirrors help people to believe their reflection is the exact appearance of themselves as mirrors create a person's not exactly but duplicated image. If the image reflected by mirror differs from the one I remember yesterday, should I consider the image as image of my own? The mirror which suggested only my appearance all the time, suggested a phrase saying 'You're me!' A bit of confusion, but I came to a possible conclusion that if I can be an artist LEE, 'I' who can be consider as 'you' would be LEE also. This mind set won't be that vague compared to happenings expressed in today's exhibition. To begin with, I would like to follow the rules suggested by today's game.


Room ONE

I who became of LEE went into the room one. According to the pamphlet I received, when I went into room one, I was suppose to detect the artist herself. Amid the dark room, four different images were shown through projection respectively. Salaried man leaving his office, middle age woman walking with a shopping bag, aged man carrying a box stuffed with goods and a child going home after school caught my eyes. As time pass, people walking on the road changed into other people. Four characters repeatedly showed up and disappeared into darkness as images become smaller and smaller. The expectation thinking that I would be able to see the image of the artist even though artist wasn't there crumbled down. Are these people LEE, the artist? If that be the case, considering the suggestion that I am LEE like the phrase in mirror said, am I one of the people in the images as well? On a second thought, the phrase saying meta_identity in front of gallery struck my mind. It was the word I never heard. Since a prefix meta is used in a broad range, it was hard to predict the real meaning of the word. If we focus on the essence of definition or explanation over the meta_language, using meta_identity could be an inquiry about the essence of identity itself. Meta_identity can be seen as 'reversed identity' if we translate the meta as 'reversing'. It can also be seen as 'transcendental identity' when we define a prefix meta as 'going beyond'. It was very confusing since I couldn't be sure about the intention of the artist. In the novel called <Sofies verden> by Jostein Gaarder, Sophie is shocked by the delivered letter saying "Who are you?". Sophie said to herself "Of course, I am the only Sophie Amungen but who am I actually?" LEE the artist is the only artist I know. If this is true, than who are the people I see through those screens?


Room TWO

As I followed the sound of dog barking, I entered room two. Motions of busy dogs, fish, flies and ants was displayed through four respective monitors inside of the room which differs from the first. "One morning, Gregor Samsa found himself transformed into disgusting little bug waking up from unstable dream." Just like <The Metamorphosis> by F. Kafka, artist could have used a prefix meta as something that helps one transform into whole different species by saying meta_identity. Artist who altered herself as other people in first room have become an animal and broadened the boundary to the animal sector from the common concept of identity. Is this mean that the ant who is struggling to deliver one's meal is the artist and myself? Even in the stories like <Home of Legend>, when fox wants to transform into human, <Legend of Dangoon>, where a grizzly wants to transform into human were required to meet certain rules or regulations. Fox had to somersault and bear had to eat garlic and mugwort in order to be a human being. Nevertheless, artist was erasing the boundary of identity without such instrument. Ego who used to live inside of one's body now began to detect other targets swarming around the atmosphere. The sound of dog barking hit my mind again. I got a little disheartened when I remembered that the barking dog was actually me, myself.


Room THREE

"I who is a plant and lives at the road flower bed where the Bucheon northern station can be seen was staring at passengers."

The room where I entered was room three named as 'The Plant Kingdom, meta_identity'. On one side of the wall, the film was showing the daily life of a plant. On the other side, pictures of plant which was archived like diary were all over the wall. Unique thing was that plants in the picture were labeled with ID cards like Korean ID citizen card. Place of birth and brief information which points the identity of plants were on those labeled ID cards. ID (Identification card) is a card used as a proof that the person carrying the card is the same person in the ID card. Furthermore, the word 'identification' here when used psychologically can be consider as phenomenon when one gets confused one's identity and consider him of herself as others. This means that one word contains two meaning, 'classifying¡® and 'identifying¡¯, which conflicts from one another. It is not an exaggeration to say that culture of human started off its history by classifying. We human granted the identity to all livings on earth by classifying and naming but this conduct could have been made only for the sake of convenience for we human beings. As all the plants in the room were labeled with ID cards, such instrument may have set to intimate the phenomenon of identification between the artist and observed plants putting away the basic meaning of 'classifying'.

"At Bucheon northern station, passengers who are passing by the road of flower bed are looking at me who turned into plants."


Room FOUR
Finally, I stepped into the mineral sector. The projector which was installed on the ceiling was beaming the image on the floor. What is this? Everything I encountered today, even animals and plants, as I entered the exhibition argued that they were LEE. On the other hand, a person who I can acknowledge as LEE has to be the same person I met in the past. The problem was, does such permanent identity really exist? As I was questioning to myself, the blur image on the floor became more and more apparent. It was the face of LEE. Soils started to cover LEE's face as I took a step closer toward the reflected image. In the end, her face disappeared and the phrase 'Biyubumu Yeokyuyeokmu' in the <Banyashimkyung>. ¡®[I] do not exist but not absence either and can be consider as existing and nonexisting at the same time' reveled itself. What does the phrase mean? What about my identity? Who am I? Who are you? Who are we when we considered ourselves as the substance of our being? Everything began to oscillated. I remember that the artist LEE's artworks were titled as 'The oscillatory vision' for many years. Maybe messages she threw to us would be some metaphors of oscillation boundaries between the visibilities and the un-visibilities, between the materials and the non materials.

As soon as I conclude my thoughts, the 'meta_LEE Min' said
"No, I wasn't talking about oscillation itself but 'meta_oscillation'. I am also living in side of this meta_oscillation. Do you really want to know me? I am the meta_identity."


A man wearing 'I'm Lee Min' T-shirt insisted me to go to the second gatherings with him.
He also said the artist LEE is waiting for me.
'LEE is waiting for me?'
I asked him with sarcastic sense.
"You said you were LEE Min a minute ago then who is the person who is waiting for me?"
A man with frustrated face answered
"Why are you asking me such a question? If it's too hard for you to explain, why don't you write it from the start!"