Friday, 31 October 2014

경복궁 와 대림 | Gyeongbokgung & Daelim

So, in the timeline of events, (rather than my horribly non-chronological blog posts) a few weeks after Chuseok Nick and I went on another day out with Rachel and Jamie, this time to Gyeongbokgung and the Daelim museum.

But first: food. Of course! ;D

In honour of Nick, we had bossam (boiled belly pork, what's not to like?) but this time rather than ssam (large salad leaves that you use to make a fajita-style wrap) we had crepe-like pancakes, effectively a thin, plain version of the jeon that we love to eat. It was super good, I'd definitely eat it like that again, but then I'm not even TRYING to convince myself it's healthy via all the salad I eat when we use ssam. ;p

So. Stuffed full of pork, ssamjang and pancakes (and soju) we went to the Daelim Museum where there was an art exhibit called "Persistent Illusions" by TROIKA, a UK-based art collective that'd I'd heard of before but never experienced.

This ominous sculpture greeted us in the main lobby/gift shop.

The rippling mirrors reminded me of The Imprisoned from Skyward Sword and generally made me feel kind of uncomfortable and scared for some reason. But I like it when art causes physical and emotional reactions, good or bad.

For the uninformed: This is The Imprisoned. It's creepy.
Anyway, we headed upstairs to the main exhibits and it quickly became clear that this place was all about the kind of big hipster non-statements that I absolutely adore, so this was very exciting for me.

Deep, man.

The main thing I liked about the exhibit was that they used really unusual mediums for the different installations. The titles for each artwork kind of gave it a meaning and (to me) let you come up with various interpretations, which I really enjoyed.

Electroprobe Installation
This was a circle of old electronics (CRT TVs, fax machines, a gameboy and some really old looking IBM laptops, and loads more) all strangely mingled and arranged, and in the centre was a speaker. Sticking out of the speaker was a microphone, and that whole construction - apparently called an 'electroprobe' - was rotating slowly. As the mic passed the different objects (which were on) the feedback from each one would play through the speaker, making a weird sort of drone where the pitch would shift up and down. To be quite honest, I've heard music that sounds a lot like this! It was so interesting that all of the noise was coming from just old household objects.

The Weather Yesterday
I wasn't sure of any other meaning to this other than the fact it really did show what the weather was the preceding day. It's the sort of cool thing I can see in a hip, trendy bar or cafe.

Light Drawing
I originally thought this was meant to be a map of some rivers or something, carefully cut out from the paper, but if I'm correct it was actually something much cooler. Simply put, the artist electrocuted the paper, which burnt it in these cool patterns that look an awful lot like river and lake systems, or nerve maps. Which then made me a bit itchy and creeped out, as well as impressed.

"Labyrinth", again, was pretty underwhelming until I learnt some more about how it was made. Like a sort of printing press (I think. Most of the captions were in Korean so anything I know was gleaned from Rachel or guesswork) the wooden construction was placed on the paper, and soot mixed with water was placed at the start of the maze. Then, you just let gravity work its magic as the liquid ran through the wood, trying to find its way out. Very cool.

The Sum of All Possibilities
A rotating sculpture of black curved strips. I can only assume the title is because the strips sort of represent all possible possibilities, as they are all moving at different speeds and are different lengths. If you're in the right place at the right time, they make a heart shape (which I only discovered whilst browsing the exhibition book in the gift shop)

90 Squares
I think I might have the title for this one wrong. And the concept. BUT I'm pretty sure that basically a sort of giant spirograph was used to draw 90 squares, perfectly aligned to make a circle. I particularly liked the lighting for this one, as it really seemed to glow and the edges blurred so it really did just seem like a circle.

Persistent Illusion
This one was...really odd. At first I thought it was a mass of writhing...something. Snakes? Noodles? And then several jets shooting out of the centre causing the terrifying puddle in the first place. Not quite. Various motors and hidden bits gave the illusion that this was happening, even once I knew what was going on. It was really odd.

There are a lot of fantastic photos available on TROIKA's website that do the exhibition much more justice than I did. My favourite, which I didn't take a photo of (for some reason) was "Calculating the Universe" which was made of hundreds of black and white dice creating a really interesting pattern. I enjoyed it mainly for the title and concept that I got from it.

Across the road from Daelim was another art exhibition which had free entry, so we thought "why not?" and headed in. It was weird, because it did at first look a lot like we were just wandering into someone's house, albeit a rather fancy and expensive one.

I think it was an art exhibition to go with a film that was released, which I believe was also a thriller. Which explained the really eerie feeling the whole place gave off.

The man projected onto the bed kept tossing and turning and I can only assume he recently experienced a heart-wrenching breakup with someone.

I think as you travel through the house you also travel through the protagonist's memories, as it has a bit of an ethereal feel to it, and some of the rooms seem almost identical in layout but at different times in a person's life. So a desk covered in letters and photos in one room, has them shoved in a drawer and a figure of a girl hiding in the wardrobe. And further on, the lights are off, the desk is barren and there's just a chair facing the open, empty wardrobe.

This section, labelled "Prelude" showed the cheeriest images of young love and romance in the building's entrance.
Shedding the creepy feelings of that place out in the sun (which actually for a while made me feel more creeped out. Like when films have cheerful music during devastating moments.) we then moved onto Gyeongbok Palace.

When we walked in, all we could see were huge groups of people and thought that it must be the queue to get in. It was a national holiday, after all. Curses!

But it turned out that we were just in time to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony and the queues, upon closer inspection, were just where barriers had been set up around the edges.

I still love how traditional Korean clothes are so vibrant and colourful.
There was a lot of noisemaking from some of the guards, using traditional instruments (which I love the sound of), and a lot of shouting that I think did get translated over a tannoy but the crowd was still a bit too noisy. Oh well.
Palace ahoy!
It's an absolutely ENORMOUS place. I don't know why you would make somewhere so big just to show wealth and power. It also shows you take an awful lot of time walking from your office to your bedroom and I just wouldn't be up for that. ;p

But yes, joking aside, it's an incredibly grand place, with all the gorgeous colours and architecture that I've come to expect from historical Korean buildings.

I don't think I'll ever get over being able to see mountains everywhere.

I loved seeing this. This is the King's jang fermentation house. Jang being all the various sauces and pastes you can make from soy beans, including soy sauce, ssamjang, and soy bean paste. I would assume that it's also where the kimchi jars were kept, but don't quote me on that. There was well over a hundred jars and it was the (very important) job of three women to spend all day tending to them, making sure it was all of the highest quality and safe to eat. I liked this because to me it says "hey, the King is only human. He needs soy products just like you", haha.

We looked around a little more and took lots of lovely photos before heading back home to...pretty much just sleep. I always make these days out seem very easygoing and relaxing (which they are!) but they're also super-tiring. It's great!

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