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“What do you do?” “Oh I’m an artist. Y’know, like, an art artist.”

Went to an art sale/exhibition in Seoul last weekend. I have this terrible attidtude toward korean art. I know that ultimately it’s no good but I can’t seem to let it go. Whenever I see art here it just looks derivative and uninspiring.

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However, I should say it’s hard to impress me with  visual, 2D or 3D, non-cinematic art from any country. But whenever I see korean art my first thoughts are a) it looks like wallpaper, or b) they’ve copied it from someone in Europe or NY. B is no doubt influenced by the knowledge that in Eastern (mostly korean and chinese) philosophy, copying — or emulation — isn’t considered a bad thing, whereas my own personal philosophy sits it alongside ‘pathetic’, the kind of things kids do _because they are kids_.

And don’t give me the ‘oh it’s the war’ thing and korea is doing well considering it was bombed to smithereens in the 50s because that doesn’t really factor into it here.

Walking around the art show, I got to thinking how artistic thought, technique and endeavours are kind of like technology. To be at the top of the game, a country has to be pushing hard into the field for a long time. And for a long time, in korea, being an artist wasn’t considered a very noble thing. In the west, you’d be pretty happy if your son grew up to be <a href=””>Brett Whiteley</a> (apart from the heroin) but in korea you’d be proud if your son grew up to be steven smedley the pencil-pushing public-service accountant.   The point being that with art, korea will always be playing catch-up, and even the traditional stuff like those whacky tiger paintings are influenced by chinese art.

But I can’t finish this off without at least a glimmer of hope. I did like this.

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It was a mechanical thing that flapped wings when it detected the movement of people near it. It made a lot of whining mechanical noises which were cool, and I fancy the idea of someone who has an apartment that’s only 5x5metres sticking one of these big-block installations in the middle of it. Art isn’t meant to fit conveniently with your lifestyle.

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