From the place of pseudo visual appreciation: Imagining the whole from the broken parts of the now-here-experience
The moment of writing a review does not take place simultaneously with the time of visiting the exhibition. The process of recalling the exhibition, reviewing visual materials, and writing and rewriting are not executed at the exhibition space for the most part. It is required to garner the “parts” that have been cut off from the whole connection of the present-here-experience to write this review. A review is written by looking at the photos taken at the exhibition hall, asking questions about the introduction, and then reflecting how I appreciated and failed to appreciate the work. In that sense, a review is a result of separating oneself from the integrated experiences. This is not limited to the current situation where people are not able to visit an exhibition due to the global pandemic. I was not able to experience Hwang Won-hae’s solo exhibition <The Fourth Wall> in person since I am living in Japan. To make a simple interpretation, you can say, "The exhibition <The Fourth Wall> represents the writer's experience, an experience of not being able to experience." However, the artwork does not either foresee a worldwide pandemic or attempt to conclude the result from it. In other words, the artist and I as a reviewer are not entirely resulted from this pandemic. One can see how the viewer appreciates the work and exhibition.
In this exhibition, where the building’s facade and screen tone work are reproduced on a flat surface by different media, how will the “viewers” appreciate it? I can list three ways of seeing this exhibition. The first is appreciating the work in the actual exhibition space, the second is seeing the photos of the exhibition, and the third is coming across the images shared on social media. Some viewers may have enjoyed the exhibition one way, and some may have experienced it in all three ways. In my case, visiting Korea was not feasible, so I saw the works in the second and third ways, based on which I wrote this review. The second and third ways of seeing the exhibition may be derived from the first, and they may seem to gives me a chance for the pseudo experience. I saw Hwang’s exhibited works through documented images of the substitute “now-here,” without the “now-here-experience” (corresponding to the first way of appreciation). However, the experiences from three ways are not the perfect substitutes for one another, and the essence of this exhibition is capturing such impossibility.
When the viewers are in the exhibition space, their experience lacks the sense of immersion, with “now-here-experience” removed, due to the facades in disarray and the screen tone without any sense of depth. This aspect highlights the characteristics of <The Fourth Wall> intended to imbue by the artist. Hwang accepts the “fourth wall” (via the concept suggested by Denise Diderot) as "a virtual wall that exists between the stage (real space) and the audience (people living in the city) and cannot interfere.” At this time, the inability to interfere underscores the concept of “real space” and then the word “space” in the “real exhibition space” where viewers are, and force them to face the wall as an obstacle. The artist emphasizes the word wall by drawing the concept claimed by Diderot, rather than refusing the theatrical aspect that combines the subject and spatial immersion. At this time, the wall is not a single surface but a different element, that is, not interior of a building but a colliding wall with the theatrical aspects removed, tangled by drawing and copying.
On the other hand, the second and third viewing methods make one to “receive” this wall as smooth. However, unlike the second method, we see photos of a brochure placed over the matching artwork in the third appreciation case. The image reaches our eyes with the brochure obscuring the work. The properties of the wall highlighted in the first way of viewing are accepted as fairly smooth in place of now-here-experience in the second and third ways of viewing. When we cover a part of the work and document the partial aspects, the link between now-here-experience is cut off. The brochure image, which chose a certain part of an entire canvas by the cropping method, makes the audience face the work more actively where the theatrical attributes are removed. However, the cellphone pictures with the brochure do not realize a full pseudo-experience. As a result of the broken link of now-here-experience, we see the work in parts, missing the whole in turn. The second and third types of viewers end up seeing works (not the work but figures of them) from slick picture images, which do not convey the full aspect of materials or the cropped canvas. As the material and arrangement of the work and the resulting “plane” media are reconciled in the brochure, each “viewer” experiences the wall in different ways. This wall further intensifies the point where the three viewing methods are not able to “intervene” with each other, that is, widening the gap of viewing experience so that there is a greater possibility that what one saw at the experience was different from another.
Images, in other words, visual substitutes, appear to us as in “different points” from actually seeing the exhibition. Even before knowing my canceled visit to the exhibition or even before the global pandemic, this exhibition proceeded with its parts, still retaining the whole on the same horizon-but on other parts. This exhibition allows us to reflect the act of viewing and experiencing artwork and exhibition while parts and the whole bouncing off of each other. The parts include not only the parts of the building selected by the artist, and the flat surface unfolding with mixed screen-tone, but also the images of the work partially appeared in the brochure, and the image shared by the SNS feed, and even limited experience only in perspective. We encounter a wall that is much smoother than the material and media entangled in the wall of the collision through visual records. A sense of “smoothness” refers to a well-groomed exhibition foreground, a leaflet with no texture, and a work that only shows parts, partially showing the exhibition but does not represent the same object. As in the third way of viewing, one can enjoy a part of “work” covered by the brochure, but it is only a substitute for the work and viewing experience that does not reflect it in its entirety.
When the exhibition and works are not delivered by real experience, in a real space, and in real-time, the brochure captures a margin that cannot be substituted by the pseudo viewing experience. The brochure partially covers the work, serving as an open window toward the entire work and exhibition beyond it. The brochure was not made of transparent material. Nevertheless, it allows the viewers-both those who place the brochure in front of the work and who see the image on SNS- to imagine the real space of the artist's actual work and Artspace Hyeong beyond it. The brochure functions as a medium for imagination and captures the viewpoint that the audience cannot fully recognize by the substitutes (printed brochure or photography). At this time, what we see is not only the parts but the whole unfolding on the other side.