To _complete our arty Sunday, we attended the Alpha Art Association’s second event at The Forge in Camden. A unique mix of live jazz music and media art entertained the audience in what was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Ko Heean’s piano performance was the perfect accompaniment to Shin Kiwoun‘s art; as the jazz music filled the room, we were taken on visual journey by Shin’s media pieces. Not quite knowing what to expect as we entered the auditorium, we were pleasantly surprised to see a grand piano centre stage below a projector screen. This set up allowed the audience to see Ko Heean play live whilst watching Shin’s art.
The performance was constructed so that each collaboration lasted around 5-10 minutes, during which Ko Heean played different pieces, each matching or enhancing the atmosphere of the visual art being screened above. The first piece was a time lapse video of rooftops over a cityscape. We watched as the sun set and rose again during a calm 24 hours, the scenery being barely disturbed except for the light and the occasional flock of birds moving across the sky. The jazz music that accompanied this was light and calm, and this collaboration made us feel like we were just sat at a window, daydreaming the time away.
The second piece was another time lapse video, but of a very different scene. This video was set indoors showing a rather run down room, with the main focus being a table with wine bottles and apples on it. A window in the background allowed you to see the daylight go by as a marker for the passing of time, as well as a lit candle, gradually melting away in the back. The whole scene was still and calm, but unlike the solemn music of the first piece, Ko Heean started to get more lively and playful at night fall, leaving you to wonder about the people drinking the wine and occupying the room. A very arty and hipster piece.
The time lapse video in the third piece was of the presumably recent snow fall in London, with the setting being a retail park next to a main road. We watched as throughout the day, people, be it families or groups of friends, went about their daily lives. As the night fell, there was a sense of emptiness and loneliness in what we were watching. As the garish lamp light lit up the streets, and less and less people were having fun in the park, the snowy scene felt rather melancholy. Ko Heean’s music felt happy, but with a slight tinge of sadness to it, reflecting the snowy scene perfectly.
Next up was a video of Ko Heean performing to a video of a violin being downwardly ground by a mechanical sander. This violin being worn down has previously been exhibited at the KCC UK’s London Muse exhibition. where we also saw an alarm clock being slowing worn away. In this video, we watched as Ko Heean performed whilst he himself was watching the video of the violin, documenting the emotions with music. As the violin was being steadily and irreversibly ground down, there wasn’t a feeling of wanton destruction, but more like a purposeful erasure of the object. There was intent behind the eventual destruction of the object. The piano music that played to this video seemed quite jolly, and this gave the piece a very interesting atmosphere. Even though the violin had disappeared, the music remained quite prominent and playful.
In the fifth piece, we once again see Ko Heean on screen performing to a video. However, this time the video feed was from a video camera inside a snow globe filming the pianist himself. Whilst it is filming, the snow globe is again inside a mechanical sander. On the screen, we not only see Ko Heean on the piano, but the audience watching him play. The music in this piece is extremely erratic and felt improvised on the spot as Ko tried to express his emotions directly as he witnessed the slow but inevitable destruction of the snow globe. Unlike the piece before, the music went from light to dark and we felt we were on a roller coaster ride of emotions as the music crescendos one minute and then dropped dramatically the next. This was definitely one of the more powerful pieces of the day.
For the next piece, Ko Heean was back on the piano treating us to some more live music, delivering a piece that was hectic and frenzied. This music reflected the video playing on the screen which was a close up of a television, with a wine glass in the foreground. As the video was once again a time lapse piece, you were able to witness the erratic and somewhat static television program that was on the screen; almost like some frantic channel surfing. Subtitles on the television could clearly be seen, perhaps reminding the audience that the artist was Korean, and he himself might use subtitles for British television. Near the end, the scene was turned upside down. Seeing the upside down wine glasses were very reminiscent of the exhibition pieces that Shin Kiwoun has shown at the KCC UK before.
The last two segments where very unique and interesting. The first piece, called God Kill the Queen, showed a chess board with a few pieces on it. The Queen on the board was slowly ground down, in much the same way as we’d witnessed in the previous works in this event. In contrast, the last piece, named God Save the Queen, saw all other pieces get ground, leaving the Queen as the sole survivor. Two very interesting contrasting pieces.
The idea of combining live jazz piano and media art is a very unique one, which was fresh and interesting to watch. The themes of Shin Kiwoun’s art was very intriguing. The time lapse videos, many of which focused on one particular scene or object, created a certain sense of loneliness with many of the scenes devoid of people, showing just empty rooms or half full bottles and glasses. The idea of grinding down objects was obviously prevalent, creating ideas of slow destruction and the thought that no matter what we do, some things are ultimately inevitable. Ko Heean’s music enhanced the media art and perfectly matched each video and added another dimension to the art. It was great to actually be able to see the musician in front of us, performing and watching him adjust his music according to which video was on. A wonderful afternoon of some live music and contemporary art!