The Seoul Museum of Art is holding an exhibition titled <Low Technology: Back to the Future> to show the aspect of a recent art trend, focusing on the origin of movements or mechanical mechanism in the era where various advanced technologies are widely distributed and realized in our daily life in forms such as touch screens, Google Hangouts, 3D miniatures, and Internet of Things (IoT), a networking of humans and things to share information. This exhibition starts with questions such as "What do low technologies mean in the era where high technologies are rampant?" "Why are young artists interested in low technologies?" and "How do technologies change art?"
Art has been changing alongside the advancement of technologies. Painting techniques have been developed with the advancement of paint and pigment technologies; photos and movies born from the age of mechanical reproduction have changed the direction of art into exploring art as a medium itself, with the development of digital technologies – which become dematerialized and digitized into 0 and 1 – placed under a totally new condition called "the transformation of data based on data and algorithm." Of course, such many branches of changing patterns cannot be simplified easily, and the change of art would simply be driven by the elements of technology. Nonetheless, we cannot deny the fact that technologies serve as an important factor in forming the background and condition in the flow of all changes of art itself.
In Korea, which is one of the world's leading IT countries and where there are many early technology adopters, young artists would naturally be sensitive to such technological changes and art/social environment driving such changes. What is important in the reality where art and technologies interfere with and cross over each other is returning to the backbone of technology – whether it is good or bad – and thinking about the technology, as what Martin Heidegger, who hoped for the possibility of artistic technology rather than a simple tool asserted, i.e., technologies should return to techné. According to Heidegger, the concept of ancient Greek's techné carried the meaning of handwork technology and the meaning of high-dimensional art (Poiesis) as well as the power of disclosure. This exhibition attempts to look into Heidegger's philosophy about technology through artworks by 10 young artists, such as Kim Tae Eun, Park Ki Jin, Shin Sung Hwan, Yang Jung Uk, Lee Bei kyoung, Lee Byung Chan, Ye Seong Lee, Woonwoo Lee, Jung Sung Yoon, Jung Ji Hyun, as well as artworks by Yook Eae-jin, Moon Joo, Hong Sung Do.
The 10 artists who participate in this exhibition will present artworks reflecting their thoughts about technologies visually and intelligently: artists Jung Ji Hyun and Yang Jung Uk change the function of technology while concentrating on the mechanical mechanism itself by connecting it with our daily life; artists Kim Tae Eun and Park Ki Jin pose questions about the boundary between one's own reality and virtuality by basing on narratives; artists Shin Sung Hwan and Woonwoo Lee create a dreamy, humorous space by using simple technology; artists Lee Bei kyoung and Lee Byung Chan express the fragments of a metropolitan life metaphorically through technology, and; artists Jung Sung Yoon and Ye Seong Lee make viewers think about a medium itself through mechanical devices completed by visitors' participation. Artworks by artists Yook Eae-jin, Moon Joo, and Hong Sung Do, who have been exploring the techniques and meaning of low technologies within the topology of the Korean art arena during the period 1980s–1990s, will also be presented at this exhibition to enrich communications between the two generations.
This exhibition will provide a good opportunity for visitors to participate in some artworks by personally operating them at the exhibition hall and to take part in artists' creation processes, such as formation, patterning, inference, modeling, play, transformation, and integration, particularly since this exhibition is held during the winter vacation. Low technology and high technology – old and new media – form a new relationship through the contradictions and conflicts of each. They become contents and forms for each other, endlessly reorganizing the present and the relationship between old and new. Let us now reflect on the meaning and direction of this era's technology and art by looking into the aesthetics of low technology.