Behind The Screen: Meet Jungwon Seo

Introducing “Behind The Screen,” a look at the phenomenal artists participating in the Eyebeam xVH AWARD International Residency. A leap from our flagship residency, this program supports artists from the Asian diaspora who are developing projects that push the field of time-based media in exciting new directions.

Jungwon Seo (b. 1988, Seoul, Korea) lives and works in Seoul, Korea. A multidisciplinary artist interested in the ‘repercussions of the pandemic as extending beyond the phenomenal quality of a virus-borne disaster and as forming the markings that announce the advent of a new world,’ her practice encompasses acrylic and oil painting, video, and installation. Her proposed VH AWARD work is a video that explores ‘an era of disconnect and isolation brought on by the spread of the virus’ with AI as ‘the single most influential agent of social change in the next 50 years.’

What was your response to being shortlisted?

I actually couldn’t believe it at first. I knew this 4th VH Award had extended the scope from Korea to Asia and I realized I was the only Korean. I know there are many great Korean artists so I was thankful to be shortlisted among them. This residency program will be a good opportunity for me, and I’m excited about the video I’ll be making here and expecting to develop my work by communicating with other artists.

Your art practice encompasses painting, video, and installation. Have you always worked in an interdisciplinary mode?

I always wanted to make something new or different. I guess that kind of thinking made me find different materials while I paint or discover different ways to do an installation. I started making video works about five years ago, and I now work mainly with video. And in this project, I’m trying to combine my paintings and videos together.

Would you tell us about your progress to make a video that explores “an era of disconnect and isolation brought on by the spread of the virus”?

I was isolated due to the pandemic lockdown situation, but as time went by I watched myself getting used to the environment and adapting to it. And it wasn’t just me adjusting to the situation and building a new form of life. I was very interested as to how people can accept and adapt to a complicated condition very fast and move along. I wondered how, and I realized technology was the answer.

May we ask you to share with us your point of view regarding AI as “the single most influential agent of social change in the next fifty years”?

I think people survived this lockdown because of technology. This situation forced people to work and communicate online so they started to create their own world by face to face or by their avatar. This changed the perception of AI. In many movies or dramas, an AI or a human-like robot is somehow always a threat to us. And when Alphago beat Go master Lee Sedol and an AI-Generated artwork were sold at Christie’s everyone was shocked and wondered how the future would be and how they could survive. But after the lockdown, it seems like people have come to rely on artificial intelligence more and more and believe it could affect more in the future. So, I started to make a story out of this situation and built a model of an artist creating a new kind of art with an artificial intelligent friend she made. In this video, I show how AI affects our lives and I question how we should respond to this situation throughout the past, present, and future.

May we ask you to tell us how you are using your online residency with Eyebeam, and how is it supporting your ability to realize your project?

I get to listen to other artists about how they came up with their stories and how they make their work, and they also hear what I say and respond with opinions. Through these conversations, I get a chance to think from a different perspective or come up with a new idea. The advantage of online residency is that I get to hear what’s going on in different places at the same time.