Critics’ Picks

Sung Kim, A Maverick Leopard Jumps Over the Snow Lion and the Capitan Tiger in the Mountain Yosemite, 2016, digital print mounted on illuminated advertising frame, 6 x 19 1/2'.

Sung Kim, A Maverick Leopard Jumps Over the Snow Lion and the Capitan Tiger in the Mountain Yosemite, 2016, digital print mounted on illuminated advertising frame, 6 x 19 1/2'.

Seoul

“Graphic Designs, 2005-2015, Seoul”

Ilmin Museum of Art
139 Sejongno, Jongno-gu
March 2–May 29, 2016

Contrary to its title, “Graphic Designs, 2005–2015, Seoul” contains no graphic design works per se. Curators Hyungjin Kim and Min Choi, who are both graphic designers and independent publishers, believe that the products of graphic design are not meant to be displayed in a museum setting. However, they’ve invited twelve artists and artist collectives, critics, journal editors, architects, photographers, and graphic designers to respond to a museum commission in their own idiosyncratic ways.

For the exhibition, the curators compiled 101 Indexes, a catalogue of graphic designs dating from 2005 to 2015 sourced from small, independent studios. The artist collective Kiljong Arcade, with Kiljong Park and two others, derived technological and conceptual terms from the indexes, such as “centering,” “monochrome,” “repetition,” and “object-resembling letter/letter-resembling object,” and used steel and Plexiglas to translate them into three-dimensional artifacts and installations for Three Dimensional World Replies, 2015. Graphic designer Sung Kim presents perhaps the most graphically exciting work here, A Maverick Leopard Jumps Over the Snow Lion and the Capitan Tiger in the Mountain Yosemite, 2015, a digitally printed landscape of fantastic scenery that combines desktop images from eight generations of OS X, from Tiger (2005) to El Capitan (2015).

The show interrogates the validity of conventional boundaries between the autonomous sphere of art and the industrial realm of graphic design. It examines what socioeconomic conditions will lead young designers to establish independent studios instead of pursuing careers in large agencies. This collaborative exhibition of art and design not only demonstrates how the two disciplines are inherently related but also addresses questions about their differences, especially in regard to the nature of commissions, contexts, and their value in the marketplace.