South Korean artist Jisun Kim's Climax of the Next Scene asks viewers to step inside the world of online game culture and to meet its citizens – many of who delve into the cracks they've created in the system. Viewers are confronted with imagery that is often violent, frequently funny and always provocative. While Teletubbies muse on the meaning of existence, viewers are asked to interrogate the zeitgeist and question their own relationships to the systems and cultures that they live in.
Arieh Offman: Can you describe your video installation Climax of the Next Scene and what inspired you to create this work?
Jisun Kim: Before Climax, I created works based on questions about the social system, culture, and no man’s land (multi-layered spaces created between laws, norms, physical borders between countries, and marginalised spaces in existing and online worlds). I attempted to reveal the illusion of the current system by penetrating into the cracks that exist inside it. However, it occurred to me that such works might also be acts of providing service to this system, failing to escape from it. Climax is a first step that poses the question of ‘can we imagine the outside of this system?’
AO: Your work is a unique look at the intersection between the real and virtual worlds. What drew you to explore this concept?
JK: I tried to not view this world with a binary perspective dividing the real and the virtual. I strongly disagree with opinions that claim people who are immersed in playing computer games lose the ability to distinguish the real from the virtual. This is not only because there are no game players as such, but also because I doubt whether the frame of the reality/virtual is still pertinent in dealing the current phenomena and sensual experiences. Perhaps, ‘the virtual mirroring the virtual’ would be the best way to express this work.
AO: Climax of the Next Scene takes viewers on a journey through the online gaming worlds of Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft. What influenced you to choose these two games?
JK: The most important reason I chose these two games is that they have a high degree of freedom. I met players mostly in games that provide enough room for free actions out of those games where the issue of survival is not the utmost priority.
AO: The work contains some provocative and powerful images, from Teletubbies leaping from virtual twin towers to the ‘suicide artists’ in Grand Theft Auto. What reactions did you want to evoke in audiences?
JK: During the production process, I was completely unaware that the scene of Teletubbies leaping from the building could be associated with the twin towers and the incident. I was simply reenacting the suicide shows carried out by players in the games, with no intention of suggesting a specific event. What is interesting is that it was mostly non-Korean nationals who said this scene reminds one of scenes from the 9/11. Of course, growing up in Korea at that time, the incident did leave me a strong memory, but I would like to say that the scene summons different memories for each one depending on one’s cultural background.
AO: In Climax of the Next Scene, the commentary between yourself and the characters you meet addresses ethics, philosophy and existentialism. Why did you want to explore these themes?
JK: Those were questions for myself, after having tried to imagine the outside of the system hoping to get a better view of this world, yet failing to fully imagine this breakout.
AO: You meet many diverse players in your online gaming journeys, what was the most memorable interaction for you?
JK: The interviews that were finally selected in the work do not even reach 1/10 of the entire interviews that I carried out. So the work does not entirely describe the moments of meeting with the players, which I truly enjoyed. Although I have never met the interviewees off-line, when we encountered on-line after deciding a specific meeting point, I felt a strong sense of ‘being together.’
Climax of the Next Scene ran from 2–5 Feb as part of Asia TOPA.