Rho Jae Oon

2014 FutureGreat Asia, selected by Park Chan-kyong

By Park Chan-kyong

3 Men Questioning Time, 2011, car paint on steel, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist

Rho Jae Oon’s works deal with the general methods through which visual cultures might be recognised and accommodated within society in the digital era. It seems that Rho attempts to narrow down any possible gaps between the contents of his work and the actual perceptions of viewers by using websites, such as his vimalaki.net, as a platform through which to show his creative output. When making actual exhibitions he tends to bring the virtual forms of his own mind or formats that resemble hard disks into the physical gallery space. Interestingly, the contents of his output bear a close relation to memories of warfare or recollected anecdotes about a divided country, as well as resembling movies and digital media in terms of form.

In contrast to ‘new media art’, which is more likely to be fallacious by virtue of its fetishising of the machine, Rho’s works are of note in terms of the way in which they deal with types of media that condition the social imagination while at the same time liberating it. Using methods that range from obscuring obvious cultural connotations to considering the ‘recognition’ of historical incidents as relating to the Cold War or terrorism, as an Asian artist Rho seems to focus on his ultimately ambivalent feelings towards traditional cultures. In so doing, he also tries to mark a critical feature of technical media that might possibly be located between the two main issues surrounding media-centered discourse, namely ‘the expansion of the visual’ and ‘the reduction of individual experiences’ of the visual. His works may serve to represent ‘medianirvana’, ‘Buddhist nihilism’ or be seen as striving to deliver the existential depths that might have occurred in young people who pass most of their time sitting in front of a computer monitor.

Translated from Korean by Hyo Gyoung Jeon, and originally published in the Autumn & Winter 2014 issue of ArtReview Asia, in association with EFG International.