Sunday, 20 October 2013

EXPLORER -Jeongmoon Choi - KARST -Stonehouse Plymouth Oct 20 2013

From the first tentative scratches in charcoal on a cave wall to the airbrushed stencil edges of Banksy, the line has a long and venerable history in the world of artistic expression. Jengmoon Choi used to be a painter and very likely in the mode of many before her she would have, first of her own freewill, and then under the tutelage of others, undergone the experience of drawing. The desire to leave a mark delineates those who choose to make art and those who do not. Or does It ?

In Choi's latest installation in the back streets of Millbay, amongst black nondescript industrial units in the city of Plymouth, the audience are invited to partake as part of the work, figures in a new three dimensional landscape. Cast as explorer, people weave in and out of ultraviolet looms, their black shadows intersecting the white threads, shining as if electric blue in hue, like laser beams under the UV lights. 

TRON  jokes aside, the mainframe references soon shut down and the environment becomes more intimate.This is craft and one is reminded of string art and the parabola and parabolic sections we all made as children. You must remember the mathematics demonstration that used a right angle with numbers on both the vertical and horizontal lines that when connected with a ruler and some straight lines created a curve? There is an element of that here, but more like the thread based versions executed between pins on a black material covered board. It is an alternate reality like cotton 8-bit, one created with thread and not lasers, simple UV contrast and not holograms.

The intersections created with each net subdivide the gallery space and encourage the viewer to see the world anew. We are used to seeing the floor as one plane, and the walls as another, here the planes in between are highlighted as lines are drawn across them, confining and restricting our access to what is usually not contemplated and just dismissed as empty space. Gaudi is often said to have remarked that there was no such thing as a straight line in nature, inferring that only man in his brash and insensitive gauche thuggery could be responsible for something as garish as railway lines and as vulgar as steel girders, the ugly underwear of skyscrapers. This architectural fallacy is confronted here as it is on the drawing boards of architects in planning offices the world over, where three dimensional space is rendered beautifully and faithfully into wire framed blueprints. 

 The idea of a projective plane was invented by the ancient Greeks who tried earnestly to find a simple and beautiful answer with which to model a chaotic world. In Geometry the idea is that you have two lines and at some point they intersect unless they are parallel in which case they never meet at all. This was not quite simple enough for the Greek Geometers, and so they suggested a Universal theorem in which they introduced a third line, the “line at infinity” so that all lines now met and connected at some point, even if it was far away on the infinite horizon.

Unravel the edge of a circle, lay it out and you will find a straight line. Choi has here revealed that beautifully above the limestone caves that run under the Karst gallery in Plymouth’s Stonehouse. Children run about in and out of each hyper real den as their parents step more warily attuned, as we all are, to the artificial idea of boundary and the gallery space. There are no red ropes or taut wire here, telling you where your place is in the art world, but rather an inextricable desire to navigate the space within the installation is interwoven into the very fabric of the concrete gallery in which it is housed. Turning off the lights has removed all that cold oppressive white and the warm black underbelly of Plymouth’s underground is revealed. It took a Berlin based Korean to mine such a seam, but she has done so magnificently and caught more than the obvious regurgitated driftwood heritage of this emerging coastal city in her entrancing net.