Michael Joo presents his first major solo show in Korea in almost ten years. Single Breath Transfer is an exhibition of new work by Joo, and is on display at Kukje Gallery in Seoul.
The title of the exhibition alludes to the artist’s interest in material being in a state of constant transition or flux. The works on display explore materiality in a comprehensive and tactile way, weaving together historic and scientific references through combinations and disruptions of material and form.
The exhibition gives a comprehensive insight into the status and development of Joo’s long term research, which covers a number of themes, such as the relationship between material, energy transfer and time, and the relationship between science and religion.
In medicine, a “single breath transfer” is a test done to gauge the ability of the lungs to exchange gases from the atmosphere to the blood stream. The term is the basis for a new series of sculptures on display on the first floor of the K2 gallery.The sculptures encase human breath in glass, paper and plastic bags; a breath fills a bag, whose new shape becomes the mould for a piece of blown glass. The series encapsulates the breath that fills the bag and that of the glass blower, putting both into stasis, and in doing so asks questions about biology and chemistry as agents in building and destroying permanence.
In neighbouring K3 gallery, Joo presents a new body of sculptural work which was developed using volcanic rocks sourced from South Korea’s Civilian Control Zones (near the DMZ). The geological forms encapsulate millions of years of energy transfer and landscape transformation. They draw attention to the way humans relate culture to nature; the dissonance between conceptual distance and material continuity. In other words, it can seem as though contemporary culture is alien to natural processes, but in fact both are in constant, connected flux.
Also on display in Single Breath Transfer is Seven Sins, a set of prints which think through the way science and religion relate via baking trays. Numbers stamped onto the trays calculate how many calories might be used when carrying out the seven Biblical deadly sins: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. Images of the trays were then screen-printed onto paper using a complex process with detailed results, highlighting the complexity of the chemical processes acting on a microscopic scale on our daily lives. Meanwhile the Liminus series records disused industrial spaces, drawing out their liminal qualities through framing and through print processes.
Single Breath Transfer is open until 31 January in galleries K2 and K3 of Kukje Gallery, 54 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu Seoul, 03053 KR.