October 30, 2012-March 16, 2013

Approach the Truth—Astro Boy, 2006

The videos of Korean artist Shin Kiwoun (b. 1976) investigate the concepts of time, existence, reality, and illusion. By using familiar scenes against a backdrop of distorted passages of time wrought with controlled violence, he challenges us to re-evaluate the ways in which we perceive our world. In his Reality Test series (현실 검증), Shin stretches seconds into minutes as participants live through high-definition crash events using children’s toys or pop-culture objects. In each clip, the artist attempts to create a new reality by distorting it. Shin decelerates time so that every moment of the unexpected event—incoming objects, splattered liquid, shattered glass, and human reactions—can be analyzed in precise detail. Because we are shielded by the virtual distance inherent in video media, we can synthesize the meticulous specificity of the event without having to experience its consequences

Astro Boy, the lifelike robot featured in Shin’s Approach the Truth series (진실에 접근 하기), is a well-known Japanese comic book character. In the comic books, the robot, who experiences emotions but is unable to become truly human, was created to replace the deceased son of a scientist. In Shin’s video, the artist grinds Astro Boy into powder using his own self-made machine, perhaps hinting at the life cycle shared by both living beings and inanimate objects. According to the universal laws of entropy, all entities experience an inevitable deterioration and ultimate demise — “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” as aptly stated in both Christian and Buddhist dogma. Here, however, Kiwoun unexpectedly shows us the process in reverse, with Astro Boy’s crushed and unrecognizable form becoming whole once more. As in his Reality Test series, the artist seems to distort the flow and verities of time and consequence.

Graduating in sculpture from Seoul National University in 1997, Shin Kiwoun went on to receive his MFA from Goldsmiths College in London. He has been honored with grants from the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture and the Arts Council Korea, and his work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the world. In 2010 he completed a residency at the Guesthouse in Cork, Ireland, and received the Bloomberg New Contemporaries Award in London, where he currently lives.

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