The system of belief or not; that is not the problem of yours ; JoSeub's World of Disbelief
Jo Seub has developed a distinct system of disbelief, the centerpiece of which is a fluctuating of self-identity. By putting the symbolism of contemporary symptoms of scepticism into the artificially controlled images, he has taken disbelief as one main subject in his art. Irrationality and the distortion of one's internal life have been common paradigm for postmodern system of reasoning and acting. This self-betrayal produced by the tension between the superficial belief and the internal disbelief are continuously knocking on our belief system of which we thought it could guide us to imagine and advance our own perspective of 'sensus communis'. From the perspective of a ¡®pictorial ideology', Jo Seub questions that why our living has to be determined in a trivial way.
He invented his own narrative to solve the problem of innate weightless of his images in which he probes nonsensical situation happening in our everyday activities. So I can say that his work is not a just about parody of living conditions, but can be called a parody of human purposefulness. And that parody of human purposefulness becomes catalyst in the process of sublimating his responses as an individual to the system of the human contents on the whole into the object of aesthetic consideration. His structures of narrative reinforced by this parody and furthermore then get into the realm of deconstructed communication; thus he recuperates a freedom of postmodern thought.
Jo Seub uses photographs to construct his narrative features. The original function of photography, proving factual events, possibly relates the viewer's conscious to omnipresent experiences, which requires not the very experiences of the world. This none-living-experiences created by images have always been necessarily adopted by scene taker whether one is an artist or the viewer. The condition of creating something, which is not just a passive ontological being, by an artist sometimes brings about a limited relationship between an art work and the viewer. However, still the aesthetic consideration remains as one of the most existential conditions for photographic works.
In the case of fact, that is, if the most importantly valuable aspect in creating images was recording facts, artists could not have lived in the world of aura such a long time of history of art. In contrast, the viewer does not ask for facts from the images if those are thought as art works, even though photography was originally invented to exactly represent our human being's living itself. Image structures the world events based on an extended cultural sensibility, and the viewer takes those constructed images as an aesthetic situation with which their belief system deals. This is actually not about belief system but about structural forces produced by logical process.
The belief system earns much information depending on our visual capacity, which is often influenced by the degree of directness that comes from the living world. French philosopher Rolan Barth says that photography is a message without code system, so the photography is absorbed to language. This comment about photography contains two conflict meanings; one is image itself and the other is the image which must be understood as a means of communication. However, he means that photography presents unwitnessed events in front of us to show up its most prominent characteristic as proving the fact. In the other hand, photography is also considered as an aesthetic crystallization with its own purposefulness beyond its original function of recording the fact. Here, I am telling the function of communication. And the communication is closely related to the characteristics of language. Many artists using photography in creating their art make photography's own context as if it is an independent entity departed from larger context. Jo Seub carries out the contemporary 'zeitgeist' through the series of photographic works.
To Jo Seub, there are several subjects which have to be provocatively exaggerated. Our human belief system can find that exists in traditional values of morality and the way of living. This belief system has often been violated and modified easily by political, religious, and economic needs of dominant classes. The particular group of people who has exclusively owned and distributed informations as their own needs for controlling the public has manipulated our perspectives to the world, and in the system of controlled vision, we have had fragmented consciousness to the world and become super-individualized believer of our own.
Mass media distributes information usually oriented to the power, i.e., so-called national benefits of state, so they also selectively offer information to the people. However, the coming of the Internet age triggered the unlimited accessibility to the information which has long been controlled by the dominant classes who own social, political, or economic power. The power based on a particular ideology cannot be manipulatively executed to the people of younger generation who can directly collect information from the Internet. Already the people of younger generation view the world within the context of uncertainty. Whereupon, I must ask myself, 'what is the object of belief that we can depend on?' It can be a new kind of art for the younger generation or it can still be religious absoluteness for comparatively conservative people.
Unpurposefulness comes with belief of something absolute, but disbelief builds up a system of reality. This reality takes concrete certainty of uncertainty into inexplicable aspects of human conscious. The finger St. Thomas put into the spear hole on resurrected Jesus's right side(Caravaggio, The Incredulity of St Thomas 1601-02) symbolizes the break down of not only an individual value of belief system, but also the value system itself of society. Caravaggio shows religion based on an individual difference of eval!uating believes. The finger represents something one cannot express by language - taboo - in one's ideological system. Jo Seub represents disbelief, a love based on disbelief, and a messed up amalgam made of belief and disbelief accumulated on dispersed essences of living brought by contemporary fragmented semantics of living. Eventually this evaporation procedures of meaning in a fictionally structured disbelief system turns his works into a system of tragic comedy, which never spread out his definition of art and rather hide it.
Until almost the end of 20th century, Korean society has been dominated by anticommunist ideology. Political leaders of state controlled the minds of the public by infusing anticommunist sentiments. These not only just controlled the minds of the public, but also took the freedom of speech and the freedom of body away from the public. Consequently, this way of controlling the public wholly stole the freedom of thought in the long run. That was the time of the human tragedy for Korean people. Violence and sometimes killing innocent people had been justified under the name of achieving social justice. Nobody was against military autocratic government except some leaders of democracy and some-but-many students. It was the time of Korean student movement was most stormy. Everybody followed the rules of government, but almost nobody believed that common sense functioned as the basis of our social system.
Artists metaphorically represent temporal aspects in terms of his own feeling and sentiment as an individual. The age of military autocracy has gone, but the residue of such a dark age stirs disbelief, which were hidden into the collective unconscious. Nowadays, people believe their own value systems though their perspectives are often limited to their one-sidedness to the world events rather than the integrated vision of value system, which has been build up by tradition and social order on a sense of pure meaning of the words. This aspect of disbelief brings about a whirl of conflicting values of each individual, then resolutely produced an ideology of disbelief in general. Jo Seub uses parody to make fun of present breakup of the meaningful world. Furthermore, he makes fun of himself as an artist, his view to the world, and even the glance of the viewer towards his work.
Jo Seub shows that present Koreans' feelings of absurdity are more than often deviated. In order to maintain their own egoistic gains, general individuals and each group of political, economical, and even artistic mass, and sometimes authoritative individuals deals with something unbearable by others. From this perspective, now one can witnesses a difference between artist's accurate self-conscious and society of corrupted mind. Objective consciousness in the process of completing artist's own job has never achieved new interpretations, so one can sometimes feel happiness departing from his own physical world into a narcissist world of one's own such as that Jo Seub has been doing. This is not an escape from reality but a deviation into the context of an intended aesthetic distortion. The different experiences of an artist from the viewer to the established system enable artists to uncover their internal creativity and aesthetic openness, and sometimes new possibility of art.
Jeong Yong-do( Art Critic)