Art/Style/Travel Diaries

There’s a Red Sleeve moment in immersive Korean digital art exhibit

At Korean Cultural Center, Endless Landscape transports you to mountains, rivers and even the Joseon dynasty

'Peonies in Bloom' in ongoing 'Endless Landscape' exhibit

The exhibition poster

The National Museum of Korea, under director general Yoon Sung Yong, is presenting Endless Landscape: Digitally Reimagined Korean Art at the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, under director Kim Myeongjin. This exhibition, featuring immersive video works using new digital technologies, opened January 19 and runs until June 29, 2024, on the 5th Floor, Multipurpose Hall of Korean Cultural Center on Bayani Road, Taguig City.

The exhibition presents four video works using new digital technologies produced by the National Museum of Korea and the Chuncheon National Museum. The works—entitled Endless Mountains and Rivers, Royal Processions with the People, Pillars of Divinity, Chongseok Rocks, and Peonies in Bloom—are reinterpretations of traditional Korean paintings. This exhibition is significant in that it offers a novel approach through digital content to engage with traditional Korean paintings, which are typically inaccessible without a visit to Korea.

Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines on Bayani Road, Taguig City.

This exhibition is the first outcome in the Philippines of the National Museum of Korea’s Overseas Korean Galleries Support Program.  To establish a foundation to broaden the reach of K-culture, the National Museum of Korea is promoting customized support programs to fit the local characteristics of different countries. In the Philippines, the absence of Korean galleries or museums housing Korean cultural heritage makes it challenging for local audiences to experience traditional Korean cultural content. In view of this, the exhibition takes a new approach to surmount the constraints of hosting artifact-centered exhibitions of Korean art. By presenting immersive video works using the latest digital technology, the stories of cultural heritage are conveyed in a vibrant and engaging way.

This digital approach serves the deep interest in Korean pop culture, including K-pop and TV shows. Through a friendly and familiar digital medium, the exhibition aims to draw the public to this convergence of tradition and modernity.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the Philippines. Endless Landscape: Digitally Reimagined Korean Art has been organized to commemorate the long-standing friendship between the two countries by expanding the reach of Korean cultural content in the Philippines and promoting mutual exchange. This exhibition kicks off a series of events celebrating this diplomatic anniversary at the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines, including a Korea Festival and K-drama OST Concert.

The performances will diversify the exhibition’s local impact and visitor experience. In collaboration with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines (NCCA), the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines will organize monthly house concerts featuring Filipino artists. The NCCA has provided active support to ensure the exhibition takes place successfully. The leading cultural institutions of Korea and the Philippines have come together to further strengthen cultural exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

At the gallery entrance, visitors are welcomed by an expansive panorama. The light, sound, and brilliant colors immerse the visitors in the rich tapestry of the unique landscapes, ambience, and history embodied in Korean traditional paintings. This unconventional approach serves as the intersection of cultural heritage and the digital technology of the present, providing viewers a new experience that goes beyond the emotional impact of the original works.

‘Endless Mountains and Rivers’

The first video work, Endless Mountains and Rivers: A Prosperous World Unfolds in Nature, is based on Endless Mountains and Rivers, a masterpiece by Yi Inmun (1745–after 1824), a royal court painter during the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). It provides a vivid rendition of people living in harmony with immutable nature. This vibrant coexistence of humans and nature represents a prosperous world, a utopia that people in the late Joseon Dynasty sought to realize.

The second video, Royal Processions with the People, is based on the official uigwe (royal protocols) records of the ceremonies of the Joseon royal court. Based on these royal records and paintings, it invites visitors into a world of majestic royal rites centered on the processions to Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon by King Jeongjo (reigned 1776–1880), the 22nd King of the Joseon Dynasty. King Jeongjo may be known to international audiences through the Korean historical drama, The Red Sleeve.

The third video work, Pillars of Divinity, Chongseok Rocks, illustrates the spectacular view of Chongseok Rocks in Tongcheon, Gangwondo Province, a renowned scenic attraction in the Geumgangsan Mountain area. This video is based on the painting, Scenic View of Chongseok Rocks by the painter and calligrapher Kim Gyujin (1868–1933). The painting was commissioned by Emperor Sunjong, the second ruler of the Korean Empire (1897–1910). It once decorated Heejeongdang Hall, his office at Changdeokgung Palace. The spectacular view of Chongseok Rocks is characterized by a series of hexagonal rock pillars that appear as if they were sculpted by divine hands. It has been transformed into an immersive video that brings the scene to life for visitors. Peonies in Bloom, the fourth work, is based on a two-panel painting of peony flowers in the National Museum of Korea collection. It was originally installed in a palace building during the Joseon Dynasty. Celebrated as “the king of flowers” for their splendid and elegant appearance, peonies have long served as an object of admiration, a symbol of wealth and abundance, and an important motif for royal rites and architecture. The video work transports visitors into a sumptuous garden of red and white peony blossoms in full bloom.

“Royal Processions with the People”

Yoon Sung Yong, the director general of the National Museum of Korea, commented, “The National Museum of Korea is promoting a variety of programs to support overseas Korean galleries and exhibitions to enhance global understanding of Korean culture. I hope that this exhibition focusing on digital content, which goes beyond conventional artifact-centered exhibitions, will serve as a unique opportunity to introduce Korean culture to the Filipino public.”

“Chongseok Rocks”

H.E. Lee Sang-hwa, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines, said, “As the first event to celebrate 75 years of friendship between Korea and the Philippines, this exhibition provides a great opportunity for meaningful cultural exchanges between our two countries. I hope that it will showcase Korea’s rich tradition and substantiate its position as a digital powerhouse that can further strengthen our bilateral partnership.”

Executives at the exhibit’s opening ceremony

Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa

The Bayanihan Dance Company

Korean musical performance by Ju Bora

The National Museum of Korea will continue projects and overseas exhibitions as part of its Overseas Korean Galleries Support Program to ensure the preservation and utilization of Korean galleries and cultural heritage. This exhibition is an opportunity for closer engagement with Korean art and culture. The museum strives to promote Korean culture and strengthen its status through diverse projects that encompass traditional and contemporary contexts.

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