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Artist uses 3D printing and holograms to explore evolving perception of physical bodies

Media artist Lee Kyung-hwa's interactive media installation performance, “Future Transformation: Digital Confession,” is staged during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Korean Institute of Architects (KIA) Convention & Exhibition, Oct. 25, 2023, at Culture Station Seoul 284. Courtesy of the artist

What caught the eyes of spectators at the opening of the Korean Institute of Architects (KIA) Convention & Exhibition on Oct. 25 of last year was a masked performer inside a life-size, glass-encased box at the concourse of Culture Station Seoul 284.Clad in all-white, she moved slowly yet expressively within the confines of the enclosed space. But just as the audience was getting used to gazing at her dance inside the box, the real performer appeared before their eyes, seemingly out of nowhere.It didn’t take long for the crowd to realize that what they had been observing was, in fact, a hyper-realistic hologram of the dancer, projected onto a digital screen, rather than her actual physical presence.She proceeded to approach the screen, coming face-to-face with her virtual “body double” against the compelling music.The performance eventually took an interactive turn when the audience was invited to step into the holographic world, put on a 3D-printed mask and become the protagonists of the show.

This media installation performance, “Future Transformation: Digital Confession,” is the brainchild of media artist Lee Kyung-hwa.“I conceptualized the box in the installation (projecting the holographic image) as a contemporary, open version of a confessional,” Lee told The Korea Times in a recent email interview. “In this space, where media art meets architecture, I wanted to reveal one’s intimate desires and bodily nature expressed through movements using today’s digital technology.”As the audience is offered a chance to look at their own holograms, they begin reflecting on the relationship between their physical selves, which are constrained by everyday realities such as climate change and socioeconomic status, and their virtual counterparts that seem unaffected — even liberated — from those pressing concerns.

“Future Transformation: Digital Confession” is part of Lee’s longstanding interest in exploring how the rise of digital technology — including 3D printing and virtual reality — has brought about a transformative shift in the way humans perceive their corporeal bodies and moreover, the physical space surrounding them.Her previous notable project, “Malleable Bodies,” staged at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) Seoul in 2015 and at REDCAT in Los Angeles in 2018, visualized how our bodies are no longer viewed as immutable entities.“3D printing of today is capable of creating even skin tissues and organs. The idea hit me that with such technological advancement, the human body has become an architectural space that can be shaped and designed at will,” the artist said.“This paradigm is particularly noteworthy in Korea, where for centuries, it was believed that the bodies we inherited from our parents were unchangeable.”Her latest performance expands upon this idea to highlight that nowadays, bodies can not only undergo significant physical transformations, but exist in a completely virtual, immaterial 슬롯게이밍 state.

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