Palbok Factory of Contemporary Art, Jeonju, South Korea, Oct-Dec 2019

Artist residency to further develop new working methods and new collaborations

Unproductive

Building on knowledge and experience gained at ACC, Gwangju, South Korea and my teacher Ryu Hankil in 2018, this project used Arduino, simple electronic circuits and salvaged technology to create devices that 'played' features of a gallery space, making sound reminiscent of production.

Unproductive is a term with negative connotations that I wished to reconsider.

The building that FoCA Palbok is housed in was a factory that closed because it became unproductive to produce audio cassettes at some point in the past.

In general commercial terms, and in the minds of many people, art is considered unproductive in some way, unless the artist is producing paintings, sculptures or some other tangible result that they can sell or add monetary value to.

The process behind this work, and the results could be regarded as unproductive. The results are barely visible. And yet as various devices interact with the very fabric of the building and the gallery space, it is clear there is some activity occurring.

The activity is irregular, unpredictable, as if the machine is not working as planned. But the intention is precisely this, for the action to be random. We are surrounded by sounds that have regular rhythmic patterns, such as motors, music, alarms, ticking clocks. These rhythms seems to soothe us and make
us comfortable. If they stop or become irregular, we feel something is wrong.

The devices contained in the work were all salvaged from various machines and technology that was discarded. Parts of VHS recorders, CD/DVD players, printers, scanners and a computer have all been assigned a new purpose.

In my practice, as well as reusing discarded materials, I often draw attention to things that are overlooked in daily life, so the audience will reconsider the world around them.


The work has been installed to be integral to the various structures and fixtures in the ceiling that are ignored or seen to be ugly, but that are essential to the space functioning as it should. Lighting rails, air conditioning ducts, conduits that hold electrical cables are all now part of an instrument that is played by the various devices.

"Unproductive" was developed during a residency with Palbok Factory of Contemporary Art in Jeonju, South Korea from October until December 2019. Simon would like to thank all the staff and artists of the residency for the support and resources that made it possible.

Initial stages finding, disassembling and working with parts of various technology found in the streets of Jeonju and donated by Palbok Factory of Contemporary Art.

New collaborations

Two collaborative projects with artists from other disciplines began during the residency at FoCA Palbok, the first with Soeine Bac from Canada.

This project, which we titled 'Lament for a Cassette Factory', combined voice, architecture, found objects and sound recording and playback equipment in an exploration of acoustic qualities of some disused areas of the site.

The second with Hannah Kim once again responded to the space, this time in the reception area of the gallery exhibition space, with us performing with traditional Korean instruments and found objects. The work is titled 'Rhythm and Conduction', taken from terminology regarding the heart but also reflected in the percussion and equipment used in the work.

Many thanks to both Hannah and Soeine for visiting Jeonju to work with me developing these works that were both in some way sketches for future projects together.