Category Archives: media

Take the Money? What Money?

Danish museum, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, paid artist Jens Haaning 534,000 kroner to recreate two of his works from over a decade ago. Calculating the cost of material and labor, Jen Hanning says that it was criminally low and would’ve required him to pay money out of his own pockets to recreate the two works. Now, Haaning is a known conceptual artist and I really have no idea how much reproducing the works would cost, but he decided to just pocket the money and rename the series ‘Take the Money and Run,’ and sent the museum two blank canvases. The museum in return, hangs the two canvasses as part of an exhibition examining the relationship between art and labor, but ironically still plans to get the money back from Haaning, accusing him of breach of contract.

As conceptual art, bravo Jens Haaning! Excellent. Artists’ works are criminally undervalued. Artists are often seen as doing a hobby and are expected to finance their art with “real” jobs. It’s not uncommon to hear artists being asked to produce work for “exposure.” Heck, even making art and posting it on Instagram (which I do), technically gives Facebook millions of artistic work as content for free. So when Jens Haaning refused to honor the contract after being paid what he felt was too low, as an artist, I couldn’t help but root for him.

But as someone who has a basic understanding of contracts, Jens Haaning orchestrated the whole thing and played the Kunsten museum. He’s a bad actor, not a victim. For a contract to be valid, there must be a valid offer, acceptance, consideration, mutual obligation, and both parties must be competent in the time of their agreement. No one forced Haaning to agree to reproduce his works for the price he calls “criminally low.” He could very well have negotiated to a higher and more suitable compensation for his labor. But he didn’t. Instead, he agreed to a contract which I suspect he had no plans to fulfill in order to make viral news, appealing to the sympathies of artists worldwide. The museum in return gets to benefit a bit from the notoriety and will no doubt see more people through its doors hoping to see a blank canvas.

Let’s not get carried away here. The stunt is closer to a banana on a wall than an upturned urinal. It may be speaking of truths that artists suffer through, but I can’t help but feel that the artist is distastefully cynical in his approach. Whether the museum gets its money back or not will not change the value and the meaning of the two original canvasses. I doubt if it would hurt the artist much as well. Even if he does get sued, I’m sure it will be settled without hurting him financially. In fact, being sued might benefit him more and gain him more notoriety. But while ‘Take the Money and Run’ tries to address how artists are criminally undervalued, I believe in the long run, it will only contribute to the notion that art is excessive, ridiculous, and arbitrary, and thus perpetuate the harm Haaning claims he’s shining a light on among artists. After all, how could two canvasses be worth 534,000 kroner?

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Don’t do it! Save your money.

NFTs are frauds. They’re objects of value just as much as tamagotchis are pets. One of the red flags that caught my attention weeks ago when NFTs were hyped up in the media was that anyone can make an NFT about anything, but blockchain technology will make that assignation to that “thing” unique and that rarity will create value. But what is rarity if it doesn’t really have any practical consequences the way rarity actually works in real life? There were only 69 Faberge eggs created by the House of Faberge. Only 57 of those meticulously jeweled eggs survive today. Perhaps they can be reproduced and mass manufactured, but there is inherent value in the originals.

Acquiring a replica of the originals would also require some effort. A person does not just search for Faberge eggs on Google and immediately have a copy of it. NFTs however, their rarity only exists among NFTs. Being mostly blockchain representation of digital art, their digital art counterpart can still be downloaded from the Internet. There is often no real rarity. This is why NFT speculators burned a Banksy after assigning an NFT to it, to create actual rarity. Stupidly however, I think they just destroyed an actual valuable work of art whose image is available freely online. Maybe I’ll download an image of it and create an NFT of it as well. It won’t be tied to original that was destroyed, but it would also be an NFT that didn’t destroy a Banksy.

Then I see this piece of news from the Art Newspaper: Basquiat NFT withdrawn from auction after artist’s estate intervenes. It read, “no license or rights were convened to the seller.” Now, the seller of the NFT claims that they have proof of purchase and payment to substantiate the authenticity of the ownership, and that the buyer would be free to destroy the original. However, the estate of the artist disputed the claim and the auction was halted. The seller explained, “while blockchain transactions are widely considered a trusted source of authentification and provenance, best copyright practices have yet to evolve for the digital economy.” I don’t know. To me, it sounds like two copyright schemes are at work, and the ultimate real world copyright holders seems to have won in this case. Now, proponents of NFTs claim that the technology will help authenticate works, but I think it just creates just as many problems as it claims to solve. There may be poorly reproduced versions of Basquiat’s work produced and sold from China, but what’s stopping anyone from making equally fraudulent NFTs of Basquiat’s work? In fact, one of the things that was frequently mentioned when NFTs were being hyped is that the author of the original work doesn’t have to be the author of the NFTs. The NFTs are their own thing. The assignation to its physical counterpart is a legal fiction that all parties must agree to in order to create value for the intangible ones and zeroes.

An NFT of the Mona Lisa will never be as valuable as the real one. It certainly won’t be as satisfying staring at it on a wall than studying it on a monitor. When they destroyed a Banksy and said that they “transformed it” to an NFT. They destroyed something of value and now collectively decided that the destroyed value is now transferred to the NFT. Now, some might be willing to join in on that delusion, but I believe many more would see it as foolishness. Going back to my initial comparison, this would be like me killing a dog and claiming that it has now transformed into my tamagotchi.

And just look at the trouble the sellers of Basquiat have regarding the work’s provenance. This is just based on two competing claims which I imagine would appear equally credible to most people if not one of the sides weren’t the artist’s estate. Imagine the headache of having two or more competing NFTs claiming to be the real representation of an art piece. Now, of course, people would say that blockchain technology would prevent this confusion from happening, along with a long-winded explanation. But there’s also a long-winded explanation as to how copyright laws would prevent problems like the Basquiat NFT confusion from happening, and yet here we are.

This all concerns works with real world counterparts, where actual physical ownership and copyrights seem to trump NFT logic. I think it would be even more challenging to convince people of the long lasting value of purely digital works as NFTs. You have a copy of a normally replicable file, only that it cannot be truly replicated, with no other discernible difference from other copies except for the fact that there is some value assigned to it by crypto speculators. This, in a world were people download, copy, and pirate media and computer programs all of the time. I don’t think this will catch on. Looking at several think pieces, I’m not alone on this. The craze seems to be powered more by speculators rather than enthusiasts, and now, things appears to be winding down, with the average price of NFTs going down to a quarter of its peak in February. This could be an effect of the flood on the market, but one can also not ignore the current drop in NFT sales.

Now, I am just as guilty as writing on a platform that no one reads, but I’m just amazed at how incomprehensible the words of Donald Trump are on his blog. He either writes long “tweets” or creates an unreadable wall of text. Seriously, the man cannot write paragraphs! Somebody help him; I understand why many of his supporters don’t visit his blog.

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Mental Help and NFTs

I’ve been on a bit of crisis in the past few days. Luckily, I managed to find a therapist that could help me work through the whole thing. I thought that mental health services wasn’t covered by the Korean national health insurance system, but luckily I found a couple of places that are willing to work with it. Many English-speaking clinics here are targeting private insurance companies so they could charge more, making it difficult people to find help.

저는 지난 며칠 동안 약간의 위기를 겪었어요. 운 좋게도 모든 일을 도움이 될 치료사를 찾았어요. 정신 건강 서비스는 한국 국민 건강 보험이 적용되지 않는다고 생각했는데다행스럽게도 함께 일할 수있는 곳을 몇 군데 찾았어요. 여기에 많은 영어를 사용하는 클리닉은 민간 보험 회사를 대상으로하여 더 많은 비용을 청구하여, 사람들이 도움을 찾기 어렵게 지였어요.

The last time I went to a therapist, a Korean doctor, she prescribed me with so much drugs that I wasn’t able to function normally. It was good to be able to freely vent out my issues, but my doctor didn’t really equip me with coping strategies to help me in the future, just drugs to numb me and help me sleep. As for moving on, I had to come up with my own strategies, which, looking back now, I’m not sure was really healthy.

제가 마지막으로 한국 의사 인 치료사에게 갔을 때 그녀는 제가 정상적으로 기능 할 수 없을 정도로 많은 약을 처방했어요. 내 문제를 자유롭게 풀어 낼 수있어서 좋았지 만, 의사는 미래에 나를 도울 수있는 대처 전략을 실제로 제공하지 않았고, 단지 나를 마비시키고 잠을 잘 수 있도록 도와주는 약물 만 사용했어요. 계속 진행하려면 나만의 전략을 세워야했는데, 지금 되돌아 보면 정말 건강하지 모르겠어요.

I’m hoping this time, it works out better for me. Some prescription drugs would probably help me, too. It’s been getting really, difficult to focus lately. I just need some help.

이번에는 더 잘 결과를 바랍이요. 일부 처방약도 나에게 도움이 될 것이요. 최근에 집중하기가 정말 어려워지고 있어요. 도움이 필요해요.

Let’s talk about NFT and art. Well, I’m not going to explain what it is. There’s already enough material out there explaining what NFTs are. What’s disconcerting to me is how much material has been pushing out about NFTs and painting them out as a democratizing force for artists. Did someone at the news organization buy a bunch of NFTs? Are there artists there selling their NFTs?

NFT와 예술에 대해 이야기합시다. 글쎄, 저는 그것이 무엇인지 설명하지 않을 것이요. Internet에서 NFT가 무엇인지 설명하는 자료가 이미 충분해요. 저를 당황하게하는 것은 CBC.ca가 NFT에 대해 얼마나 많은 자료를 밀어 내고 아티스트를위한 민주화의 힘으로 표현했는지요. 뉴스 기관의 누군가가 NFT를 많이 구입 했어요? NFT를 판매하는 아티스트가 있나요?

With COVID and the lack of opportunities to show works in galleries, I’ve been showing a lot of my works online and in magazines overseas. I’ve been participating in online shows and being more aggressive with my own SNS art account. This doesn’t necessarily pay off in more sales, but I imagine it’s what many people are resorting to now. But the danger of having work out there is that anyone can basically just take your work. I’m not heavy into selling prints, but really, if someone wants a print of someone’s work so bad, chances are, they can just take a high quality image and print it themselves. The control and ownership of an image is what makes NFTs attractive to me. I think if it’s cheaper and less environmentally taxing, artists should be marking their works and making it more difficult for people to steal them. Much like people who produce pornography, artists need to protect their work. Art and artists are devalued enough as it is, and works of art are easily moved, traded, and given away online. Something has to change that. Turning works into NFTs will hopefully give artists more knowledge of where their works are outside of Googling their own names or doing a reverse image search.

COVID 데문에 갤러리에서 예술품을 보여줄 기회가 부족해 온라인과 해외 잡지에 많은 예술품을 보여주고 있어요. 저는 온라인 쇼에 참여하고 있으며 제 SNS 아트 계정으로 더 공격적으로 활동하고 있어요. 이것이 반드시 더 많은 매출로 보상되는 것은 아니지만 많은 사람들이 지금 의지하고있는 것 같아요. 하지만 예술이 Internet에 있는 것의 위험은 누구나 기본적으로 당신의 예술을 맡을 수 있다는 거예요. 저는 인화 판매에 무겁지는 않지만 누군가의 예술을 인쇄하려는 사람은 예술의 이미지를 찍어 직접 인쇄 할 수 있어요. 이미지의 제어와 소유권이 NFT를 매력적으로 만드는 요소요. 저렴하고 환경에 부담이 적다면 예술가들이 자신의 예술품을 보여 주기 쉽고 사람들이 훔치는 것을 더 어렵게 만들어야한다고 생각헤요. 포르노를 제작하는 사람들과 마찬가지로 아티스트도 자신의 예술품을 보호해야해요. 예술과 예술가는 그 자체로 충분히 평가 절하되고 예술품은 온라인으로 쉽게 이동, 거래 및 제공되요. 무언가를 바꿔야해요. 예술품을 NFT로 바꾸면 아티스트가 자신의 이름을 검색하거나 역 이미지 검색을 수행 할 때 자신의 예술품이 어디에 있는지 더 많이 알 수 있기를 해요.

Getting into the NFT market however is another thing. Using blockchain technology and turning works into NFTs require gas fees. Last time I checked, gas fees are ridiculously high, and rates are getting worse as the hype over NFTs increases. Say minting an NFT costs $50. If an artist has a portfolio of 50 images, that’s $2500 he’s already lost on art that already exists with no guarantee on returns. And while people say that the world of NFTs is currently the wild west for artists, artists will still need to sell their works based on their names and reputations (not on the quality of their works. More on this.). Smaller and unknown artists will still compete with more well-known and established artists who already have a more comfortable foothold on the NFT market and can afford to turn more of their works into NFTs. It is not spreading democracy in the art world. It’s dividing artists even more and making it more difficult for newer artists to compete.

그러나 NFT 시장에 진입하는 것은 또 다른 일이요. 블록 체인 기술을 사용하고 작품을 NFT로 전환하려면 가스 요금이 필요해요. 지난번에 확인했을 때 가스 요금이 엄청나게 높고 NFT에 대한 과대 광고가 증가함에 따라 요금이 나 빠지고 있어요. NFT를 만드는 데 50 달러가 든다고 가정 해 보겠습면 아티스트가 50 개의 이미지 포트폴리오를 보유하고 있다면 이미 $ 2500이며 반품에 대한 보장없이 이미 존재하는 예술품에서 잃어버린 거예요. 그리고 사람들은 NFT의 세계가 현재 예술가들에게 황량한 서부라고 말하지만, 예술가들은 여전히 자신의 이름과 명성을 기준으로 자신의 작품을 판매해야합니다. 작고 알려지지 않은 예술가들은 NFT 시장에서 이미 더 편안한 발판을 가지고 있고 더 많은 작품을 NFT로 전환 할 여유가있는 더 유명하고 확립 된 예술가들과 경쟁 할 것입니다. 예술계에 민주주의를 전파하는 것이 아니요. 아티스트를 더 많이 나누고 새로운 아티스트가 경쟁하기 어렵게 만들어요.

And yeah, since we’re talking about blockchain technology, I shouldn’t forget to mention that it takes a huge toll on the environment to mint NFTs. Blockchain technology is resource-hungry. I can just imagine thousands of processors working overtime minting virtual objects that may or may not be assets in the long run. People have estimated that minting NFTs takes anywhere between weeks to years of an average person’s electricity consumption. No wonder it’s so expensive! Now multiply that to several NFTs.

그리고, 우리는 블록 체인 기술에 대해 이야기하고 있기 때문에 NFT를 발행하기 위해서는 환경에 막대한 피해를 입히는 것을 잊지 말아헤요. 블록 체인 기술은 자원이 돼지요. 장기적으로 자산이 될 수도 있고 아닐 수도있는 가상 객체를 채굴하면서 초과 근무하는 수천 명의 프로세서를 상상할 수 있어요. 사람들은 NFT를 채굴하는 데 평균적인 사람의 전기 소비에 몇 주에서 몇 년이 걸린다고 추정했어요. 그렇게 비싼 것도 당연헤요! 이제 그것을 여러 NFT에 곱하세요.

My biggest problem with NFTs is that it turns artists into gamblers and treats art not as art but as speculative commodities. Will my work make it big in the NFT market? Who knows? Let me invest some money into it and see. Well, that worked out. Now let’s turn more of my works into NFTs. With a considerable price to pay to get into the NFT market, artists would be more concerned about the attractiveness of their works as an investment, not as artworks. And I wouldn’t blame them. Celebrities could probably turn non-artworks into NFTs and compete quite well against true artists. As of this writing, Jack Dorsey turned his first tweet into an NFT and is selling it for $250,000. And as for valuing and appreciating art. Forget that. They’re all investments now.

NFT의 가장 큰 문제점은 예술가를 도박꾼으로 만들고 예술을 예술이 아니라 투기 적 상품으로 취급한다는 거예요. 내 예술품이 NFT 시장에서 크게 만들 수 있습니까? 누가 알아? 돈을 좀 투자 해 보겠어요. 글쎄요. 이제 더 많은 작업을 NFT로 전환 해 보겠습니다. NFT 시장에 진출하기 위해 상당한 대가를 치르면 예술가들은 예술품이 아닌 투자로서의 예술품품의 매력에 대해 더 걱정할 거예요. 그리고 저는 그들을 비난하지 않을 거예요. 유명인은 아마도 비 예술 예술품을 NFT로 바꾸고 진정한 예술가와 꽤 잘 경쟁 할 수 있어요. 이 글을 쓰는 시점에서 Jack Dorsey는 첫 번째 트윗을 NFT로 바꾸어 $ 250,000에 판매하고 있어요. 그리고 예술을 소중히 여기고 감상하는 것에 관해서. 잊어 버려. 지금은 모두 투자이예요.

“That’s a wonderful picture. It truly is amazing. I love how colors are so surreal without digital manipulation. Is it an NFT? Why not? You could probably see its price quadruple in the NFT market.” And then the conversation turns more into investments and speculation rather than art.

“멋진 사진 이네요. 정말 놀라요. 디지털 조작없이 색상이 얼마나 초현실적인지 정말 좋아요. NFT입니까? 왜 안돼? NFT 시장에서 가격이 4 배가되는 것을 볼 수있을 것이예요.” 그리고 대화는 예술보다는 투자와 투기로 변해요.

I read an account of one artists who said that with NFTs, he earns a 10% cut every time his work is re-sold. That’s great and all, but then again, did he make art or did he just make a commodity that’s traded? What was the point of the piece originally? Did Warhol ever demand or wish for a cut every time someone sells his work? If I sell my work, it’s gone. It’s not mine anymore. I have no connection with it other than it’s birth. To wish for a cut every time something is sold speaks of a weird greed which could be justified by some people, I’m sure, but not artistically.

NFT를 사용하면 예술품이 재판매 될 때마다 10 % 컷을 받는다는 한 아티스트의 이야기를 읽었어요. 훌륭해요. 하지만 다시 그는 예술품을 만들었나요 아니면 그냥 거래되는 상품을 만들었나요? 원래 작품의 요점은 무엇 이었습니까? 워홀은 누군가 자신의 작품을 판매 할 때마다 삭감을 요구하거나 바랬습니까? 내 예술품을 팔면 사라져요. 더 이상 내 것이 아니요. 저는 그것을 만들었는 것 외에는 아무 관련이 없어요. 그것은 어떤 사람이 정당화 할 수있고 무언가가 팔릴 때마다 컷을 원한다는 것은 확실하지만 예술적으로는 아니요.

Recently, investors burnt a Banksy and turned it into an NFT. These people are morons. First off, artwork doesn’t have to be turned into an NFT to have it exist forever. Diego Rivera’s Man at the Crossroads is still studied to this day no thanks to blockchain technology. Also, making or treating art as investments seems to really go against the spirit of what Banksy does. The man travels the globe and makes wonderful art for free. To willfully destroy artwork and turn it into a digital commodity is like ghoulish capitalists turning wonderful artwork into wasteful nerd coins. And no, it’s not elevating art into a different form. The burning of the piece is not art in itself. This is not conceptual art. This is dumb greed.

최근 투자자들은 Banksy의 예술픔을 태워 NFT로 전환했어요. 이 사람들은 바보요. 첫째, 예술 예술품이 영원히 존재하기 위해 NFT로 변환 될 필요는 없어요. Diego Rivera의 Man at the Crossroads는 블록 체인이 없지만 오늘날까지도 연구되고 있어요. 또한 예술을 투자로 만들거나 다루는 것은 Banksy가하는 일의 정신에 반하는 것처럼 보이요. 그는 전 세계를 여행하며 무료로 멋진 예술을 만들어요. 예술 작품을 고의로 파괴하고 디지털 상품으로 바꾸는 것은 멋진 예술 작품을 낭비적인 머저리 동전으로 바꾸는 끔찍한 자본가와 같아요. 그리고 예술을 다른 형태로 끌어 올리는 것이 아니요. 작품을 태우는 것은 그 자체로 예술이 아니요. 이것은 개념 예술이 아니요. 이건 멍청한 탐욕이요.

“Yeah, but Banksy shredded his own art in an auction before!” Yes, he destroyed it to make a statement. The people who burned the Banksy are hoping to start a trend and rake in profits. What’s their statement? “NFTs are now a thing. Come on and invest on NFTs!”

“그래, 하지만 Banksy는 전에 경매에서 자신의 예술을 찢어 버렸어!” 예, 그는 성명서를 만들기 위해 그것을 파괴했어요. Banksy의 예술품을 불태운 사람들은 트렌드를 시작하고 수익을 올리기를 희망하고 있습니다. 그들의 진술은 무엇입니까? “NFT는 좋아요. 어서 NFT에 투자하세요!”

Again, I’m not against certifying digital works and giving them secure signatures. It’ll be nice to have some sort of virtual permanence to digital works. But the way this whole thing is developing reeks of speculation and greed. And when someone says, “anything can be turned into an NFT,” then not only does it lower the bar for art (down to a celebrity’s hangnail), it makes art nothing more than gambler’s token. After all, “you can bet on anything at the stock market.”

다시 말하지만 저는 디지털 예술품을 인증하고 보안 서명을하는 것에 반대하지 아니요. 디지털 예술품에 대해 일종의 가상 영구성을 갖는 것이 좋을 거예요. 그러나 이 모든 것이 추측과 탐욕의 냄새를 풍기는 방식이요. 그리고 누군가 “무엇이든 NFT로 바뀔 수 있습니다”라고 말하면 예술의 기준을 낮출뿐만 아니라 (연예인의 자른 손톱을으로 레벨도) 예술은 도박꾼의 토큰에 지나지 아니요. 결국“주식 시장에서 무엇이든 베팅 할 수 있어요.”

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The Myth of Sisyphus

I started watching this Korean drama entitled, “Sisyphus, the Myth.” I’m only two episodes in and I’m already not liking it. I can’t stand Tony Stark and the Tony Stark fantasy. I can’t stand how Koreans and Marvel fans love and worship the idea of a genius billionaire, when billionaires should be villified for hoarding wealth. The main character is basically a Tony Stark type and the first episode couldn’t help but cheese me out a bit in building him up. The filming and the writing, while very ambitious, also reeked of ambitiousness. It’s very hard to explain, but it reminds me of the first two episodes of Star Trek Picard, with the mixture of action, mystery, and plot holes.

한국 드라마 ‘Sisyphys, the Myth’을 보기 시작 했어요. 2 화 밖에 안 보아는데 벌써 좋아하지 않은것 같아요. Tony Stark와 Tony Stark의 환상을 참을 수 없어요. 억만 장자가 부를 축적해야하는 상황에서 한국인과 Marvel 팬들이 천재 억만 장자에 대한 아이디어를 어떻게 사랑하고 숭배하는지 이해 할 수 없어요. 주인공은 기본적으로 Tony Stark 유형이며 첫 번째 에피소드는 그는 약간이 즘 너무 진부해요. 촬영과 글쓰기는 매우 야심적이면서도 야심이 넘쳤어요. 설명하기는 매우 어렵지만, 액션, 미스터리, 이야기의 불일치 혼합 된 Star Trek Picard의 처음 두 에피소드를 생각 나게했어요.

So instead of the drama “Sisyphus, the Myth,” let me just quickly discuss “The Myth of Sisyphus” instead, a book by Camus, the one which I suspect the writers borrowed the title from. As I understood it, the book looks at absurdist philosophy. Life is essentially absurd. We toil all of our lives and the world constantly brings us unexpected hardships. And the closer we are to achieving our dreams as we age, for the lucky few that is, the closer we are to death. Now, looking at the absurd nature of life, isn’t the most logical solution suicide? After all, if you’re in an absurd relationship or stuck in an absurd job, isn’t the most logical solution to just quit?

그래서 드라마 “Sisyphus, the Myth”대신에, Camus의 책인 “The Myth of Sisyphus”에 대해 간단히 이야기하겠습니다, 그 드라마를 제목이 빌린 것으로 의심됬어요. 내가 이해했듯에 이 책은 터무니없는 철학을 본이요. 인생은 본질적으로 터무니 없어요. 우리는 모든 삶을 일하며 세상은 끊임없이 예상치 못한 어려움을 겪서요. 그리고 우리가 나이가 들어감에 따라 꿈을 이루는 데 가까울수록 죽음에 가까워집니다. 자, 인생의 어리석은 본질을 보면 가장 논리적 인 해결책은 자살 아니애요? 헊시, 어리석은 관계에 있거나 어리석은 직업에 갇혀 있다면 그만두는 가장 논리적 인 해결책이 아닙니까?

Now, I’m guessing the Korean drama will be touching up on the absurdity of life since the show deals with time travel, etc. But yeah, that’s the last time I mention that show.

이제 그 드라마가 time travel등을 다룬 쇼이기 때문에 인생의 부조리에 대한 이야기가 될 것 같아요. 하지만, 이게 그 드라마에 대해 마지막으로 말해요.

But thinking about aging and death. I suppose this is the reason why young people are generally seen as more attractive than people who are more mature. Forget biology and the ability to procreate. Young people are much farther from death than people who are older. The touch of death, as it starts getting in people’s skin, they become less attractive.

그러나 노화와 죽음에 대해 생각하며, 이것이 젊은이들이 일반적으로 더 성숙한 사람들보다 더 매력적으로 여겨지는 이유라고 생각해요. 생물학과 번식 능력을 잊으십시오. 젊은 사람들은 나이가 많은 사람들보다 죽음에서 훨씬 더 멀렸어요. 사람들이 죽음의 손길와 냄세를 피부에 들어가기 시작하면서 덜 매력적이됬어요.

Another thing which I found interesting about the book is the idea that “if the world were not absurd, art would not exist.” This is similar to the old idea of art illuminating truths, that artists see the world in a certain way, and use art to express the truths that they see. These all sound very lofty, which makes me wonder why artists are often undervalued as a calling or profession. Unless you’re making millions out of your art, it’s often just treated as a quirky hobby.

이 책에서 흥미로운 또 다른 점은“세상이 어리석지 않으면 예술은 존재하지 않을 것”이라는 생각이요. 이것은 예술이 진실을 말하는 오래된 아이디어가 비슷해요. 예술가들은 세상을 특정한 방식으로 보고, 그들이 보는 진실을 표현하기 위해 예술을 사용해요. 이것들은 모두 매우 고상하게 들리는데, 왜 예술가들이 자주 부름이나 직업으로 저평가되는지 궁금해요. 예술로 수백만 달러를 벌지 않는 한, 그것은 보통 그냥 흥미로운 취미로 취급되요.

Actually, this kinda reminds me of an episode of Peep Show, where a woman was complaining about all of the bad news on the news, “What about the good news? The news where things actually went well?” Well, if the news was like that, it would just be a long, insufferable list of observations of things functioning as they are. The news needs tragedy, otherwise it won’t be news. That’s why I can’t stand news that aren’t really news, like the announcement of the oldest person in the world. There will always be a new oldest person in the world. As Camus would probably attest, the oldest person in the world is probably the one closest to death.

사실, 이것은 Peep Show의 에피소드를 생각 나게해 한 여성이 뉴스의 모든 나쁜 소식에 대해 불평하고 있어요. “좋은 뉴스은 어떻습니까? 실제로 잘된 뉴스?” 글쎄요, 만약 뉴스가 그랬다면, 그것이 그대로 기능하는 것에 대한 관찰의 길고 참을 수없는 목록 일 것이요. 뉴스에는 비극이 필요해요. 그렇지 않으면 뉴스가 아니요. 그래서 세상에서 가장 나이 많은 사람의 발표처럼 진짜 뉴스가 아닌 뉴스를 싫어요. 항상 세상에서 가장 오래된 사람이있을 것이요. Camus가 생각했듯이 세상에서 가장 나이 많은 사람은 아마도 죽음에 가장 가까운 사람 일 것이요.

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Talking Art

I realized yesterday that my best friend, despite being an artist and a gallery owner, is incapable of talking about art. For sure, she can spend hours talking about her works and her self, but she is not the best person to talk to about art, artists, and anything creative. I’m not even sure if she’s interested in art history or anything in the past that could inspire her works. I remember giving her a couple of books about art and artists, sending her links about art, or even trying to talk about potential art concepts, but I can’t remember feeling any interest coming from her in return. If anything, I recall a couple of times being discouraged and just keeping things in the status quo when I tried to brainstorm ideas with her.

어제, 내 가장 친한 친구가 예술가이자 갤러리 주인이지만 그녀는 예술에 대해 이야기 할 능력이 없다는 것을 깨달았어요. 확실히 그녀는 자신의 에술과 자신에 대해 이야기하는 데 몇 시간을 할애 할 수 있지만, 그녀는 예술, 다른 예술가 및 창의적인 것에 대해 이야기하기에 좋은 사람은 아니에요. 그녀가 미술사에 관심이 있는지, 아니면 그녀의 영감을 줄 수있는 미술사에 관심이 있는지 모르겠어요. 그녀에게 예술과 예술가에 관한 책 몇 권을 주었던 기억에, 예술에 대한 링크를 보내거나 잠재적인 예술 개념에 대해 이야기하는것 하지만 그 대가로 그녀에게서 오는 관심을 느꼈던 기억이 없어요. 그녀와 아이디어를 브레인 스토밍하려고 할 때 몇 번 낙담하고 현상 유지를 유지했던 것을 기억해요.

She simply can’t or is just disinterested. We try talking about art, and then eventually we drift back to talking about her works, going through the same rote conversations.

단순히, 그녀는 할 수 없거나 무관심해요. 우리는 예술에 대해 이야기하고, 결국 그녀의 예술에 대해 이야기하며 제 귀에 못이 박히도록 같은 대화를하게되요.

Now, I know that this is not a prerequisite for all artists to follow, but it surely helps in guiding one’s work to know about art and be able to talk about them, and to be inspired by bigger artists. It instructs the artists not only with their style but also in how to see their own works. Is an artist painting the way Jackson Pollock painted in order to see the canvas in different directions and show movement? Or is the artist just doing it for pretty colors? Maybe an artist can start with the latter, but knowing who Pollock is and why he painted the way he did, an artist can move on to the former and beyond.

이것이 모든 에술가 따라야 할 전제 조건이 아니라는 것을 알고 있지만, 자신의 예술이 예술에 대해 알고 이야기하고 더 다른 유명한 예술가로부터 영감을받을 수 있도록지도하는 데 확실히 도움이될수 있어요. 예술가들에게 자신의 스타일뿐만 아니라 자신의 예술을 보는 방법을 가르쳐주어요. 캔버스에 다른 방향으로보고 움직임을 보여주기 위해 Jackson Pollock적 그린 그리는 예술가입니까? 아니면 예쁜 색들을 위해해요? 혹시 아티스트는 후자부터 시작할 수 있지만 Pollock이 누구인지고 그의 그린 방법 이유를 알면 아티스트는 너머로 이동할 수 있어요.

Anyway, I’m going to have to take my art conversations elsewhere.

어쨌든, 저는 다른 곳에서 미술 대화를해야 할 것이에요.

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Before the long Chinese New Year weekend, I asked a coworker if he was going somewhere. He said he had plans to visit Japan. He just hoped that he won’t be encountering too many Chinese tourists because of the coronavirus which is all over the news at the moment. I shrug and nod at the thought.

After living in Korea for so many years, I could differentiate Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese by the way they look, dress, and behave, especially as tourists. Listening to that comment, it’s a bit odd to hear such casual xenophobia from coworkers, when from a western point of view, he might as well be Chinese himself. Right now, I’m seeing Chinese Canadians are reporting being stigmatized due to fear of being infected by the virus. The same goes in other parts of the world. News about French newspapers being particularly insensitive towards their Chinese populace has been going viral, no pun intended. Asians aren’t usually very loud when they suffer racism. In fact, many racist Asian tropes have been so normalized due to people suffering in silence that it takes a fair amount of time to convince them that such tropes are racist.

In any case, I think situations like these are just catalysts for internal racist attitudes to be openly vented. I was inclined to believe that racism against Chinese people overseas due to the virus was just media hype, but then again, I’ve seen people in Korea actually fearing the Chinese. Chinese students and instructors who visited China during the break are asked not to attend school for at least two weeks. Places where Chinese tourists usually crowd in the city look quite empty. I haven’t really seen this strong a reaction in people and in the media since the avian flu hit the country, not with SARS or MERS. And even with the avian flu, the only time it affected me was not being able to visit the aviary in the zoo.

Anyway, I’m not really too concerned about it at the moment. I still believe that the rate of infection and casualty is still pretty low compared to other diseases that were previously hyped up. Though the youngest casualty is 36 years young, the majority of the casualties are over 60 years old. Videos of tents and Chinese medical professionals yelling instructions in Chinese might sound scary, but I don’t think it’s too much to get into a panic over. Tents with sick people, hazmat suits, loud foreign language… these are all intimidating at a very basic level. Then you add in some communism and a distrust of the Chinese government and you have a potent mixture of irrational fear that allows you to be dumb, or at its worst, be unkind to your neighbors.

Gotta keep calm.

Just stay healthy, eat right, wash your damned hands, and be nice to Asians.

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2019 Just Died


New Year morning, we were watching ‘New Year’s Rockin Eve’ over breakfast in Seoul and it dawned on me how truly mediocre popular music is. Well, maybe that’s a tad bit unfair. After all, ‘mediocre’ is kinda expected when ‘New Year’s Rockin Eve’ is preceded by “Ryan Seacrest.” Seriously, Post Malone? Ugh… It was so unbearable that I had to distract myself doing chores afterwards while my wife waited for BTS.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Let’s make more art in 2020. Be less depressed. Learn more. Work more. Draw more.

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Striking Viral Gold


Lately, there’s this new mascot in Korea has skyrocketed in popularity. Pengsu is a headphones-wearing penguin that does 10-minute man-on-the-street skits produced by EBS, the Korea Educational Broadcasting System. Unlike a lot of Korean comedy, the character is able to attract both young children and adults with his witty ad-lib free of sexual overtones, cursing, or slapstick.

I must admit, I too find him amusing. The whole set-up is reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen skits. Talk to someone for a few minutes, move one, rinse and repeat. He also has recurring things he comes back to, basically building his own world simply by virtue of the story he spins.

Much like PBS, EBS survives through sponsorship and advertisement. Because they’re mainly focused on education, they’re not as attractive to companies compared to other bigger broadcasting companies in the country. The character Peng-su’s surge in popularity not only because of the character itself but also due to the story of an educational character crossing over to the viral mainstream. And that is one of the things that interest me most about the character. A lot of the character’s fans are quite keen on speculating on what products the character would or should endorse in the future. Already, I’ve seen news stories of companies courting the creators of the character to ink a deal to start hawking their merchandise.

Now I know that some characters or some shows are always in danger of not having enough funding to continue. It’s always difficult finding funding for the arts. But to me, the Peng-su phenomenon is akin to having a viral tweet or Instagram post. When an unknown account suddenly goes viral with one tweet, it is often followed by either the original poster advertising something in response to the sudden popularity or just shrugging it all off and linking to something innocuous. That attitude of “BAM! You’ve hit the big time, not milk this for all it’s worth” is so pervasive that it’s a tad off-putting. Now, I know that this has been going on since the very beginning of mass media, but now it’s almost the very first thing one thinks of the minute they get a hint of fame (or infamy even). And now it’s even come to cartoon mascots. It’s a bit weird. I mean, I enjoyed cartoons and different characters and media when I was younger, but not once did I think they should trade their fame for more advertising revenue. G.I. Joe was already selling me action figures. I didn’t think they should advertise McDonalds just so they could eke out more episodes. Sesame Street could easily survive if Big Bird started selling life insurance.

I’ve seen this kind of talk with athletes before in the country. And this I understand. The champion figure skater Kim Yoona was super popular (and still is) in the country and her fame coupled with her good looks made her a magnet for advertisers. And good for her, too. Athletes only have a few years to capitalize on their fame, so she did well with her advertising and she didn’t overdo it either.

I remember Howard Stern once saying, “just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.” Which is him saying just because you can be part of any sort of project just to make a few dollars, doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything. You can afford to not be part of everything. You can afford to say no. Which is more than I can say with some celebrities in Korea. There are times when the media just keeps on pumping the same set of people again, and again, and again. Sure, they might think their current popularity has a very short lifespan, but during that lifespan, I’m already sick of their face on television (Yes, I’m sick of Park Na-rae). This is one reason why I get easily put off by Korean television. It’s the same people again and again until you get sick of them.

Now, I do hope this Peng-su character lasts for a while. If anything, his popularity shows that there is more to Korean television than singing, people eating, or fake reality show BS. It’s also good to see a character be successful fueled mostly by wit. It’s a good departure from the standard brand of stand-up comedy you would see in Korean gag comedy.

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Hello Misery


When I was a kid, my uncle gave me a collection of Joker stories. It was a decent collection of works, starting from his origin as the original Red Hood to a story about the Joker celebrating his birthday. It was a much more compelling collection for my young brain compared to another book which the same uncle gave me a year before, a collection of Ra’s al Ghul stories. It was great that I was getting a bunch of comic books at the time, but I sometimes wonder why I kept getting collected stories of Batman villains. Did my uncle have a thing against the Caped Crusader?

Since I read and re-read that book, along with other Batman comic books, the Joker has always been the most fascinating of the DC villains for me. Marvel has its share of compelling villains, particularly the X-Men and Spider-Man’s roster of foes, but the Joker for many comic book readers is the most beloved villain in the industry. Some might say that it is because despite him being cartoonish, he has a very human quality which keeps him apart from the overly fantastic qualities of the likes of Lex Luther or some purple space tyrant in any book or film. This is true to some degree, but I believe it is something else. The Joker is the revenge fantasy of the miserable.

And really? Who isn’t miserable? Who wasn’t miserable as a teenager? Getting picked on, not having a girlfriend? Who’s not miserable now? Stuck in a dead end job, have a wife/girlfriend who doesn’t care about you, have no woman in your life, no future, etc.

When you’re miserable as a teen and you read comic books, heroes like Batman or the X-Men might inspire you. They have miserable lives as well, but through different means, Bruce Wayne with year of training coupled with immense wealth and the X-Men with their super powers, they manage to make something out of their miserable lives and perhaps make the world a better place. But those characters all have their trump cards, they all have their deus ex machinas which lifts them up from their impossible situations: infinite wealth, super powers. The allure of the Joker is that his super power is that he’s insane… he’s insane, and more importantly, he’s miserable. And that’s an element that everyone in the world has infinite access to. With enough misery, maybe you can become a super villain like the Joker. Maybe life would be more interesting then. You can’t be Batman or Iron Man. You hardly have any money in your bank account. And you certainly don’t want to work out or train or be a real hero like a police officer or something. That takes too much time. Also, it’s much, MUCH easier to terrorize people than to actually save people from criminals or any danger. Where will you find people to save? There are people available to terrorize everywhere. And bonus points, there’s no Caped Crusader to stop you. The Joker is easy access.

Just look at the mass shooters in the news. They are all miserable and most of them have this grand delusion of being famous. Spreading misery around is the shortcut way to infamy, to being bigger than what they are. That’s why a lot of people refrain from publicizing their names too much. That is giving the criminals exactly what they want. And isn’t that the Joker’s modus operandi? Do something horrible, terrorize people, get caught, and yet be satisfied knowing that the terror he caused will forever live on in the hearts of those on the outside.

I think this is why the Jared Leto version of the Joker was so disdained and totally doesn’t work. Most people who loved or at least understood the Joker know that it is a character born out of misery. On paper, Jared Leto has never been “not cool.” He was a teen heart throb, still has lots of adoring fans, and he plays in a band. And his “cool” Joker was not miserable at all. He was ripped. He got a grill. He has tattoos. He was barely hiding the fact that he was Jared Leto, Jared Leto who spent a couple of hundred dollars in a Hot Topic. He was everyone the miserable teen who loved comic books wouldn’t hang out with in school. He was co-opting a truth which he has never realized, a “cool guy” trying to be a juggalo and failing at it.

It is interesting how the character basically started out as a gimmicky thief, then later turned into a maniac often inspired by sociopolitical purposes. It is like the character grew and became disenfranchised with itself and realized that everything around it has gone to hell… and snapped. And again, isn’t that what happens with a lot of these mass shooters in the news? In many ways… that is the fantasy. Life is getting worse, but that’s okay, one day you’ll just snap and not care about anything. Boom. That’s your super power. And by the way, I’m not saying that our collective fascination with the Joker is a bad thing or not, but the character does touch on the nihilistic side of humanity, when everything is so bad that nothing holds meaning anymore, and maybe out of all of that misery, maybe we will come out as bigger, more interesting characters. Forget Bruce Wayne. It’s too late for us to be born rich. But it is never too late to be miserable and crazy.

Looking at this new Joker movie coming up, I could see that the character is again digging deep into the misery in order to transform into the laughing villain we all know. Joaquin Phoenix, is literally morphing his body, looks miserable, and yet totally relatable in his expressions. The Joaquin Phoenix will be the most common costume for men come Halloween 2019. I’m excited for it.

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A Taste for Crime


Under the Son of Sam law, criminals are not allowed to profit from their crimes by selling their story. Even after they served their time and if they managed to get out, it is illegal for murderers to write books recalling the grisly details of their crimes. And yet… why do we allow other people to exploit their crimes for their own profit?

I haven’t really thought much about it until I was listening to the latest Sword and Scale podcast regarding Christopher Watts, a man who murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters. To others, the family seemed like a perfectly, photogenic family with the dream house and all, but apparently he was abusive, cheated on his wife, and the family was actually struggling financially. It always bothered me how the host/narrator of the show seemed to describe the state of the victims with glee, but it was particularly disturbing this time around when Mike Boudet described the victim’s unborn child as well as her underwear for no reason except maybe to add more titillation to the broadcast. I know it’s subjective in my part, but I imagine him almost licking his lips as he describes the pictures which were paraded around by tabloids like the Daily Mail. It crossed from being informative to being almost pornographic in its exploitative nature.

Now, I’m no fragile flower. I have no problem consuming violent and even bizarre media, but when shows like Sword and Scale market themselves about true crime, I would imagine it’s about the details of the case and how it was put to rest, not about the gory details or overdrawn subjective commentary. Also, the fact that the show praised the work of the polygraph expert in the case tells me that the show couldn’t care less about the workings of the law and how justice should be pursued.

Polygraph tests are inadmissible in almost every jurisdiction in the United States. No one can be forced to submit to a test, and they are proven many times to be inaccurate and open to manipulation. In the Watts case, the suspect volunteered for a test where he was interviewed by the agent in ways that suggested she had more insight regarding the truth in his heart. She was practicing pop psychology with the atmosphere of law enforcement. They were in effect interviewing him without a lawyer and pressuring him to confess to crimes under tremendous pressure. Granted, he was a horrible human being who happened to be guilty, but what if the next person being interviewed by the agents was an innocent person? As Mike Boudet described the polygraph expert, she was like a mongoose strategically catching a cobra. How nice. That mongoose would also be catching innocent animals using the same set of skills and loose ethics.  Protections for suspects are designed for both the innocent and the guilty. Sword and Scale seems to not realize this as the host colorfully condemned the rather easy target.

The purpose of these shows is not to inform the public or to promote justice. Their purpose is to entertain and sell more subscriptions to Blue Apron or Dollar Shave Club. And really, what’s the attraction that these shows are working on? What is the bait with which they are attracting viewers and convincing them to push subscribe on their phones? Is it the workings of the law and justice, or is it just the scandalous details of the crime? Is it the feeling of superiority after the downfall of the perpetrators? There can be a fine line between good shows and exploitative garbage, and I really don’t have a problem with true crime shows or even fictional crime dramas, but when it lingers on gory details, unnecessary subjective interpretation, and disregard for the implications of the actions of law enforcement, then it becomes really, really problematic. Instead of the detailed investigation of crimes like Sarah Koenig’s Serial, you get the shoddy analysis and proselytization of Nancy Grace. It makes for poorer, ill-informed citizens.

And of course, there are still real victims of these crimes. Victims whose loved-ones just got delightedly reminded again of how the victims were killed and the state they were in when they were found.

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