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In Session: Empathy Seen in Korean Visual Art in the Time of Crisis
4: Empathy and Connection: Visualization of Traumatic War and Inter-Korean Relations
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
The University of Alabama, United States
We are living today are vaguely predicting that immeasurable changes will happen to their lives, but at the same time, people were continually unable to escape from traumatic natural/human-made/bureaucratic disasters throughout history. This paper attempts to explore how contemporary artists try to interpret various shocking incidents, focusing on two Korean artists, Ham Kyungah (b. 1966) and Jung Yeondoo (b. 1969). While theorizing a newly proposed term, “quantum deformation of reality” that is partially borrowed from the well-known mathematical and physical term, quantum deformation, this paper argues how contemporary art and visual culture embraces the coexistence of reality and virtuality and how Korean artists use this theme when they deal with traumatic war, democratic uprising, Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and inter-Korean relations. Instead of visualizing such disasters horrendously, crucially or violently, these two artists show the connection between people and evokes greater empathy. This study proposes that contemporary visual culture is a place of empathetic communication, provides thoughtful interaction with people, and lets viewers think.