Yeonjin Oh
: The Very Eye of Night
2020. 12. 29 - 2021. 2. 3
Due to the current situation of the COVID-19, an opening reception will not be held. We will open from 5 to 8pm on the opending day of the exhibition.


The Very Eye of Night


SongEun Art and Cultural Foundation proudly presents Yeonjin Oh’s solo exhibition The Very Eye of Night, as one of the selected artists shows from the 2020-2021 SongEun ArtCube open call. SongEun ArtCube is a nonprofit exhibition space established to encourage the artistic creativity and motivation of up and coming artists. Since its inauguration in January 2002, SongEun has supported a vast number of artists through the annual open call program by inviting selected artists to have a solo exhibition at SongEun ArtCube as well as providing a publication of their works.


Yeonjin Oh has been conducting various experiments to explore the mediality of photographs based on their printing method, in which a number of variables act within the working process. The artist works beyond the boundaries of the selected genre, focusing on the relationship between various mediums such as photography, paintings, and prints. In this exhibition, Oh presents Anorthoscope (2020), which is a reenactment of the images. It is based on a monochrome short dance film, The Very Eye of Night, released in 1958 by Maya Deren (1917~1961)[1]. The film begins with the sequence of negative images of dancers floating against the background of the dark, starry night. The flat figures that are visualized like paper dolls are granted movements in the following scene, and float in the dark and infinite space like dancing free from gravity. Her film in which dancer’s movements embody the ancient myths about astrology is fascinating and mysterious, as it transcends the physical realm of time and space. It is notable that the camera does not simply capture the motions but maximizes them by using specific editing and shooting techniques. As a step of a dancer flows to the following scene, each scene of segmented times is connected to each other by sequential movements of the body. In other words, their ‘moving’ gains momentum once more through this medium of video.


‘Moving’ is the keyword that Oh has constantly presented over her recent works both explicitly and implicitly, in which the main inspiration for the theme is the notion of ‘temporality.’ From Serial Book Series, the ongoing series from her early career, she captured the frames of the video of the same title, and inserted the images of the same proportion to frames per second in Still Mute (2015). She also considers the ratio of the stage from a short play written by Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) other than a square formation and considers how the movements would extend according to the stage in Quad by Ratio (2017). It is interesting that she schematizes the temporal changes due to the swift changes in the actor’s movements according to its surrounding spatial change. The artist’s study on variations under certain conditions has inevitably incited a deeper understanding and curiosity to ‘time’, which is prone to change depending on the given circumstance.


Oh reproduces Deren’s images in two main ways. First, the painting on the right side of the exhibition room is completed with the touch of acrylic paints on the canvas covered by translucent chiffon with an image printed on it. Coated with layers of paints, the surface of the canvas feels soft like a film, but not like an absorbent material like cotton. The products of contact printing on the canvas, which serves as a kind of ‘plate’, are displayed on the opposite wall, without any frame. The outputs are distinct due to unpredictable variables when controlling CMY filter values or exposure time. For instance, unexpected colors other than complementary color of the canvas (theoretically) are printed out depending on surrounding lights. The tiny difference in exposure time, even if it’s a second, produces a number of different images, making it difficult to control. The images from The Very Eye of Night are reversed in color and form symmetry with the original ones on the canvas, displayed with the virtual images of water the artist made using graphic programs.


Lamella (2020) is a series of six photographs of bubbles with black backgrounds. The fact that ‘bubble’ is the subject of the artist’s first photograph, shares context with her previous works using fluid films. To change the condition of ‘film’ and in turn create unique and diversified images, she conducted many experiences such as putting slime into a small case made out of OTP film or taking pictures of spoiled water on a glass plate. The film of a bubble is a fluid material in that it varies in form and dimension depending on the frame and pops in an instant. The rainbow spectrum on the bubble film is also unfixed, changing its forms depending on the light or angle. This flexible characteristic of bubble has drawn attention of many scholars as well as artists. Among them Joseph Plateau (1801-1883), a physicist in 19th century, discovered the law[2] in the bubble film and invented moving image devices, Anorthoscope and Phenakistoscope. This coincidence makes bubble more attractive subject.


Oh defines ‘moving image’ as image of changing conditions. Whether the scenes are made with premise that image can move or not determines the output. ‘Moving,’ however, does not always indicate that image is actually transforming. Instead, Deren’s images in this exhibition are reproduced from video to canvas, and then re-printed to photograph in the darkroom. Canvases and photo images on the wall and the ceiling demonstrate open possibility of image that can expand infinitely and successively change mediums. As implying that image is unfixed and changeable, her works are moving images that have movements inside though they seem still.


What makes the moving world astonishing by itself is that things that do not move can move in this world. Only when the unmoving are moving, still images reach the possibility of moving.[3]




Edie Yeonwoo Kim

Laurence Geoffrey’s, Ltd.



[1] Born in Ukraine and based in US, she is a filmmaker who is called the founder of dance film and the godmother of experimental film. American Film Institute has established an award named after her, “Maya Deren Award,” granted to independent and experimental filmmakers every year. She made several monochrome short films including A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945), Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), and posthumous The Very Eye of Night (1958).


[2] If you look closely into the bubbles you can find their interesting structures. Adjacent bubbles share films (lamella) and there is a segment where three lamellas meet – there is no case where two, or more than four, lamellas meet! Therefore, the angle between segments is around 120°. And the four segments meet at one point – never the case of three or more than five segments, either. This segment is called ‘Plateau border,’ and this relationship is ‘Plateau's laws’, which is named after Joseph Plateau, a 19th century Belgian physicist who discovered this law. (Seok-ki Kang, Physics of Bubbles, Donga Science, idx=632)

[3] Yeonjin Oh, Artist’s note.


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