Exhibit offers immersive digital Korean art

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Exhibit offers immersive digital Korean art
Endless Landscape: Digitally Reimagined Korean Art’ is a new exhibit at the Korean Cultural Center in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig as part of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines — If you’re a fan of K-dramas set in the Joseon Era, such as “Red Sleeve,” “King’s Affection” or “Mr. Queen,” a new exhibit at the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig offers the closest feel of that period without going to South Korea. 

“Endless Landscape: Digitally Reimagined Korean Art” officially launched the series of events to celebrate 75 years of friendship between South Korea and the Philippines.

Produced by the National Museum of Korea with Chuncheon National Museum, the exhibit features an expansive panorama, leading visitors on a “journey” through the life, ambiance and scenery during the 500-year Joseon Dynasty. It’s like stepping into the past through four digital videos that turn traditional Korean paintings into immersive experiences.

South Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-hwa said at the opening ceremony, “What makes this show outstanding is its unique blend of traditional Korean art from the Joseon Dynasty and advanced digital technology. The four videos you will watch offer a rare opportunity to experience the richness of Korean culture, aiming to ignite interest and appreciation among our Filipino friends.”

The first video is “Endless Mountains and Rivers” based on the 8.5-meter-long masterpiece by the royal court painter Yi Inmun about the “utopia that people in the late Joseon period sought to realize.” It presents idyllic, slice-of-life scenes of people navigating rivers, mountains and cliffs, using boats, carts, donkeys, pulleys, among others.    

“Royal Processions with the People,” on the other hand, is inspired by the Uigwe, the official records of the protocols and ceremonies of the Joseon Royal Court. The video brings to life the majestic processions to the Hwaseong Fortress of King Jeongjo, the 22nd King of the Joseon Dynasty, and his entourage. K-drama fans are most likely familiar with this historical figure being the subject of the hit series “Red Sleeve.”

“Pillars of Divinity, Chongseok Rocks” centers on the famous coastal attraction in Gangwondo province. The video animates calligrapher Kim Gyujin’s commissioned painting for Emperor Sunjong of the Korean Empire. It recreates the experience of standing before the stunning landscape, with powerful waves crashing against the hexagonal rock pillars, seemingly rolling onto the floor of the exhibit space. 

In the last video, “Peonies in Bloom,” one is transported to a lush garden of blooming peonies. The peony, known as the king of flowers, served as an “important motif” for royal rites and architecture. The video is inspired by a two-panel painting from the National Museum of Korea that was once installed in a Joseon Dynasty palace.

Endless Landscape is the “first outcome” of the National Museum of Korea’s Overseas Korean Galleries Support Program in the Philippines to “surmount constraints of hosting artifact-centered exhibitions of Korean art,” according to KCC. 

The exhibit’s digital and interactive features are seen as an effective way to entertain and engage local Hallyu fans, letting them delve into Korea’s cultural past and heritage that also inspired some of the most popular K-series.

“In recent years, the allure of Korean culture has extended beyond borders, primarily propelled by Hallyu or the Korean Wave. KCC Philippines, which was opened in 2011, has been a symbol of cultural enlightenment, introducing the rich tapestry of Korean culture to the Filipino mainstream,” Ambassador Lee said.

“The warm reception by Filipinos underscores our common appreciation for arts, music and storytelling. This is not at all surprising, since Filipinos are undeniably among the most artistically gifted individuals, possessing an innate ability to nurture the soul through various artistic expressions. Art, in its myriad forms, fulfills humanity’s fundamental need for emotional and spiritual nourishment,” he added.

Representing the National Museum of Korea, Cultural and Educational Exchange director Kim Dohyeong noted why it’s “deeply meaningful to host this exhibition in the Philippines” because the country has been “a brotherly nation that willingly extended its support to Korea during the difficult times of the Korean War.”

“The strong mutual trust and cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1949 have made this exhibition possible,” Kim added.  

National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) executive director Oscar Casaysay, for his part, praised the National Museum for employing and paving the way for “innovative approaches” to the preservation and presentation of cultural heritage.

“This initiative stands as a testament to the power of preserving traditions while embracing the possibilities of the digital era,” Casaysay said.

Endless Landscape: Digitally Reimagined Korean Art runs until June 29 as part of the 75th-anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Philippines.

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