Who Is the Player? Text by Kana Uno
(Curator of Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art)
In an abstract, virtual space, soldiers fall atop one another, folded in a heap along with their national flag. The image is somehow reminiscent of tableaux such as Liberty Leading the People, Eugène Delacroix’s depiction of the July Revolution in France. However, one cannot immediately identify the nationality or era of the soldiers’ uniforms, and the scene evokes different historical tragedies depending on the viewer.
This work is a simulation of a first-person video game. Ahn describes a game as “a virtual space where all eras of history blend together,” and says that “playing a game is a process of creating a new or fictional history.” The game Garry’s Mod, which Ahn utilized to produce this work, does not have a fixed mission, and the player can freely alter characters, objects, and even the game’s content. Thus Ahn could modify the character settings and physics engine so as to render the characters completely helpless, and raise them aloft, drop them, or duplicate them, exercising a degree of control that verges on the violent.
Who is operating the system? The answer is, of course, the artist –Ahn– but we can also say the protagonist of this work is the unseen person playing the game. The “REC” that keeps flashing in the upper right corner of the screen, and the images that shudder as if shot with a hand-held camera, strongly convey the presence of the player as if we were seeing through their eyes. But this is a video piece and not actually a video game, and there is no player in front of the screen. In front of the screen there is only the viewer. Completely without their knowledge, the viewer becomes the game’s player and is incorporated into the work. However, despite adopting the perspective of the player, the viewer is not authorized to manipulate the catastrophic scenes unfolding before them. The viewer sees the exact same scene as the player, but lacks all control and can only watch the player mercilessly toying with the virtual world’s inhabitants, who make no attempt to resist.
By generating an inferred player who wields tyrannical power within the chaotic and non-temporal space of the game, Ahn expresses the absurdity of history, throughout which an unidentifiable “someone” has always pulled the strings behind the scenes, and the inexorable powers that continue to propel the real world today.
Text by Curator Somi SIM
Sungseok Ahn has investigated the relationship between history, the crowd, and the individual. He represents the crowd’s behavioral pattern and the tragic impulse of history in videos in a form of game. In Wisdom of the Crowd, he touches on the catastrophic time of unfinished history by dramat-ically introducing the fictional structure of virtual reality and game. The crowd endlessly falls down, is drifted, and floats in the air without any chance of resistance and this reflects the irresistible force of the world and the paradoxical structure of history that operates on that force. The ruthless rota-tion in a zero gravity space, the people endlessly falling down, the crowd willing to be a bomb or a firecracker in this endless game, and the virtual screen gazing at these whole process, all of them cruelly discloses the world to us. This tragedy does not have a well-organized narrative. The rotation continuously repeated and the people endlessly falling. History is nothing but a structure interlocked with the crowd whose bodies are twisted. The two videos evoke the structure in which one cannot escape from even after its running time and get the catastrophic situation into operation.
글. 심소미 큐레이터
안성석은 군중의 행동 양식과 역사의 비극적 추동력을 게임 형식의 영상으로 재생해 보인다. <군중의 지혜>는 가상 현실과 게임의 픽션 구조를 극적으로 도입하여, 종료되지 않는 역사의 파국적 시간을 다룬 작업이다. 저항할 새 없이 끝없이 추락하고, 휘몰리고, 다시 허공을 떠도는 군중의 모습은 세계의 불가항력인 힘과 이로부터 작동하는 역사의 역설적 구조를 내비친다. 중력을 무시한 공간의 무자비한 회전과 끝없이 추락하는 사람들, 종료가 없는 이 게임으로부터 폭탄이자 폭죽을 자청하는 군중, 그리고 이 모든 과정을 샅샅이 응시하는 가상의 스크린은 우리에게 잔인하게 세계를 폭로해 보인다.
이 비극에서 기승전결의 서사는 없다. 시작도 끝도 없이 반복되는 회전과 추락의 사람들. 역사는 사지가 뒤틀린 군중이 다 함께 휩쓸린 채로 연동되는 구조와 다름없을 것이다. 두 개의 영상은 각각 러닝타임이 끝나도 벗어날 수 없는 구조를 상기시키며, 다른 축에서의 파국적 상황을 가동시킨다. 전시장에서 일본식 코다츠가 한가운데 자리한 공간 구성은 일상 속 무방비적 환경이라는 역설적 상황을 구현해 보인다.