As one of the artists taking part in the “Future, Now.” exhibition, Hojun Song interrogates himself about the role of technology in contemporary society and tries to answer his questions with experimentation, interaction and humor. The Korean artist doesn’t want technology to summarize his existence. His piece “Don’t compress me” is about data compression technology’s ability to archive digital information.
Data compression involves encoding information using fewer bits than the original representation. When compressing a file video or audio, what is stored is the so-called “key information”: that means that only one frame of the whole information is kept and then repeated. The unnecessary information is removed without losing anything of the file’s core, by identifying and eliminating statistical redundancy of the code. The more the file presents some technical complexities, such as a very large color scale, rapid movements or LED lights, the more difficult it is to compress it. This information’s flow, in fact, is converted to a binary code at the moment they are recorded digitally and it is more difficult to find the key information if it needs a more developed code to be reproduced.
Here, the artist questions the idea of storing the key information: in a more wider sense, digital technologies are nowadays used to record and archive our memories. Our lives, families and friends images can be converted into a binary code, compressed and stored. If photography is a way to catch glimpses of existence and maybe portray the soul of the represented subject, compressing a digital image would be like taking out only the key information of the subject’s soul.
Disagreeing with the idea of archiving one’s existence and being sure that one’s spirit cannot be encoded and digitally stored, Song wants to produce images which are impossible to compress efficiently. He therefore creates a series of short videos in which he is acting as crazy as possible to bluff the encoding mechanism at the moment of the compression. In the video series, we can see him experimenting and finding different ways to avoid being compressed. The strategies vary a lot, from a kinetics approach to a purely visual disturbance. That means, the short videos are experiments in which Song is playing with movements and colors.
Hojun Song carries on an analysis on how we relate to and use contemporary technologies, not ultimately on how we understand them: by finding out new approaches to something that is very familiar, but whose function remains obscure to us, Song brings together scientific positivism, mechanical skepticism and digital knowledge to develop new narratives and human interactions.
Hojun Song (1978, ROK) participated in the Poznan Biennale in 2014. Hojun Song’s work creates narratives and brings up questions by making absurd objects like Radiation jewellery and the Strongest Weapon in the World. Recently he launched his own small satellite. His satellite project spans from hardcore engineering to selling of T-shirts. By showing a series of works and their processes, Hojun Song likes to question some of the conventional thoughts on art, design and science and eventually, he shows how us to link those to issues in our daily lives.
Subscribe for the lecture and the workshop and take the unique opportunity to meet Hojun Song and experiment with video compression technologies!
The lecture will take place at SomoS on the 11th of March and the workshop on the 14th of March.
Don’t Compress Me (2015)
Lecture and Presentation : 11th of March, 7pm
Workshop : 14th of March, 11am