Connect, BTS art projects in London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, New York

Serpentine Press Launch
The CONNECT, BTS project launch at Chucs Serpentine on 14 January 2020. L to R: artist Thomas Saraceno, artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Gropius Bau director Stephanie Rosenthal, curator Lee Dae-hyung, Serpentines Gallery director Hans-Ulich Obrist, artist Antony Gormley, Serpentine Galleries CTO Ben Vickers and artist Yiyun Kang. And BTS attending via live stream. Image: Korea JoongAng Daily / Moon So-young

For full details of the projects organised under the CONNECT, BTS umbrella visit the official website, www.connect-bts.com, which explains that:

CONNECT, BTS is a global project to connect five cities and twenty-two artists, each of whom contributes their unique philosophy and imagination to it. This project aims to redefine the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice. CONNECT, BTS may be described in terms of a collective curatorial practice by curators around the world who resonated with BTS’ philosophy.

You will not see art by BTS at any of the venues; instead, you will see art inspired by BTS’s philosophy. Probably the project most connected with BTS themselves is the work by London-based Korean artist Yiyun Kang, who will be projecting onto the walls of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza a piece described as “a re-imagining of BTS’ signature dance movements”. As part of developing the projection mapping piece, Kang interviewed ARMYs and, of course, immersed herself in BTS videos. But do not expect to see you favourite dance moves replicated:

“Just copying the choreography doesn’t make sense,” she said. “The essence of the BTS phenomenon is that you have to be more inclusive, to be more sustainable so we can live together.”

The various parts of the project start in January and end mainly in March as follows:

London: 14 Jan – 15 March | Berlin: 15 Jan – 2 Feb | Buenos Aires: 21 Jan – 22 Mar | Seoul: 28 Jan – 20 Mar | New York: 5 Feb – 27 Mar

Given the remit of this site, we’ll just cover the London and Seoul parts of the project (though we might also show a passing interest in the New York piece as it involves the major British artist Sir Antony Gormley). At the time of writing, only the London and Berlin elements have been included on the CONNECT, BTS website and the details are reproduced below. We’ll update this post when the Seoul element is announced in full.

By a nice coincidence, both the London and Seoul locations were designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen: Catharsis

Chucs Serpentine | Serpentine Sackler Gallery | West Carriage Drive | London W2 2AR
14 January 2020 to 15 March 2020
Closed every Monday. Also closed 16, 20, 27 January and 1, 16 February.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen: Catharsis (2019-20)
Still from Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s Catharsis (2019-20). Courtesy the Gallery and Artist

The Serpentine presents Catharsis by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen as part of global public art project, CONNECT, BTS, a series of major art projects open free to the public in five cities on four continents initiated by South Korean pop group BTS.

From 14 January, audiences can experience Catharsis anywhere in the world via a dedicated website catharsis.live. From 28 January, there will be a major outdoor installation on the grounds of the Serpentine Galleries’ Zaha Hadid-designed extension, set against the beautiful green spaces of Kensington Gardens. A smaller preview of the work is on view at Chucs Restaurant (at the Serpentine Galleries) from 1pm, 14 January to 26 January.

Catharsis immerses audiences within a digital simulation of a re-imagined old-growth forest, a forest that has developed undisturbed over hundreds of years. Based on field work undertaken by Jakob Kudsk Steensen and his primary collaborator Matt McCorkle, the work’s virtual ecosystem and synchronised audio comprise 3D textures and sounds gathered from several North American forests.

Set up as a single continuous shot that moves from the watery underground roots to the surveying viewpoint of the canopy, Catharsis draws on Steensen’s conception of ‘slow media’ whereby digital technologies can foster attention to the natural world and create new narratives about our ecological futures. Catharsis becomes a digital portal, a simulated journey that offers audiences access to past and present natural environments, slowed down and up close.

Catharsis follows Steensen’s previous work for the Serpentine, The Deep Listener (2019), an augmented reality app for mobile devices that offered an audio-visual ecological trail through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, to both see and hear five of London’s species: London plane trees, bats, parakeets, azure blue damselflies and reedbeds. The Deep Listener is the first Augmented Architecture commission, in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture and Sir David Adjaye OBE. These works demonstrate the Serpentine’s commitment to new experiments in art and technology that has included an augmented reality tool for visualising the UK’s extreme inequality by Hito Steyerl and a weather prediction model that correlates historic weather data with polling data from major political events such as Brexit by James Bridle.

Catharsis is part of global public art project Connect BTS, a series of major art projects in five cities on four continents by South Korean superstars BTS. First version originally commissioned by PinchukArtCentre.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Jakob Kudsk Steensen (b. 1987) is a Danish artist based in New York concerned with how imagination, technology and ecology intertwine. His works range from immersive VR ecosystems to mixed reality installations bridging physical and digital worlds, which invite audiences to enter new ecological realities.

Kudsk Steensen collaborates with NGO’s, residencies, scientists and artists from different fields and ventures on excursions where he collects organic material, which is digitised and converted into digital worlds with 3D scanners, photogrammetry, satellite data and computer game software. Inspired by ecology-oriented science fiction and conversations with biologists and ethnographers, his projects are ultimately virtual simulations populated by mythical beings existing in radical ecological scenarios.

Kudsk Steensen has exhibited internationally at the 5th Trondheim Biennale for Art and Technology, the Carnegie Museum of Art, GUEST, GHOST, HOST: MACHINE! Marathon, Serpentine Galleries, Jepson Center for the Arts, Time Square Midnight Moment, MAXXI Rome, FRIEZE London, Podium, and Ok Corral. He was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize 2019, and he has received awards from the Danish Arts Foundation, The Augustinus Foundation, and the Lumen Arts Prize. His work has shown at Sundance, TriBeCa and Cannes among other film festivals. Steensen is an alumni of NEW INC, a technology and culture incubator by The NEW MUSEUM, in NYC.

Matt McCorkle

Matt McCorkle (b.1987) is an American sound artist working at the intersection of technology, the natural world and space. Using augmented audio, audio scripting, ambisonics and field recordings, his work seeks to help people experience the world in new ways. McCorkle’s work has been exhibited internationally at institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Serpentine Galleries, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Center of Science and Industry, Mystetskyi Arsenal Museum, and Google Zeitgeist, among others. Matt also collaborated with Jakob to produce the sound elements for The Deep Listener which included bats, damselflies, parakeets, planetrees and reedbeds, and is the sound composer for Catharsis.

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