Public Art Project Connects Seoul's New Landmark to PyeongChang

Hong Bo-ra, the project manager of "Signal Lights. Connected," talks about the public art project for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in Seoul on Dec. 1, 2017.

SEOUL, Dec. 1 -- The overpass-turned-park Seoullo 7017, Seoul's new landmark, will become an outdoor gallery for the next four months to show a series of public art projects that focus on PyeongChang's nature, weather and culture.

Four teams of artists from Korea, Bahrain, Finland and Norway, have installed installation art that symbolically connects Seoul and PyeongChang, the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics, through visual images, lighting, photography and sound.

Connection has been the key word for the exhibition "Signal Lights. Connected," and the concept becomes all the more relevant when taking into consideration what the new pedestrian-only overpass means to Seoul citizens, said Hong Bo-ra, the project manager, during a press briefing Friday.

"Scattering Lights, Gliding Sounds," one of the four artworks on view, plays different sounds and changes the brightness of the existing lighting -- 111 streetlamps and 600 lights under pots. The artist team comprised of Kim Da-um, Lee Dong-hoon and Hasan Hujairi, created a computer program that controls the lighting and sound system of the installation, based on weather data from PyeongChang on temperature, wind direction, wind speed and humidity.

"For me, one of the most important principles when it comes to planning art is to utilize existing objects, rather than install new things," Hong said. "Equally important is to give the visitors unique, memorable experiences."

During the day, visitors can enjoy Kim Young-il's photography and sound works on PyeongChang. Kim, who prefers to be called an archivist, spent almost 40 years capturing the city's mountainous topography through the lens.

Titled "Ecology Archiving - Mountains in PyeongChang / Sound of Korea," the project installed a dozen of Kim's black-and-white photos on PyeongChang mountains, accompanied by various sounds that he had collected by himself and which he defines as "the Sound of Korea."

"When it comes to documenting PyeongChang, sound elements like those of forests, valleys and kids laughing are as important as visual images for me," he said.

Having shot around 80,000 photos of PyeongChang and related scenes so far, Kim said he'd like to put more focus on how to maintain the cultural boom even after the Olympics ends.

Finnish artist Riita Ikonen and Norwegian Karoline Hjorth are also engaged in a very interesting art project called "Eyes as Big as Plates," set to go on display from mid-January. The two, who have been working on portraying human beings in the context of wild, uninterrupted nature, will exhibit photography created in collaboration with the local people. "Telepathic Walk" by artist Kim Bo-ram is expected to produce a multimedia experience by enabling the participants to see and hear the story of PyeongChang on electronic devices.

"Public art is such a strange thing. It can be art for everyone or for no one at all. Through the projects, we hope to create something memorable for everyone," the manager said.

The exhibition, backed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, runs until March 31.

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This photo provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Dec. 1, 2017, shows Seoullo 7017 at night.

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