Random Access Project
2019 vol. 4
Park Seungsoon who mainly works with music and sound has explored the way humans interact with nature or the universe. The artist has created a variety of works on the correlation between hearing and perception, the possible errors caused by AI and the mechanism in which humans and computers perceive landscapes of sound in different ways using a deep learning algorithm.
1. Please introduce yourself and your work.
I am an electronic music composer and media artist. My works and projects are focused on incorporating music and sound into diverse technologies and media. I released the EP (mini-album) titled Cosmos in 2010, and Aquaphonics, a media installations series on the themes of water and music in 2014. Neurospace, an AI soundscape system co-developed with the algorithm developer Lee Jongpil in 2017 is my signature work.
2. How did you find it to take part in the project Random Access?
First of all, it was already a great honor for me to show my work in the form of a solo exhibition at Nam June Paik Art Center, a place filled with the spirit of Nam June Paik whom I have admired a lot. Secondly, thanks to the kindness and consideration of those working at Nam June Paik Art Center, the whole tight schedule including exhibition, workshop and performance could be completed well.
3. Your works transcend the boundaries of sound art, visual art, performance and exhibition. In particular, in the case of Neuroscape, for which you have been collaborating with the developer, you draw out cybernetic issues at the intersection of art and technology and raise questions as to what we need to reconsider about the coexistence of humans and non-humans, revealing the commonalities and differences between human and non-human cognition. As a curator of Random Access, I think your work resonates with Paik’s Fluxus activities, and his cybernetic and media ecological ideas as are seen in Robot K-456 and TV Garden. Which part of your work do you think is personally or artistically connected to the artist Paik?
I wanted to explore a series of thinking mechanisms that lead to audiovisual senses, cognition, memory, learning and imagination, by organizing a system called Neuroscape with Lee Jongpil, the algorithm developer in early 2017. I believe that humans cannot exist as independent organisms, and it is inevitable for them to change constantly in organic relationships with other beings and with the surrounding environments. The thinking machine just came out for the first time. I wondered how it could learn the long, long history of mankind, and I kept wondering if the machine is biased, or if it is seeing correctly. I saw many of Paik’s works and studied a lot. I am still doing so. Especially, I read the book From Horse to Christo as if reading a textbook. In doing so, I tried to guess from a number of text materials what kind of story Paik wanted to tell us through machine and technology. When I gave a presentation on Paik in the first semester of my master’s course, I found out that what permeated Paik’s artistic view of the world was an infinite feedback and Zen. It seemed to me that his worldview was founded on his consistent exploration of what human beings are and the artist’s interpretation and perspective on this question. Among others, I intended to borrow his TV Buddha series regarding the arrangement of a media installation. Paik’s work is interesting at a glance, and when delving deep into it, you feel like deciphering codes entangled in it. It’s always new. Since I first came to know the field of media art, I have continued to explore the following questions: whether I could look at the media, not just as a new technology, but look at the gap between the traditional media of the past, the contemporary media, and the newly emerging media, and whether it’s possible to devise a creative method enabling a new expression as an artist, and to establish a new system that allows viewers to appreciate artworks in there. These questions are always based on music and sound. Compared to Paik’s understanding of music and the enormous energy that he would have absorbed from networks, there are still so many things for me to learn and explore. I think Paik is like a giant making the biggest traces among Korean artists, and the valuable legacy that Paik left behind enables me to see the world over his shoulders.
4. Tell us more about what you showed in Random Access.
In Random Access, I exhibited video/sound works based on or conceptually related to the existing system of Neuroscape, such as Sound Taxonomy, Soundscape Cognition Test, Artificial Soundscape, and Tell Me What You See. In addition, I conducted the series Imaginary Soundscape and Neuroscape Relay Performance (NRP) with Jeong Jinhwa and Jeon Hyungsan. Lastly, I also held a workshop titled My AI Soundscape Design Workshop that invites participants to upload the images they selected to the Neuroscape system easily and control the extracted audio files, thereby designing their own soundscape using the basic patches of Max/MSP that constitutes the Neuroscape system.
5. Could you tell us about the activities you have engaged in since Random Access and about your future plans?
Together with Lee Jongpil, I co-founded an AI music technology startup NEUTUNE in March 2020 and received seed funding from Kakao Ventures in November 2020. We will do everything imaginable on the basis of music and sound through AI technologies. In NEUTUNE I am in charge of carrying out creative projects in the company still as an artist. I will also develop the existing Neuroscape project into a more systematic production system.
Recently, I implemented a project called Mixed Scape as part of the Transdiciplinary Research Program of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study. It was amazing to see an interesting spectrum unfolding when matching the spectrum of mixed reality, which is a hybrid of reality and virtuality, to the soundscape I have worked on so far from the viewpoint of inter-reality: The spectrum of real soundscape, foley sound, concrete music and virtual/artificial soundscape. Although it was an early stage, I thought I could weave the history based on the soundscape in an interesting way.
Besides, I personally produced and presented two performances focused on the labor practice of soundscape (Human Labeling, Soundscape Movement). I have continued to analyze the relationship between human-nature-machine, and experimented with choreographer Seo Taeri and actor Lim Hokyung to see how big data and artificial intelligence actually affect our lives. I am planning to expand this to the format of performances, films and exhibitions.
6. Do you have any comments or episodes you would like to share about Random Access?
During the exhibition period of Random Access, a total of 385 people responded to Soundscape Cognition Test. The responses that did not distinguish the real and the artificial still amounted to 53%, which made me ponder how I can incorporate it into my work from a critical perspective, and how we could actually perceive the world aurally in a correct way.
Kim Sun Young