Revisionism

Photo by Jeong Yeon-du, courtesy of Plateau

Revisionism

Photo by Jeong Yeon-du, courtesy of Plateau

Revisionism

Photo by Jeong Yeon-du, courtesy of Plateau

Revisionism, 2014. Digital printing, five pieces per set. Set A: 118 x 174.8 cm each; set B: 59.4 x 84 cm each; set C: 42 x 59.4 cm each. Exhibited in Spectrum Spectrum, curated by Ahn Soyeon and presented at Plateau, 24 July–12 October 2014.

Spectrum Spectrum was an exhibition to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Art Spectrum, a biannual art award organized by Saumsung Museum of Art. The show featured seven artists selected among those who had participated in Art Spectrum, and another seven who were in turn recommended by the former artists. We were invited by our long-time collaborators, Sasa[44] and Park MeeNa.

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Posters used to take a central role in the work of the first generation of Korean graphic designers in the 1960s and the 1970s: posters advertising corporate brands and products; promoting Korean culture and tourism; aspiring toward world peace or encouraging environmental awareness. It is particularly interesting to discover that many of the posters, which have been canonized in textbooks and histories, were actually the designers’ personal projects created for exhibitions, not the ones actually commissioned by corporations or the government and distributed in large quantities. The brand logos on the fictitious posters were in fact just another detail to enhance the reality effect, often consciously deployed by the designers—then newly emerging professionals—who were eager to identify their work as “design” rather than “art.” But they also signified certain ideals: the posters showed what the designers would have done if they had been given the freedom to pursue their own visions in a culture where the profession of designer—not to mention the designer’s necessity—was yet to be recognized.

Revisionism takes a similar form of poster-fiction, but aims at creating a confused sense of reality. The work involves creating ex post facto posters for the past five editions of Art Spectrum, both as a belated advertising for the exhibitions and an archive of nonexistent posters. (No posters have ever been made for Art Spectrum, and we have never designed anything related to it.) The main visual elements are recycled from our rejected proposals and unused visual tropes for other projects. Once created, these posters will continue to exist as part of (our personal) history, mingling with other work. (Without the testimony of this very text, the posters we have made for this exhibition may be remembered in the future as genuine artifacts of Art Spectrum.) Three alternative sets have been made, in order to emphasize the plurality of the parallel design universes.