Seoul Pop  

Perhaps you have noticed
-- there is a football tournament occurring in Japan and Korea. To capitalise on this the Setagaya Art Museum is currently showing an exhibition of Korean popular culture, which focuses on Seoul. Imitating the media overload encountered on the streets, the exhibition is a broad snap shot of the city scene.

Fashion photographs, street signs, road cones, construction signs, a truck load of newspapers and magazines, stickers for sexual services, packets of free tissues, posters, billboards, movie advertisements, an architectural model, war medals, wedding invitations, sports tickets, trophies, military uniforms, street photos, news programs, TV dramas, a bus stop, street mirrors, paper screens, an entire wedding room, music television, toys ÉÉÉthe only thing that wasnt included was a little curatorial critical choice.

After spending time in the room with seven TV monitors, with each playing a different program from Korean television, it was a relief to watch the dual video presentation by artists, Kim Jihyon, Korea and Umano Noriko, Japan. They were almost the only "artists" presented in this exhibition.

Both were born in the late sixties and have specialised in new media work and for this exhibition they each present a short video of their respective capitals. These are projected at right angles to each other so that both can be viewed and heard at the same time. In this instance, the overlapping seemed very successful. The two productions worked off each other and gained an extra energy.

Kims work begins with a 24-hour look at a busy traffic intersection, Yoido. It then moves on to record each in a different style, about another five districts in the city.

In the piece on Mye-dong, a young peoples area, she focuses her camera on cell phones, while the sound track plays a medley of dreadful digital ditties. For the residential district of Sanggye-dong, Kim shoots a continuous vertical pan of an apartment block. The accompanying soundtrack takes us inside these rooms to hear babies crying, people arguing and radios blaring.

Umano, in her video work titled, "Boundless Everyday", uses a multi-media menu to introduce her vision of Tokyo. Selections such as "Downtown" and "Entertainment" are the prompts for video pieces of nightlife and fast action rail journeys. Like sine waves out of phase, the visual pace of one video seemed to coincide with a slower vision on the other and then cris-cross back again. The stereoscopic vision gave a new dimension to the productions and to the presentation of the two cities.

The two video works were by far the most interesting art in the exhibition, which overall lacked focus. An excess of street stuff in an art gallery does not make it more life like. On the contrary, the exhibition, by its omission of artists and curators, reinforced the importance of their role as mediators and commentators on culture.

{details}Setagaya Art Museum Through July 14