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Urban Designs from South Korea: Jaekyung Jung

May 24, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

*This talk is hybrid (in-person & remote). Capacity is limited. Please register ahead of time.

About City of Pagans

In 1320, Dante Alighieri published the epic poem The Divine Comedy (La Commedia di Dante Alighieri), wherein the character of Dante visits the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, guided by the Roman poet Virgil and eventually his beloved Beatrice. Limbo is the first part of the Inferno, where human souls who do not know God exist eternally without being saved into Paradiso for their good works or going deeper into the Inferno for their sins.

So depthless-deep and nebulous and dim
That stare as I might into its frightful pit
It gave me back no feature and no bottom…
…(A) grief breathed out of untormented sadness,
The passive state of those who dwelled apart,
Men, women, children—a dim and endless congress.
—excerpt from Canto IV of Inferno (translator: John Ciardi)

Limbo is a deeply dark space of painless pain inhabited by pagans who do not believe in the dominant Christian worldview of the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, Dante senses a dim light among the crowd living in the immeasurable darkness of Limbo: “Yet near enough that I half-saw, half-sensed, / What quality of souls lived in that light” (Canto IV). This light that Dante witnessed in Limbo is the spirit that comprehends the truth, as in philosophy or poetry, that is, “wisdom.”

Modern capitalism produces a dark and splendid megasystem of production, governance, and discipline: a metropolis. I stare at and measure the “pagan” life in our Limbo, the metropolis, where neither salvation to heaven nor punishment in hell has disappeared (from a metaphysical, not religious, point of view). The purpose of my survey is not to accumulate knowledge but to find the dim light of wisdom in the metropolitan city. I will share some fragmental traces I have been exploring in the city.

About the Speaker

Jaekyung Jung(he/him) is interested in tracing ambivalence, which stands between what is ethically right and wrong, in the everyday life of the city. His recent solo exhibitions include Cosmographia (Seoullo Media Canvas, Seoul, 2019), A Scene (Sinchon Theater, Seoul, 2021), and Commedia (shhh, Seoul, 2022). He also worked as a director for the public art project Reflect (Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, 2021–2024). His work has been exhibited at the 23rd Brno International Biennial of Graphic Design (Moravia Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic, 2008), Public Space? Lost & Found (MIT Media Lab, Boston, USA, 2014), Art(ificial) Garden, The Border Between Us (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, CheongJu, Korea, 2021), and Ones Who Inhabit The Twilight Zone (ARKIPEL, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2021), among many other locations. His work is a part of the permanent collections of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), MMCA Government Art Bank, and Seo-Seoul Museum of Art in South Korea.

Jung holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, an MS in visual studies from MIT, and a PhD in art and media history, theory, and criticism—art practice concentration from the University of California, San Diego.

About Urban Designs from South Korea: Architecture, Ecology and Communities from South Korea

This series will present various designers from South Korea, who are engaged in urban and rural regeneration projects, graphic art, video projects and other projects that are taking place in South Korea. Presenters will discuss why design is crucial in Architecture, Ecology and Communities in South Korea.

Many of the speakers in this series will be presenting their works in the Project “2086: Together How?” that will be presented in the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Architectural Biennale in Italy, opening on May 20th, 2023. Presenters include “2086: Together How?” co-curator Soik Jung (Urban Mediation Project), and exhibitors, architect Yerin Kang (Society of Architecture), graphic artist Chris Ro (founder of ADearFriend) and video artist Jaekyung Jung (founder of shhh).

Bringing together architects, community leaders and artists, this project is about how we might be working together to endure current and future environmental crises until 2086 – the year when the global population is supposed to peak. Through a participatory video game, and with photographs, drawings, models and video and architectural installations, the exhibition is designed to invite audiences to imagine an ecocultural revolution through a critical reassessment of our capitalist, globalist, and colonial history.

They will present various communities with active regeneration projects in South Korea, inside the global city of Incheon, the colonial historic center in the mid-size city of Gunsan and in the rural areas of foreign migrant workers in Gyeonggi Province. These locations constitute a cross section of urbanization, modernization, and westernization in South Korea. They will show their collaboration with the local community leaders, and their ideas and design for the future of these communities. Each community is a case study which utilizes the community leader’s deep knowledge of the place and the architect’s spatial analysis to evaluate its current state, and propose site-specific future scenarios leading up to 2086.


May 24, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Tags:


Design and Innovation Building
Room 208
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