Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality were once held as visions of a distant future. Just saying the words conjures up retro-futuristic films and TV series, such as Star Trek or Back to the Future. As social media has shown over the years, however, this idealized future is well within the present, and artists of all backgrounds have used AR and VR technologies to further expand their creative expression.
Among a series of exhibitions exploring the matter, the Leeum Museum of Art and the Hoam Museum of Art in Seoul presented an emphatic exhibition called Kaleidoscope eyeswhere artists including Olafur Eliasson, KAWS and Julie Curtiss exemplified the creative potential of this burgeoning field.
Curated by Acute Art’s director Daniel Birnbaum, the event marked the largest institutional exhibition exclusively related to AR and VR art. But you don’t have to be into art or science to appreciate the show. Renowned South Korean musician SHAUN was invited to tour the exhibition, and as an avid comic fan, he understands the benefits of AR and VR to complement all creative disciplines.
The multi-instrumentalist first started his career playing synthesizer for indie rock band The Knoxx, before turning to DJing and producing. In 2018, SHAUN released his debut single “Dream” along with his own EP TOE next year. After releasing their latest EP, Omnibus, Pt. 2: Inside outHypeArt spoke to the musician about where he finds inspiration and how AR and VR can seep into his future plans.
Read the full interview with SHAUN below.
Can you remember your earliest memories of music and what pushed you to pursue it as a career?
I lived in Guui-dong for about a year when I was a preschooler. I remember running around with my neighborhood friends until my slippers fell off, and one of my friends said he had to go to a piano academy, so I followed him because I was curious. Since my friend was already enrolled, I also joined the piano academy, because I wanted to try it. But I ended up quitting right after finishing Bayer because I didn’t want to learn the scores. Even without a score, I can just listen to a piece of music and play it the same way. I found it frustrating that I had to read sheet music and know what the notes meant. Eventually I stopped learning classical piano and took up musical instruments like the electronic piano at home – playing the latest songs based on code and melody.
Every Sunday, father played music loudly on a record, and I woke up to the sound and played what I heard. Everyone was happy to see me doing this and I was also happy to see my family enjoying it. I think I always thought and knew that I would go into music without having time to choose a career. My parents once said they wanted me to choose a stable and promising job, but they didn’t persistently stop me, so there wasn’t much excitement. Thanks to it, I have been able to enjoy and play music – something I have always wanted.
Inspiration comes in all forms and at the most random times of the day. But what would you say gives you consistent inspiration on a daily basis?
That is correct. It comes in various forms and at an unspecified time of day. Unfortunately, inspiration is not free. So I’m always looking for that. I try to find new tracks and music with interesting direction and techniques. If I wait for inspiration to come to me, I wouldn’t be able to do anything when something big comes along. I am constantly on the lookout for that moment, working to work the gem into its best state when it hits.
What about art? Is there a particular artist or period in art history that speaks to you?
Since I’m mostly into comics and animation, I like Yukito Kishiros Battle Angel Alita – even the director of the film version from Robert Rodriguez – one of my favorite directors. Katsuhiro Otomo’s AKIRAMamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the shelland Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Cyberpunk: Edge Runners are also some of my favourites.
Do you consider yourself a collector – be it art, records, books, etc.?
I don’t collect things systematically enough to call myself a collector, but I tend to buy things that catch my eye. My interests are comics and animation, so I usually buy figures, comics and merchandise. The items change depending on the season and the works I’m interested in change, so I have another apostle to live in. It’s really a vicious cycle.
To Kaleidoscope eyes at the Leeum Museum of Art, there was a truly impressive set of works from some of the best contemporary artists working today. Can you tell us about your experience at the exhibition and which works stood out to you?
I was able to meet many interesting works on Kaleidoscope eyes display. Personally, I liked Olafur Eliasson’s Caring northern lights mostly. I thought that this work was very similar to the Leeum Museum of Art, which was built so as not to damage the natural landscape. It seems like Caring northern lights, which harmonizes with the landscape, allowed us to move between reality and the unreal. Meanwhile, Language by Ho Tzu Nyen allowed us to think about a complex subject through colorful 3D and AR production, and in the case of Julie Curtiss’ Lune, the message was very impressive.
What are your thoughts on augmented reality (AR) and the opportunities it can bring to the music industry?
I know that online streaming with augmented reality (AR) technology was extensively explored during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have also taken part in such an event once. The first thing that comes to mind is related to live performance. It might be a little different, but the stage of “Gorillaz” and “Madonna” at the Grammys in 2006 was quite a shock to me as a child. I remember thinking a lot about how they realized such a scene with the appearance of the Gorillaz characters. Michael Jackson’s “Slave To The Rhythm” in 2012 would also be a good example, and in 2018 there was even a stage completed with AR technology at the opening of the League of Legends World Championship.
From the point of view of being very new in this area, there were expectations about how the combination with the next generation of technologies would be achieved. It’s actually been used quite a bit in areas other than music, but it’s a shame it’s not used as much in live shows. I think the fact that visitors have to see through the screen to enjoy the scene combined with AR was the reason for the excitement. But I think we will get a good enough result if we combine the technologies that are being improved. For example, if AR glasses or contact lenses are more widespread, I expect that AR will be used much more in live shows.
Can we expect any art related or AR projects from you in the near future?
I’ve actually thought about it, and I’m thinking about joining the party.