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Ominous yet seductive, uncanny yet tender, the performance, installation, and videos by Geumhyung Jeong question the ever more indistinguishable boundaries between man and machine, animate and inanimate, and the deeper psychology behind these limits, such as desire and control. Trained in dance, theater, and filmmaking, Jeong’s work always considers the sensual relationships of the human body.
Small Upgrade (2019), dedicated to this biennial, is an installation comprised of three elements: the robotic sculptures Homemade RC Toy Small Upgrade F2019, the videos Upgrade Guide F2019, and Materials. The project is a continuation of her recent work, Homemade RC Toy, in which “RC” stands for “remote control.” In the artist’s own words, “after some experiences with my creation, I made plans for a small upgrade… in order to improve its performance.” This time, the artist has turned the exhibition space into her workshop. She collected the objects and materials to make the project on site. The artist taught herself the basics of programming and robotics to build human-scale, remote-control sculptures from DIY technologies using metal
brackets, batteries, wires, dental study props, and disassembled mannequins. She also made a film demonstrating the strange choreographies to which she subjects her “homemade” bodies.
Exploring the erotics of technical animism, Jeong’s project raises critical questions on the transformation of our relationships—not only with technical objects, but also with ourselves and our reality in an increasingly technologized world. As we make more machines, constantly upgrading them to replace our labor, we as humans become ever more inert. As these objects gain life force and agency, who is really “remote-controlling” our life?