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Following North America and Africa, «A New Gaze 3» is dedicated to contemporary photography in East and Southeast Asia. The winner, Dongkyun Vak (born 1992, South Korea), impressed the jury with his project idea of investigating the conflict between humans, nature, and technology in the Anthropocene.
“Responsibility in the Anthropocene age” as the key theme
We live in an era in which people are having a significant effect on Earth. We know that many changes on our planet are homemade. The longer we go on, the better we know that nature and civilization are inseparable. Awareness of the fatal damage that we have already inflicted on the planet must be our impetus to fundamentally change our behavior. Recognition of this new situation prompted scientists back in the year 2000 to introduce the term “Anthropocene” for the present era: It describes a new period in which the influence of humanity on Earth is greater than geological impacts. The human footprint will scar the planet for millennia, for hundreds of thousands of years even. Are we ready to take on responsibility for this?
For «A New Gaze 3», the winner Dongkyun Vak will dedicate himself to the conflict between people, nature, and technology. «To assume responsibility for the environment, innovative technologies and ‘ecofriendly design,’ including electric cars and air purifiers, will increasingly shape our everyday life. The invisible power behind these changes is technology, which seems to be both the cause and the solution for the ecological challenges of the Anthropocene,» says Vak in relation to his work.
This conflict is also reflected in the aesthetics of his imagery. It shows both the seductiveness and the disconcerting nature of the environment characterized by new technologies. Thus, in his images, even living animals appear like artefacts robbed of their life.
«Dongkyun Vak is a young artist who investigates the relationship between reality and photographic depiction through the medium of photography. His idea of exploring the influence of technology on our visual environment was impressive, combined as it was with clear imagery and flawless aesthetics. This marked the beginning of an attempt to present the visuality of the Anthropocene remote from environmental disasters,» says Axel Schwarzer, Chairman of the Vontobel Art Commission.
«A New Gaze 3» is curated by Luisa Baselgia, Vontobel Art Collection, and Urs Stahel, founder and former director of Photo Museum Winterthur. The exhibition will be opened in spring, 2022 in Vontobel’s main building at Gotthardstrasse 43 in Zurich. A publication designed by Teo Schifferli will also be published.
About Dongkyun Vak
Dongkyun Vak (*1992) lives and works in Seoul, South Korea. He is interested in the relationship between object and image in the digital era and in the role of technology in the Anthropocene.