Experiencing The Absolute

He will come to meet me at 3pm

It’s time she came home.

Ellie Kyungran Heo

A reference to technology’s rapid advances that have induced uncompromising bombardment of world news and media exposure, Kill Your Television exists as a compilation of contemporary moving images. Experienced not on a television screen, but in a gallery environment, the humbling of the television in light of its overpowering partner – ‘the Internet’ – is illuminated. With consistent exposure to media that stretches across industries and countries, the instruction to ‘Kill Your Television’ demands removal from such exhausting influences.

Suggesting what would be for most, a drastic life change, in fact acts as a release. In particular, Ellie Kyungran Heo’s film ‘Haenyeo’ directs us toward reaching a state of the absolute. We are encouraged to experience moments without interruption.

Literally meaning ‘Sea Woman’, Haenyeo follows a shellfish diver, documenting the Korean tradition that, for decades, has given special status to women.

We watch a man as he awaits the woman’s return. His movements are slow. At one point, barely visible amongst the plain of grey rocks that stretch along the shore, he is distinguishable only by the colour of his cap.

Existing as a documentary film, there is a pull between real life events and temporality, strengthened by the (previously learned) knowledge of Haenyeo as a dying tradition. ‘Document’ suggests a recording of an event that has happened, a thing embedded within time and place, whilst the moving image suggests something transitory and momentary. Structured upon a redefined context of time and a story told in moments, the impermanence of the tradition is suggested, and a need for questioning is emphasized.

The events that lead to the couple’s final encounter are described through subtle transitions, paired with the alternation of split frames. Drawing the viewer into the narrative, the detail of the moment is explored. Altered images of the same scene co-exist within a single space, muddling the distinction between past and present, real or imaginary.

Considering moments, Heo writes that ‘conventionally, a moment means a very short period of time, no more than a few seconds. It would be the smallest unit in a human timeline. Yet moments in human experience are not bounded in time and place’.

Encouraging her viewers to experience the moment in a way that is individual and undefined, Heo structures her narrative upon a new time frame; one that encourages interpretation and illuminates the potential of experience as leading to a wider whole.

Time is read backwards;

minutes follow days follow months follow years

present follows future.

Manipulating our conventional understanding of time, Heo creates work that gravitates around a moment of interaction; one that dissolves the boundaries of time and place, where viewing the work becomes an exploration of a moment. In a sense, time is considered in relation to place, though neither time nor place is fixed. Fragments of shifting spaces are at once removed from the context of time, existing as past, present or future, whilst being structured upon seconds, hours, days and years.

A story that is built upon a framework of time or place within a usual context creates boundaries that restrict our understanding of the ways in which we experience things. Personal moments of experience are valuable in understanding ourselves as beings, and such experiences allow insight into the ways in which we relate to the world. Dissolving our usual understanding of time and place brings us closer to experiencing a moment that is uninterrupted. Newly defined, the space becomes unlimited and time is undefined.

Through footage specifically selected to exist together within the structure of one frame, and by choosing to reveal only moments of an encounter, Heo’s work sits outside the boundaries of time. Time and place are defined as being one and the same, whilst being nothing of particular significance. Chasing a challenging intention to redefine time and place as being both eternal and unbound, Heo brings us closer to experiencing freedom.

In a heavily weighted space that threatens desensitization, we are encouraged to ‘kill our televisions’, or in other words, we are told to live.

“To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”
William Blake

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