Sunset Valley Village
November 23 – December 12, 2021
Art Sonje Center 1F Project Space
Sunset Valley Village
Sunset Valley Village envisions a community of images. The Sunset Valley image simulator (2018–) that serves as the project medium is a web program that recognizes the speed with which contemporary images are produced and consumed, with a design that schematizes two-dimensional composition methods as a way of keeping pace. It’s also the work and the production tool of Lee Juri, an artist who imagines world views along the lines of tribal communities, with a focus on the body as factory-like producer and the hidden aspects of society’s vertical structures. For this project, the base of Sunset Valley users has been expanded to the village level with 22 different artists/artist teams sharing images, which are used to form a limited-time community creating two-dimensional screens. Sunset Valley Village could be seen as a temporary artists’ collective, a kind of web-based “virtual residency” where participants are engaged in a common project. Its activities consist of three stages: the uploading of image data by residents, the creation of images applying pre-set moods to the shared data, and the outputting of the resulting digital images into space in various ways. The exhibition taking place at Art Sonje Center consists of an image archive created through these activities, along with a spatial installation that reconfigures this archive. The project proposes a different form of image creation that involves the gathering and reconstruction of sources, as well as the archiving of work for use as a reference.
Born between the 1980s and early 1990s, the participating arts grew up during a time when media were shifting from analog to digital, when communication infrastructure was being built the forms of information and its collection were transitioning from personal computers to the World Wide Web. In their visual arts language, the artists play the role of editors making use of found footage and collected data observed in the public realm of the web, together with untreated materials and ready-made objects. Sunset Valley originated out of questions about the artist’s creative capabilities in the contemporary visual culture environment, and about “craft-like” artistic production that is based on scarcity value. The data that provide the artists with their basic material are uploaded to a program modeled on the methodology of the digital audio workstation (DAW), with images created automatically as these data are classified within the principles of two-dimensional design and randomly accessed by the web program. The artist/user plays a limited role: providing the source material for the program, adjusting the settings, and selecting and storing completed images. While this assignment of roles does not allow for control over the entire process of artistic creation, it acquires an extreme form of productivity where images are created in the matter of seconds it takes to push a button.
The splendor of the sunset has been a theme in many popular songs, but the setting sun is also seen as a metaphor for the finite nature of existence, and the way we fade away with the cycle of life. We also use the name “Sunset Valley Village” to refer to an imaginary community where the sun’s light paints the sky and we sense the spectrum of changing colors from moment to moment. The residents here share their own worlds and create a common image like the members of some agrarian cooperative. The village community carries within it a kind of “post-system” state, and Sunset Valley Village shows the shared aspects of the digital image in a visual arts environment defined by the swiftness of its production and consumption. Could the shared creations of this collaboration help to subvert the “myth of the artist” and create a post-system community of the image that transcends nationality, time, and space?