Nothing But A Symphony (Music of Mourning)

Media: single-channel video with sound
4:20 min. 

Nothing But A Symphony (Music of Mourning) is a single-channel video which sees the world as vibrating melodies in unison. The Korean top cellist Jungran Lee plays an invisible cello in concert with jellyfish and primary colors, creating a rhythmical harmony of Nature: the cellist, the jellyfish, and the primary colors appear and re-appear respectively on the timeline of the video, creating a cadence. This arrangement between human and non-human performances levels the subject-object relationship through a non-anthropocentric point of view.

Cellist Lee focuses on how to perform imagination: she explores how to sense things not from external stimuli but through intensive imagination and association in both visual and auditory levels. In the video, Lee plays the” air-cello” by remembering a piece of music called “Music of Mourning.” She uses her memory of the music to activate the action of playing the cello, and the action retroactively helps stimulate her auditory memory.

This imaginative musical performance is interfered by the juxtaposition with jellyfish. Since the jellyfish’s lively movement looks similar to the cellist’s body, Lee’s invisible musical act appears a bodily vibration. There is a doubling here. The cellist’s body structurally avoids being seen clearly determinable because of its double presence as subject and object. She is not only a subject because she consciously plays the invisible cello, but also an object because it is seen as a bodily fluctuation like jellyfish. Her body is not just the sign of a musical performance, but also a thing of flesh quivers.

The primary colors that include red, yellow, blue, black, and white, add richer rhythmical vibrancies to the video. The colors are different wavelengths of light. The flow of light is actualized into certain colors through our eyes. In this sense, we experience vibrations in visual forms. We perceive the vibrancies of the colors, hear the invisible rhythm of a cello, and observe the tremors of jellyfish in a balanced cadence. That is to say, the cellist, the jellyfish, and the primary colors create a musical harmony together, offering the inter-sensorial experience: it is a symphony of multi-sensations by both the human and the non-human actors.

The location where the footage is filmed is known for various political incidents including The Battle of Incheon, The Second Battle of Yeonpyeong of North Korean attack, and The ROKS Cheonan ship sinking, and the Sewol shipwreck.