Imagination, Reason, and Memory


“In a split second a touch of smell                                                wine

transports you to a place where you                                                  ice                   bitter

have neither been nor have not been….                                                   der krad

A weird feeling where the taste of    

dreams-never-realised, completely                                                                       cold                                      

forgotten, but suddenly reanimated,                                                  the  M   o   o   n      

gets back on the menu in all its crisp                                      the round table   

vagueness.”[1]                                                                                   the wind[2]



In this essay, I discuss the faculty of imagination. I present the two types of imagination that I have conceived of: simple imagination and complex imagination. On the one hand, what I called simple imagination allows us to connect the chaotic arrays of sensory inputs into orderly structured meanings in order for us to perceive things that all make sense. This connecting is what I call “reasoning.” The reasoning itself is a retroactive registering of the sensory information into preexisting symbolic orders. On the other hand, the complex imagination disconnects and rearranges multiple mental frameworks, independently of initial sensory inputs. It entails memories and complex connections of various parts of the brain. This operates in the service of creativity.

[1] Raimundas Malašauskas, Ask Salad Amass Uranium, Peper Exhibition, Selected Writings by Raimundas Malašauskas, Sternberg Press, Kunstverein, 2012, p 183

[2] This is my right brain’s response to Raimundas Malašauskas.


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Becoming Volcano: The Lithuania and Cyprus Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, oO and Maria Hassabi, Intermission

<This article is published in the performance art journal INCIDENT 2014.>

  Installation view, the Lithuania and Cyprus pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale

Installation view, the Lithuania and Cyprus pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale


We think, feel, and speak. Does an object also think, feel, speak, and voice its will? In the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant said that the thing has its own cognition and intellection, known as “thing-in-itself.”[1] He proposed that there is an existence of immaterial entities in objects, which can only be apprehended by a special, non-sensory faculty that he called “intellectual intuition.” Recently, a group of philosophers who have labeled their works “Speculative Realism,” among them Graham Harman and Quentin Meillassoux, have suggested the existence of an object world through the non-anthropocentric lens. What this achieves is a revaluation of nonhuman entities such as objects but also a redefinition of ontology. Objects become “things” qua autonomous agencies: a thing “does something besides sit around as a target for human awareness of it.”[2] Speculative Realism redefines the most fundamental relationships between things, and rebalances human and nonhuman, proposing a system that does not exclusively depend on human signification.  

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1781, A256/B312, p.27

[2] Graham Harman, Technology, objects and things in Heidegger, Cambridge Journal of Economics 2010, p24


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The Emancipated Gender

My readings themselves [body art projects] are offered as 'performances,' as suggestive, open-ended engagements rather than definitive answers to the question of what and how body art means in contemporary culture.[1]

- Amelia Jones



What do we mean when we use the word “sex” as a noun? What is its history? The term “sex” has often been associated, if not mistaken with, the term “gender.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary,[2] “sex” is first used in the late 14th century to describe “males or females collectively.” The word is drawn from the Latin word sexus: “‘a sex, state of being either male or female, gender,’ of uncertain origin.” One can see why people confuse “sex” with “gender.” At one point they meant the same thing. However, the recent critical awareness to separate gender from sex suggests that while sex is biological and material, gender is socially constructed. The body that bears socio-cultural meanings has been re-considered independently from the property of the material or biological dimensions of the body: gender is a historical situation rather than those of the flesh.


[1] Amelia Jones, Body Art/ Performing the Subject, University of Minnesota Press, p10. 

[2] sex. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: November 05, 2013).


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Interview with the art work

Nightmare/JaeWook Lee 

  JaeWook Lee, Nightmare, single-channel video, 2012

JaeWook Lee, Nightmare, single-channel video, 2012

  JaeWook Lee, Nightmare, single-channel video, 2012

JaeWook Lee, Nightmare, single-channel video, 2012


NM- Hi JaeWook, so we are finally ready for the conversation between you and me. The easiest way to start would be to speak about the reason why you made me. 

JW- Well, I gave you a birth because, at that time, I just married to American Landscape. I mean in 2011 I moved to USA from South Korea, after serving the U.S. Army in South Korea. When two things meet, a new thing often emerges. For me, two things are a South Korean and the American landscape. What has emerged is you. And I am an artist. I create. It is natural. 

NM- You named me ‘Nightmare,’ in which you built a projector gun, correct? Can you tell me a bit about myself including explaining what some of the imagery that you are projecting is? 

JW- I actually changed your name from ‘The memory of Korean War’ to ‘Nightmare’ because the word ‘Nightmare’ is more poetic beyond the signification of language. At the same time, the title ‘Nightmare’ is from my own nightmares about the Korean war that I had when I was young.
I created a device called ‘gun-projector‘ where I combined a gun and a projector together. We say ‘shoot’ when we use a gun. We also say ‘shoot’ when we project images. So I was playing with the double meaning of the word ‘shoot.’ I ‘shot‘ the images of the Korean war on moving trains and smoke. The images are bombardments by the U.S. Army during the Korean war. The paradox here is that the U.S. Army destroyed Korea in order to protect Korea. So, I tried to create the postulate of reversibility of what it means to ‘shoot’. 

NM- With your gun-projector, you’ve projected onto moving, or amorphous material such as smoke. How does projecting specifically onto a moving train contribute to your concept of memories of the Korean War? 

JW- Yes. I chose ‘smoke’ and ‘moving trains’ due to their very nature of ephemerality in relation to the concept of memory. A memory is an event of the past, but the memory stays around one’s mind even though it is not out there anymore. Sometimes big social memories like wars stay in people’s minds from generation to another generation, and they affect human behaviors. For me, I was born in 1984 which was almost 30 years after the Korean War. Since two Koreas are still divided, the trauma of the war still exists. I used to dream about this war once a year when I was a teenager, which was scary enough to wake me up during my sleep.

NM- How has this work(me) been received by Korean audiences, and how does that contrast to how Americans perceive this artwork? 

JW- Well, actually I have never shown you in Korea. I can’t say how Korean audiences respond. The U.S. Army’s involvement in the Korean war was a major part of a war that was concealed by the Vietnam war. I came to the States last year, and I met some the U.S. Army veterans who came to Korea during the war. My displacement from Korea to the States and meeting with the elderly veterans re-evokes the social memory of the Korean war. I have never shown this work to Korean audiences. So, it is a meeting between a Korean artist and American audiences. It is also a meeting between the two countries in the video by projecting the images of the Korean War on the American landscape. I am more interested in the third ‘potentiality’ coming out of this meeting of heterogeneous elements. 

NM- You seem very concerned with socio-political subjects. What do you think that your main concerns are as an artist? 

JW- It is about how I position myself as an artist in the larger sense of society. For me, it is still questionable. In other words, I try to constantly re-position myself as someone who incessantly displaces himself from social forms as they begin to congeal and cohere. The socio-political subjects of my art practice might come out of this attitude toward society as a whole. In the art history, Duchamp is one of the artists of this kind.