by Sukanya GargMay 12, 2020
BTS - never before have three letters so quickly taken over the world. Three letters that are now instantly recognisable by people across ages and ethnicities. BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan (Korean for Bulletproof Boy Scouts) is a seven-member South-Korean pop music band founded in 2013, which broke through into the international mainstream about three years after its inception. BTS can be quite simplistically categorised as a boy band, but in reality, their influence is much wider. BTS has been able to carve a niche for themselves as well as bringing K-Pop to the top of western charts while maintaining a consistently strong creative identity in their artistry.
Catharsis, hosted by Serpentine Galleries, is the London edition of ‘Connect BTS’, featuring the work of Jakob Kudsk Steensen, a New-York based Danish new media artist. Kudsk Steensen works largely with virtual reality and mixed media installations and has exhibited at FRIEZE London, MAXXI Rome, Venice Biennale and also screened his films at Sundance and Cannes. Catharsis is an extension of Kudsk Steensen’s previous work for Serpentine Galleries, The Deep Listener (2019), an augmented reality app for mobile devices which took the viewer on an audio-visual journey through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park in a tech-enabled ecological trail. Kudsk Steensen is fascinated by the untapped potential at the intersection of imagination, technology and ecology.
Catharsis is an immersive, digitally simulated experience of an ‘old-growth forest’, a term which refers to any forest which has remained largely undisturbed over a long period of time, making its eco-system unique and also a treasured space in today’s environmentally burdened world. Steensen, in a collaborative effort with American sound artist Matt McCorkle, embarked on a journey to experience American old-growth forests first-hand. Their field work presented them with a database of visuals and sounds which they developed into the final installation. Catharsis draws on Steensen’s conception of ‘slow media’ whereby digital technologies can foster attention to the natural world and create new narratives about our ecological futures. With our planet at extreme risk, artists now hold the ability to sensitise people to the crisis and renew the relationship between humans and their natural environment, through man-made technologies.
Serpentine Galleries continuously work toward supporting exploration and experimentation in the field of tech-enabled art, driven by the strong belief that interaction between art and technology can challenge and reshape our worldview. Connect, BTS is an ongoing project with five exhibitions currently live, with the latest in New York opening on February 5, 2020. Catharsis at the Serpentine Galleries will be on view till March 15, 2020.