“Spatial Illumination” at D Museum, Seoul

Bathing in light and color at the South Korean capital's newest addition to the arts scene

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Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, opened by South Korea’s Daelim Group in 2002, has a brand new sibling in Seoul. While Daelim has become known for its photo, design and fashion-focused exhibitions, D Museum near-literally steals the spotlight with its inaugural show, “Spatial Illumination—9 Lights in 9 Rooms,” hosting light installations from nine international artists. Featuring diversity in materials and experiences, from neon works by Cerith Wyn Evan to Dennis Parren’s CMYK fixtures that gave attendees colorful shadows, “Spatial Illumination” is set up like an orderly maze, in which attendees have no idea what is behind the next door.

Overall, it’s certainly an Instagram-friendly crowd-pleaser that some might scoff at. But, it accomplishes what art can do: offer a sense of wonder that remains as long as any smartphone photo will. We stayed for an immeasurable amount of time in “My Whale,” by Russian studio Tundra. It’s a mirrored tunnel that seems to stretch on infinitely. Therein, whale songs and pulsating light sync to conjure up the imagined experience of being inside the marine mammal. We spent even longer in Carlos Cruz-Diez’s “Chromosaturation,” where the Venezuelan artist has set up an artificial environment of three color chambers, disrupting our perceptions, and presenting color as a truly immersive, physically altering experience. Check the slideshow here for a brief taste.

Spatial Illumination—9 Lights in 9 Rooms” runs through 8 May 2016 at D Museum (5-6, Dokseodang-ro 29-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul) and is open daily except Mondays. As we were just there, here are two valuable tips: the Korean version of the museum’s website offers more information than the English version; and expect a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway station, so it may be beneficial to take the bus. Tickets range from ₩2,000 to ₩8,000 (about $7); hold on to it as one purchased ticket can be reused by the owner as many times as they wish.

Images by Nara Shin