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The Most Beautiful Scenery

2019
Duo channel video installation
4K, Color, Stereo
9’58”

This work comes from an attempt to observe the collective consciousness and aesthetic standards of plastic surgery in Korea during the 2019 Openspace Bae Art Residency project in Busan, Korea. After the Korean War in the early 1950s, the need for injured soldiers’ facial construction boosted, which indirectly started the trend of receiving plastic surgery in Korea. Due to the maturity of plastic surgery skills, Korean’s patriarchal cultural background, and the celebrity effect, this medical practice of facial reconstruction later shifted to serve the human desire for appearance and the pursuit of beauty. Nevertheless, upon Chen’s arrival in Korea, he realized that the plastic surgery there was not as popular as the mass media described, which manifests that the reality people are exposed to in contemporary times may only be an appearance recreated through mass media.


This work is a two-channel video work mapped with two parts of the scenario, shot underneath a large advertising board in Nampo-dong, a shopping area, and a must-visit spot for tourists in Busan. Chen installed a hidden video recording device underneath the advertising board, and images of people passing by were broadcasted on the board. Tourists were delighted as they found themselves shown on the big screen as a star. Before them, the beautiful scenery was like the “world-famous for 15 minutes” moment foreseen by Andy Warhol. The work is displayed on a TV screen and a projection, divided into a colorful inner world and a black and white outer world. The colorful area is a metaphor for devices such as computers and smartphones that one uses to receive information from social media everyday; while the black and white projection reflects the real world. Faces of figures entering the color area will be replaced with the face of a Korean actress, who is the most requested face at plastic surgery clinics, through deepfake software. Like the character development on social media, the contents of different accounts demonstrate indistinguishable attraction. The wonderful scenario that draws the viewers’ attention is the colorful life that is more real than reality.


However, as humanity embraces diverse values in the 21st century, will we also reflect on our values and judgments at all levels? At a time when biotechnology has advanced significantly, the CRISPR-baby scandal has caused a massive uproar. What is the reasonable scope of human “modification” technology? In the process of modification and enhancement, do we fail to keep the pursuit of diverse values? Alternatively, shall we pursue the ultimate transformation of aesthetic values?