Fireworks and Massacre in Grey (Spasmodic) Room On Hangjun Lee’s Phantom Schoolgirl Army

Fireworks and Massacre in Grey (Spasmodic) Room On Hangjun Lee’s Phantom Schoolgirl Army

I came to ruminate on this dormant episode and mull over its implications intensely after I watched/listened to Phantom School Army [Phantom hereafter]. South Korea’s trailblazing avant-garde filmmaker and performer Hangjun Lee’s most recent work to date, Phantom is a remarkable work of art as it blinds, if momentarily, viewers with a series of flashes while bombarding audiences with noise-induced sound blast. What’s more striking is that this literally vertiginous audiovisual performance work addresses Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion (1948), one of South Korea’s dark historical traumas whose immediate aftermath (the number of casualties overall is estimated to reach 10,000) and long-term repercussions in effectively establishing the ‘red scare’ or anticommunism proved vital, or rather, lethal to many lives as well as the egalitarian imaginary in post-war South Korea

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MATERIALISM AND BEYOND Lee Hang jun’s Expanded Cinema

MATERIALISM AND BEYOND Lee Hang jun’s Expanded Cinema

Lee’s expanded cinema works in the mid-2000s encompass multi-screen projection performances in which various found footage that he physically and chemically processed is presented in collaboration with Korean and foreign improvisation and electronic musicians, including Korean noise music artist Hong Chulki. Generally, found footage filmmaking includes a variety of practices based on the selection, processing, and rearrangement of images from existing films and videos, with the intention of de-contextualizing them and creating new meanings out of their new associations or configurations. In this sense, a dominant trope is the characterization of the found footage filmmaker as collector or historian. Lee’s found footage works, however, originate from his idea that this characterization is not the only way of dealing with and defining found footage in the history of experimental cinema. He states, “The ambiguity of the term ‘found’ has mainly assumed such attitudes as ‘collecting and gathering,’ or ‘discovering and finding,’ and the idea of expanding the status of the filmmaker into historian or ethnographer has been responsible for many misconceptions that affect the ways that we understand the various characters of found footage films.”

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