Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Festival of Lights, 2009

While I was in Jong-ro yesterday, I decided I might as well have a gander at the Christmas festivities. There wasn't much going on at the Cheonggyechun, except for this laser light show playing on a cloud of mist.

Turns out, Gwanghwamun Plaza is where the action is. On arrival, I saw that the ship model that was previously displayed in front of Admiral Yi's statue (the inventor of the turtleship):

... has been replaced by an electronic installation titled "Fractal Turtleship" by Nam June Paik (1932-2006), considered the first "video artist".

Behind the Admiral's statue was a Chamber of Lights with several interactive artworks, including "Notation Theatre" by Jun Ga-young where participants sit on little blocks and thereby light up different parts of the installation, and "Touch the Light, Touch the Moon" by Lee Kyung-ho, which does a nifty fractalizing-thing to objects placed in the light. Here's me:

Part of the exterior of the chamber was decorated with something called "Zipper Pipe" by Woo Haemin:

Further along the plaza you could view the "Media Facade", in which images were projected onto the buildings surrounding the square as music from the Seoul Philharmonic fills the square. This was hard to capture with my mediocre camera:

Additionally, there were the more standard illuminations--Christmas lights--and the obligatory photo opportunities.

That says "Green Santa & Happy New Year" behind them, if you can't read it. There were also a few photo booths where you could pose with friends:

This year, they moved the ice skating rink from City Hall to Gwanghwamun (built over the Flower Carpet), and shrank it in size somewhat, in a section the brochure calls Light of Repose. Here is the Korean zamboni preparing the ice:

The small children's rink is limited to scooter boards:

Older kids and adults skated in the larger section:

Afterwards, I stopped in at Texas Ice Bar for a few really expensive imported beers before heading home with a full day of teaching ahead of me today.

Except, as I found out from Mr Hwang on the way to school, I didn't. The second grade was taking a practice exam, and the first grade was doing some kind of reading competition (these are the last few days of the school year, as well as the calendar year). So I ended up having no classes at all.

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