Vogue Korea December 2016 Interview Part 4: Yoo Ah In’s ‘Aerospace’ Filming & Studio Concrete’s Expansion
[This is a special interview with Yoo Ah In and Studio Concrete artist group by Vogue Korea for December 2016 issue. The interview was conducted by Vogue Editor In Chief during the Aerospace episode 1 “Fragile” filming in October, written by the end of November, and published in December 2016. This special feature was also planned in conjunction with Studio Concrete “Ccrt Aerospace: The Other Side” exhibition, scheduled from Dec 3, 2016]
We divide the interview into four parts. In this last part which consists of Studio Concrete’s crew interview, we only pick the “Aerospace” director’s and Studio Concrete co-founder’s interview who talked about working with Yoo Ah In in the “Aerospace” production process, and developing/expanding the Studio with him. Here is part 4 translated by Yoo Ah In International Fans Community
(See part 3 here)
Concrete Phenomenon Part 4
YOON SUNG HYUN
A few months ago, I clapped when I heard that director Yoon Sung Hyun was planning to produce/direct the “Aerospace” film for this exhibition. This young director’s début film (Bleak Night, 2011), which surprisingly and delicately unfolded the story of three friends and delineated the tragic, weak and fragile youngsters, stood out among others. In director Yoon Sung Hyun, who brought up the nostalgia of the youth’s weakness, friendship, communication, trust, and loneliness in his own language, I wondered what would happen when he met with actor Yoo Ah In. There will be enough fun to look forward to, there won’t be a room for dullness and there will be more chill of pleasure like that of futuristic film itself. Yoon Sun Hyun’s collaboration with Yoo Ah In and Studio Concrete crew in the form of an 8-minute well-made science fiction (SF) film has been completed, and soon it will be shown to the world. [Note: Aerospace Episode 1 “Fragile” was released on Dec 14th after this interview took place]. It is their first journey towards the universe.
Yoo Ah In said that among the directors, you were the one whom he talked about the most to work with. At what point did you decide to join this project?
“I met Ah In and we talked a lot about the project. He said that this movie would be about the story of the universe that we hadn’t seen in any Korean movies before, I was convinced by his attempt and I had no reason not to do it. In addition, Ah In is one of the actors I would like to work with and one of the people that I respect. I also thought that he would be fun to work with. The audience may wonder why the Bleak Night director is doing SF, but I’m now preparing a sci-fi movie too which will begin filming in the near future.”
What is the meaning of working freely in this project?
“Whether it’s due to capitalism or commercialism, Korean films have limited genres. Most of them are drama, comedy, thriller, crime and serious social themes, and a zombie film came out just now. Interstellar, Gravity, and Terminator are SF movies but none of them are from Korea. Space as a theme may seem a reckless challenge, but it is also important to note that Korea has no distinguishable SF film of its own. So, I thought this would be my opportunity to express the futuristic or the universe film without any constraints.”
If there were no experimental work, a film that broke expectation wouldn’t have been born. I heard that the script was changed twice in the middle of the process. Which part is it?
“Ah In is ambitious, he wanted the film to have rough visuals and he wanted to add more diversity to the content, but I wanted to take this opportunity to take a new approach. Unlike the typical SF film which is full with technical skills, I tried to make a refined film in standard tactics by focusing only on the spacecraft. So, I revised the proposals several times and put some alternatives. The previous version contained stories or social implications, but the final script is a short film with emotions and vague story. In the case of such a short film, I thought rather than advocating its story, the poetic of the film would be more fitting so that there will be room for viewers where they can accept it as their own story and fill it with their own color too.”
Where did you pay particular attention to that much-talk-about vast universe?
“I came up with this idea when I was talking to the Studio Concrete crew; the immigration staff stamps the destination on the passport, what would happen if we made a situation as if we come from an unknown planet to Earth? We are also inspired by the scene in ‘Destination Earth’ [directed by Carl Urbano, 1956. Watch here] where the names of different planets are written on tags attached to the clothes. What would happen if we switched the situation; that we came from unknown planet and our destination was the planet Earth?”
Perhaps because of this, I feel like this is a space immigration, not a space travel. How you explain/interpret and approach the word ‘aerospace’ itself may be the most important part of this film.
“A journey from an unknown planet to Earth, the scenario interprets the ‘space travel’ as in-suppressible thirst for exploring the new world. Whether it is a universe or a symbolic world, it means a transcendence to a broader sphere, to freely explore the ideas of the future and outer space without limit. As an embodiment of transcendence toward a greater plane of existence, I wanted to describe a future time or society that would in face be a metaphor of the present. Studio Concrete’s Aerospace doesn’t just confine to the universe theme, but it will extend to the series of story about the future of the earth, including human cloning.”
I heard that the time for the shooting preparation was short. Are you satisfied with the result?
“The budget we are preparing for now is close to 10 billion KRW. But since we deal with the near-future theme, it is different from the super cosmic futuristic SF. Even after 30 years, the details are different but the frames are similar. When I made an extreme Aerospace SF, I came to work with a higher degree of difficulty. With the help of the artistic team, we completed building the site layout. It was almost impossible to create a science fiction spacecraft that could go all the way to space in less than a month, but this time I realized that this is possible. I thought it was a reckless challenge but I don’t feel ashamed to go on, and I became more confident. As you can see, there is definitely an area that goes to the point where it is out of line, but the realm of advance is real.”
It will be a meaningful work for you personally, but noteworthy in the Korean movie industry.
“I want to explore the possibility of creating a realistic and sophisticated science fiction in Korea, from space to space. So, if the [Korean] filmmakers can watch as many movies like this as possible and have a chance to think about the possibility of making the SF genre, it would be better. Originally, the CG production cost was only allocated to create the [outer space] sky part. But now, we got about 80 CG team involved [in Aerospace filming], and they are working together to support these different and interesting attempts.”
It’s all become possible through a meeting with Studio Concrete. How was the collaboration?
“The idea that creative people come together for the long run projects is fascinating. So, it was very nice to get a proposal from Ah In. I was a bit scared because I didn’t want to let them down, and I wanted to make a satisfying piece of work, yet I could not afford the time. Turns out, the result looks good. When I do movie, my inner grammar still exists; the grammar of conversation, the grammar of style, the grammar of the genre. So, it’s a very precious experience for me to challenge the newness with these talented people who get away from the frame and fill in the frame with senses and emotions.”
“Aerospace” has meaning as a movement. It has a clear nature that it is a project that needs to exchange something with the public, actively showing the breathing movements with other creators of this age, and focusing the attention of the public with interest.” – Yoo Ah In
HAE YOUNG CHA
“I honestly would not have chosen an orange or turquoise sweatsuit if I did business alone. But I was asked by Yoo Ah In half-skeptically, ‘What is beauty?’, ‘who decided it?’, ‘why do you think it look pretty when you look at it?’ -he said such new words to me. So, I decided to do that.” I met the Studio Concrete Vice President Cha Hae Young, and I recalled her words vividly. This is a story about how a small Studio Concrete is able to sail correctly because it is able to communicate and share the progress with the whole crew.
Cha Hae Young is responsible for Studio Concrete’s operation, including business/project planning, meetings, collaborations with brands, and bringing her studio’s creative work to another world, such as, debuting the “Aerospace” movie at the MAMA stage. Just recently, she went back from a market research in Japan. “We’re planning to build ‘Hotel Concrete’, so I had to meet people from various fields and listen to their suggestions. Whether it’s a hotel, a bookstore, a fashion cultural space like Collage [a gallery in Yongsan-gu, Seoul], or an exhibition, I’m excited to plan and imagine a space where you can share your tastes and ideas,” she says. “We want to build a town like Itaewon or Hannam-dong [multicultural towns where hipsters, young artists and creatives breathe life], from Vertigo Tower [a new architectural building near the studio] across Namsan. We have a long-term plan to see if we are able to carry forward building a favorite place in that area, just like Williamsburg.” [Note: Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Since the late 1990s, Williamsburg has undergone gentrification characterized by hipster culture, a contemporary art scene, and vibrant nightlife with numerous ethnic groups inhabit the neighborhood. During early 2000s, the neighborhood became a center for indie rock and electroclash, and has been nicknamed “Little Berlin”]
From my knowledge, two years ago Cha Hae Young lived a completely different life. This work, which began from 10 years of friendship with Yoo Ah In, changed her. Since she worked in the marketing field, “I lived in a world where my wealth depended on how much I sold and how much I did things. So, I finally resolved how I want to live and relocated my life priorities,” she says. “At first, we thought about what we would show, but now we are thinking about what we are pursuing. It’s a great pleasure to do things that could affect others. It makes me feel honorable.” She says she likes this life because now she thinks about daily things she didn’t care about when she was still in the commercial business.
“During the first six months, I had to listen to the unfamiliar story of arts and study a lot, got distracted by the sense of heterogeneity [the characteristic of Studio Concrete’s artists], and I cried a lot because the weight of Studio Concrete’s ‘representative’ was so heavy. It is really hard to earn money while maintaining the essence and authenticity/sincerity of this job. It’s a self-struggle, but it doesn’t matter. ‘I hope I can change Korea a bit, I hope I can change Seoul a bit’ -because of this wish, I don’t feel frustrated. We’re okay, I’m well paid, I have some money on my bank account, everything is good. There’s still a lot of worries, though (laugh).”
By resolving the issues one by one, Cha Hae Young created a business model as the object of “creation”, as important as the list of artists and their works. Their unique success will be a pretty significant role model for other young creators, and one day there will be another ‘Studio Concrete’. At the same time, this will be a great opportunity to differentiate itself from the many large and small galleries of the art world and to expand it to a completely different territory. “Though I have to look at this business as a business, but I hope this can bring inspiration to others. We want to be a platform where we can give unending suggestion to the question, ‘where’s the fun place in Seoul?'”, she says. I’m convinced that Chae Hae Young, who says Studio Concrete changed herself, is changing Studio Concrete.
HWANG BYUNG KI
One day Yoo Ah In sent me a text message out of nowhere, “Please be sure to meet teacher Hwang Byung Ki!” And he sent the ‘Migung’ performance video that I have liked since I was 17 years old. If you search for the name Hwang Byung Ki, you will find descriptions: a gayageum musician, a national musician, and a gayageum master. But the best word to describe him is a musician or an artist. The teacher who always said, “If it stuck in the old days without newness [if there’s no new things and only the old-fashion stereotypes], it is more of an antic than a tradition”, he used the traditional instrument of gayageum for a lifetime and re-composed his music into modern piece with the avant-garde composer Jin Eun Sook.
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