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Kwon Byung-jun wins Korea Artist Prize 2023 for work with robots

By Park Yuna

Published : Feb. 12, 2024 - 14:41

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Kwon Byung-jun (MMCA) Kwon Byung-jun (MMCA)

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea has declared Kwon Byung-jun as winner of the Korea Artist Prize 2023 for presenting unique art of his own that delves into humanity and explores a world where people and robots coexist.

“Kwon Byung-jun has presented beautiful work that uses an immersive robot theater approach to raise questions about the expansive potential of human communities,” said Kim Sung-hee, director of MMCA.

Kwon is the first artist to receive the award since the museum overhauled the 11-year-old annual artist prize, strengthening the judging system and introducing a public conversation between the artists and jury members. The announcement of the winning artist was made Thursday, following a public conversation on Feb. 6.

“The jury praised Kwon’s work for its sense-stimulating approach to the post-humanistic philosophy applying a superb, synesthetic form of theater to an age-old theme in art: questions of technological developments and humanity,” the museum stated in the announcement.

Kwon selected a robot as a companion for human society for the exhibition, presenting robot-based works and performances such as “How to Stand Up,” “Ochetuji Ladderbot” and “Robot Crossing a Single Line Bridge."

Kwon was among four finalists for the award, alongside Gala Porras-Kim, Lee Kang-seung and Jun So-jung. Their works have been on display since Oct. 23 in an exhibition that will run until March 31. The annual award is jointly hosted with the SBS Foundation.

The museum strengthened the content of the Korea Artist Prize exhibition by presenting each artist’s previous works along with newly created pieces to help gallerygoers understand the finalists’ artistic practices more comprehensively.

Born in 1971, Kwon started his musical career as a singer-songwriter in the early 1990s. He later worked as a hardware engineer at STEIM in the Netherlands, an experimental electronic musical instrument research institution. Currently based in Seoul, he is active as a hardware researcher related to sound.