ABSTRACT

This chapter investigates how non-visual and sensual elements of sound and odor in recent media installations in South Korea serve as a useful means through which the audience of the postmemory generation can empathize with victims’ tragic experiences during and after the Korean War. Jungju An’s Ten Single Shots (2013), Jaewook Lee’s Emphatic Audition (2017), and Jaeyoung Park’s installations L’s Studio and H’s Barber Shop (2017) all consist of gunshot sounds, voices reading letters, and odors to stimulate the viewer’s identification with war victims. To this end, the chapter refers to the art historian Jill Bennett’s notion of “affective memory.” Under the influence of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s theory of affection, “affective memories” postulate that to use sensual means for emotional engagement can be more effective in making the audience empathize with victim—compared to the communication through the means of language and visual representations. Sounds and smells can also easily penetrate the boundaries of art audiences and touch them—further opening a path toward the experiential ways of representing and sharing tragic memories in contemporary art. At the same time, this examination of recent media installation acknowledges the “unbridgeable gap,” namely the inevitable distance between the first generation of the war and generations after as Hirsch clarifies that this postmemory generation’s identification is not literal and essential. One argues that affective and empathic reactions in Ten Single Shots, Emphatic Audition, and H’s Barber Shop ensue not only the process of identifying with war victims, but also the process in which the audiences of the postmemory generation can critically examine and think through how horrific memories could be perceived, expressed and reenacted by contemporary dancers and narrators.