Title: Play, Art, and Imagination
Author: Chin Jung-Kwon
LTI Korea staff: Claire Kyung Jin (email@example.com / +82-2-6919-7732)
About the book
Forward – Revolution of the Imagination
Chapter 1. Red / Coincidence Verses Inevitability
The Die is Cast – Dice
Alice on a Chessboard - Chess
Joker Steps out of the Playing Card - Jester
Chapter 2. Orange / Light and Shadow
Self-portrait of Nature – Camera Obscura
Drawing with Light – Laterna Magica
Panorama of Silhouettes – Shadow Play
Chapter 3. Yellow / Hide and Seek
Truth in Distortion – Anamorphosis
Face Hidden in the Landscape – Anthropomorphic Landscape
The World Stands on its Head – Handstand
Chapter 4. Green / Enigma
Broken Pearl Necklace – Anagram
Time Becoming the Space – Acrostic
Letters Becoming a Painting – Reverse
Chapter 5. Blue / The Asthetics of Disappearance
The Rose of Sharon Has Bloomed – Pyknolepsy
How to Make the World Disappear - Magic
Chapter 6. Navy Blue / From Moment to Eternity
Fleeting like a Kiss – Fireworks
Gypsy’s Crystal Ball – Kaleidoscope
A Path Dividing in Two Directions with No End – A Maze
Chapter 7. Purple / Daedalus’s Dream
Fold, Unfold, and Refold – Origami
Dream of a Doll – Automata
Cosmos in Chaos – Orderliness
Puer Aeternus, or Eternal Boy
2. A Brief Synopsis
In Play, Art, and Imagination, Chin Jung-kwon, a theorist of aesthetics with a good sense of humor, probes into the world of play and art under the theme of “Revolution of the Imagination.” He introduces 20 forms of play featured in a variety of artworks and examines the source of such creations, that is, imagination. Detailing the origin and development of Western play, art, and cultural phenomena which includes dice, chess, shadow play, kaleidoscope, anagram, magic, fireworks, maze, and origami, the book allows readers to explore the nature of imagination and how it can flourish with technological advancement.
This book categorizes 20 forms of plays into seven themes such as “Coincidence Verses Inevitability,” “Hide and Seek,” and “Riddles” and investigates aesthetic significance of each form. Some examples include: the acrostic, a type of writing a poem in which words or phrases can be read both horizontally and vertically; the anagram, a type of word play that rearranges the letters of a word or phrase to create a new word or phrase; the anamorphsis, which presents the truth in distortion; dice; chess; and card games. The book itself is virtually a tool for play. Readers can enjoy a tour of more than 300 paintings displayed in the book and find the hidden history of each work as if solving crossword puzzles.
Today’s revival and triumph of fantasy in novels, movies, and online content are deeply related to the changing media environment where its focus is shifting from letters to images. This phenomenon also shows that the new generation is already used to thinking in images, not in words. With regard to such a transition, the author argues that imagination, which makes such thinking possible, is driven by technologies in mechanical, information, and genetic engineering. Moreover, these technologies are what he believes break down the physical barriers between fantasy and reality. The paradigm of “knowledge is power” is gone, and “imagination” has become a new source of productivity for the future generation. While following this book, readers can discover what “imagination” means through all five senses.
On the whole, this book puts forth imagination as a means to explore the world of aesthetics and delves into it through the lens of play. Chin Jung-kwon offers interesting insights on how the “imagination revolution” has spawned a new way of thinking and describes its seven characteristics: nonlinearity, circularity, fragmentation, ambiguity, kinesthesia, hieroglyphics, and monadism. These seven characteristics are visibly portrayed in both the form and content of the book. In other words, instead of expressing everything through text, the book reveals meaning through image. This format actually fits well with the recent cultural changes in which the main medium of communication has switched from logical letters into sensory images. In short, the book itself is a reflection of the current cultural landscape where people have stopped pursuing the only “truth” and are instead taking an active interest in “fun” and “play.”
About the author
Chin Jung-kwon is a prominent South Korean cultural critic. He received abachelor’s and master’s degree in Aesthetics from Seoul National University and studiedstructural linguistics in Germany. He is now a professor at Dongyang University.
His trilogy, Odyssey of Aesthetics, has been listed on various recommendedreading lists over the past 20 years and is now regarded as a steady seller and a classicamong modern Korean readers. Though he is referred to by many titles—a cultural critic,a commentator, a leading intellectual who makes biting commentary on the absurdity ofsociety—he identifies himself as an aesthetician whose “ultimate goal in life is to write agood book on aesthetics.” Since 2008, he has been active in teaching, research, andwriting with Techno-Aesthetic Society, under the mission of “redefining Humanities, theold media, in the new media age of image and sound.”
His major publications include the Image Humanities Vol. 1-2, the Odyssey ofAesthetics Vol. 1-3, Play, Art and Imagination, Homo Coreanicus, Icon, and AestheticEssays. He co-authored Did You Think about It?, the Cross Vol. 1-2, Democracy, Again,and Rebirth of Progress. He also translated The Blue and Brown Books by LudwigWittgenstein and The Birth of the Network Aesthetics by Hiroshi Kawano.
About the translators
Mi-rae Yang is a professional translator with a master’s degree in English/Korean Translation from Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Media Response/Awards Received
This brilliant book provides a persuasive explanation of the relationship between play andart through a variety of examples … The artworks displayed in the book represent a genreof art that has been overlooked in the modern era. Today, they are enjoying a revival inwhich their value is being rediscovered through the lens of postmodernism.
For Chin Jung-kwon, who declared himself a full-time writer, writing is not just the fruitof sleepless, agonizing nights but just good fun. This book is the epitome of good fun.
-<DongA Ilbo Newpaper>
The book ranked fourth in the Humanities category of the South Korean bestseller list in July 2005 and tenth in January 2006.