Bolim Jeon

Digital artist Bolim Jeon approaches social rituals from curious new angles, asking if we lose ourselves in the monotony of working life.

Sarah L. Roberts  |  Ed. Peter Traynor  | 27 November 2021

Woman in Digital Art: Bolim Jeon - The Sublime - Agora Digital Art

Bolim Jeon is a multidisciplinary artist and communication designer based in London. Jeon recently graduated with an MA in Information Experience Design from the RCA. Employing both New Media and traditional materials, she designs physical and digital artefacts around the theme of mass communication and the social power dynamics embedded in contemporary lives and work. After graduating from Ewha Women’s University in Seoul with a BA in Television and Film and a BBA in Business Administration, Bolim worked within corporate communications. She uses Digital Art to reflect these personal experiences of the business world in her creative work by engaging with the routine and social aspects of professional life. Blending moving images, writing and installation, Bolim explores ongoing social dilemmas such as mental health, suicide and workplace ethics. She invites her audience to contemplate the liminal spaces between our intimate selves and social personas.

Current Event

1 November 2021 – 31 March 2022: The Sublime 3.0 Fear and Awe at TheWrong Biennale 

Bolim Jean, excerpt In the Belly of a Whale – Korean version 8:27 min. (2020) © Courtesy of the artist.

What’s new?

Commute Chronicle (2020-1) is an ongoing social research project that explores the ever-transforming relationship between ourselves and the daily commutes we make. Bolim expresses the ‘automatic’ experiences of moving between private and social space. The commute is on the edge of these, neither intimate nor public. As travellers, we often approach these daily journeys on autopilot, disconnected from our surroundings. 

Bolim explores these themes with Digital Art and physical installations, using moving images, animation, photography and text to document each person’s psychological reaction to their commute. Contemplating the alienation, loneliness and anxiety we experience, she reawakens us to the surroundings on our daily journeys. Jeon investigates how we relate to the commute in the flux and uncertainty of Covid-19, asking what it may look like in years to come. 

Did you know?

Bolim is a co-founder of the not-for-profit publication Opening, created in 2020 to highlight the work of South Korean artists working within the UK contemporary arts industry. Bolim and her colleagues of artist collective TEAM DOMO wished to combat the difficulties of the pandemic on artists’ livelihoods by providing a platform for support. The magazine conveys a unique insight into each artist’s work by asking them to personally discuss the concepts of artistry, space and tools.

Featured Projects

In the Belly of a Whale (2021)

Bolim Jeon, In the Belly of a Whale (2021), Digital Animation, 8:27 minutes. © Bolim Jeon. Courtesy of the Artist.
Sound design by Shangyun Wu. (@shangyunwulab)

Bolim weaves personal testimony and memories collected from interviews with other professionals into her video piece In the Belly of a Whale 360 (2020forms part of her social experiment series on commuting. (see above) The piece aims to reconnect us with our sense of individuality, exploring the backdrops to our workplace journeys that often go unnoticed. The video wishes to reawaken viewers to the spaces of our commute, portraying alternative possibilities within them.  

Bolim uses New Media to explore the emotions of the daily commute, reflecting “quietness, indifference, daydreams, endurance and idleness”. The 3D animation takes the shape of a train carriage, filled with fleshy avatars, whose edges are slightly fuzzy, faceless and expressionless. These bodies may represent those we encounter on our daily commutes, distanced from ourselves and inaccessible. 

Within accompanying text responses such as “Commute, Work and Me” the artist meditates on the psychological sensations encountered on the commute and the mental health struggles that impact the business community of Seoul. Bolim describes our ‘enmeshment’, losing the boundaries of our intimate selves and our social personas that we adopt as we move between our homes and places of work. The bodies dissolve, into text becoming almost illegible diary entries in thick grey font, recounting individual narratives of commuters. 

Bolim Jeon, In the Belly of a Whale (2021), Digital Animation, 8:27 minutes. © Bolim Jeon. Courtesy of the Artist.
Sound design by Shangyun Wu. (@shangyunwulab)

In the digital space, Bolim renders two worlds visible. Firstly, the outward, socially regulated version of human lives and secondly the interior monologue, ruminating on each interior reaction to the space. In Bolim’s work, the misshapen animated bodies who sit alongside each other are on parallel journeys but never intersect. They remind us of our own tendencies to become numb, concerned with only the personal and out of tune with our surroundings. The deep immersion and loss are conveyed through crackling sounds and the rush of the carriages, provoking the feeling of entering the hollow subway tubes as they echo around us. These fade into visceral pulsating music, as if pulling us deeper into the carriage, bereft of identity, unmarked by location or specificity.

Bolim Jeon, Toilet Project (2020), 3D animation. © Bolim Jeon. Courtesy of the Artist.

Toilet Project (2020)

Bolim weaves analogue and digital techniques together into a witty, provocative piece that questions the prevalence of surveillance technology, disrupting even the most intimate facets of our everyday lives. Placing cameras in any bathroom is illegal, making the social space of the public bathroom one of the rare places of solace from the pervasiveness of surveillance technology. Yet, Bolim protests: over 6,000 cases of spy cameras have been reported in South Korea. Bolim creates animated spaces, often using the appearance of police tape, with rolled-up messages and distorted images of female flesh. She asks her viewer, “who owns our images?”, treading the narrow and precarious boundary between privacy and scrutiny in public bathrooms.

Bolim has made a series of digital assets, including animated toilet rolls that display images of feminine bodies, marking out the gendered dimension of voyeurism. Using physical installation and animation, the women’s body receives disproportionate scrutiny subject to distortion and abuse through constant media exposure, cosmetic surgeries and Instagram culture. By placing blurred images of women’s bodies on digital rolls of toilet paper, the artist is also perhaps gesturing to the devaluation and throw-away treatment of feminine forms.

Bolim Jeon, In the Toilet (2020), Digital photography. © Bolim Jeon/Eunbee Chang. Courtesy of the Artist.

Using photography, Bolim highlights the cruel irony that women choose to hide themselves, seeking protection by covering their faces or bodies. Meanwhile, women are left exposed by society with its lack of legal intervention or punishment. The piece In the Toilet, a collaboration with photographer Eunbee Chang, gazes at a woman desperately trying to protect herself through a peephole camera. Her face is already pixelated as the viewer looks on through the tiny fish-eye; showing the inevitable distortion and abuse of women’s bodies for the gaze of the “peeping tom”. 

Elaborated Story from Jeon Bolim on Vimeo.

Bolim Jeon, Elaborated Story (2020), Moving Image, 2 minutes. © Bolim Jeon. Courtesy of the Artist

Elaborated Story (2020)

Elaborated Story is a project produced for the Royal College of Arts partnership with the British Library, “The Other Voice”. This collaboration invites artists to engage with the library’s Oral History collection, reinterpreting stories. Using New Media techniques, she reworks Bob Whitaker’s oral history of his youth as an employee of the Bristol River Avon board. Bolim conjures an imaginative response to his narrative, using digital techniques to code his voice into a painted composition. The natural rhythm of Bob’s account is made into an algorithm that guides Bolim’s paintbrush.  

Bolim is inspired by the Korean contemporary painting style Dansaekhwa, a name given to monochrome paintings produced by manipulating paint, pushing into or soaking the canvas, even ripping surfaces. Using this material process, Bolim connects her own physical labour to the routines of Bob: conducting errands each day. These day-to-day tasks, running back and forth producing maps, are converted into the heavy flowing line that mimics the fluid motion of running water. Bolim reflects the “sublime of everyday life” using an ambitious scale; the 3m long painting is thick, twisting and black, taking on the appearance of the river itself.  

Bolim invites users to touch the work, conjure up a story and contemplate the hidden processes that produce the river’s continuous flow. This painting is ‘conductive’; playing audio as viewers reach out and touch. This staccato, pounding rhythm emerges as the viewer traces their finger along the river line. The haunting piano soundtrack is created by digitally converting the natural rises and falls of Bob’s voice to a musical composition. The soundtrack of heavy repeating riffs reminds us of the consistency of the labour that keeps our water flowing. Bolim magnifies the procedures we take for granted, making them into a bold line that continuously sustains, like water that flows through pipes. 

Key achievements

Jeon recently graduated with an MA in Information Experience Design from the Royal College of Art, London. Bolim’s work has been displayed in contemporary galleries in London and other European cities. Her work “In the Toilet” was longlisted for the 2020 London International Creative Competition. Bolim also completed a BA in Television and Film and a BBA in Business Administration at the Women’s University Korea, where she received multiple scholarships for academic excellence. Before pursuing a career in Digital Art, Bolim’s digital marketing expertise was employed on successful campaigns globally, increasing sales and SEO for clients.

Group shows

2021, The Sublime 3.0: Fear and Awe, Agora Digital Art x thewrong biennale nr5, London, UK

2021, Self-Skinning Poly, Hundred Years Gallery, London, UK.

2021, Beep Beep “The end of the World”, RCA Menier Gallery, London, UK

2021, Dead Social, Godo Gallery, Vilnius, Lithuania.

2020, Nobudam VI ‘Home’, Online.

2020, Official Selection Showcase, London International Creative Competition, London, UK.

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