Starting tomorrow and running for the next month, I’ll be showing work in the gallery of the Seoul Design Foundation, with my RCA colleague Alan Ambrose and Korean designers Jaemyung Lee and Hyobin Jung, as part of an exhibition of proposed interventions in Dongdaemun Market.  The project that we’re exhibiting is a prototype of a modern-day update of the Shinmungo, a huge drum invented by King Taejong in 1401.  Rock out to some samul nori to set the mood:


Taejong did all the usual asshole king stuff (like murdering his brothers), and was generally enough of a dick that even his own dad eventually tried to kill him.  As power-hungry maniacs go, however, he had quite a populist streak, and he kept a massive “Drum of Justice” (Shinmungo) outside his court that commoners could bang on if they wanted to get his attention to complain about something.  Today, the need for direct communication channels from the public to authorities is more urgent than ever before: modern societies are way bigger and more complex than Taejong’s Korea, and modern governments exert way more control over their citizens than any medieval monarch could have dreamed of.  Obviously that problem demands a much more serious solution than a big drum that amplifies citizen complaints, but I’ll be happy if we can just get SDF visitors to think about that instead of what’s usually on display.  (That’s a stationery holder, by the way.)

If you happen to be in Seoul tomorrow (Friday) night, come by the opening: it’s 6-9PM here.  The SDF people don’t know it yet, but I’m bringing makgeolli for everyone.