The online exhibition 《The Man Who Saw the Fourth Dimension》, which is organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the ROK and the Russian Federation, is now officially held with a total of nine contemporary artists from both countries on the theme of ‘time’ and ‘space.’ Michio Kaku, a worldly-renowned scholar and futurist in theoretical physics, has published a book called Hyperspace (1994), which introduces physics that deals with higher dimensions than three dimensions. As quoted from one of the sub-titles in the book, the exhibition explores ways in which the contemporary artists who have lived in different times, cultural environment, and geographical spaces understand, interpret, and imagine their world.
The keyword of the exhibition “the Fourth Dimension” refers to the space-time continuum fused with three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, indicating the world we live in. It also means another dimension of space that people living in three-dimensional space could understand and imagine conceptually. In the context of the exhibition, “the Fourth Dimension” can be described as another “world” interpreted and imagined by the artists, as well as “eyes” of such different cultures as Korea and Russia, seeing each other. The exhibition is realized through the online virtual space, in the face of the unprecedented pandemic. A space of exhibition where people come across in their own way transcending time and space can also be another ‘fourth dimension.’
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is one of the scientific discoveries that have had the greatest impact on cultural history. The theory that explains the laws of gravity fundamentally governing the universe had brought a new paradigm of understanding the world by unifying space and time into a single entity and showing that mass and energy can be converted into each other. Furthermore, mathematical proofs and possibilities for another dimension beyond which we exist were explored. People’s interest in high-dimensional space beyond three dimensions had continued from the late 19th century—and that exerted a wide range of influence to popular culture and huge involvement of mass. For instance, this not only inspired writers, such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, and Gertrude Stein but also Russian musician Alexander Scriabin. In modern art, it acted as a catalyst to conceive new trends and movements, such as early Cubist works by Pablo Picasso, and made a huge impact on artists including Marcel Duchamp.
And now, more than a hundred years later, we have prepared time to look at the contemporary era from the perspective of Korean and Russian contemporary artists. The constraints of time and space are gradually fading away by means of the internet. No matter where we are or what time zones we are in, nowadays, most of us are connected. The experience in physical existence is now transferring to digital media; virtual experience penetrates our real-life once again, constituting our whole experience. While working on the project and by sending numerous emails back and forth with the artists, I could get a glimpse of the new era that we are in.