Gradient Borders

Photo: Andy King

Rooted in the principles of Confucianism, Korean people have always placed high value on order and clearly differentiated levels of authority. Taekwondo belts are ranked using various colors, common in many oriental martial arts. This system is an example of modern day hierarchy based on productivity and efficiency.

Laziness in Korean culture is a taboo, and a lot of emphasis is placed on hard work. This Korean traditional value merged with capitalism, resulting in subjects becoming ever more efficient at commanding and exploiting themselves. Even in martial arts, there is a tendency to emphasise the process of self-motivated training rather than winning in a physical competition. Therefore, the visually hierarchized belts work as an effective tool to stimulate the subjects’ need for achievement.

When the skipping rope is in use, the rank belts begin to turn and the boundaries of the separated colors become blurry. Multiple participants are required—one to turn the wheel, so that the others can skip over it. The strictness and unyieldingness of the hierarchical system is replaced by amusement. This act of playful rebellion temporarily overshadows the pervasive nature of self-exploitation.

Year of Publishment
Production: Lagoon Parliament
Chen Hsiang Fu
Constantin Engelmann
Gosia Lehmann
This work was published with the support of “2022 ARKO Art & Tech”