Technical Immersion Essay by Martyn Thompson

We embrace new technologies such as hand phones, digital cameras, PMP’s flash drives, with little thought of the effect these have society. On a bus journey, children play hand-held games, teenagers continuously text message each other, moms watch their DMB phones to keep up to date with the latest soap operas and one ajuma after another screams at the recipient at the other end of their phone conversation. Joining us and keeping us connected are the major conveniences of these technologies, but what negative implications can they have on the social functions of humans? Countless times I have been in a bar and seen friends not speak for twenty minutes at a time because they are engrossed in their phone. In restaurants, or coffee shops I’ve seen children playing computer games at the table. The fact that the parents let their children behave in this way is likely to cause problems with their child’s development both on a social and psychological level. At present behavioral disorders, learning difficulties and the socially inept are hardly recognized in Korea, so there is very little to do to help them. Pointing out the fact that technology can be isolating or causing these will never go down well to whatever parent or guardian you suggest this to. As Korea is changing fast, and beginning to embrace new ideas, maybe there will be some positive change and admittance of the underlying problems and their causes. With the advances being made in technology, we can learn from each other and share new found wisdom in ways that we have never been able to imagine previously.

Everything changes at a fast pace, and no country seems to change faster in my eyes than Korea.  This opinion is formed due to witnessing the evolvements made inside the country in the last four years. Each day shops disappear, some completely,but others re-appear in new locations almost instantaneously. Apartment complexes grow out of the ground faster than the few flowers and trees still left around them. Roads and railway tracks are laid faster than the speed the train will move. Everything happens at such incredible speed that the environments we live in evolve more and more rapidly to accommodate human necessities. Documenting these changes in our environment is hardly a new idea. Artists have painted landscapes for centuries, photographers too.

In order to capture and store natural beauty, one has to realize the implications that technology has had on the capacity to do so. Centuries prior to where we are now, a canvas could hold a picture, by the 19th Century photographic paper could hold a print, and by the end of the same century several pictures could be stored on a photographic film. These days, we have memory cards and flash drives that can hold thousands of photos.

A photograph creates a snapshot of a place, a space or an object, similar to the way a post-it not acts as a reference to remind you to do something. A photo album is a collection of snapshots, which, link together to show a period of time. Within my work, I use photo collage to express a sense of time and place.

 I take great inspiration from modern technological advancements such as virtual reality and advances made in computer software packages, and blend them with more traditional forms of photography to create my work. Numerous artists have attempted to create virtual environments including Jenny Holzer in particular her piece World II.

Ideas for collaging the photographs to form these immersive environments initially came from an in depth study of David Hockney and his photo collage work. During this time I was focused primarily on producing video based upon the notion of passing through space. I read a lot of books about virtual reality, 3D design and attempted to recreate this in the form of a video collage. (

After my move to Korea in 2007 to further my studies on Korean artist Baek Nam June (백남준), once again I found myself in a new environment from which to draw inspiration for my works. I ditched the video camera and bought an expensive digital SLR that I didn’t know how to use in order to feel part of the crowd. 😉

My current works are complex collages of up to 200 photos describing an environment. The works rely on communicating with the viewer to illustrate the scene. Details can be noticed and narratives detected as the viewer opens up more of their senses. Engaging the viewer in the environment has always been a key factor during the construction of the images.

Subtle differences in time become apparent as a person crosses through two frames of within the picture or when the sun goes behind a cloud to cast different shadows to other sections.

Senses, other than visual, are engaged to allow the viewer to feel the touch of cold rock, smell the fresh cool breeze or here the rippling of the water. Each photo adding detail to the next, similar to how authors construct the environments within which their characters belong.

The aim of the work is to create an immersion of the senses, inside the environment.


Martyn Thompson: Website
Martyn has an exhibition opening today in Seoul. The opening party is this Saturday at 5pm.

One Response to “Technical Immersion Essay by Martyn Thompson”
  1. Mark says:

    Creative and excellent work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: