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Minouk Lim, The Weight of Hands, 2010. Photo by Brian Slater.

The Weight of Hands (2010)

In Minouk Lim's previous video works, New Town Ghost and S.O.S., she compares 'before and after' images of specific sites within the development-crazed city of Seoul. She invents indirect strategies and symbols to discuss these fundamental and often sensitive issues - the first using movement (that of a flatbed truck moving throughout the city), the second light (that of a cruise ship spotlight on a river bank). While video is her main format, her work is heavily performance-based, constructing poetic yet contentious scenarios that hijack the city. In this new piece, the artist relies on temperature as a strategy.

In a combination of live art documentation, performance work and road trip movie, the video tracks the journey of a strange tourist group in a place of 'restricted access'. The project started as an attempt to use an infrared camera that picks up heat to penetrate the private, restricted sites of new developments that are carried out for public purposes. This heat-sensitive camera is usually used for surveillance or police operations: in this way, the video hijacks the instruments of surveillance.

In the video's narrative, a tour bus arrives at a development which the public cannot enter. The tour bus is denied access. In response, a woman starts a performance inside the bus as a gesture of resistance. Climbing up on the seats and singing, these special tourists hold their hands up towards the woman to elevate her. Here and throughout the film, hands are shown by infrared as tangible and tactile heat: while often deployed to block the camera lens by authorities who do not wish to be filmed, hands also become a metaphor for resistance, empowerment and recollection. As the woman's body flows around the bus, the places of 'restricted access' outside the window - construction sites and ghost apartments - are also sensed by heat. The result is a video that plays extensively with light and colour.

Set against the backdrop of a tourism-led development project in Korea - the Four Major Rivers Project, to which public authorities violently restrict access by groups and individuals opposed to it - the video is critical as well as experimental.