A Serenade For The River
2016, installation for the Taehwa River Eco Arts Festival, Ulsan South Korea. Hyundai truck, homemade batteries, automotive sound system, Motown playlist by Dave Wheeler, (Dufftown UK)
The city of Ulsan, South Korea is home to the Taehwa river as well as the main production facility for Hyundai motors; the biggest factory in the world. At one point the relationship between the two was less than symbiotic; decades of industrial waste were released directly into the "river of death" as it was then known. Recent remediation efforts have turned the tide however, and the Taehwa river of today is considerably less polluted.
A Serenade For The River situates a Hyundai utility truck on a verdant riverbank. Forty eight improvised batteries sit in the back, and use Taehwa river water in place of battery acid. The current generated powers the truck stereo, which cycles through a Motown playlist by collaborator Dave Wheeler. Songs of regret, distress, loss, injury, remorse are broadcast to the river from the truck. The gesture is intended to acknowledge the fraught relationship between industry and its physical environment, and situate it within a wider context of a global manufacturing base which has shifted its locus from Detroit to cities like Ulsan.
Grateful acknowledgements to TEAF, Sunhoan Hong, Hyernsup Kim, Dave Wheeler, Jinny Yu, Andrew Wright, and the Ontario Arts Council.