Media Art, Business Model and Industrial Complex : Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON 'Technology-based Creation Support Program'

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Media Art, Business Model and Industrial Complex:
Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON 'Technology-based Creation Support Program'
Kim Hee-young, Manager, Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON
Beginning of the Program
Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON was established on October, 2009 by renovating a printing factory that was located in Seoul Digital Industrial Complex (named Garibong Industrial Complex before), the very first industrial complex in Korea. In 2010, 'Technology-based Creation Support Program' was implemented since the Seoul Digital Industial Complex is symbolized as 'the Industrial area of state of the art technology.'
In Fact, in the mid-2000s when the program was implemented there was a boom in developing robots in Korea after Japan successfully created two-legged robots. Corporations and th culture and art industry show keen interest in robots. Exhibitions, after-school classes, a wide range of contests about robots were constantly held: 'The meeting of robot and art-Hi robot (2009)' and exhibition 'I Robot (2009)' to name a few.
Then, the program was suggested in order to create a technology art business model as part of 'an art robot project' to support development of robots that has emotion and entertaining features, which existing robots lack although the robot industry has grown to the top level in terms of technology and functions and is expected to become a core industry in the future that generates high-values.
And since not many artists are working in the robot industry, the program is also expected to attract artists' attention to the robot industry and help the robot industry have aesthetic features (August, 2010).1)
Meanwhile, 'Media Art' business set off as a part of efforts to create a new type of genre, 'Media Art' with complicate cultural features of Seoul in 2000 when cultural and arts events organized by Seoul -now called 'International Media Art Biennale'- took root as a form of new cultural event. Since a then Seoul mayor, Ko Goh Kun (1938~) allocated an unprecedented amount of budget to promote the cultural industry such as 'Media-City Seoul 2000' followed by 'Sangam Digital Media City (DMC)', Seoul has dedicated itself to laying foundation of the digital industry in Seoul. Following these steps, when the mayor Oh-Sehoon was in office, specialization of Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON was suggested as one way to develop business models of media art, one of nine spaces of 'Seoul Art Space' projects launced under a master plan of Creative and Cultural City. And in this process basic research on media art business model development started to be conducted on August, 2010.2)
When 'the specialization of Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON' was suggested, Seoul Digital Industrial Complex was turning into the industry of state of the art technology. As a part of government's efforts to achieve export-oriented economic growth, a plan to sharpen its industrial edge in Guro industrial complex in 1996 was made and the industrial complex successfully turned itself into IT Center from the one concerntrated with fabrics and sewing factories and changed its name as 'Seoul Digial Industrial Complex'. And it has become a business friendly industrial complex focusing on a host of startups in IT and software business, fashion design business precision machine and advanced manufacturing industry and built needed facilities and a supporting system. 3)
Program Strategy
'The specialization of Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON' program will provide funding to develop creative ideas based on technology and its exhibitions and related businesses and promote the complex as a place where technology of over ten thousand companies in the complex and artists of media art can be combined. This differentiates the complex from other residency studios which only focus on creativity of artists.
'Technology-based creation support program which promote technology-based creative ideas organized by Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON was able to be created through experience from '2008 operating program development and testing of culture contents production center' that was
aggressively launched in Asia culture-oriented city.
This program was designed by collaboration between artists and producers unlike typical media art creation support programs that provides financial support. It chose not only advanced technology-based or high level of aesthetic ideas but also pure and simple ideas that break conventional wisdom. These two features are the strong points of the business. As the cost of Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON business went beyond the original budget, it took advice from a group of experts.
2010 Program
The program consisted of four pillars: contests, research, exhibitions and promotions. The tittle of the contest was 'Open Call for De Vinci Idea' as the contest intended to develop creative ideas like De Vinci who was an artist, a scientist during the Renaissance. The name should be easy to remember and help people to understand the main purpose of the contest.4)
○ Date: April to December of 2010

  Figure 1) Outline of 2010 Technology-based Creation Support Program
Features of this business that differentiate itself from typical media art support program can be stated as following: First, technology based ideas were selected by an open contest. Second, program feasibility will be proved through exhibitions of developed works and promotion meeting.
- 'Basic Study on Media Art Business Model Development will be led by Park Shin-yui (a leader of research) in order to commercialize creative ideas of Media Art and apply them in the industry. and the research team will also introduce a policy to lay foundation for development of media art business model.5)
- A promotion meeting between companies in Seoul Digital Industrial Complex and creators will serve as an opportunity to create relationship between technicians and business people and prove its business feasibility.
- In the first contest, need of support for technology and resources in companies in Seoul Digital Industrial Complex where over ten thousand business are closely located was emphasized.
- There was an attempt to start business based on one of eleven developed works selected in 2010 Open Call for Da vinch Idea that were considered to be feasibile.
- It lengthens the duration of support for creation of contest winners and testing ideas by giving three teams among eleven winners in the contest opportunities to open their office in Seoul Art Space GEUCHEON in 2010.
- It adopted the system to return its profits back to the local community by attracting students from western and southern part of the town to the exhibitions through agreement between South education office and Geumcheon-gu office.
Figure 2) Outline of Open Call for Da Vinci Idea
First Open Call for Da Vinci Idea was held after business plan was crafted in August, 2010, given days for the entire process from development to exhibition were too short a period and also the contest were not well known, too little number of applicants showed their interest in the contest. It was unique that non experts like kindergarten teachers, fashion design experts besides artists entered the contest.
○ Tittle: The Return of Techné
○ Date: Dec. 9th, 2010 to Dec. 22nd. (14days)
○ Exhibition of Selected Artists
Figure 3) New Media & Technology Art Exhibition
Outcomes and problems of the 2010 program
The attempt itself to encourage non-experts to enter the contest was meaningful. However, they failed to materialized their ideas presented on their application forms due to their poor skills and such a short period. Given that, some solutions can be suggested. First, the system to support technology for ideas from a long-term perspective can be established. Second, Ideas themselves should be worth being highly praised regardless of whether creative works can be developed based on them and Idea exhibition section can be set up.
When it comes to the first solution, although collaboration directly with Korea industrial complex corporations or with groups that have media technology can be pursued instead of laying infrastructures in Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON, from a perspective of an expert myself who have watched a whole procedures of creating technology based works over the last ten years since Korea first held media art exhibitions in the late 1990s, developer's knowledge about technology and established network should be mandatory to enter the contest. In other words, although many creative developers may expect support from an organizer such as experts, collaboration with institutes that can serve technology and technology consulting to solve technical problems in the process of developing media art works, developers themselves should have technical skills to materialize their ideas and their own connections to solve technical difficulty to be eligible for the contest.
In addition, questions about contest winners' ability to complete their work in terms of technology and do business were also raised considering that support from the organizer require the winners to work in the residency studio. On top of that, as the winners' work were selected to be commercialized, it failed to have aesthetic features like other media art exhibitions.-this problem was dealt as 2011 Da Vinci Creative Idea Contest mandated expertise.
2011 Program
Program Strategy
2011 program started after issues raised from 2010 business were addressed and some changes were made. First, business feasibility and possibility of materializing ideas were main factors when it comes to selecting winners in the contest.
Second, taking into consideration limited financial support for production and limited time frame for production, outstanding ideas that have already been in the process of developing and producing were also included in the contest.
Third, selected developers or teams in the contest were encouraged to have cooperation collabolation with the industry.
Fourth, one of eleven ideas presented in 2010 contest was used in pilot program to test its business feasibility, which fit the original purpose of 'media art business model development'.
Fifth, A variety of forums and symposiums were held with experts in different sectors under the tittle 'Harmony of Art and Industry'. In those events artists and experts will discuss a win-win strategy to improve a living environment and meet the demand of works in Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON nearby Seoul Digital Industrial Complex for more cultural activities.
2011 Technology-based Creation support program
2011 program includes forums and symposium and pilot program of developed works who were selected in the finally selected 11 works as well as a contest, exhibition and promotion meeting.
While in 2010, research helped set directions for 'the culture industry' of Seoul Art Space-Gemcheon, in 2011 a variety of events such as forums and international symposium were held under the tittle 'A convergence of Arts and Industry', improving intellectual aspect of the 2011 program.
Figure 4) Outline of 2011 Technology-based Creation Support Program
Commercialization of Developed works in 2010
The first experimental trial to develop media art business models in an artist creative studio faced difficulties and 2010 business and commercialization in 2011 did not go smoothly as planed. Those difficulties have become tangible in the end of 2010 business. In 2010 Open Call selected works were all supposed to be commercialized but a only limited sector like vision art among media artists was actually commercialized.
Most developers of media art in Korea were experts in vision art such as pure art or media and involved in discussing aesthetic and intellectual creative activities and experienced distribution through exhibitions.6)
In the end of 2010 business, business organizers and eleven idea developers or teams started to question what business item should pursue, who can be customers, How large Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON expect its business to grow, how much business will cost, what profits its business will turn and so on. Meanwhile, very limited support was provided to only a few developers when the Creative Idea Contest required development of business models.
○ Date: June to October, 2011
○ Program plan
Figure 5) 2010 commercialization of developed works
One opinion was suggested that three nominated works can be altered into a form to be commercialized and those altered works will be presented to companies and companies themselves can test its business feasibility instead of allocating limited budget to nominated works and launching pilot program to test their business feasibility.7)
In order for selected works to be commercialized, they should pass tests for their marketability and price competitiveness and business feasibility and others by companies. Given that, there should be needed support to enhance possibility for selected works to pass tests this year.8) Direction to commercialize selected works will be set so that tangible outcomes can produce in the second year since a new cultural policy of Seoul titled development of business models with art works.
Expert consultants9) from Academy and Industry cooperation foundation of Seoul Univ analyzed business feasibility and improving possibility of commercialization of three nominated works.
Business strategy to commercialize nominated works, their design and economic competitiveness were discussed in consultation and 'Record of the Capsule' created by Kim Dongjo were chosen through the consultation.10) The sculpture forms like spores of dandelions. Each part of the sculpture is connected and respond to each other. For example, when you press the head of spores, you can record the sound and when you push it slightly, the recorded sound start to play and light will be released from there.
The strong point of the sculpture is that you can record your message and send it many people randomly. However, its design was altered for an easy installation and It was pointed out that there is a need for a change in the unique function which allows you to record your voice and play it as customers will have difficulty understanding the function. After some altering jobs, 'Record of the Capsule' will be presented to related companies at 'Random Access Black Box' of the second Da Vinci Idea Exhibition on Nov. 3rd, 2011 to test its business feasibility.
Application rates of would-be artists, experts(including professors in related major), engineers and students in this field have increased and quality of works like their size and a level of technology also improved.
While 2010 Open Call for Da Vinci Idea served as an experimental areas of a wide range of works from basic skills to state of the art technology, this year 2011 Open Call for Da Vinci Idea is characterized by interactive media. An increasingly great number of installation arts focused on interaction between technology and users, works and audiences, media space and body. In the contest audiences had more chance to experience visual, auditory or multi-sense stimulations.11)
Most works applied this year 'Interactive Media' was a key topic this year compared to the 2010
contest where many applied works were robot sculptures, machines.
  Figure 6) Selected works of 2011 Open Call for Da Vinci Idea
Issues and Outlook of the Program after 2011
First, an issue about disclosing a list of beneficiaries eligible for support. The number of experts or
expert groups selected in the contest dropped as only those who have skills and are capable of materializing their ideas are entitled to enter the contest, learning lesson from failure of materializing ideas selected in 2010 Open Call. On the other hand, the contest will be constantly open to ideas of non experts as originally planed. The contest will be divided into two sections: Ideas and Productions. Towering ideas of the second section can receive awards.
Second, an issue about business areas. Innovation of Technology-based Creation Support Program will go beyond exhibition and promotion support like typical media art support system and will also support commercialization of the selected ideas. On the first step, selecting ideas. On the second step, providing production cost to help materialize ideas. On the third step, giving opportunities for developers to present their prototypes. On the Fourth step, supporting the second development by improving design and functions. On the fifth step, Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON also help increase chance for selected works to meet proper companies by opening another exhibition after some alteration so that the works could be produced into the market. However, commercialization and distribution jobs will be left to developers, enterprises and distributors.
In 2012, Korea Industrial Complex corporations may well receive production cost through a supporting program for small-sized companies at the second developed and creation steps by improving prototypes.
1) Such change of course was a result of time-consuming discussion. Discussion took almost ten months until 'Technology-based Creation Support Program' received a final approval starting from an opening ceremony on Oct., 2009 when 'Robot Performance' created by 'Art Robot', a strategy team in the complex and 'Propaganda', created by an artist in residency of Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON, Yi Ki-Il, which looks like a robot who appeared in animation in the 1980s.
2) 'Basic Study on media business model development' led by Park Shin-Yui, organized by Seoul Culture Foundation in 2010.
3) Business Plan for Systemical Advance of Seoul Digital Industrial Complex' by Hong Jingi, with Industry Research Institute in 2008; 'Analysis on Seoul Digital Industrial Complex and Research on its improve ment' by Kim Heejung and Shim Jaehyun, in 2009 Fall Academy Contest of Korean City Plan Association(see p.142.).
4) This title was suggested by Choi Taeyoung, a manager with Hyundai AutoEverSystems Embedded SW Center and a advisor for 'Technology-based Creation Support Program' at its early stage.
5) 'Basic Study on Media Art Business Model Development' led by Park Shin-Yui from Seoul Culture Foundation in 2010. (see p.5.).
6) 'Basic Study on Media Art Business Model Development' led by Park Shin-Yui from Seoul Culture Foundation in 2010. (see p.121.).
7) Testing and Meeting with advisors about the 2011 commercialization of technology-based creation support program organized by Secoul Art Space GEUMCHEON on June 28th, 2011.
8) Assessment to select excellent from '2010 Open Call for Da Vinci Idea' for commercialization of the selected works and final review by leading judge Choi Tae young.
9) Consulting service related to the commercialization of 'Da Vinci Idea' organized by Seoul Art Space-Guemcheon, directed by a machinery and aeronautical engineering professor, Bang Hyun woo from Industry and Academy Cooperation Foundation of Seoul National Univ. in July, 2011.
10) According to final review by consulting, 'Record of the Capsule' was said to be feasible for business for outdoor exhibition and events when it is made easier to install. 'Frog Xylophone' was said to highly cost and didn't satisfy costumers' urge for constant experience. 'Dusty Radio' was said not to be feasible for business because exiting parts of radio needed to have an unique design, not requiring manufacturers to reassemble existing radios.
11) Exhibition preface of 'Random access of Black Box' by Lee Jung-ah, in 2011 Da Vinci Idea Exhibition organized by Seoul Art Space GEUMCHEON, Nov. 3rd, 2011.