Life imitates Internet as artist goes offline

The Internet has become so much a part of our daily lives that the fine line between cyberspace and real space is increasingly a squiggle.
Internet addiction has become an almost comically serious phenomenon. You know you’re certainly at a dangerous level when your real-life dialogue starts resembling a chat room.
Now that the number of these “addicts” has risen to a startling level ― forming almost a majority among the younger generation ― perhaps the term “addiction” needs to be reexamined. At least in Korea, confusing and fusing one’s online and offline identities is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s seen instead as a synthesis of imagery.
That’s exactly the goal of a young man who refers to himself as “Kimchisalad.” Kimchisalad’s offline art has stirred up several online issues in the past few years, which then led on to offline recognition in the form of the mainstream media. Some of his projects include creating a life-size mannequin by molding bloated bags of green tea, etching out “emoticons” in white balls made of laundry detergent soap, and sculpting a man’s face out of pink crab meat.
Kimchisalad’s most recent project took place earlier this month. He has been staging a series of offline performances in which he dresses up entirely in a white bodysuit, completely covering his body (even his head), and wearing a mask over his face that has holes poked out for his eyes, nose and mouth. He then poses in places around Seoul with his knees on the ground, and his two hands planted on the ground, in an “OTL position.”
Accompanied by two friends who took pictures of him in front of Namdaemun, the National Assembly Building, Myeong-dong and other well-known parts of Seoul, Kimchisalad did his “OTL,” which comes from an Internet term meaning “defeat.” What’s the OTL position? It requires the person to put his or her knees on the ground and stare down in defeat. Kimchisalad says OTL is a “very global term,” and that these first “performances” were of “OTLman in Seoul.”
“I wanted to express loneliness in a crowd and the feeling of helplessness that an individual feels,” Kimchisalad wrote on his blog, Kimchisalad.net. “But while I was in that position, my ears were covered and I couldn’t hear the surrounding sounds very well, and I thought instead of trying to battle defeat, perhaps we should welcome it. In an ‘OTL situation’ you should think about what your problem is and learn that the only way to overcome it is to love yourself.”
by Wohn Dong-hee

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