Assorted sweets showcased on a glass stand with cover, situated on an wood coffee table.

Crypton, Atoll, 2022. Mixed media, Dimensions variable.

Photo by Swan Park. Image provided by MMCA

The collective Crypton discusses "Koko Killing Island," their work from PROJECT HASHTAG 2022 that navigates virtual reality, hyperobjects, and the collective power of decentralized thinking.

Gastronomy tours, disassembling digital stores, and ecological getaways set centuries after the climate crises: welcome to "Koko Killing Island." The mixed media installation by the collective Crypton (Hwang Sukyung and Yeom Inhwa)—one of two participants featured in PROJECT HASHTAG 2022 at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea—exists both as an installation of tables, chairs, vinyl, and miniature dioramas, as well as a website and digital marketplace that considers the tangible impact of climate change on islands, economies, and culture.

As one enters the gallery, they are met by Crypton’s "Tourist Center" that exists both as a physical site and a website alongside two large installations: "Atoll" and "Tour d’Epicure," both from 2022. "Atoll" consists of navy and orange tables linked together like puzzle pieces, where scattered chairs and tables allow visitors to inspect dome-shaped vitrines filled with fruits, chocolate, pies, cakes, and people made of 100% natural soap.

“The round table is modeled after the shape of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands,” notes Hwang Sukyung. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a real collection of twenty-seven coral islands that collectively create two atolls southwest of Sumatra. Nearly equidistant from Australia and Sri Lanka, only two of these islands are currently inhabited by around 600 Cocos Malays—largely descendants of laborers who worked the land of a coconut plantation that ran for nearly 150 years by the Scottish Clunies-Ross family.

The team was drawn to the formation of atolls, where the center of a volcanic island collapses back into the ocean. The edges of the island remain, linked like chains by coral reefs and shallow waters. The atoll, Crypton realized, is an apt allegory to blockchain and generational connection. “Everything on Earth, even non-human beings, are organically connected,” Hwang explains.

Yet Crypton’s take on atolls turns time forward where the island has transformed into an ecological tourist destination filled with zines and food dioramas. Here, visitors can sample cuisine characteristic of the Samcheong-dong neighborhood in Seoul, eat hallabongs from Jeju Island, relax on the beach, and buy nearly anything they see.

“Almost everything on the island is objectified and dispersed for the audience and ‘tourists,’” Yeom Inhwa adds. “It’s built across the boundaries of events and history, virtual and reality, works and products.” Visitors can even go online, reserve a time during PROJECT HASHTAG WEEK on April 3–9, 2023, and receive virtual pieces of "Atoll" from the chairs to the tables and shelves as low-carbon NFTs for free. “Crypton's ecological practice is to minimize waste from exhibitions and tourist attractions,” says Yeom. “That’s why we dismantled and recombined the discourse into tiny objects to form another ecosystem.” Today’s anxieties are repackaged as tomorrow’s discount; the island distributes—or “kills”—itself, only to live on as disassembled pieces on the buyers’ blockchains.

According to Hwang, "Atoll" is structured around Timothy Morton’s theory of hyperobjects: events and entities such as climate change, where their immense effect on our lived experience across time and space bend and break the traditional idea of what an object is in the first place. Their gravitational pull inevitably affects everything around us.

The second piece, "Tour d’Epicure," exists as an enclosed half-circle of clear paneling where a projector displays the digital "Koko Killing Island" against the flat wall. A 3D performative apparatus-environment allows visitors to navigate from one section of the island to the next. Visitors can virtually explore the Island and inspect the Imposter Kitchen, Jewel Forest, Tourist Center, Art Space, Welfare Center, and more vegetation and buildings scattered across semi-submerged rock formations. “The piece asks you to become a tourist who ‘enjoys’ a relaxing trip to Koko Killing Island a few centuries after the climate crisis,” says Yeom. “They can decide a destination with a click of the mouse on a submarine, circulating endlessly around the island through strange rock formations and weather phenomena…. But it is really asking whether such a performance is possible in the present age.”

“Our project suggests developing a symbiotic solution toward the future health of the biosphere,” Hwang says. “Hyperobjects are so massively distributed in time and space that they feel normal. In "Koko Killing Island," these hyperobjects are disintegrated and replaced by microscopic objects,” such as the vitrines of soapy food. The piece, in a way, re-positions hyperobjects as fixed items that navigate across and influence physical and virtual reality, ultimately suggesting that everyday visitors can understand, own, and exchange them collectively.

PROJECT HASHTAG WEEK will culminate with Good Bye Koko, Crypton’s event where the owners of the free NFTs will visit the exhibition and walk away with their NFT’s corresponding physical item on view at the MMCA. “We wanted to experiment with the formal way of viewing artworks at a public art museum that’s often limited to the audio-visual senses in a rather restricted space and time,” notes Yeom. It’s fitting for the ethos behind PROJECT HASHTAG, where interdisciplinary collaborations among next-generation creators across Korea have a platform for cross-boundary discussion. It’s also a fitting end to the exhibition, where a work that considers decentralized thinking and climate change becomes collectively owned, shared around the world, and passed down across generations.

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