Turtle Boat Head

Video installation
7:30 mins.
Script & Direction: Y. David Chung
Camera & Editing: Matt Dibble
Music: William Johnston

This video installation was created with Y. David Chung and first shown in his exhibition of the same name at the Whitney Museum of American Art, N.Y., in 1992. In the center of the gallery stood a structure designed by Chung to look like an urban convenience store. Viewers could enter the store, which was covered with drawings depicting products and signage, and had a bullet-proof plexiglass window protecting the area behind the counter, a feature common in such stores. A life-size video image of the Korean-American shop owner appears behind the counter, and begins to wait on customers who can be heard on the soundtrack, and seem to be in the area where the viewers are standing. Brief conversations take place between transactions. Philip Brookman, Curator of Photography and Media Art at the Corcoran Musuem of Art writes: "The bulletproof barrier between the store owner and his customers serves as a reminder that his relationship with the African-American community in which he works is both strained and tenuous. Groceries and money are exchanged through a revolving door in the plexiglass screen. He is both metaphorically and literally separated from his customers, who in turn have little understanding of Korean culture and history." As the store quiets down, the shelves of products behind the man melt away to reveal an old black & white street scene in Seoul. Columns of Japanese soldiers march down the street - the occupying force. A young boy, suggesting the store-owner in his youth, runs along the street peering between the lines of men, and then the scene shifts back to the present as we hear the sound of another customer entering the store. Later his reverie continues with scenes of American planes over a bombed-out city, dropping propaganda leaflets which then transform into pieces of candy as they fall into the store. Thoughts of hitting a golfball and eating a traditional Korean meal with his family in their suburban home fade into scenes of WWII and ultimately scenes of armed Korean merchants guarding their stores during the L.A. riots.

In 1993, the Turtle Boat Head video won "Best of Show" at Washington, D.C.'s Rosebud Awards. It has been seen extensively both in its installation form, and as a video in festivals and television broadcasts.

Selected exhibitions:
Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York, 1992
Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford CT, 1993
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, 1994
McLean Project for the Arts, McLean VA, 1995
Rice University Art Gallery, Houston TX, 1995

Selected Festivals:
Best of Show, Rosebud Awards, Washington DC 1993
Filmfest DC, Washington DC , 1993
Arts Festival of Atlanta, Atlanta GA 1994
American Film Institute/ Sony Video Festival, Los Angeles CA, 1994
Seattle Human Rights Film Festival, Seattle WA, 1994
Asian Cinevision,New York NY 1994
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, L.A. CA 1994
“New Light- The Electronic Cinema: American Video Art 1965 - 1994” , National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 1995

KCET, Los Angeles CA, 1994


Philip Brookman, "From World Wars to Convenience Stores: Dreams of History in Y. David Chung's "Turtle Boat Head", (Exh. Broch., Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York, 1992)

Videotape available through dockyard media

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