What is Promise Park?

Parks can be found in every city in the world. Why were they created and what kind of places were they originally meant to be? For a period of three years, beginning in 2013, YCAM is undertaking Promise Park Project in collaboration with the South Korean artist MOON Kyungwon to explore the theme of “park” of the future. This exhibition was intended as a compilation, made up of fieldwork and results of surveys conducted as part of the project, presented in the form of two new installations and “Park Atlas” (Archive of Parks.)

"Park" as Collective Intelligence

In 2013, YCAM invited MOON to submit a proposal for a project related to "art and collective intelligence." She suggested the theme of "park." Parks are places in which a variety of civilizations, cultures, and human agencies intersect, and continued to be maintained over a long period of time. MOON sees them as a crystallization of collective human intelligence and a huge urban archive. Moreover, in association with architects, landscape designers, and botanists, she devised a park of the future based on the appearance of a large city, which was formed by a modern social system, as the ruins after a large-scale disaster.

Why Were Parks Created?

In conceiving a park of the future, it is necessary to analyze the public function, form, and role of conventional parks in modern cities, and to examine various issues such as cultural and historical differences and universality. In doing so, one important concern is how to interpret the historical connections and epistemological disconnections to gardens, as the precursor to parks, and the potential to transcend these things. Parks have inherited the symbolic value of a garden that contains an ancient burial mound or historical ruins. By shedding light on the unconscious collective intelligence entrusted to parks, which conceal ruins, provide ethnic sanctuary, symbolic topos like a womb, and contain mixed and varied temporal systems in the modern era, we develop the imagination of the public spaces of the future.

Parks as Borders

In ancient times, limited spaces, created for rituals and festivals, were the site of various connections, disconnections, and transformations. A link can be drawn between these spaces and gardens and parks, as enclosed spaces that have survived to the present day. These places seem to have to been created as border areas based on a set of critical points and remnants of the past used to imagine urban spaces. Parks are in part linked to the longing for a paradise, and they can also be seen as spaces that were maintained as ritual boundaries that supersede individual desires, and impenetrable, unconscious barriers. As part of the modernization that followed the Civilization, parks absorbed functions that overflowed from the city, becoming neutral, open, surplus spaces, which were effectively isolated from economic fluctuations, and containing disparate temporal systems. And though parks are completely artificial environment, they are home to a variety of generative changes in vegetation and other living organisms, suggesting the potential for a new plug-in based on a fusion of artificial and natural elements.

Woven Carpet

Moveable Park: Fabric as an Arichive of Intelligence.

A huge carpet (made of Nishijin Fabric from Kyoto) covers the floor with collective videos and sounds from each parks, ruins, weaving machine.The cartpet will extend during the exhibition period.

When confronted with a vast database, we cannot always rely on human knowledge and perception. Perhaps we can find a solution in cultural phenomena from various ages in history. Promise Park focuses on the concept of "Shukuchi (folding space)," associated with Taoist thought, to imagine abstraction of information and quickly changing connections, and the metamorphosis of patterns and textiles as a bricolage – a multilayered construct, which is abstract, minimal, and floating, that is transformed into a two-dimensional plane.

Textiles, a combination of the binary elements of warp and weft, serve as a potent symbol, triggering a connection between the archive, and the human body and perception. Parks and gardens are devices for compressing and freezing various landscapes, and the East Asian garden can be seen as the ultimate in abstraction and compression. It is also notable for its use of folding space. Moreover, a carpet can be likened to a moveable garden or park.

Park Atlas

Atlas Formed by Memories of Parks

In this exhibition, guest researcher Rurihiko Hara, a specialist in Japanese gardens, and other researchers, present “Park Atlas” based on the results of surveys related to the lineage of parks of the past which were conducted in conjunction with YCAM InterLab. The atlas approach is used to present two opposing lineages: the Western and Eastern models, the pre- and post-modern, the macro and micro, comprehensive and diffused space as seen in various kinds of parks around the world and Archive of Stones in Yamaguchi-city. A huge variety of data, including plans, photographs, videos, paintings, texts, bibliographies, 3DCG are presented using a multi-screen, slideshow format. With this new atlas, it is possible to analyze the evolution of parks in a historical context and to find connections, changes, and sudden leaps between various elements.

Modern Parks:
Hyde Park (London)
Central Park (New York)
Ueno Park (Tokyo)

New Developments in the Park Concept:
Garden in Movement, Parc André Citroën(Paris)
Yamaguchi Central Park(Yamaguchi)

The Lineage of Park-like Spaces in the Pre-Modern Era:
Archive of Stones in Yamaguchi-city (32 locations)

The Formation and Development of Modern Parks

As case studies, we first examine Hyde Park and Central Park, considered to be the origin of the modern park, and Ueno Park, an example of the concept being imported to Japan. This is followed by new developments in the park concept, such as the Mundaneum, created by Paul Otlet, the so-called “father of documentation,” Parc André Citroën, which contains Garden in Movement, conceived by the French Landscape architect and thinker Gilles Clément, and finally, Yamaguchi Central Park (adjacent to YCAM.)

The Lineage of Park-like Spaces as Seen in Constellations of Stones

Though parks are devices that were originally formulated in the modern era, park-like spaces naturally existed long before that. To explore this lineage in Japan, stones – which function as a living archive imprinted with various temporal layers that have existed in the city since ancient times – provide us with various hints. Due to the fact that stones are characterized by a nearly eternal constancy, they exist as a key component of public space while constantly acquiring and changing significance and function. To more extensively explore the relationship with urban theory in a somewhat unofficial manner, we used the large area of basin surrounding Yamaguchi, the city where YCAM is located, as a subject of analysis. By comparing the entire area to a park, we embarked on various research and fieldwork projects based on stones in 32 locations. Not only do stones have a fetishistic, religious aspect, their connection to the surrounding topography and the positional relation between them can be seen in terms of the sun’s movement, transportation, and economics, giving rise to a multi-tiered, multi-temporal conception of the city.

Carpet of Moving Images

Park after Ruins: Developing Imagination for the Future

This carpet of moving images, an overwhelming installation, is made up of a vast collection of high-resolution, aerial shots and computer-graphic images of ruins from Japan’s modern industries.

Like parks (neutral spaces in the city,) these are also limited spaces that emerged from industrial production during the modern era. To compare the two, we surveyed and made a video record of these industrial ruins built under the modernization, whose function came to an abrupt end due to changing times. In light of the fact that enclosed spaces and functions were also segregated in the Western Industrial Revolution, one might say modern industrial relics and parks have a yin-yang relationship. A special effort was made to observe the present form of the relics by focusing on detailed areas that have been re-vegetated and eroded by nature.

About the Promise Park Project

Moon Kyongwon and YCAM have carried out research and creative work on installations on the central theme of "parks of the future" since 2013, the results of which were previously showcased in exhibitions.

MOON Kyungwon

Born in Seoul, Korea. Graduated from Ewha Womans University, and received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Has been exhibiting in various media video and installation works realized by a literary approach, and involved in installation displays at public art projects, such as on the Seoul Square Media Canvas. Participated in group exhibitions including dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), Gwangju Biennale (2012), Singapore Biennale (2013), Home Works 6 (2013), Fukuoka Triennale (2014), Shenzhen Biennale (2014), Lille 3000 Festival (2015). In recent years she has been focusing on “News From Nowhere”, a collaborative project with Jeon Joonho launched with the aim to create social platforms, which was showcased in an exhibition at the Migros Museum in Zurich in 2015, and Sullivan Galleries at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. In 2015, MOON Kyungwon represented her country at the Korean pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

MOON Kyungwon

Artist Statement

A "park" is an artificial space imitating nature that provides rest and peace for humans. However, "Promise Park" presents a meaning of rest and peace that is somewhat different from the characteristics of parks in general.

Existing parks erase and newly establish the history and memories of the space (under the justification of healing). On the contrary, Promise Park is established on top of existing ruins ─ both the continuous and interspersed mistakes and errors of humanity – while retaining the history and memories of the space.

This new park explores the potential of a coexistence of man, nature, city (technology) and community in which social structures collapse and are rebuilt, and visualizes the true meaning of “public character”. Here, people gather to think about the lessons that this space teaches as it raises questions about the world that people have aspired, and redefines the meaning of rest and peace, with the park as a platform for a new beginning.

I seek to newly perceive and propose the meaning of "park" in this era. This park reminds of historical errors, reflects upon the past, and approaches people as a new starting point.

Times and Dates
28th Nov, 2015 - 14th Feb, 2016

Closed on
Tuesdays, New Year's holidays


Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] Studio B, Foyer
*For detailed information please see the Access page.

Organized by
Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi City Foundation for Cultural Promotion

In association with
Korean Cultural Center, Korean Embassy in Japan / Yamaguchi City Board of Education

Supported by
the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the fiscal 2015

Production support
Hosoo Co., Ltd., TAKETORA Co., Ltd.

Filming cooperation
Ube Industries, Ltd., Ube Sand Industries, Ltd., JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation Ecomanagement KK, Nagasaki City, Yamaguchi City Waterworks and Sewerage Bureau, Yamayo Shoji KK

The Nishinippon Shimbun, Hosoo Co., Ltd.

Co-developed with
YCAM InterLab

Produced by
Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]

Kazunao Abe

Technical Supervision
Takayuki Ito

Technical Management
Takuro Iwata

Production Management
Clarence Ng

Network Programming
Yohei Miura

Graphic Design
Naoki Ise, Chisaki Murakami

Lighting Design
Fumie Takahara

Video Engineering
Richi Owaki, Keina Konno

Sound Engineering
Junji Nakaue, Etsuko Nishimura

Tomoya Watanabe

Public Relations
Momoko Aoyagi

Research and Coordination of field work
Fumie Takahara

Chiho Mikura

Young-ja Park, Kiyoshi Suganuma, Mitsuhito Ando, Daichi Yamaoka, Haruka Kaneko

Curatorial Planning
Kumiko Idaka

Park Atlas direction
Rurihiko Hara (modern culture; enrolled in a doctoral course at The University of Tokyo)

Research cooperation
Ryosuke Kondo (representational culture; enrolled in a doctoral course at The University of Tokyo), Takeshi Kinoshita (garden/landscape design; associate professor at Chiba University), Nobuyuki Koga (general manager, Yamaguchi history editing), Tomoki Yamauchi (guest researcher, University of Hyogo)

Technical advisor
Kazuhiro Jo (art engineering; lecturer at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences IAMAS)

Visual programming
Ken Furudate, Ryo Kanda, Ryo Shiraki

Sound programming
Satoshi Hama

Visual effect
Alice FX

Sound design

Photo and Video:
Kazuomi Furuya

Graphic design
Yuzo Kariya + Nao Kakuta / neucitora

Website design

Special Collaboration
Hosoo Co., Ltd.

Related Events

Report of detailed investigations in Wanishi in Yamaguchi's Suzenji district

The Millennium Village Project was launched with the aim to investigate architectural, ethnological and various other viewpoints settlements that have existed for more than 1,000 years. Results of detailed investigations carried out in collaboration with YCAM in Wanishi in Yamaguchiʼs Suzenji district in February and July 2015 will be exhibited in video recordings, models and other forms.

Times and Dates
November 14, 2015 - February 14, 2016
10:00 - 19:00
YCAM Information Space

Gallery Tour

* This program is offered only in Japanese.