Genuine Cloning

Digital sound file, speakers, 65:01 min., loop

Dimensions variable

Courtesy of the artist

Technical expertise and Typecast-generated AI voice actor service are provided by Neosapience. The recording of the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit in the DMZ is generously granted by the Office of the President, Republic of Korea.

Commissioned by National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company

Installation view of Genuine Cloning, MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2020: Haegue Yang – O2 & H2O, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul, South Korea, 2020
Photo: Cheolki Hong. Image provided by MMCA.


Excerpt from VI. Concering a birdsong and a voice, To Whom It May Concern: a response to Haegue Yang's exhibition The Cone of Concern in Manila. Philippines by Daisy Nam, in exhibition booklet Haegue Yang: The Cone of Concern, ed. by Joselina Cruz, Manila, 2020

I end with a song and a voice. In the exhibition space, we hear Yang’s sound work, Genuine Cloning (2020). The artist’s own voice is replicated through artificial intelligence technology, in which audio datais used to train the system to create an artificial voice that copies the speaking style and tone. The artificial and genuine voice is nearly indiscernible. We hear the voice, but we do not know who it belongs to. It could be the artist, or the AI, or her unconscious, or even our unconscious. The disembodied voice whispers a series of philosophical musings and monologues. The voice questions its own ontology throughout sonic work perhaps as a way to challenge authenticity. The voice rhetorically asks, “am I an infinite life force?” and “what language did I learn, and how did I learn it?,” and later questions, “am I an identity that never grows old? An immutable identity?.” As we attempt to identify who or what the voice is, she is one step ahead by examining the process and purposes of nomenclature, which is perhaps similar to the need to au- thenticate as well. “ ‘Name play’ “, she warns us, “ appears also to be a kind of power. Through ‘name play’ or ‘name job,’ the human world not only circulates meanings, but also authorizes the beings that it recogniz- es.” As an example, she uses the naming on typhoons, continuing her interest in weather as a schema, incisively saying, “you give a typhoon a name, and then treat it like a monster.”

In between each soliloquy are birdsongs. The voice as verbal speech and avian song as non-verbal are purposefully placed side by side to question the hierarchies of communication and language. The audio is taken from a live broadcast recording of the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as the North and South Korean leaders Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in privately conversed on a footbridge. During the thirty-minute conversation, only the chirping of birds and the faint clicking of cameras were recorded. The historic Summit took place over seventy years after the DMZ was formed in 1945 under the governance of Rhee Syngman, when the United States and the Soviet Union decided to divide Korea “for administrative purposes” at the 38th parallel. The presence of the voice in Genuine Cloning resonating throughout the space is juxtaposed with deliberate silence of the leaders’ conversation that we cannot hear, almost like the secret meeting with General MacArthur and Rhee. Silence and the withholding of communication– one that disappears into the ether– is a source of power. We will never know what these leaders are saying in secret, nor do we know what the birds are singing. We do not know what will happen, like we don’t know which way the wind will blow. Are we bound by the decisions of these two men, or any governmental o cials or entities? The voice of Genuine Cloning provides one possible answer for us, “I don’t want to live like something that is xed. I will evolve.” If covert communication is used as power, we, too, can push the thresholds of language and communication. Like the birds and their songs that freely travel between North and South Korea, or typhoons that traverse national borders, or air that circulates in the atmosphere, we can aspire to be boundless, by perpetual shifting and moving with song, voice and thought.

Download exhibition booklet


Exhibition history

Checkpoint: Border Views From Korea, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany, 2022

Double Soul, SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022

Global Groove. Art, Dance, Performance and Protest, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, 2021

MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2020: Haegue Yang – O2 & H2O, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul, South Korea, 2020

Strange Attractors, Tate St Ives, UK, 2020

The Cone of Concern, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD), Manila, Phillipines, 2020


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