Unhappy Circuit

Unhappy Circuit is a multidisciplinary artist in Korea. His work is based on a fusion of art, science, technology and multidisciplinary perspective that encompasses linguistics, anthropology, ecology, futurology, and cosmology.

The pursuit of his art is the connection between human beings and the universe. He wants to expand human perception and consciousness into the universe through his art and connect the vast universe with the meaning of our lives, minds, and existence, which are essentially finite and lonely.

He has participated in various exhibitions hosted by art institutions such as Hyundai Motor Group's ZER01NE, Asia Culture Center, Arts Council Korea, Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, C-LAB (Taiwan), BeFantastic (India), ARCOLABS (Indonesia).

1. The connection between humanity and the universe, 2020~

Interstellar message refers to a type of structured data aimed at reaching extraterrestrial intelligence through deep space communication technology. From 2020 to present, Unhappy Circuit is working on a project to develop new Interstellar messages. In particular, in the process, he has been focusing on ways to make human language understandable to extraterrestrial intelligence, and through this, he hopes to share information about human thinking, emotions, and culture with extraterrestrial intelligence.

He does not believe that extraterrestrial intelligence is unknown beings that transcends humans. He believes that extraterrestrial intelligences will also be isolated on their planets and looking at stars with the question, Are we alone in this universe? And just like us, they will be beings that live and disappear in time like a moment compared to cosmic time. In particular, he believes that the feeling of loneliness is the core that penetrates this universe. Through the interstellar messages, he seeks to form a cosmic sympathy between humans and extraterrestrial intelligence as a lonely being struggling through the vast universe. Even if his message cannot reach extraterrestrial intelligence, he believes that this effort in itself is the key to connecting our life, mind, and meaning of existence with the vast universe.

<Letters, Poems, and Songs of the Earth>, 2024

- Human language dictionary for extraterrestrial intelligence
- Digital video consisting of photos, graphics and text, interactive audio visual
- Exhibited at Gwacheon National Science Museum
- Supported by Gwacheon National Science Museum
- Archive video: https://youtu.be/KFVmoo2MDCs

<Letters, Poems, and Songs of the Earth> is a multimodal data and interdisciplinary artwork designed to reach extraterrestrial intelligence. In particular, this work aims to enable extraterrestrial intelligence to decipher messages expressed in human language by providing a kind of "human language dictionary."

The data aims to enable extraterrestrial intelligence to understand human language, the human way of thinking that language is based on, and ultimately humanity by trying to convey various texts that express human concepts, culture, and emotions like Carl Sagan's message on the cosmos, the <Universal Declaration of Human Rights>, Yun Dong-ju's poet <A Night of Counting the Stars> and the definition of "love" written by ChatGPT, with a dictionary on words that make up the texts. And through this, the work dreams of a future in which extraterrestrial intelligence and humanity communicate together beyond cosmic space and time.

<Astro-linguistic-anthropological Data on Human Language and Life>, 2023

- Multimodal data composed to convey information about human language and life to extraterrestrial intelligence
- Digital photos, graphics, text, audio recordings
- Exhibited at Sejong Museum of Art
- Supported by Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture
- Artwork video: https://youtu.be/NTa6oJFxxlE

<Astro-linguistic-anthropological Data on Human Language and Life> is a multidisciplinary art project aimed for developing multimodal data to enable extraterrestrial intelligence to understand human language and life.

Human language and thinking form a close interactive relationship that affects each other. When it comes to understanding human beings, human language will be an important factor that should not be overlooked. When extraterrestrial intelligence and humanity someday confirm each other's existence and start communication beyond vast time and space, each other's language will surely be important for understanding each other. Accordingly, the project's aim is to organize a kind of language dictionary to make extraterrestrial intelligence understand the lyrics of an old song of the Earth <Row Row Row Your Boat>. This song is composed of a simple structure and represents the unique characteristics of human language and way of thinking.

In addition, this project aims to convey the information of ordinary human life on the Earth to extraterrestrial intelligence. The only thing in common between extraterrestrial intelligence and human beings is that we are infinitely small and weak beings compared to the vast universe, living time like a moment while isolated on each other’s planet. So this project aims to create cosmic sympathy among all lonely beings living in this universe by messaging on life.

The question that astro-linguistic-anthropology explores is how extraterrestrial intelligence and humanity will understand each other. In order to find an answer to this, we will first have to think about our own answer to the question of “what is humanity?” How well do we know ourselves? And how do we explain ourselves to extraterrestrial intelligence? How strange is the language of extraterrestrial intelligence to us, and what about the other way around? How similar and how different are each other's lives? Will the two civilizations be able to overcome each other's biological, linguistic, cultural, and mental differences and understand each other? What does it mean to understand? By exploring these fundamental questions, this project leads to a shift to a cosmic perspective of ourselves, while expanding our awareness of language, communication, and understanding, while connecting the meaning of human life, spirit, and existence to the vast universe.


- Text data composed to convey information on the time of one human life to extraterrestrial intelligence and logs of transmitting it to outer space
- Digital text data, electronic device, documentary photographs
- Supported by Arts Council Korea
- Artwork video: https://youtu.be/jkJVDbeOHIs

Compared to the cosmic time, our lives are like a moment. That is why we hope that our lives can have some meaning in this universe. In other words we instinctively hope that our existence can be connected to the universe.

Project <1 HUMAN MESSAGE> is an interdisciplinary space art project to leave <1 HUMAN MESSAGE>, a short record and data on the time of one human being's life, in the vast universe. <1 HUMAN MESSAGE> links cosmic time and the time of one ordinary human on the Earth. And Unhappy Circuit transmits it toward stars using portable deep space data transceiver. It is the journey to reach the furthest universe as a human being, to expand the meaning of all human lives, minds, and existence that originated in the universe but were disconnected from the universe, and to form a cosmic connection between all isolated, finite, weak and lonely beings in the universe beyond cosmic silence.

2. Artificial Intelligence, 2018~2019

Between 2018 and 2019, the Unhappy Circuit focused on artificial intelligence as a major theme and medium for his work. He divides artificial intelligence into three big perspectives: artificial intelligence as a new human being, artificial intelligence as a technology that complements humans, and artificial intelligence as a mirror that reflects humans.

First of all, artificial intelligence as a new human being literally means artificial intelligence as a new intellectual being that has evolved into a human-like or transcending human beings. In other words, it means artificial intelligence as a true posthuman. On the other hand, artificial intelligence as a technology that complements humans refers to the perspective of recognizing artificial intelligence as a new technological tool. While the previous view is based on futuristic perspective, the latter is the perspective of artificial intelligence in the present era. Finally, artificial intelligence as a mirror that reflects humans is a humanistic or artistic perspective of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is learning about humanity through data. The results generated by such artificial intelligence reveal nature of humanity.

After all, for the Unhappy Circuit, artificial intelligence is a technology that has the potential to become a new human being someday, and a technology that has the greatest impact on our lives at the moment, and an artistic medium that reflects nature of our humanity.

<A Synthetic Song Beyond the Sea>, 2019

- Ambient music in which blue whale vocalization and human music are converged by artificial intelligence
- 2-channel projection, 2-channel sound, 4'29"
- Collected by Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art
- Exhibited at Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art
- Supported by Korea Creative Content Agency and Art Center Nabi
- Archive video: https://youtu.be/SmEvkJTvBaA

Whales, like humans, can feel and express emotions, live in a complex society, and have a language system for communication. In addition, Whales have evolved together by sharing an ancestor with all mammals on the Earth, including humans. However, humans have long threatened the survival of whales, which still persists nowadays.

This work is an attempt to create music that whales and humans can listen to and interact with by converging blue whale vocalization and human music using artificial intelligence. Through this attempt, the work depicts the future in which whales and humans understand each other and coexist together.

Through the life and death of whales, we can face the true nature of humanity. This is not irrelevant to the numerous tragedies in human history that have occurred without understanding each other and the current situation of human civilization that still lives with the potential to destroy ourselves.

<Learning About Humanity>, 2019

- Cooking performance with the recipe generated by artificial intelligence
- Live performance, 2-channel projection, 4-channel sound, 20'
- Exhibited at Asia Culture Center
- Supported by Asia Culture Center
- Archive video: https://youtu.be/95iyi_BfDN4

Chickens that are slaughtered about 65 billion a year, are considered a symbol of the Anthropocene. As the era of abundance due to the industrialization of livestock breeding and slaughter continues, we also forget that the meat we commonly encounter in our daily lives was once a living creature. In particular, despite occurring in the process of rearing and slaughtering livestock, uncomfortable truths that we have been trying to ignore makes us ask ourselves questions about humanity.

Artificial intelligence learns human beings through massive amounts of data, and the result reflects humanity like a mirror. After all, the chicken dish generated by artificial intelligence is the mirror for humanity that reveals the true nature of humanity behind the abundance of modern human civilization.

<i Remember>, 2019

- Images and sounds generated by artificial intelligence that learned human memory
- 1-channel video, 2-channel sound, 20'
- Exhibited at Platform-L Contemporary Art Center
- Supported by Arts Council Korea
- Archive video: https://youtu.be/ncnhnyX4WmY

For humans, memory means our own identity. Losing my memories is like losing myself. Memories are our lives. However, human memory is very incomplete. Therefore, humans have recorded and preserved their memories on various media to compensate for the imperfections of biological memory. From prehistoric cave murals to computer memory, humans are rapidly evolving by expanding the brain's area of storing memories to new media with the advancement of technology.

Now, the memory extends to artificial intelligence. Are there indescribable features that only the moments of experiences have in memories? Or are memories just data that can be copied and transmitted all the time? If memories are just data, Is it possible for artificial intelligence to learn human memories? If it is possible for artificial intelligence to learn human memories, would artificial intelligence that learned my memories be me?

In this work, artificial intelligence learns the memory of a one person's mother and generates new images and sounds. Whose memory is the generated audio visual sequence?

3. Computer music and algorithmic audiovisual, 2014~2017

Unhappy Circuit began his artistic career with experimental computer music based on glitch and noise sounds. After continuing his career in the underground electronic music scene in Korea, he expanded his career to the field of new media art by exploring the methodology and expression form of audiovisual based on computer algorithms.

<Music of Memories>, 2017

- Audio-visualization of relationship between digitized human language and computer memory process
- 2-channel projection, 4-channel sound, 20'
- Exhibited at Asia Culture Center
- Supported by Asia Culture Center
- Archive video: https://youtu.be/QK3PQacIgA0

Morse code and computer logic systems have similarities in terms of decoding information in binary. In particular, Morse code, which digitizes human language, becomes a medium language that connects computer and human languages.

In this work the human language digitized with Morse code is transformed into a computer's memory process by programmed audiovisual algorithms. And it gradually evolves to human memory.

In other words this work closely connects language, code, memory and data, and human and computer by dismantling the boundaries between human and computer through Morse code.

<Just Waiting for a Happy Ending>, 2014

- Format: Album (CD, Digital)
- Release date: 2014.03.14.
- Genre: Electronic
- Style: Glitch, Noise
- Music video: https://youtu.be/SqtouftaqII

<Just Waiting for a Happy Ending> is Unhappy Circuit's debut album released in 2014. His music during this period expressed the emotions of sorrowful machine boy's with glitch/noise sounds. His name, Unhappy Circuit, is also related to these emotions and expressions.

In particular, in this album, he focused on narrative integrity by connecting an experimental sound technique called glitch with emotions such as loneliness, sadness, and depression. It was a process of planting human emotions into a cold machine, and a fierce effort to reflect the sound of a broken mind.