Triplets in the woods - Taemong (Precognitive dream about the birth of a baby)
Collage of photos, digital print
 29.7 X 21 cm / 2011





Taemong (Precognitive dream about the birth of a baby)


     In Korea, there is a very interesting and mysterious belief. It is that before or after the birth of a baby, the parents or people around them have a precognitive dream about the birth of a baby. This is called Taemong and this dream is different from ordinary dreams as extraordinary things happen and diverse kinds of animals or plants appear in the dream. As the content of the dream and animals or plants appearing in the dream have respective meanings, the gender or destiny of a baby that will be born are hinted at based on the Taemong. This belief has been particularly distinct in rice farming regions in Asia. This is because rice farming is labour intensive and so a new arrival in these areas means an increase in workforce, and therefore not only pregnant women but also those who wait for a new labour force would also have unconsciously dreamt Taemong. In fact, Taemong is thought to be a folk story but can also be analyzed by science. From Freud’s point of view, a state of changing body and psychology of a pregnant woman is unconsciously transferred to their current consciousness. The product of this experience started in an agricultural culture in the past and has continued as a popular belief as a custom in today’s culture, even after industrialization.

     The ‘Taemong’ series began with a chat with my mother. She told me that around the time when she had me she had a Taemong in which she was standing on the bank of a river where ice formed here and there between woods on which buds came into flower in spring. When she saw a summer peach floating down the river, which looked very appetizing, she picked it up. Soon after that, a second peach floated down the river and she picked it up but this time the peach was rotten. When she was about to return home, the third peach was floating down from the distance. She hesitated whether to pick it up or not and eventually grabbed it to find that it looked as appetizing as the first one. Not long after the dream, she found out that she was pregnant with me and I was born with the Taemong. This is a typical Tamong story in Korea, but what is surprising starts now. My mother became pregnant two more times after giving birth to me. However, she suffered a miscarriage on her second pregnancy, and when she got pregnant a third time, she was very ill so did not know whether to give birth to the baby. Then, finally she made up her mind to have the baby. When I heard this story, I was very surprised and amazed that the second rotten peach and the third peach that she hesitated whether to pick up or not in her Taemong corresponded with what she experienced in real life.

     Like this, Taemong is too weird and interesting to explain scientifically and I wanted to visualize the moment of a baby being born and recreate it like an album. Interviewing people around me, I collected information about their Taemong stories, personalities, tendencies, and jobs. I brought the properties of dreams to my way of working, which is to let one’s desire to be met or things that were not achieved in real life to be achieved by recombining things like a tree or a clump of grass that were seen somewhere in real world through dreams of the unconscious world. Based on the interviews, I stacked and composed a number of photos from different sources on the computer to create a scene.




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