Art Recommendations & the Recommenders

Art serves many purposes. It can be a gentle escape from the mundane, an exposure to yet-seized knowledge, or a chance to get to know someone. Due to COVID-19, I had to reestablish my lodgings back at my hometown in Seoul, South Korea, and I found myself unwillingly reconnecting with people of my past. Through awkward conversations in Facebook messenger and unprepared encounters at the supermarket, I could no longer excuse my absence with long-distance or time difference. 

Surprisingly, this uncomfortable feeling of confrontation gradually morphed into a desire for connection. With so much time in our past and so much time on our hands, I was determined to figure out more: who these people are today, where they’ve been, and what they want to share. 

So, I made a creative compromise between the regulations of social distancing and my growing curiosity for people: art recommendations. I believe that making a music playlist for a SO reveals more about the maker than the listener—and it goes the same for any artistic recommendations. In sum, I had a blast indulging in the luxuries of living at home and also felt absolute delight in getting to know some unexpected quirks of people. Without further ado, I will share some creative recommendations that I have received recently and describe some things I realized about the recommenders. 

 

  • Game: Soma (Frictional Games)

Soma is a survival game based in a futuristic, dystopian setting where people live for eternity through memory transplants in computers. Simon, the protagonist, wakes up in an unknown underwater complex that seems to be shut down and faces a series of challenges as he seeks to reach utopia. Throughout the game, you will raise philosophical questions about moral obligations, reliability of memory, and many more. If you are into story-based gameplay that makes you think, you will definitely love this game. Plus, there are a few unnerving factors like gruesome images and jump scares. If suspense thrills you, you will love this game even more!

About the Recommender: I was initially shocked by the recommendation because the recommender herself is an artist who paints adorable angelic personas. I found her style and the game’s style to be polar opposites, which kept me in awe of the recommender’s diverse tastes. Furthermore, the recommender seems to be able to bring out her own insight from anything. Conversations post-gaming dealt with dissecting abstract concepts, especially the ones that deal with humanity, our virtues, and our rights. I really appreciate the recommender’s perspectives on games and I'm more curious about her philosophical thoughts as she is clearly a fearless explorer.

 

  • Book: The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Troop is an old-school horror novel written in 2014 by author Nick Cutter. The story deals with a group of boy scouts and their scoutmaster stranded on an island as they come across an unidentifiable man with a monstrous parasite. It is definitely a quick read as you will be curious to figure out what happens. Plus, the novel gracefully integrates each character’s coming-of-age narratives and their individual shadows. It is tragically successful in making you feel uncomfortable. A heads up for disturbing content and I advise you to not eat while reading—I was advised the same thing by the recommender and I thank him sincerely for that suggestion.

About the Recommender: I was caught off guard when the recommender named this book, probably because he seems like a vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles if he were anything at Ben & Jerry’s—I hope that makes sense. So it was definitely surprising to learn that he wanted to share mutual dismay. It was still wonderful to enjoy such unanticipated content with an equally unexpected companion. I got a feeling that the recommender is more inspired by the entanglement of different lives within the book than the horror aspects of it. I guess that is somewhat allegorical to our lives too. Other than that, I was genuinely fascinated by the recommender’s insane skill in owning fear and anxiety. I am so curious about the other tales that he found captivating.

 

  • Movie: Porco Rosso (Studio Ghibli)

 

Porco Rosso is a rather underrated film released in 1992 by the immensely talented Studio Ghibli. Porco Rosso presents the lives of a pilot pig and sky pirates post World War. Although presenting the main character as a pig may seem immature, the content is much heavier than a children’s film. It deals with the loss of both identity and purpose, in a post-chaotic, almost supernatural circumstance. Of course the film contains beautiful artistry, but unlike the usual Studio Ghibli films, the sky might just make you cry. 

About the Recommender: The recommender and I have always shared our love for Studio Ghibli, and once the pile of Studio Ghibli films released on Netflix, she suggested I watch Porco Rosso. As she suspected, I found the movie to be sublime, and I highly valued her timing of recommendation. She has an innate sensibility for undefinable emotions and I felt so much more connected with her as we both resonated through the film. I believe she saw a similar kind of futility in the violence that surrounds our world today as we see in the movie. I hope this film sheltered her core from the world, and I look forward to more of her kind recommendations.

 

  • TV Show: Euphoria (HBO)

 

Euphoria has been an iconic TV show of the past year, topping the charts with its diverse plots, unique aesthetics, and realistic portrayals of youth. There is no single main character for this show, however there is a long list of female characters and you will most likely fall in love with all of them. Each character has their flaws and makes their mistakes, but you will see through that all they really want is a better life. Some content warning would be that it explicitly shows a lot about mental health, sexual content, and substance abuse, which are definitely primary issues of today. But beyond the bold accuracy, the exquisite artistry and surreal adaptation will definitely get you hooked. 

About the Recommender: The recommender was doubtful if she should recommend this to me because she was unsure if I would be comfortable with the content. Luckily, I found the show to be great and it touched my soul, especially its defenseless corners. The recommender is a relatively quiet person, and to see that she understands and feels all these emotions of the show was a sharp reminder for me that I cannot fathom the weight she carries on her shoulders. Our discussions after I finished the show were very mature and healthy, and I genuinely thank her for her bravery in creating an atmosphere to discuss such vulnerable topics of our lives. I deeply admire her strength and compassion for the world, even though she may see it as a weakness. I love listening to her talk.

 

  • Music: Marc Wavy - “Daydreaming” 

 

“Daydreaming” by Marc Wavy is a tender song that will get your head nodding and foot tapping. Although Marc Wavy may not be the most popular artist of our generation, this song is a keeper and it will get stuck in your head when you least expect it. The song is a cute but sincere confession of a man longing for love and proximity, which I believe is pretty relatable to our lives right now as we have to legally distance ourselves from one another. If you want a chill, lofi bop that makes you feel a teeny bit mellow, this is a song for you! I hope you really enjoy it!  

About the Recommender: The recommender was very eager to recommend this song, texting me at 2AM. And to be frank, I was smiling along with the music instantly. I thought that the recommender only listened to party songs, like those songs that are always jamming out too loud in late-night car rides. Well, his recommendation certainly got me to like whatever his music taste entails. For sure I came to realize that he is much more unguarded and spontaneous in a charming way. And I'm sure his positivity will change many's lives, if not their days for sure. I really love his spry attitude towards the world and I now realize that his music curates himself best.

 

I encourage you to check them all out, and furthermore, ponder about what recommendations revealed whether it was received or given.

 

 

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