The Sense of Unease or Dis/ease and Place[less]ness

Haunting Memory and Place
ACAHUCH Symposium, Melbourne School of Design
21-22 September 2017

The Sense of Unease or Dis/ease and Place[less]ness
In the case of Seoul’s Nanjido landfill-turned-park
Jeong Hye Kim


Seoul’s Nanjido landfill (1978-1993[2001]) has now transformed into the World Cup Park (2002-present). When the Park opened just before the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, the public’s reactions to this change were polarized. One group celebrated the successful makeover of the garbage mountains into an ‘ecological’ park with cultural and entertainment facilities serving for the citizens. The other group was skeptical about covering up the dark unwholesome past with that which is regarded as the sanitary and safe. They were suspicious about the unidentified sense of uneasy place[less]ness of the Park as well. This study attempts to examines the cause of the sense of unease in the current landfill-turned-park; it hypothesizes that 1) accumulated historical times of the place embody the present site and 2) conflated layers of the place, particularly when they are invisualised, create unidentified sense of unease. To explicate the invisible sense of place, or the ‘unease’, I employ the aesthetic method, analyzing the site-specific artworks by two artists (from the SeMA Nanji Residency, located inside the Park) who represented the sense of place through non-visual sensory methods—the olfactory and the auditory respectively.

First, the research introduces the history of Nanjido and its transformation into the World Cup Park in relation to the environmentalism of the new millennium which places emphasis on the commercialized value of environmental-friendliness. Second, I analyse the artworks of Wonho Lee and Joon Kim with regards to the place[less]ness and the sense of unease as well as their materialist and sensory methodologies; while Wonho Lee focuses on the olfactory sense—barbecuing smell of the current camping site, evoking the sensory imaginaries of the past landfill full of unbearable miasma—Joon Kim collects the sounds of the exterior Park site and the interior of the mounds where the landfill is in the process of biochemical stabilistaion/regeneration.

With these aesthetic analyses, the study discusses the concepts of ‘place[less]ness’ and ‘unease’—unlike the idea of ‘place[less]ness’ (e.g., [loss of] originality of the site) emerged in the globalised era, the ‘place[less]ness’ here is concerned more with the sedimented times of the place, which can hardly be annihilated yet easily be invisualised and forgotten. In the case of landfill-turned-park where the unsanitary—or the inappropriate—is covered and hidden, the sense of the un/ease is related to the notion of dis/ease. Likewise, traversing the concepts of unease, place[less]ness and danger of the unsanitary (or disease) will enable us to reconsider the urban regeneration and regenerated places.

Keywords: landfill, park, placeness, placelessness, unease, disease, Seoul


Image: Wonho Lee, ‘(Nan)ji’ (2011)


Timetable / Subjects
Affective Landscapes
Spectral Images
Personal Reflections
Traumatic Memories
Dead Architects



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