American Go E-Journal » Go Art

Go Spotting: Misaeng (An Incomplete Life)

Sunday June 4, 2017

by Daniel Acheson2017.06.03_Misaeng
“Misaeng,” which means “an incomplete life,” is a 2014 South Korean television drama about 26-year old Jang Geu-rae and his struggles adapting to corporate life after failing to qualify as a professional go player.
Starting with the show’s title, which refers to the life and death status of a group of stones, “Misaeng” is suffused with go imagery and references. Flashbacks to Geu-rae’s go career pepper the storyline, and there are many scenes where the game is used to make analogous connections to his internship. In one episode, for example, Geu-rae adapts his go study system to completely reorganize his section’s shared files, which are a hopeless mess. While this may not sound like much, this early assignment, and the drama that surrounds it, becomes a pivotal moment in the story’s development.
Geu-rae’s corporate environment also mimics life on the goban: Among the interns and staff there is fierce competition for survival and promotion. Like the middle game, opening moves – education, internships, career choices – have determined certain relationships, and the characters must find opportunities to advance within (or in spite of) the constraints imposed by their past actions. In this respect Geu-rae is at a distinct disadvantage.
Due to the hermetic years spent studying go, Geu-rae possesses none of the educational or social advantages of his peers. He is armed onlyÀ±ÅÂÈ£ ÀÛ°¡ ÀÎÅͺä. ÀÌ»ó¼· ±âÀÚ. babtong@heraldcorp.com 2013.03.07 with a high-school equivalency exam certificate and an aptitude for undertaking difficult, thankless work. Nothing about his start with One International is auspicious. Geu-rae’s manager, Oh Sang-shik, regards this new intern as an unqualified burden and openly voices hopes that Geu-rae will fail. Among peers Geu-rae is known as a “bomb,” meaning someone who will explode under the pressures of the internship and thus fail. Yet Geu-rae surprises everyone with his fortitude.
In a similar way, I think “Misaeng” will also pleasantly surprise its viewers. Although the show starts slowly, each episode builds momentum and invests viewers more and more in the characters and their storylines. The data confirms this: Average ratings for “Misaeng” jumped fivefold from its premier in October 2014 to its conclusion in December of that year.
One reason for this popularity, I think, is that it is relatable. In 2012, when “Misaeng” started as a webtoon, its creator, Yoon Tae-ho, began with “countless interviews with real-life people who work for corporations.” “Explain it to me as if you were explaining it to a middle school student,” he would say to his interviewees. “If you really want to know about something, you have to have the courage to look like an idiot, the courage to say you don’t know anything about what they know.” As a result Geu-rae’s world, and with that of his contemporaries, feels real and lived in precisely because it is the world inhabited by so many in their personal and professional lives.
The struggle for complete life is as present on the goban as it is in the office or home, even if it is less evident. It’s also something that each player must face on their own despite being in the company of others. This is the essence of “Misaeng.”
“Misaeng” is available on Hulu Plus. Quotes from The Korea Herald and Korea Joongang Daily
photo (bottom left): Webtoon writer Yoon Tae-ho poses in his office prior to an interview with The Korea Herald on March 7. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Edited by Howard Wong
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“Surrounding Game” launches screenings worldwide

Thursday May 25, 2017

“The Surrounding Game” is coming to a theater near you! The documentary team has just announced a summer lineup of screenings in major2017.05.24_ScreeningTourList cities across the US and Europe. The screening tour includes stops in: Toronto (6/10), San Francisco (6/10-11), Boston (6/28), New York City (6/29), Barcelona (7/07), The International Chess & Games Festival in Pardubice, Czech Republic (7/14), Berlin (7/18), Amsterdam (7/20), the European Go Congress in Oberhof, Germany (7/24), and the US Go Congress in San Diego, CA (8/05).

2017.05.24_surrounding-24x36-laurels_smallTickets are on sale now and the filmmakers urge those interested to “get yours now before they sell out!”

If you don’t see your city on the list, don’t worry – you can sign up to host a screening in your community. The film is now available to screen in theaters and community spaces. “We’re offering two options for volunteers to host a screening on their own” explains director/producer Will Lockhart. “ If you have a venue in mind, you can order a community screening pack, which will provide all the tools to host a successful event. Or, if you’re keen on getting the film to play in a local theater, you can sign up with our partners at Tugg. If you gets enough RSVPs, they’ll arrange to put the film in a local theater.” The team reports that several community screenings hosted by local go groups are already in the works.

“We’ve gotten a really positive response from non-players so far,” says producer Cole Pruitt, “and we feel this is the best way to share Go with people outside the community – by not just teaching the game, but telling a story. So if your club is looking for a way to bring more people in, I encourage you to host! I believe this is our chance to bring the world of go to the world at large.”

If your club wants to host a screening of the film, click here or contact the team directly at screenings@surroundinggamemovie.com.

photos: Berlin venue, San Francisco venue, film poster

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“Surrounding Game” to premiere at Palm Springs docfest

Sunday March 19, 2017

The long-awaited premiere of the go documentary The Surrounding Game is less than a month away, reports 2017.03.14_surrounding-game-Poster_smalldirector/producer Will Lockhart. The world premiere of the film will take place at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, CA, on April 3

AmericanDoc_2016_Laurels“I’m so grateful to the many hundreds of players in the community who have supported this project over the years” Lockhart, who has overseen the project since its inception in 2012, tells the EJ.   “We’re very excited to finally show the finished product, and we encourage anyone in the Los Angeles area who’s free on April 3 to make the trip!” Click here for tickets to the screening.

If you can’t make it to Palm Springs, don’t worry – the film team assures us that many other screenings around the country are currently in the works, including showings at this year’s US Go Congress in San Diego and European Go Congress in Germany. Check here for more screenings to be announced.
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Go Spotting: The Tokyo National Museum

Saturday December 10, 2016

by Erwin Gerstorfer2016.12.06_3Screen_IMG_2742A

A few weeks ago while in Tokyo I visited the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno. There I discovered three depictions of go, which was perhaps not surprising in this country with a long history of the game but nevertheless seemed quite a remarkable number for such a renowned art museum.

The first I spotted was a go scene from the Ranka story on a fan mounted on folding screens in the main building of the museum.

2016.12.06_6Kimono_IMG_2738AThen, in the next room I was amazed to find a go board in the embroidery of a kimono representing one of the Four Elegant Pastimes.

More than satisfied that I had found two go scenes, my go art day was complete when I came across one more — again on folding screens — when I went to the side building of the Horyuji Treasures.2016.12.06_10Horyuji_IMG_2760A

Due to the huge number of exhibits most visitors would probably not notice these go references, but after years of training myself to spot go in Japanese woodblock prints (Ukiyo-e) they just leapt out to me. If you too happen to visit Tokyo in the next months, try to discover them yourself, they are well worth a visit.
Erwin Gerstorfer is an avid collector of go literature and prints.

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Drawing the Line(s)

Monday October 10, 2016

“Tachi-mori” is the art of drawing lines on high-end go boards using a traditional Japanese sword upon which lacquer has 2016.10.10_Tachi moribeen thinly and evenly applied. Gurujeet Khalsa sent along this video showing the technique. The video is from Kurokigoishiten, which has a fascinating series of videos on making go equipment, including go stones and bowls.

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Artist Paints Go Tribute on Plate

Thursday August 18, 2016

DSC02149China painter Marlene Shankar, of Adirondack NY, sent the EJ this picture of her latest piece. “The design was a snippet from a painting done by Hua Sanchuan,” says Shankar,  “my painting teacher Audrey McCullough went to China and in her travels she got this book filled with paintings by Hua. Years later I was looking through the book and was amazed to find the picture of the ladies playing go. I decided to put this piece on a plate not only to challenge myself with the level of detail but also because I’ve found it hard to stumble across a go related piece to call my own.”

hua-sanchuan-兰闺雅集图“China painting requires special dry paints that the artist mixes with oils that can be painted on  porcelain. This paint doesn’t dry and works like oil paints, however the color has to be built up with each firing of the porcelain. When the porcelain is fired the paint bakes into the glaze. After each firing you can determine if another layer of painting is necessary to build up the desired color and texture. The paint build up is similar to that of watercolor, coming on light and waiting to build depth.”  Shankar is part of the Adirondack Region Porcelain Artist Chapter, affiliated with the  World Organization of China Painters.  To see an enlargement of  Hua Sanchuan’s original piece, click on the thumbnail above. -Paul Barchilon

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Go Photo: A Latte, Beer & Go

Thursday July 28, 2016

Ed Lee sent in this great shot of “Me playing go with my friend Blake Haber. The place is Third Window Brewery in Santa 2016.07.19_3WindowBreweryBarbara, CA, where they brew and serve their own beers. I drink only root beer but today I tried a latte from a new coffee stand there.

“Blake’s girlfriend Michelle Dixon snapped the photo — unbeknownst to both Blake and me at the time. It was a 2-stone game, I took white. Judging from the white stone in Blake’s hand, I believe we were fighting the last half-point baby ko in yose. It was our usual wild and crazy game where I made a 40+ point blunder in mid-game, but miraculously the result was W+0.5 — I couldn’t believe it after we finished scoring.”

Got go photo? Send ‘em to us at journal@usgo.org!

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What Go Players Can Learn from Track and Field

Wednesday July 20, 2016

John Zombro, a life time Track and Field athlete and coach recently attended the Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR and wrote up some of the things he learned from the character, philosophies and performance of the athletes. E-Journal photographer Phil Straus thought this list “is excellent for serious go players, as well for potential Olympic athletes” and sent along some illustrative photos. 

Intensity: When Joe Kovacs placed second in the shot put, and secured his place on the team to Rio, it was an excellent 2016.07.18_Japanese-man-with-fan-and-boardexample of intensity. The shot put requires the athlete to concentrate all his/her power into less than a second. Kovacs finished fourth in 2012 and needed a breakthrough throw to make the team. The intensity of his place-garnering throw rocked the stadium as loudly as his roar, and the crowd’s applause.

Aggression: Sometimes in life, and in sport, we need to be aggressive. There is no event where this is more true than in the 100 meters, and when Justin Gatlin toed the line for the final, it was all about aggression. Athletes learn to turn this on before an event, and turn it off soon afterward, but in the heat of battle, well, it’s all about the fight. Gatlin won the 100 going away in a true show of aggression.

2016.07.18_Xie-He-and-four-boardsConfidence: Not to be confused with arrogance, confidence is that trait exemplified when an athlete refuses to have doubts, trusts his/her training, and is resolute to fully utilize talent and give a maximum effort. There were many examples of this at the trials, but none better than Emma Coburn in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Coburn, easily the class of the field and a Rio medal contender, exuded confidence before the start and throughout the race.

Humility: Bernard Lagat dropped out of the men’s 10,000 meters on a hot evening, unable to stay with leader Galen Rupp at the 7400 meter mark. At 41 years of age, Lagat, a champion many times over at 1500/mile and 5000m, just humbly commented that he could not stay with the leaders and was determined to come back in the 5000 and make yet another Olympic team. To the surprise of some, but not to others (including this author), when the pack exploded for the finish over the 5000’s last lap, Lagat took the lead in the homestretch and impressed us all.

Poise: Brenda Martinez was in contention for a medal in the women’s 800m, when, on the final turn, her stride collided with that of Alysia Montano, and her chances of making the 800 squad were dashed. She did not blame Montano, and instead said the collision was a “blessing in disguise.” She stated “The track doesn’t care about your feelings, you’ve just got to move forward”. She did just that in the 1500m final, gathering herself to take the third and final spot on the team to Rio in a photo-finish.2016.07.18_Roy-Laird-playing-go

Focus: Molly Huddle, winner of both the women’s 5000m and 10,000m, in similar fashion, gave us a lesson in focus. She won both races by leading from the gun and then gradually pulling away from the field. Her ability to concentrate is only matched by her talent and work ethic in training.

Patience: Chaunte Lowe, the American record holder in the women’s high jump, a veteran at 32 years of age and mother of 3, convincingly won the women’s high jump. After a rather unsuccessful 2015, she patiently put in the training, and ruled the vertical leap. “I’m not quite done yet”, she said.

Execution: Sometimes you just have to execute. Have a race plan and follow it, but also see what develops and react appropriately. Allyson Felix executed in the women’s 400m, displaying a homestretch gear that no one else could summon, and going 49.68 in the process. Still recovering from a severely sprained ankle from a training injury in April, Felix stated that she knew she had to be patient and use her sprinter’s speed in the final 100m, regardless of how her ankle felt or what the other runners were doing. Always a class act, she attributed her victory to her coach, physical therapist, chiropractor, and massage therapist. Executing her race plan effectively “executed” all competitors.

Celebration: Occasionally we see athletes who deliver phenomenal performances but are never satisfied. “If only I’d trained harder, done this or that, or the weather was blank,” has been said a few times. But there is also something to be said for living in the moment. Sam Kendricks, in winning the men’s pole vault with a jump of (5.91m) 19’-4.5”, was jubilant in his victory. He took the microphone and thanked the athletes, the coaches, the spectators, and really shared the joy in his accomplishment. Kendricks was a graceful champion and captured the spirit of the trials.

Appreciation: In this modern world, we sometimes lose track of those human qualities mentioned above. We have so many distractions in our connected, electronic, social media-driven world. However, I can say for certain that those Olympic ideals of striving to go higher, farther, faster, and to do it with honor and respect, were alive and well in Eugene and they are pulsating in our Olympians. Go USA!

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Go Spotting: Pokemon Go Go

Wednesday July 20, 2016

Pokemon Go Go: Thanks to Matt Lecin and Ramon Mercado for sending this in.2016.07.19_pokemon-go-go

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Pittsburgh Artist Seeks Go Players for Film Project

Monday December 21, 2015

Pittsburgh-based artist Jesse Kauppila is looking for two “highly skilled go players, hopefully dan-level, who can memorize and reenact a 2015.12.13_Jesse-Kauppilahistoric go game which I can film.” An artist in Carnegie Mellon Univeristy’s MFA program, Kauppila is working on visualization/film project in which “I will be visualizing a game of go using a 7 axis Robot and 20,000 Legos.” The project is an extension of Kauppila’s recent public art project, “Checker Brick House.” “I am located in Pittsburgh, but I am willing to travel for this project,” Kauppila says. Contact him here.
Image: Kauppila’s “Bitmap Machine”

 

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