Attention, loafers: There’s a new record to beat. Seoul-based rapper Shin Hyo-Seob, also known as Crush, has taken the gold medal in this year’s Space Out Competition.
The contest consists of 90 minutes of sitting and zoning out, with no phones, computers, tablets, or other distractions—and no sleeping, either. Entrants work hard to do nothing, drinking tea and receiving massages while medical staff monitor their heart rates to measure stress levels. A sportscaster with a microphone provides running commentary for the audience. Here's a video from the first-ever event:
It may seem absurd, but the Space Out Competition is both a work of social commentary and an attempt at remedying South Korea’s well-established stress epidemic.
Artist WoopsYang invented the contest in a period of intense stress in her own life two years ago. "I was suffering from burnout syndrome at the time, but would feel extremely anxious if I was sitting around doing nothing, not being productive in one way or another," she told VICE.
It’s hard to sit around by yourself without feeling unproductive. But in a group setting, doing nothing is a statement. “I thought to myself, ‘We would all feel better if we did nothing together as a group.’”
In addition to a dedicated break, the competition also serves as a work of interactive performance art. Busy people rushing through the park are confronted with a sea of strangers, all sitting quite still, completely un-fussed. "The best way to view this competition is from one of the surrounding tall buildings, looking down," WoopsYang said. "You'll be able to see a small patch of stillness amidst all the hectic movement."
This year’s competition in Seoul’s Ichon Hangang Park saw 70 competitors, including Crush, who told VICE he was determined to be the most intensely relaxed person there. “I practiced at home,” he said.
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