2006 Interview with Oh Sunghee (Samsung LeeUm Museum, Seoul) _ Text by Oh Sunghee (Samsung LeeUm Museum, Seoul)

Interview with Oh Sunghee (Samsung LeeUm Museum, Seoul)

Text by Oh Sunghee (Samsung LeeUm Museum, Seoul)

Oh Sunghee : ‘Welcome to My House’ shows the inside of your New York apartment, which is also your studio and place of everyday living. This is your most private place and your place of work. Why did you use it as the subject of your work?

Jeong So Youn : ‘Welcome to My House’ consists of three video images – ‘the real look of the inside of a room’ of my New York apartment, ‘the scene of a room reflected on a window,’ and ‘the outside of a window seen from inside a room’ – which are projected onto window glass. (Only two of these three are projected during the exhibition at Leeum.) I tried to show the vividness of the room of my apartment and the sense of a specific space by depicting my small apartment as it is, which has three such windows. The audience of ‘Welcome to My House’ experiences private space and everyday living along with an artist, which is me. Although the audience can steal a glance at the private space and time of an artist, the audience still cannot see more than whatever “an observer” would see. Although there is ambiguity over the subject and object as they are mingled by private time and space, the location of the audience, who are in a real space, does not change. On the contrary, the artist is looking at the audience through the images reflected off of a window.

Oh Sunghee : ‘Welcome to My House’ shows the everyday life of you busy as a single mom, an individual woman, and an artist through high-speed moving images. This is also true of your other work titled ‘Trace-NY,’ which shows high-speed of moving images of New York street scenes of repeatedly. Which time and which speed are these works talking about?

Jeong So Youn : I wanted to express society’s obsession with speed through single-channel video works, ‘Mobius Strip’ and through my multiple-channel video installation works, ‘Welcome to My House’ and ‘Trace-NY’. Each of these works is the allegory of different times and spaces we as humans physically experience. The speed of ‘Mobius Strip’ is cut at about the same speed as my pace of walking. My fast-moving feet and narration are shown as images are run. ‘Trace-NY’ is cut faster. The speed is that of a machine, not a human. Here too are ceaselessly circulating images. In ‘Welcome to My House,’ ‘real space,’ and ‘psychological time’ are combined. These three video works are records and traces of special times and spaces I have experienced myself. ‘Trace-NY’ is a drawing of time and space that consists of 40 monitors. The images run on each of the monitors become one big image and together compose ‘Trace,’ forming a circulation of a bigger unit.

Oh Sunghee : Your cutting techniques and sense of color, speed, and forms shown through the images of ‘Trace-NY’ are very impressive. You are clearly striving to handle new, multi-media skillfully. Tell us why you decided to apply media technologies to your works, what messages you deliver by doing so, and what limitations you experience in your work.

Jeong So Youn : Time and space have long been the subject of art. Since multi-media technology was applied to art, ‘the concept of time’ has become the most important theme and subject of media art, whether directly or indirectly. Digital technology freed artists from the confines of time and space and afforded them more artistic freedom, which is a different dimension of freedom compared to that of conventional media art. Artists have expanded the area of expression by fully accommodating this freedom. For me, digital technology and image media became exciting toys to play with in that they made it possible for me to do things that humans cannot see or do in the real world. Think about it! How can human eyes notice differences in motion video images when picture interval is 1/29.97 seconds per picture as I did in my works, ‘Washing Up My Face-Narcissism’ and ‘Changing Images’? How can human eyes observe and make records of a garden of other people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from the same location and make a record of them, as I did in ‘The Past, The Present’? With a CCD camera, I could produce the same effect as if my own eyes were removed and fixed at a certain place. While observations were on-going, I could see all that was happening comfortably from my home without going to that specific place. Even I could see the weather conditions of that place in real time. (I could even see all the wash hung out to dry in the garden getting soaked in rain.) I am interested in manipulating and combining time, looking into it (time), and handling it from both a narrow and broad perspective. I think that the most efficient use of digital media entails doing things that are impossible without digital media. Of course, I sometimes feel limitations as an artist. The two greatest sources of frustration for most young media artists are ‘technology’ and ‘money.’ When they are short of either of these two things, they can only work in their minds, and this work may not necessarily be seen by others in the future.

Oh Sunghee : How important and significant is the sex of an artist in the process of creating her/his work? The aesthetics of post-structurism, as such, seem to be common subjects in your works. What attractions do you draw from this kind of experiment or challenge of visual realization of theory? Do you have a theory that especially represents your view of modern society, and if so, what is it?

Jeong So Youn : Giving a birth to a child and raising a child is an essential experience if a woman expects to have a full life. My 12-year old son, who appears frequently in my recent work, ‘Welcome to My House,’ was an importance source of inspiration for me when I did ‘Collecting Animals’ in 1997. I find links that connect the ordinary appearances of people in modern society and discussions of the times in my relationship with my son, who is the primary subject of my observations, and time I have spent raising him. Hyper-real experiences which replace the real with the simulacrum, and repeating processes are addressed in my past works with a wide range of colors (Jean Baudrillard). What Lacan said about the subject and object of observation, which was dealt with in ‘Welcome to My House.’, and the reasons for voyeurism and desire have been important subjects in my works such as “The Eye to See Desire” and “Aqua, Inside and Outside”. ‘Visual realization of theory’ is what I have to work with as an artist. For me, realization of my artwork occurs through a link connecting private affairs in a natural way, allocation of specific times and spaces, miscellaneous affairs related to raising my son (which can never be neglected), the time of patience required for tedious and boring manual work, and sometimes purchasing new equipment, which may be seen as the reversal of the ends and means.

Oh Sunghee : You deal with so a wide range of media and subjects that you can be considered ‘an artist of off-genre.’ Your works using objects and multi-media especially look totally different, as if they were produced by different artists by the same name. While I think it is due to your capability and to your advantage that you find diverse vessels in which you can contain your interests that unfold in many different directions, it is also true that I feel your interests are simultaneously diffused. What do you think about this as an artist?

Jeong So Youn : Although it is clear that digital media attracts me, there are subjects that can be expressed only with the handwork of an artisan and elaborate object work rather than new media. I do works using images and multi-media, and at the same time manually do object installation works. If you ask which is the more important of the two, I would say that both of them are equally valuable to me. Manual work sometimes requires me to engage in simple, boring labor. However, too often, such works by themselves form the artistic concepts of my works. As seen in the knitting in ‘Soft and Warm Bathtub and It’s Cast-off’ and or feather ladder works, repeated handwork and flow of time that demands elaborateness becomes a subject that constitutes my work. Among my object works, there are many which have been discussed from a feminist viewpoint. I think this is because of the characteristics of themes and subjects that are exposed in these works and my personal stories, which are contained naturally, and because these works have come to be understood in the context of feminism.

Oh Sunghee : Lastly, tell us what direction you think media art is going in, and at what point will the direction of your work meet the direction of media art and your work will unfold.

Jeong So Youn : One of the characteristics of media art, which is different from conventional media, is the difference in the method of communication with the audience. The future direction of interactive art, from passive interactive art to aggressive interactive art, is very exciting. It may sound trite to hear that I am interested in a new level of communication that entails communication with an individual and society, the virtual and real world, and the omnipresence of space and omnipresence of time, which is simultaneously occurring communication in terms of both space and time (here, omnipresence of time also refers to the method by which different times exist in one space), not to mention communication with the audience. As I have been doing thus far, I will continue to work on elaborate handwork that is completely unique and impossible to copy, while applying new media to my artwork. I will expand my thought onto new methods and communication, and apply new methods of communication of artwork to wider audiences.