Yunyu Shih interviews Jiyoon Yoon
1. I remember you had mentioned how your childhood experience embedded in your art before, would you mind to talk about it?
When I was kid, I had to turn on all the light in the house after sunset. I can’t stay in the space if I didn’t do that. It became my ritual. This obsession to light filled up my childhood.
In the beginning I started to work with design, but I realize it’s not my place. I have serious questions about my status. I was always wondering what bothers me and what I’m trying to understand. Right after I left design and started to make art, I decided to make things about what I mentioned before.
So my first piece of work is a series of miniature of space,first two were space I always met in my dream. I made people look inside, seeing the miniature furnitures and experience that. The light in the miniature was decided by outside space. It give me a control of the space in the miniature, I had a chance to control how people feel about it.
The third one is a miniature of my own room. I was giving a question about how to transform my daily space into people’s eyes. Right after I put the light on and see through it, I suddenly realize what I’m dealing with is not light, but my curiosity of observation. If things are not clear enough for me, I can’t observe and I don’t feel comfortable.
2. What’s your next move after you realize your eager of observation in your work?
I response to that in my solo show in Korea. I’m interested in observation, so I was thinking if I was bothering by the lack of light, in the same time I might be bothering by the exceed of light. So I decided to put these two element in my show and see how people response.
In the show I put some photo works first, some really funny and attractive images outside. When they came inside, they will enter a room with my photos but covered with dark acrylic, they can’t see the subject clearly. There were also some box and device hanging in the space, people can put their head inside. I put my photos in smaller size inside, but with strong light or interfere by LED. So when people see inside they can’t see the image clearly. I’m trying to challenging people’s experience of seeing, about some vague boundary of seeing or not, I even expect people complain what to see.
3. How does this piece link to “ENDURANCE STAGE”?
This piece come from my consideration of different amount of light. I’m curious how people feel different in the same amount of light because of the change of the context. So I built up a glass box, three side covered by blind, and the door is open. There’s a switch inside, so when people get into the space, close the door and activate the switch. They blind raised and door locked for 25 seconds. It’s an unexpected weird moment for the audience. They might try to go out but realize they are locked up. I interviewed people who was locked in the cage, most of people mentioned they noticed the light after they found out they were locked. They mentioned the light made them feel heat and uncomfortable even though it’s just a normal light, and only locked for 25 seconds inside. This is how I was thinking about sharing my feeling about light with people. In the same time I want to share with people some situation, and how light as a method.
4. It seems your core idea became more solid at that time, is there anything change after you decided to move to chicago?
I think observation is the most important thing before I came here. Of course it is still important now, I know I’m an observer. I think I don’t feel connect with people, so I always observe a lot. So observation is like the “thing” I want to do. And in the same time I always want to control, control people’s feeling. I want people came in, I want them to see, so control is part of my work. I think I didn’t understand my invisible anger and anxious in mind, because I didn’t know how to connect with people, I don’t know how to talk about what I was thinking. So I just ask them to see what I want them to see. This is like my way to reach people.
I expect and I know I’m alone here. I want to have more distance with people, I’m not sure people around me. I’m scared most of my time. My gesture is more about telling people I want to communicate here, although it’s very awkward.
5. Can you talk about the piece “There’s No Nothing”?
I think there’s some karma in life. Everything must have some reason to be happened. Not necessary bad thing, that’s why the title is “There’s no nothing.”
By the time I get here, I was always sitting in the studio, thinking about why am I here and how to see the space I’m having here. I was thinking about there must be a reason I’m here and I’m thinking about I should do something with this space. I didn’t know what I should do, so I explore all the space and I found out a lot of wholes on the wall. I sand them a little bit, and found out there are thousands of halls on the wall. I was imagining people who used to be here, using the space. By where the holes locate, I can even tell oh he was having a frame here. I felt I was tracing other people’s history. I started to think about mine and other people’s history. I think there’s always a thing. Then I circle every hole, nail into the hole, connected all the nail with one string, cover with fabric. You can see through the string, but you can’t get in. That’s how I think what history is, what memory is. You feel like you can touch it, but actually you can’t. The string is actually reveal the space but we can’t see it.
Audience was lying down on a device I made, hold a string went through the space, they can touch the string, but can’t really stand and reach the space. I see this work as a description of how we remember things. Everything somehow connected, it’s not there but still there.
6. There’s always a tension between the material in your recent work, I know you always see material as a representation as you or your character, can you talk more about that?
You know I have never use any light or soft material in Korea, but when i came here I don’t know where to go next so things became lighter. People talk about my work about the materiality, that’s because I am really honest about how I feel it. I never choose material just because it’s good, there’s always a reason. I always describe myself by some material. I really want to know, want to touch and that’s why my writing or work are like material.
Yes, but not only representation of my personality, it is also about my observation about people and environment around me, the material is how I reach the world.
7. In your past work, I think audience knew what to do and had a chance to interact with your work, how do you think audience approach your recent work?
I have two different approaches. One is making devices, another is making sculpture, performative or installation.
In my recent work, I’m trying to approach the suffer. The thing is how I show the suffer, and invite people to think about it. The devices are more like how to experience the suffer. So the sculpture is more like how I show the suffer. I want to take care of things in different way, in my own way. Maybe people came and see my work and can reveal their own anger or feeling, that’s good for me. Both are talking about similar thing but in different approach.
The quantity of labor in my work is important. I want people see this girl is doing this for long time and this much. I think the process of experiment and trying is important, when they came together, even just in catalogue, people felt different. Through what I do, I want people to think about themselves and thing around.
8. What you want people think?
I didn’t know that before, but I realize everybody has some anger, and that’s artist’s responsibility. That’s why we have more time to think.
The thing is why not artist working hard to think. Everyone is very busy very stressful, why not artist working and experience that? We should do something. I felt I should do something for people. Not like a social worker, it’s their job. But I strongly believe that I can do something top of it, I can make and think for people.
Of course I care about aesthetics, I need people to be attractive by my aesthetic, and they will be curious what’s behind. They may will ask or try to read it hard through my work. I will be very happy. That’s also why my work always take a lot of time.
9. What does your work serve? Aesthetic or as an inviting for audience to think?
Both, and actually I’m one of them. I feel I’m the same as the audience. I want to bring something from myself which the audience are not interested or engaged, I want to bring it to them even though it’s far.