Not Just Tiny But Abstract, 2019, OCI Museum, Seoul, Republic of Korea
This sentence starts with a line and ends with a dot. In a sentence, there are various lines and edges, as well as various forms of sets and complementary sets. Drawn from dots, lines and sentence forms, this piece of writing becomes an experience itself rather than remaining a mere conveyer of meaning. I can conjure an imaginary scene where lines, dots, forms and compositions induce an intuitive experience. The scene is composed of a set of ‘d letters’—traces of self-revisions and disputes, like a blinking cursor on an empty monitor, repeatedly written and erased. Can we conceive of the set as an emotional assembly of temporal events, rather than through the lens of limited signification. Is it possible to convince the double-ness of this writing, that delivers a message of a refusal to convey specific meanings or narratives—that is, a rejection of an outward address.
We look at others through our own eyes. However, we perceive them through a system of significations. The reader will barely immerse themselves in the straight and curved lines, folds and edges, the spaces and structure of this sentence. It is natural to focus on the signification, instead of the form of the writing, as it is meant to be a conveyer of meaning. However, we can ask ourselves the question, of whether or not we are applying same process of reading-like-reception, regardless of subject — whether it signifies. We can ask ourselves if we are habitually perceiving subjects through our own semiotic interpretations. We may be able to ask a number of questions: Does the world in front of our eyes actually exist? Can we say that objects actually exist in themselves, once they all end up converging into a system of signification. Should we deny the existence of inconceivable things that cannot be recognized and signified?
Let me give you an example. Imagine an exhibition hall; the clean walls, sturdy floor, high ceiling, and the audience appreciating works or reading text in the space. This is the physical environment and the general acts that unfold in an exhibition space. However, there are numerous worlds and objects within this ordinary scene that cannot be captured by the habitual patterns of perception. This is even more the case when there are various audience members in the space or during events like the opening reception. Imagine the audience chatting in small groups, the sense of admiration and disappointment during the conversations, their expressions of agreement and skepticism, a laptop inside someone’s bag and drinks leftover, chairs and tables kept for the event, drying bread and fruit on the tabletop touched by no one, the molecules of paint lingering in the space, bugs behind the wall intoxicated by these molecules, a cold virus traveling in the space and cells dividing beside them. If we include all these invisible factors, a truly infinite world unfolds within a single object-space. Isolating itself while engaging one another, each factor constitutes a ‘single object-world’, of the so-called exhibition space. Perhaps the world in front of us that we tend to understand habitually occupies a wider range of territory than what humans can conceive of.
This piece of paper has two faces—its back and front—and two lines on its sides. It appears this way at a glance. However, the two edges of the paper have their own surface area so we should consider them as planes themselves, rather than lines. In other words, paper exists as a mass of a very thin volume, instead of being lines and faces. Including paper, most lines and faces perceived in the three-dimensional world are (thin and long) masses that have their own surface area and volume, or at least parts of them. Perhaps then, lines and faces are virtual objects that merely exist as concepts and numbers.
Let’s get back to the exhibition hall and imagine numerous invisible dots and lines here. I try to perceive a space that is constructed for the myth of visibility, actually an invisible world that only exists as concepts and numbers. Let’s first try to measure the height between the floor and ceiling. There are various heights within a single space. One may easily understand this when thinking about areas with crossbeams, areas opening to the second floor, the light rail across the ceiling, air conditioning units, and the number of various holes made for different purposes. Let’s record the various heights within the exhibition space and classify them into seven sections, from L1 to L7. Then, let’s count the dots that are on the same height. The dots I am speaking of here are where the lines meet other lines, such as in the corners of the space, where crossbeams on the ceiling meet the walls, and where the vertices of the square are drilled through the ceiling. Let’s record and classify the heights of the exhibition hall and all the dots on the same height, convert them into data, then make a book out of them. In other words, the book with its own volume-space is created from accumulating the virtual faces that are made from the record of dots from the heights and lines of the exhibition space. Finally, the dots and lines from the non-existing yet perceivable space are transformed into real faces and volumes, i.e. another space. On top of this, there are a number of other similar approaches. The artist draws fitted squares on the exhibition floor plan, measures the length of all of its edges, and transforms this number into a color value through computer software, then creates a sculpture from these colors. Furthermore, she plays videos that reflect the sensibilities of the long space between the wall and the floor, as well as the mysterious square hole on the ceiling. It is also possible to measure all the lines that exist in a space and then crumple up a thread made from the same length, then place it inside the space.
The above approach utilizes the imaginary world of dots, lines and faces as a means to conceive of real world of the exhibition space, employing them as a device for calling attention to various attitudes of perception. In effect, the recorded/classified lines and dots open up multiple fields of meanings while undergoing transformations in their own form and medium. First of all, the heights and dots are extricated from their original place and relocated into the book. Similarly, the lengths of the exhibition hall are translated into color values, then recreated into a mass with a formal structure and texture. The plasticity of the lines in the space are represented through a video that reveals subtle movements. Can we understand the sense of presence emerging from this invisible yet surely existing world of dots, lines, faces, more than through the symbolic? Perhaps the distinction between the real and virtual is only made through human perception. These two worlds might be equally existing presences.
And the piece of paper is folded to a tilted line. I imagine a white piece of paper folded in half towards a tilted line. The folded paper creates another line and faces, as well as spaces and dimensions. Between the two faces, a distinct line comes into shape, and the faces that do not merge construct volumes and spaces. The line is sort of a trace that distinguishes the two faces. The line wouldn’t exist without the folded paper, or if the folded faces disappear. Here, the line is a microscopic and abstract world which appears through events. Sometimes, dots and lines are absorbed into infinite worlds that are incomprehensible through specific theories or perspective. Once we conceive of certain objects as infinite entities, the related concepts stop evolving, and furthermore, dissolve into forms of futility. The act of folding a paper is an attempt to construct a concrete relationship with objects that approach an infinite world. The artist interprets the physical environment of the exhibition space into basic elements such as dots, lines and faces, transforms these elements into data, then recomposes the data into a visual form and medium. The aforementioned procedure presents the object-exhibition space from a point of view with an emphasis on relationships. This means to specify infinite objects such as dots, lines, and faces towards a real world, like folding a white paper towards a tilted line. Sharing various cross sections of perception in the exhibition space, these futile and minimal acts emphasize that they can be converted into different concepts anytime.
As a universe that is continuously rediscovered, the world cannot be fully consumed by the event of an exhibition. It is just delivered by restrained thoughts and accumulated relations. We cannot assume the notion of the whole and an entirety from these acts. The process of recording all the heights, lengths, dots and surfaces is not an attempt to bound the objects into a whole, but to embrace the relationship between the objects and to visualize these circumstances. As a result, the episodes in the exhibition space are not a singular radical emergence, but an accumulation of relationships conveyed through repetitive acts and controlled signs that allows us to imagine invisible worlds and various properties of objects. They explain that fundamental approaches to the objects and the rediscovery of the world suppressed by conventional thought become possible through building relationships with things that cannot be easily objectified. The numerous imaginary lines and dots in the space do not expose themselves, nor do they strive to create their own myths. Even though they are not easily perceived, their world is never meaningless. As we previously observed, their world is not imaginary, but exists in the real. Constantly rediscovered, the universes and the events in the exhibition do not entirely consume the world. Rather, they convey themselves through understated ideas and accumulated relationships.