JE VOIS / WHITE TEXT

 

This book was part of the 8th Unlimited Edition Preliminary Summer Workshop. In Saying "Summer Workshop," it is suddenly surprising that summer has come again. It seems as if the workshop was only a couple of months back. It was the world’s "hottest month ever recorded," 1 and the Korean Peninsula was not an exception.

 

Relating this book to the workshop's theme, "Manual Manual: Dictionary, Manual and Illustrated Book," I have sought a way to make it both thoroughly and uniquely my own work and also not to pigeonhole it into one specific type by borrowing the format of “Black-Grey-White Sculpture”(2015) and separately grouping text and images.

 

After leaving and coming back to several social networking services again and again, I have settled on three platforms. First, I use Facebook to collect art-related information and to clip news.

I made Black Monitor  by organizing headlines linked on Facebook from November 21, 2015, to October 23, 2016, in chronological order. Grey Painting, which encompasses my works from 2015 and new works from 2016, is a book that has only images.

White Text binds all three books and finishes the series, and at the same time exists as a background.

 

The title of the black, grey and white book is Je Vois, which in French means "I see" or "I understand."

I am not sure whether it is necessary to rank the senses in terms of priority, but it is known that people feel most uncomfortable when their sense of sight is somehow impaired. This might indicate why Je Vois, or "I see," takes on the broader, more significant meaning of "I understand."

 

        1. A small door on a wall or a roof to admit air or light and allow people to see out.

        2. [Computer] A rectangular space with an independent environment on a monitor screen.

 

The above was the result of a search on Daum Dictionary for "창窓," or window in English.

There seem to be two types of windows today, in 2016 : windows installed in buildings and houses in order to see outside, and the black screens of various sizes that are carried around with us through most of our daily lives.

 

One day, I took out my smartphone on the street and raindrops fell on the black screen. I thought it was beautiful, just like dew drops on flowers or leaves, and I was taken aback when I then found myself instinctively trying to take a screenshot.

This trivial event happened when I had been using a smartphone for a little less than five years, and it made me doubt how much a member of the older generation can understand the senses of those who grew up with touch screens from childhood.

 

Sometimes my past feels like ages ago, and I think it is probably because I was born and raised in South Korea. When I watched a Korean movie in France in 2003 with my friend Cécile, she asked, "Why don't they have any old stuff in the houses?" I was so used to the absence of old or antique items that it had never struck me as unusual until someone pointed it out.  

 

I wanted to be an artist because I wanted to "know," or in other words, because I wanted to "see" properly. I wanted constantly to dig into things that are not revealed easily, and I had a vague idea that artists could not be swayed from this task by the outside world. At the very least, I thought I would not easily give up exploring if I lived as an artist.

 

In 2015, my works were monotone drawings and paintings using black. The next year, I mainly used white to reveal grey and make a contrast with black, rather than simply allowing it to rest in the background. My works using three-dimensional books in 2015, like “Black-Grey-White Sculpture” and “An Imaginary Structure”, may have drawn me to expressing ideas in two dimensions.

 

I moved into a new workshop in an old house in June. I have made windows part of my routine. Each room in the house has a window, and I open them as soon as I arrive and close them before leaving. Sometimes I need to force the windows open or closed, and the landlord's dog barks at the loud noise.

The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night is turning on (opening) and off (closing) the smooth and black screens of my laptop and smartphone. It can be done silently (if I want).

 

 

"Seeing in its deepest meaning is to see differently, or in other words, to experience. If you try to avoid getting hurt, you cannot see differently. Seeing submits to the possibility of getting hurt." 3

 

 

1 Slezak, Michael. “July 2016 was world’s hottest month since records began, says Nasa.”  The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 16 August 2016. Web.

2 monitor

        1. A device that displays the visualized result of data processing on a computer.

        2. A person requested by press or manufacturers, to give opinion or feedback after seeing TV programs or news or using products.

        3. A person who watches TV/radio programs or a transmission status.

3 Han, Byung-chul. Die Errettung des Schönen. Seoul: Moonji Publishing, 2016. Print. (p.54) Bolded words are from the original.

 

 

 

Translated by Bongmoon Kim

Edited by J.P. Zukauskas

 

 

2016