The Places of Overlapped Time
Jinsang Yoo (Professor, Kaywon University of Art & Design)
“There were corridors that led nowhere, unreachably high windows, grandly dramatic doors that opened onto monk like cells or empty shafts, incredible upside-down staircases with upside-down treads and balustrades. Other staircases, clinging airily to the side of a monumental wall, petered out after two or three landings, on the high gloom of the cupolas, arriving nowhere.”(The Immortal, Jorge Luis Borges)
The world we live in is but one portion of infinite possibilities. If even one of the cosmic constants of this world were to change, the cosmos will fail to sustain its current state and eventually collapse. For instance, if the speed of light were a little different, the temporal space we know today would have donned a completely different shape. The invariable, the immortal, the eternal truth. We refer to such as the utopia, the paradise. If the world that we had believed to be perpetual and indubitable is in fact only but one exceptional instance, if the reality is only but a latent incident that can collapse or be replaced at any moment, how are we to paint the boundary between the ideal and the real? We could say that our faith in the world that we depend on is composed of extremely frail silhouettes.
The works of Jaiyoung Cho address the invisible principles and their visible representations. The principles here however are the rather transfigured, the broken away from the present, the subtly flickering. The adverb “subtly” is added to convey that what the façade expresses is the portentous transfigurations of the quivering principles. The objects that Cho addresses are positioned in the narrow spaces in between the ‘normal’ and extinction. They belong to the unstable world where mutual exchange is possible before reality loses its resolution and is reverted to geometric shapes, or before materials return to the original state as alchemic souls.
In the exhibition Under the Paradise, Cho addresses the process of reaching a perfect world or the idealism of the world, and what would have existed before it. The process of reaching the ideal state encompasses everything other than the ideal. And it is this relative deduction that pushes the world into a state of anxiety. Language loses its object and objects are frozen. Relationships repeatedly derail and consciousness remains in the state of chaos. Nonetheless, from the perspective of an artist, such deduction serves as a momentum toward a new beginning and circulation, or jumping into a dimension different from infinitely reverting moments. It may be that a paradise is good enough existing “over there” or “up there”. Because it is its absence from the world we live in that produces our will to head toward it. How will the planes that border on the paradise be created? They will manifest in a form we have yet to discover. They will be revealed in an unprecedented format that forever challenges our language and consciousness.
A most interesting instance of such idea of the world is Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau. This unique production, created from the year 1923 to 1937, is a walk-in collage of having filled the artist’s studio with complex polyhedrons that make the room seem as if a multidimensional space. Employing cheap materials such as scraps of waste, it conveys not only the difficulties faced by an artist of the times, but also the flexibility of expression and liberation of thought. Cho also uses light and pliant cardboard and plywood, which not only accentuates a strong sense of the present in her work but also serves as a condition that reminds one of what the work points at. In particular, the variable temporality that such materials permit, or in other words, the reversibility that allows limitless modifications and alterations serves as a significant element in the work in that the artist takes on the methodology of repeatedly recomposing and adjusting new layers throughout the production process. The manner of a manifold constantly shifting its topological arrangements can be represented in Cho’s artistic time.
From primitive art to Duchamp’s The Large Glass, the binary relation between the invisible structure and the world as its projection has been one of the fundamental drives in the operation of artworks. The inside and the outside, up and down, mid and material, mathematics and dynamics have served as the elementary foundation constructing not only art but culture and civilization to what they are today. Cho ‘s works are composed by the process of deducting visual elements from the reality that we empirically perceive. Paradoxically, such deduction is processed in the form of overlapping the deducted shape upon objects. This can also be seen as an act of deduction in that such overlapping is possible only after removing the original content. Deduction is repeated up to the point the features of the memorable or perceivable object are almost wiped out. Perhaps what comes after is a sort of silence or background sounds. What we can recognize in Cho’s other works, such as the Object series produced in 2009 or the What Am I piece that she wove on canvas, is the act of leaving behind the minimum memory through not only visual but tactile means,
From Covers and Moebius Strip produced in 2011 to Sculptures in the Blank of 2013, Monster of 2016, and Alice’s Room of 2017, the methodology of producing the ‘skin’ of objects with corrugated cardboard conveys an expansive development that encompasses not only small objects but also furniture, interior space, and even architectural structure. ‘Skin’ evokes two meanings. One, the minimum boundary that the object encounters with the world, and two, the ‘shared matter’ surrounding the essence of the object. This shared matter on the one hand is simplified as it heads toward the direction of geometric plane or crystallized form, while on the other hand makes possible the link with other objects as if a chemical compound. The skins produce syntagma while at the same time forming a system by themselves. For Cho, such formal double-sidedness of an object’s exterior correlates with the physical double-sidedness – sound and text as a visual sign – that can be discovered in poetic associations of language.
In Alice’s Room, Cho simplifies the furniture that one frequently encounters in any interior space, codes them as modules, and employs them in the manner of Lego blocks as she reconstructs the space. As in the fable of Lewis Carroll, the furniture and furnishings are at the same time the entrance and the exit, and also objects on the border of different dimensions. The stairs are headed toward the ceiling, the column is placed upside down, the space where objects are placed is filled with polyhedrons that have overlapped them. Such Borges-like polyhedrons are also dices whose insides cannot be discerned, and cards on which answerless questions are written. Each ruled by a different ‘metaphysical and subjective principle of physics’ (Duchamp), each floor of the exhibition space is composed of a structure that more resembles the paradise of the minimum place, prototype, or object and mind as one climbs higher. As is the case of each individual work and the exhibition space itself, the exhibition also performs the process of overlapping, deducting, and transforming into a polyhedron. As if a mandala in which the part and the whole mutually reflect one another, this exhibition also conveys the times and places that are overlapped toward the absent center.