Absurd Sight : Trifocal Sight

By Nayoung Jung, Curator SOMA Museum of Art

Suniy Im narrates the life of contemporary humans who ceaselessly undergo identity confusion and psychological conflicts between nature and an artificial(civilized)state. She is also concerned with the difference between what she sees and what is seen by others. In her pieces titled The shelter and An Isolated Island, the artist presents unfamiliar, disquieting sights by putting objets made form the combination of natural subject matter and artificial materials into an urban space. This work reminds viewers of some of the desperate situations of contemporary people, such as isolation and separation, leading them to such psychological states. The sense of emotional homogeneity we perceive enables us to communicate through her work. In the process of her mental efforts which have demanded her concentration and physical labor that have been mechanically repeated, the artist presents an exploration of her identity and her attempts to solve there conflicts, Im's An Absurd Journey is in an extension of such work.

The destination of her journey is Inwang Mountain. Why is it Mt. Inwang? Inwang is a symbolic mountain centered in Seoul. It stands in nature while coexisting within a metropolis, which has led Im to choose it as her subject matter, Im's travels to Mt. Inwang begin from the impression and surprise she felt when the mountain she has in her mind overlaps with the image of the mountain she sees form the street. Her traveling method is quite unique. Im frist explores the shape of the mountain through a topographical map made by putting various maps of reduced scale together. The next step of her journey is the cutting and accumulating of paper. In addition, her journey is recorded through the act of taking photographs, thus bringing new aspects and changes. All the processes of her journey are symbolically represented: for example, the red lines on the map signify her inflamed eye brought about by fatigue of her travels. Im's metaphorical methods are strangely persuasive as to convey meaning when we compare our own lives to a journey.

Upon closer examination, An Absurd Journey beings after mathematical and geographical exploration through the reduced scales of topographical maps. When cutting along the contours, we eventually get two divided parts: a large square paper with a hole in it and the resulting piece of hole-shaped paper. After cutting thousands of pieces of paper in the same way, centering them, and piling them up, two divided three-dimensional objects, one of concave and convex, are formed. Put

together, the two make up a heap of heap of square paper: one is mountain-shaped while the other is the negative space of the mountain, a reversed canyon-shape, not in the typical mountain from. We stare at each layer of paper in this work called Landscape Seen Through Red Eyes. Achromatic or monochrome objects make viewers focus on the act of seeing itself. These objects trigger our sense of vision to perceive all sorts of minute protrusions. Through the photographic element of Im's work, the exploration of sight is reborn.

What are after the last phase of An Absurd Journey are more distorted, absured landscapes. In Trifocal Sight, Im simultaneously captures a close range view, a middle distance view, and a middle distance view, and a distant view, like eyeglasses that artificially correct the function of the eye, The treatment of trifocal sight brings about an extremely awkward, two-dimensional feel. The artist underlines the shape of a deep valley by giving the stark contrast of light and shade, using artificial lighting. Its details fill the entire canvas and are printed in a larger scale than reality. The sense of distance is minimized, the sense of depth is amplified, and the scale doubled, thereby evoking a dramatic effect. Through this process, the sight of a modem city reduced to completely new image.

Im's work brings about a filtering effect of perception through the changes from there dimensional reality(real mountain) to two dimensional objects(topographical maps)and from three dimensional models(mountain and valley models) to two dimensional photographic(landscape photographic). As a result, Im's work remains farther away from reality and indistinctive in its special quality. Instead, that becomes an open landscape that unfolds an unknown world for all viewers. Through An Absurd Journey, the artist intends to communicate whit an external world. opening up the possibility of diverse interpretations by admitting and allowing the difference between what we see and what is seen. Like this, Im's work brings changes to our perception through an incessant chaos, defining modern scenes. Drawings seen through swaying eyes show Im's unique work methods with which aspects of contemporary society seen through contemporary people's uncertain, variable eyes are metaphorically represented. I wonder what landscape unfold in her following work being captured by her perception and sight.