Wishing Well: 위싱웰

2020.06.20 ~ 06.26 / Foundwill Art Society (FAS), Seoul

Our contemporaneity is marked by a cascade of commodity products and their images replicating, mutating, and dispersing immeasurably to permeate the boundless matrix of cyberspace. Developing technologies encase and nurture these images to live on, and we, with or without knowing, come to find refuge in their deluge.

Through her body of works, Sun Woo attempts to explore the ways in which these lifeless objects, images, and technologies are transformed to bear meaning, value, and even a “spirit” of their own—beyond their practicality. For some of us, engagement with particular products or viral images such as memestake on a communal meaning, evoking shared emotions and a sense of belonging. For others, possession and manipulation of certain fetish items compensate for life’s uncertainties, casting a spell of converting a small part of their lives into something that can be owned and changed at their will. Likewise, we often project ourselves on to the objects and images that we possess or share, breathing life into their inert bodies. The sense of community and agency that we acquire in this process provide us with strange comfort in the face of life’s precarious essence. But is this sense of community and agency real? Or do they exert their power merely in our imaginations?

Taking interest in these objects and images that exist on the boundary of the real and the imagined, the artist meditates on the following questions: What do these silent entities speak about the desires, anxieties, and deficiencies of contemporary society? To what extent can they alleviate such emotions? And where do the unrelieved emotions wander?

Appropriating found images of objects around her from social media platforms and advertisements and viral images circulating on the net, Sun Woo creates an assemblage of contemporary iconography, presenting a fantastical landscape. In this process, the artist intentionally chooses commodities that are ubiquitous and banal, and therefore emblematic of the contemporary aesthetic and psyche. In transferring digitally constructed collages onto the canvas, the artist treats the surface of the canvas like a digital screen, layering each image on top of one another, like she would on programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. Sun Woo further borrows from digital conventions like drop shadows, outer glows, warp tools, and cut-and-paste actions, constructing an eerie spatial composition that is defined by a larger flattening and inversion of space. Collapsing fact and fiction, these dream-like image mash-ups arouse feelings of magical wish-fulfillment, nightmarish anxiety, and uncanny alienation. By constructing such ambiguity and tension between desire and fear, as well as a sense of control and helplessness, these works shed light on the transformative potential of today’s objects, images, and practices. They are psychological reflections on the close correlation between us and our increasing dependence on these commodities and technologies.