The Weightless Trace of Life, HUFFPOST
D. Dominick Lombardi
The Weightless Trace of Life
Jahyun Seo's abstractions reflect the time in which we live in very curious ways. She sees us as we operate physically, emotionally and cognitively as compartmentalized beings defined by the relationships we cultivate, the jobs we have, the space we live in and the social presence we put forth. We tend to categorize, size up and prejudge yet we feel little comfort in the way we are perceived by others. And with social media the way it is today, ‘others’ can be an endless and painful line of complete strangers that have access to our every move, memory and emotion.
Seo’s latest series, seeing and being seen, has evolved over the years through a multitude of materials and a menagerie of means as she explores all the states of the human condition from the conscious to the unconscious, awake and asleep.
Seo's art suggests we live lives that are more or less preset by many things that are out of our control. And since we are born into a station that is hard to move above and very easy to fall down from we must maintain a certain level of will and stability. We are also very much influenced by the more powerful media outlets that tempt us with things that are just out of our reach or far beyond our means. On the other hand, deep inside, we want to stand out, be seen as special or significant in our lives and in our contributions. However, many of us are most comfortable when we go unnoticed despite our inner most desire to be ‘famous’.
Seo suggests in her earlier works in the series that we exist in a network symbolized by a patchwork of interwoven materials that are suspended like ritualistic objects of faith and culture. When installed, they appear as a fractured skyline that moves in and out of focus like birds through the mist of a morning lake. Only in this instance, the fog is a void and the lake is an empty bottomless space. From working with fiber, thread and paintings, she has since moved into the digital world creating virtual beings as a smoky presence in a black irregular cube. And like the floating islands in limitless voids, Seo finds her muse in the more recent works in the darkness where points of light and color create a sort of transmission of a soul. And it is in the static parameters and the darkness of infinite space that I am subtly reminded of the work of Francis Bacon who often revealed the essence of his subjects in confined and contorted forms.
Overall, Seo defines the individual as a weightless trace of life that flickers and glows. She reveals us as highly susceptible to passing trends, the whims of an overbearing boss, changing life circumstances or volatile relationships. She suggests in her art that we are, after all, only a small cog in an endless stream of an ever expansive hierarchy that increasingly minimalizes and marginalizes us.
From a distance, we are like stars in the sky linked by a common need for companionship – and yet, we are separated by the unexplainable or intangible. Seo also sees an inner being, an id flowing through a collective consciousness that gives us all the wear with all to survive, at least mentally. She finds patterns in chaos yet neither one is permanent because our very existence is fleeting, while the structure and form we live within can transform in a heart beat. If that happens, we must adapt to the changes, formulate new paths based on the discoveries we make and leave the devastation behind.
So we press on, we make our way from one space, one grid, one cube to the next like a colony of insects – only with humans, we live in our thoughts differently than we do in our lives. We have imagination and will. We dream and we fantasize and we end up, most often, back where we started. What Seo hopes is we are a little more enlightened, hopefully a little wiser and perhaps a bit more willing to be different than our destiny would have us. And despite everything, all the limits and increasing differences between the haves and have-nots, there is hope. Where there is communication there lays the potential for true and fruitful engagement with others. When we see and are seen we exist in the moment as part of a wonderful, endless and multi-planed universe that we must make the most of, or find comfort with the level of satisfaction that is presented by the cubical at work, the overpriced apartment we live in, the quiet of the darkness pierced by the lights across the street and beyond that tell us we are part of a very large and growing group of similarly illuminated souls.