Using footage from a nature documentary, the artist created a short video that is constantly being rewound in order to prolong the movement of a bird gliding through the air. This simple gesture reframes a mundane image with an act of yearning, suggesting a hope to find the unassuming poetics in our everyday experiences.
Yeyoon Avis Ann's I wanted to see a bird gliding longer (2017) was created out of her a personal desire to both extend and condense daily situations — in the process seeing these individual significance in a different light. The work was shown at Singapore-based gallery Supernormal as part of the exhibition —Technology in Art.
In this interview, we catch up with the artist who moved to Singapore in her teenage years to pursue art.
Firstly, what are you up to these days?
I’m working on the relationship between individuals and mass public, at the same time not restricting myself to any one medium. I’m using all sorts of medium I can, including using images that have been used elsewhere to redefine the images to form a new context. I’m currently playing around with videos, images and sculpture.
Were you doing art in South Korea?
Back in South Korea, I was mostly doodling — which I like to see as a form of technology too to actualise my daydreams or thoughts in a poetic manner. Before I left Korea in 2010, art to me was more modern than contemporary.
There were works I thought were pretty hard to understand because they were merely illustrating what can editing or technology do, such as promoting the newest invention rather than using technology to illustrate one’s idea. It was pretty hard to understand for me as there was nothing much to relate to as a viewer every time they spoke about the importance of ‘technology’.
Even until now, I guess most artists around the world are frightened by technology, which is seen as something that’s directly opposite to humanistic approaches. Something that could bring more harm to humanity.
However, I think we can actually learn from things like artificial intelligence and other systems of technology. For instance, when a machine estimates the number that makes up a crowd, though it can’t be numerically perfect, the base ideology is to count the number of people regardless of gender, race or anything.
What we should do is have a conversation with technology itself instead of criticising it. We actually learn from technology while working with it, I feel.
By extending the process of gliding in your work for the show, are you trying to ‘play’, or ‘fool’ with time?
Technology is a tool for me to actualise what I imagine something to be or wish it could be.
I literally wanted the bird to glide longer. I used a simple editing tool by cutting and pasting the parts when the bird is gliding. Originally it was about 10 seconds which I eventually extended to five minutes.
The viewer may enjoy in whichever ways they would like to perceive the work. Personally, I want them to perceive my work in a lighthearted manner — the way that I made the work originally.
The work is displayed with a CRT TV placed in a corner, so there’s a contrasting imaging of a bird flying and it being ‘placed’ on the floor. I initially thought of getting a headset so one has to hear the sound through another device.
But I thought spilling some sound over the exhibition space would be a nice entry point to the work.
How has technology provided you with the freedom to pursue and create art?
The way I understand technology is akin paint to a painter. Giving a solid body to the vague idea in the brain. We can be very precise in technology but (just like a panting), there’s always a trial and error process. It then becomes a constant cycle of learning and processing.
You mentioned that you have great interest in literature and music. How do you associate these things to your work?
Mostly I am inspired by lyrics, song titles or quotes in books. It sounds simple yet these things contain multiple layers of meaning. In the same sense, titles are very important and so I often derive titles before creating the work.
I really love philosophical literature that dwells on life in general, particularly Milan Kundera’s. He talks about the lightness and heaviness itself as a topic, which is usually very elemental and deep that is hard to describe. But he uses the form of literature and describes them in a very light-hearted and humorous way.
Generally, I’m aiming for my work to take on this sort of personality — elemental and deep yet light-hearted and humorous.
Even with very general topics such as individual, life, emotions, death and a mass, I want to adopt a very simple and gestural approach to create a humorous and playful work.
Do you think there’s less focus on play in contemporary art?
There are actually a lot of works that are witty but I see less of the works that speak about ‘life’. One of the first playful art pieces that I can think of now is Duchamp’s Fountain. It opposed the traditional way of viewing art as transcendental. Instead, he adopted a simple indication to make art. But it is tricky as it can be an inside joke that only some people might get. I want to talk about the things around us, and I try to use general topics or everyday materials or that everyone can relate to.
In the case of my work, the image of the bird gliding is such a popular image that people dream about, and there are so many other books about birds gliding.
Richard Bach wrote a book called Jonathan Livingston Seagull that’s being read widely around the world. If you think about it, the entire book is really just based on just a flying.
I’d also like to think of the video as a somewhat mundane medium that can be used to make my work more accessible and approachable.
Do you think technology can ever be misused?
I think the only case art can be seen as ‘misused’ is when it’s associated with social and cultural context.
We’re still in the process of trial and error when it comes to seeing technology as an art medium alone without social context. We consider what it can be, and what it can do. Of course, it may seem quite distanced if an artist uses robots, for example — advanced technology that’s not naturalised yet.
I’ve observed the ways in which people use robots for certain installations. For example, Jean-Luc Moulène deploying a moving robot with mirrors in the exhibition space. I thought it was pretty fast for this era of time — simply because our understanding of that kind of technology isn’t advanced yet.
I feel that technology can be used in quite a far-fetched manner in some ways, but eventually we will all be okay to embrace it as one medium of art.