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Hyojin Yoo: Exploring Questions of Identity and Technology in the Modern Age

Don’t attend an exhibition of Hyojin Yoo’s work if you’re not willing to interact with the artwork. The artist, originally from South Korea but now based in Brooklyn, has just completed a residency at Mass MoCA where she has been working on the Makers Mill-looms to create interactive textiles. These textiles are weaved from conducive thread, creating rugs that play different sounds when touched by the viewer.

Interactive Textile completed at Mass MoCA

The elements of technology and audience interaction within the textile pieces are common themes in Hyojin’s work. When asked about the role of technology in her art, Hyojin argues that technology is almost impossible to ignore in our modern age, in fact, it is something people are naturally drawn to. However, there is still a level of mystery about the technology we use on a daily basis. Although we use our phones and computers constantly, the inner systems and implications of these devices remain opaque to many of us. Through her art, Hyojin hopes to “share my experience of not recognizing exactly what the tech I use is.” By addressing these questions of confusion her work aims to bring people together and allow them to examine the technology that they rely on at a new level.

"RGB Skin" a work in progress project that explores diversity

of space by visualizing and measuring skin colors

What a Wonderful World consists of custom-made music boxes that play

melodies based on currency data of the ten most used currencies in the world

Following her residency at Mass MoCA, Hyojin Yoo will be conducting research on queer politics and gender identity at the Taipei artist village. Her research comes at a time when the national conversation will be particularly focused on queer politics as Taiwan considers legalizing same sex marriage. Hyojin will then integrate the research from Taipei with her work at Mass MoCA to create a personalized rug that plays soundbites from the interviews she has conducted. The final installation will consist of a textile weaved from the voices Taiwan’s LQBTQ community.

Hyojin Yoo at work creating her interactive textiles

This is not the first time that Hyojion Yoo’s work seeks to unite people from marginalized identities in a space where they can sound off as one. She has an ongoing project with Nupur Mathur titled Flocking Birds which serves as a commentary on human migration and existence. The project hosts “migration parties” where people can come together and share their experiences as immigrants in the United States. These spaces allow people to organically seek and share information about their emotional experiences, as well as providing assistance for navigating the bureaucratic and legal technicalities of obtaining a visa. Flocking Birds began two years prior, a reminder that the United States has never been a particularly easy country for immigrants. However, the current administration’s xenophobic policies have illustrated that the unifying power of this installation is needed more than ever.

Flockin Birds installation

Whether her work is focusing on identity or technology, Hyojin Yoo is constantly looking forward, hoping to bring people together through her art.

Hear Now a one day collaborative performative public art piece for AIOP

(Art in Odd Places) at the New Museum IDEAS City Festival 2013

Periscope Maze, a public art project made for Figment Weekend,

Governors Island, NYC 2017

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