Two Subtle Bodies (2022)

Sound Scene 2022 at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Gates, Borders, Barriers at Columbus Park, Brooklyn, NY presented by More Art and Downtown Brooklyn
- 감각너머: 타인의 공간 at Samsung Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
- <HOPE>, KOTE, Seoul, South Korea

Press Articles:
Downtown Brooklyn
Korean Ministry of Culture
Korea Cultural Center
The City Life
Manna 24

Commissioned essay on More Art medium

Sound design collaboration from Jesse Simpson & Greg Halleran
Garment design collaboration and production by Daniel Ryan Johnston

Commissioned and supported by the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, DC, Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

The research was partially supported by Future Imagination Fund and More Art

Two Subtle Bodies
(2022) is an interactive auditory experience where two strangers walking inside a space experience each other’s peripersonal space. As the two bodies move together, they generate and listen to sounds through bone conduction that correspond dynamically and in real time to their movements. The subtle body is a concept that appears in Taoism and Dharmic religions to indicate bodies that are neither solely physical nor solely spiritual, in contrast to the mind-body dualism that has dominated western thought. In neurology, the space surrounding a body is called Peripersonal Space and enabled by visuo-tactile senses. By recognizing and perceiving this soft and fluid space between us, we can unlock new ways of connecting with each other by extending the sense of self and others. Imagine you can hear a stranger’s subtle body through sound. Will this bring us closer?

The work was initially commissioned by the Korean Cultural Center, D.C., Embassy of the Republic of Korea. It premiered at the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, D.C. as a part of Sound Scene in June 2022, which also featured Laurie Anderson’s work.

I invite you to read my essay commissioned by More Art

Photos by Samsung Leeum Museum of Art

Photos above by Anthony Washington

Photos above by Cactus Studio

Photos above by Ninad Pandit

Photos above by Tuan Huang

Artist Interview produced by the Korean Cultureal Center, Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

Audience Interview: Rachel & Tyron

I’d like to share some of my reflections from the showing:

While the experience is originally designed to connect strangers, different combonations of people participated in the experience. The relationships changed the dynamics of the experience. For strangers, the experience introduced a new way of getting to know each other through a non-verbal communication and interaction. I was happy to see a teenager daughter and dad connecting with each other and dancing together after a long time. There were couples who cried while experiencing the work from deeply connecting with each other from feeling what the other person feels.
It was my first time seeing someone crying while experiencing what I created. There were a few who cried while experiencing Two Subtle Bodies. They cried, probably, not because the work was moving by itself, but because of how they felt towards each other through the experience of Two Subtle Bodies. It was the happiest moment that I can ask for as an artist. I use interaction as my medium to build a stage and tools for people to discover their own sensibilities and creativity they’re not aware of otherwise and build new relationships with others and the world.

+ For the first showing of this work at the Smithsonian Hirshshorn Museum, the work accompanied an educational public workshop Sounds Like Us: Creating Collaborative Musical Instruments w/ Code. It happened at 2pm on Sunday, June 5th at the Lerner Room on the 3rd floor of the Hirshhorn Museum. 

Yeseul Song