Words by Lula Criado
Soomi Park is a multimedia artist based in London and Seoul who uses wearable devices and sensors to create installations focused on human emotions, desires and interactions. With her conceptual pieces of work, Park encompasses connectivity, gender, beauty and identity with art to tell stories about human interactions and social issues (like the cultural desire in East Asian countries for rounder and larger eyes).
Language, privacy, beauty, control, space and time are topics that define the creative universe of Soomi Park. Her following three projects have caught my attention: Vixen™_ Circadian Eye Drop, The Republic of Privacy_Chromatic Encryption and LED Eyelash.
Vixen™_ Circadian Eye Drop is a synthetic biology project focused on the analysis of the Human Circadian Clock (a day-night cycle). Park imagines a future scenario in which humans have circadian rhythm disorder and can control the circadian clock. In The Republic of Privacy_Chromatic Encryption, Soomi Park draws a world in which people live in absolute privacy.
Chromatic Encryption is the ‘official’ language which uses colour recognition instead of letters and numbers. LED Eyelash denounces the fetish for big eyes that sometimes can become an obsession in Asia, where women associate the standard of beauty with bigger, rounder and larger eyes.
What do you most like and dislike about the period we live in?
I like the paradox because there is always something to discover. I dislike the borders of countries; I believe the borders are actually generating more problems between countries and the citizen’s identities.
What is your chief enemy of creativity?
Flies. Although they are very tiny, they can give me full distraction at work!
If you would have to give up one of your five senses, which one would it be and why?
It is hard to answer, but I would go for the taste, as I believe I would not lose taste totally if I have better senses of smell, vision, sound and texture than as I have now. I think ‘eating food’ means not about tasting the ingredients but also enjoying the harmony of what the food has; smell, presentation, texture, etc.
Also, once I read in a science article about the senses can be improved if someone practices using them more accurately (how amazing to know what abilities of the human body has!). Therefore I think even if I lose my taste, I can probably continue to enjoy the food with other senses.
What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?
‘Do not try to be too hard to be something if it is not meant to be for you.’ It was advice from one of my university professors when I asked him how he see me as a professional designer in the future just after my bachelor’s degree show. I was definitely disappointed by his answer, it sounded like I am not a talented one.
However, it motivated me eventually, I became a self-driven person for continuing my art and design works. And I am enjoying my process of projects, even if it sometimes gives me a painful headache, I like pushing myself to make it happens. I know I can make it, always.
I think his advice could be the best one I could have if he added ‘Just be yourself’ at the end. Now, I know there is no such thing as ‘meant to be’ or ‘not meant to be’ for anyone, there is just hard work!
Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
A bit of both, I would say. Many people often see me as an extrovert because I can be an easy-going person with anybody, also I do not seem like having any difficulty in terms of meeting new people. However, I sometimes had a struggle with my personality that I cannot tell people what I want directly because I care (or worry) too much about how they would feel or react to it.
There is a good Korean expression, ‘noonchi body, explains someone who has a sense as like me in his or her personality. In English translation could be ‘reading someone’s countenance’, although the expression is not simply meaning for reading someone’s face- it also counts for sensing the mood of atmospheres and situations around quickly as well. This is an introverted side of my personality.
One for the ride… Who or what was the last person, place or thing that fascinated you?
In recent few years, I have absolutely fascinated by The Prisoner, which is a 1960’s BBC television series. It accurately predicted the state of our current society through not just the evolution of surveillance technology but also the fear of privacy invasion.
It hugely inspired me to have critical questions about privacy and security issues that are generated by using the fast-developing digital technologies in our lives. My recent project, The Republic of Privacy, is a speculative design project that is inspired by The Prisoner.