Pinning Eye: Different Stages of Resemblance

By Jin-Sang Yoo
Artist: Jinkee Choi

We call the space where the objects and events ‘exist’ in the unconsciousness. The negative implication of the term, unconsciousness is originated from our conscious-oriented or the speech-oriented perspective. In fact if we allow ourselves a little distance from the consciousness, rather the self-centered system, we can find the subjectivity in the semantic system that has been blanketed most of the elements in the world. Unconsciousness forces you to consider relationship between the objects and events that happen through such relationships to be accidental, improbable, or even insane. Above all, the unconsciousness, which is residing outside awareness, is declared as the category encompassing ‘non-existential things’ that language cannot define. Nevertheless, what only exists in reversed sense is ‘unconscious’ matters because consciousness, or the objectives understood by semantics are the very ones interpreted through consciousness. They are with filtered or distorted by cognitive system, and most of all, they are perceived within the subjectively signified implication structure. Hence, the objects and events are what consciousness and language pursue, and they are also the objects always hiding aspects out of reach at the other end of consciousness, or the objects surrounded by abyss that our thought never be able to cross. Each object is isolated by the abysmal chasm all around or it can only be connected each other through the certain capability that bridges between the objects. When they are left undiscovered, they ‘exist’. Things of being are either unknown or unrevealed. Things of being, if I quote Heidegger, ‘is the object of being called when we ‘call’ it and it, can only disclose itself through ‘the act of calling (Der Ruf).’ In this sense, the object or an incident that came up into our consciousness is like things we are actually ‘calling’.

‘The gaze’ is one of the key forms of calling. It is one of the most direct forms of response to the calling for an object. Concentration of gaze means all the eyes turning upon a single viewpoint; it also implies the object that gathers all the eyes are due to the certain calling of an object. Just as Lacan said, we are not looking at an object, in fact that object is looking at us. The objects are the objective of gazing, and at the same time it is the source of gaze. Two points, two turning points of viewpoint and the objective are two cones existing between gaze and the object of the gaze. And their vertex is the tip pf needle that signifies pinning point that infinitely narrowed down, abstract point, and the location of being. According to Freud, eyes are basically something very sharp like an awl or a pick. Also it is an eye that is constantly poked by tip of a pick. An eye as a pointy penis, penetration of an eye with it, and Oedipus’s self-castration by poking his own eyes portray the epitome.

The works of Jinkee Choi consists of gazing an object rather than transforming it. Gazing something that comes up in his mind instead while he is staring at wallpaper, tiles or even stains, connected with the facts that the objects he gazed was meaningless and the gaze itself is a collection of the concentrating moments. Gazing as an answer to a calling is only relating to that moment, and it does not really mean awakening the structure of the consciousness. Maybe, it is to separate the objects and incidents from the perspective of outside the implication structure or from the ‘mouth’ so that they can be entirely perceived through the eyes. In using ‘eyes’, most common mistake is to constantly compare your findings with the implication structure. This stops and subordinates things as the signifiers: things that are yet categorized, located, signified, or determined within the relational system that refers to each other. Nevertheless, we can forecast that stoppage will take place unavoidably at one point from the question how we visualize the objects on unconscious level. Visualizing the object of the unconscious or the objects of a gaze should not be surrendered to the current implication structure. Then the art is can be defined as the methods to represent ‘outside’ in a way in which avoiding such subservient.

The way Choi draws the objects into the inside the cognition from its negative status form his singularity as an artist. From a few works of his, he overlaps the objects of the gaze with the memory of the site where first apostasy-as in original sin- was committed. For instance, the process in which an egg container is transformed to a nest, Dunkin’ donuts wrapper to donuts and ice cream package to a milking cow is about the visual representation of things that are trapped by the implication structure, rather than verbal representation. Autistic is how he describes the process because temporary lockout against the circular process of reference. Furthermore, autism implies the fact that connecting points of the objects are not circulating within implication structure and stays on the boundary of non-implicational structure. It seems that Choi imagines that objects sharing their meanings, or objects temporarily seize the implication system, furthermore, object’s way of looking at objects. However, is it really possible? Or has he named the series, ‘Optimism’ in the sense that it is only feasible within the closed circuit?

From his early works with plastics to his recent ‘Spotlight series’ and ‘Autistic Optimism’ his demonstration of lightness and instantaneousness implies the gravity or the speed that your gaze must carry when you see his works. They are even non materialistic enough to understand it is rather a clue to the resemblance between the gaze and the implication than art works. They are minimum materials for the basis that bring up substantial, specification, representation and even signification between the calling and the gazing. In extreme case, the mere spotlight that separates trivial objects from the surroundings can draw them into the relationship with gazing.

Daily lives, everyday objects, and their classes, uses and shapes found therein become of materials that compose of the artist’s autobiographical documentation. So how he lives with what surroundings happens to be the main contents of his work. His works might be understood as his way of dealing with unchangeable condition in his life through the representational process. However, it does not seem to be enough to categorize his works even with his work-reconstructed ironic attitude towards the materialistic lives. His viewpoint as a weak or as a minority does not seem adequate to elaborate the conditions of the vividness in his works. Granting him a singularity is the way of understanding his gaze as analogy between objects. He certainly does show one stage of it, and his way is very witty.

Analogous relation is a contradictory concept to the implication structure. It is opposed to our obsession, which insists to place objects within the order of logic through logistic quality of language. Analogous relation may be irrational, but it intermediates the direct association with other objects through erudition on the objects, intimacy, sympathy, devotion and so on. Fundamentally, it is the groundless system and internally equipped with the most flexible system of perspectives. However, analogous relation found in Choi’s works are reflexive unlike those of surrealism. The objects do not intentionally encounter with other objects that are seemingly unrelated. The objects rather engage in an autogamous relationship with things that are within themselves. Lunatic or humorous elements, which gaze extracts from the objects, connect inside and outside of the object. From those can be named as reflexive-resemblance, the framework of ‘monad’ as in Gil Deleuze’s Le Pil may also be found. It includes the technique called voisinage of the lightings by inner demarcations that may remind of spotlights.

Jinkee Choi’s works are currently developed with two main layers defined as daily experiences and their another dimension as its center. What we can anticipate is the situations through which revealed are several layers of reality. I would not know for sure if this corresponds with what the artist pursues, but I would not certainly imagine that to happen. Perhaps the outlook of his works must start from here.


(This essay was originally written for Door to Door 3, Korea Nonprofit Art Space Network Conference 2005.)

Jin-Sang Yoo is the professor at Kaywon College of Art and Design/Director of Kukje Gallery