A Dialogue with Nature

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Artist: Hwan Yun (South Korea) | sound installation artist
interview & written by Teresa Cheung (Hong Kong, China) | culture researcher
Chinese version

Based in London, Hwan is an experimental music composer and a sound designer originally from Seoul. The talented artist also loves cooking. He designs the exhibition poster and calls the tools on the poster “ingredients” – he says this idea gives him a lot of freedom during the creative process.

During his one-month residency at Listhús, he faced many challenges in Iceland, especially when he was looking for the right “ingredients” for the interactive sound installation. He thought he could be able to record some special sounds in Iceland but he found that it is surprisingly quiet here. He also found that the ceiling of the gallery cannot hold fabric from above. So he started to think:

“(How to) bring the calmness of the Icelandic nature into the exhibition space… (so) the viewers can communicate with the nature?”

He observed the natural and human landscape of Iceland and discovered that the ridge of the mountains and the roof of houses are made up of very minimalistic lines and shapes, from which he created special patterns for his installation. Later, he accidentally found some semi-translucent paper in the storeroom of Listhús which he jokingly calls parchment paper for baking. He painted the patterns on the paper with some electric paint, which gave the installation a poetic feeling as well as an oriental touch of a landscape painting in ink.

At the same time, he recorded different sounds in Ólafsfjörður including wind, waves and cars so he could create soundtracks for the installation with computer software. The electric paint is acted as a sensor of this installation – the sound is triggered by the touch of the viewer’s hand over the pattern on the paper, which is connected to two computers.

Apart from the installation, he also created two sculptures at Listhús. His inspiration also came from the nature of Iceland. The zentangle-like circles in both sculptures were created by 3D pens. It can be an Icelandic moss covering the stone by the shore, or the starry night in darkness.

The artist, who was in his usual black on the opening night, stood next to his monochrome works, cool, calm, and collected. He hopes his installation interacts with the viewers like a friendly handshake. Not only were the visitors eager to touch the work, but also talk to the artist because they were curious how the installation functions. However, the artist wishes to share with them more his inspiration and concept.

Though the final works are different from his original idea, Hwan feels that he has learnt a lot from this whole process – to stay calm, to observe and to get his thoughts together. After Iceland, he will continue to try creating larger installation, learning different techniques like print-making, experimenting the possibilities of different “ingredients”. He wishes to return to Iceland one day for another exhibition.

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