Sujin Lee works with text, video and performance, exploring the way in which different cultural and linguistic systems affect the actions of language. Her artistic work is shaped by the experience of moving to the U.S. from Korea and learning English as an adult. In her work, she translates spoken words into text and vice versa, exploring the resulting disjunctures that uncover basic imperfections of language.
Lee is interested in the elements that spoken words hold – accents, durations, emotions, hesitations, and mistakes – as well as how to present those elements in different written forms. Often she uses dubbing and subtitles, juxtaposing spoken and written words to explore the notion of “perfect” speech, the relationship between sound and image and the ownership of language.
This is a story for small children: a true-life love story has three main elements: English text, Korean voice-over and images. In terms of creating rhythms in the editing process, each element held equal weight. The written text is taken from example sentences provided by English dictionaries and grammar books. These fascinating examples display random, surprising and poetic qualities. Their fragmentary aspects also refer to the possibilities of varied narrative context.
The work examines two kinds of translation: a translation from one language to another and from written to spoken text. Although in films subtitles typically function as a translation of the spoken (original) text, the written text in this piece is the original language and the spoken is its translation. The video’s black and white images were created as responses to both the English and Korean text.
About the Artist
Sujin Lee has exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Art, Aljira: Contemporary Art Center, ArtStays International Contemporary Art Festival 9, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, The Soap Factory, The 3rd Off and Free International Film Festival, and NURTUREart. Lee has been awarded residencies from the Sidney Kahn Summer Institute at The Kitchen, Millay Colony of the Arts, Blue Mountain Center and I-Park. She is currently an A.I.R. Gallery fellow and is participating in the Artist-in-Residence program at Newark Museum from January-February, 2013.
Image courtesy the artist.