Q&A with Sung I Chun

Sung I Chun, Cartesian Coordinate (x, y, z), Resin on vinyl casement window, H:53.5xW:40xD:30 inches, 2021, NFS

The artist Robert Irwin once said, “Whenever you look at light, basically it’s just air. It has no tactileness to it. It’s totally without density”.  While light may not have physical substance, it is at the core of our perceptions of the world. Sung I Chun in her current show at Shift Gallery through sculpture helps us explore the meanings and purpose of light. To find out more about Sung as an artist and her current show at Shift Gallery, we asked a few questions.

When someone says “Wow! You are an artist. What kind of work do you make?”, how do you respond?

I am an interdisciplinary artist who uses various mediums to depict my phenomenological experience of interactions between space, water, and light to present how I perceive the world. In my art, the space represents myself and the light refers to my perception that gets refracted through a layer of water, my lens, or window, which represent my distinctive perspectives.

How does the concept(s) of “light” relate to your work?

The concept of the light gets interesting when it strikes on the water surface and scatters. Staring at mesmerizing phenomena of light scattering on water aligns with me practicing art.

Is there a particular piece that is your favorite or you would like to call attention to for the gallery visitor? Why?

I will say the “Curtained” installation is my favorite from this show. It is one of the recent pieces and extension of the previous “Blined” piece from “Liminal Space” exhibition at Shift last September. It creates an illusion of another space beyond the piece with uncanny on the fake wall. The scale has grown covering the whole wall.

Do you have someone, living or dead, who has inspired you (an art hero)?

The Light and Space Movement from Southern California is the significant inspiration for me. James Turrell was my initial encounter as well as the lead artist in the movement. In philosophy perspective, a French immunologist, Jacques Benveniste’s claim that water circulates Earth in various phases, picks up information throughout its journey, and spreads out to the world with its own memory. I agree with this assertion and think it is very intriguing that water with memory travels and circulates our environment including our bodies.