My practice has developed around my interest in investigating the relationships between human and environments. Through the discovery of how social systems, ideologies, habits and artefacts construct and determine human behaviours, my works attempt to provide ways of knowing/understanding ourselves from the aspect of either an individual or a part of the society, presented in diverse media including photography, moving image, document and installation.
It all started with the experience of living with my aunt, who was born with cerebral palsy. The experience has allowed me to perceive human behaviour from different angles, what is typical or atypical; what urges people to do what they do and think in different ways. While we might struggle to meet the expectations of society, life for my aunt is not just a struggle that we all experience, it is an exclusion from the whole social system, as Agamben puts it, the ‘bare life’. This is due to, in Foucault’s words, the fact that she doesn't have a docile body, a body that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved. The proper ways of using certain utilitarian objects like chopsticks or pen manifest a person's education level, family background or social status, incarnating the obedience to civilisation and to others. Our habits are formed by the rules, which aim to meet the standard of perfection and demonstrate our value as a person. What if the obstacle is the physical defect, the body that cannot be trained to produce habits? Will compliance become the habit that can never be achieved?
The Corrections and Artefacts
I started my research by capturing photographically how my subjects (friends / peers) used chopsticks and pens in the series Chopsticks [Fig. 1] and Draw a circle please [Fig. 2, 3]. The way that the individual uses chopsticks has been shaped by individual’s habit over the years. As the search for the answer to why tools are used in a specific way and why we create specific instructions of tools if chopsticks/pen fulfils the function of eating/writing. Do we manipulate the objects, or do the objects manipulate us? (Perhaps the latter is more likely.) Artefacts are human productions, they serve as the substitutes for certain human actions, and then they instruct us how to use them to achieve certain purposes. Such interaction between human and the artefact has become fascinating to me as it is the way how we perceive the world. Pull / Push [Fig. 4] and the series Island [Fig. 5] is the work that explores the relationship between humans and spaces which are composed of artefacts (doors, lighting, handles, and so on).
Learning skills and establishing/reinforcing habits through repetition. By repeating the movements, the moment we internalise these as a part of our bodies is regarded as the point we reach the end - knowledge. However, for my aunt, her body ‘avoids’ internalising any movements no matter how repeatedly they are operated. For her, walking, cleaning, or eating, are difficult acts she is not able to learn. My aunt repetitively draws circles into the grids of a note book in order to improve dexterity and manipulation of her muscles. She reminds me of The Myth of Sisyphus, and the circles are her rocks. Influenced by the labour of pursuing “nothingness”, in the work My rocks [Fig. 6], I imitate my aunt’s hand practice by engraving 5-by-5mm grids on a 25m long wrapping paper roll with a needle, and with my weaker, left hand, draw circles into the grids. I have drawn 5 metres so far with the circles that are still uneven and crooked. These are my rocks, but what makes it distinct from my aunt is that my weaker hand is able to draw circles smoothly at some point.
I apply my observations into my practice, not merely for the sake of discussing cultural diversity, but attempting to inspect the intimate connection between our social system and human behaviour. Maybe I am able to investigate and trace the developments of human behaviours by discovering the structure of power, ideology, the thing-power, or the process of forming habits. There is still a lot of potential space remained for all the new possibilities, learning beyond unknown knowledge and unexpected challenges in life. This is what and why I find compelling to keep exploring and researching the wisdom of the human behaviour.