This Spring I had the unique opportunity to be a part of Taeyoon Workshop – The practice of Taeyoon Choi – which concerns art, teaching, activism, care, disability, technology, and more. I worked alongside Taeyoon and his two assistants, filmmaker and spreadsheet enthusiast Livia Huang and coder-artist Shira Feldman at Taeyoon’s studio in Recess.
This experience has been so far outside of my wheelhouse as a traditional fine-art oil painter. In the past, I have worked almost exclusively with painters on a one-to-one basis. I would have described myself as tech-illiterate at best, or at worst tech-phobic. Laugh or cry, but when I came to Taeyoon Workshop I didn’t even know that Google Docs was a thing. Alas, in January of this year I was brought onboard as an intern to learn more about tech, writing, and studio administration, while providing my knowledge of building and run a painting studio and creating social media content and narrative.
I learned a great deal from my time with Taeyoon and his crew. I’m not a coder and most likely never will be, but my understanding of technology in relation to power grew in ways I never could have imagined. While I’ve always felt critical of the social media platforms I rely upon for my art practice, I never before considered how their structure impacts and in turn re-structures our experience as human beings. I was like most people who think – “OK, social media is what it is” instead of probing deeper and questioning who it excludes and what values it promotes or suppresses. The blindfold has been ripped off – a very good thing.
It is serendipitous and fortunate that my time with Taeyoon coincided with a personal interest in healing. Taeyoon’s activism and approach advocates for care over control in technology, and care over cure in disability. Our post-industrial society tries to fix problems through the idea of a cure-all instead of care-based and personalized treatment. Taeyoon’s notion of technology and personhood is connected deeply with forms of healing that have been erased or deemed unscientific in the modern era. It is heartening to know during troubling times his community is advocating heavily for a vision of technology that is deeply human.
This summer I showed in the group exhibition Seed, curated by Yvonne Force at Paul Kasmin Gallery. This opportunity has led to others, one of the most relevant being my participation in a discussion about Instagram and censorship facilitated by Zach Sokol in the upcoming September/October issue of Playboy magazine. I leave the city for a residency in September at Byrdcliffe in Woodstock to build upon my body of painting work. I would like to thank Taeyoon, Livia, and Shira for being patient with my technical ignorance and bringing me up to speed with the rest of society. I want to specifically thank Taeyoon for teaching me to consider the value of labor, sharing his experience of racial discrimination, and opening my eyes to some uncomfortable truths about privilege and structure. Thank you to the Recess team, including my studio intern Andres, who was a very good learner and worker in the studio. Finally, thank you to my friend Sarah O’Connell who sent me Taeyoon’s job posting in January!