What is it that I saw? My gaze wavered in between fragment and whole and my analysing was put to a halt. This was my first impression of Jamie Lee’s “Summer Shower.” A thing of great size, yet unarguably light-weight, floated in mid-air. What I have witnessed is not one lump but fragments. To be precise, they are cut-out emptied spaces, or holes. Man-made light filters through the shaved holes. The light then leaves yet more trails, those which are ‘shadows’ on floor and walls. Shadows which are more distinct than the hanging mass itself. Question again. What is it that I saw?
New artworks by visual artists always antecede newly coined terminology. Jamie Lee’s “Paper Garden” exhibit also feels misplaced when placed into a fixed convention.
There are thirty spokes gathered at the hub, and it is due to the empty space that the cart is useful. (三十輻共一轂, 當其無有車之用.) – Lao-tzu
The tangible has only been made possible by the intangible. (有形但爲無形造)
Void(空) is a very important category in this exhibition. The artwork that fills up the space actually has gone through a process of emptying by way of hole-cutting before filling it. Jamie Lee fabricates holes and hangs a massive entity in the air while creating her art not through planning but through intuition. The piece’s visual signatures consist of 1) movement (動勢), 2) sequence (場面), and 3) ab-grund or void (空). Unlike a sculpture which feels as if to be under an unspoken agreement to be an immobile picture, one can undoubtedly assume alterations made by environmental influence, although the movement is too subtle to be designated as mechanical repetition or motion. This is why I named it, “movement.” In addition, “Summer Shower,” the central piece for the “Paper Garden” exhibit, will be interpreted very differently according to which part at what time one looks at it. Unlike ordinary sculptures, the content appears different each time based on the shapes cast by light and shadows according to time of day as well as the area at which the viewer looks regardless of time of day. This is why I translated it as “scene” or “sequence,” and throughout the entire work unfolds the artist’s intuition, keen perception, and “adding more meaning to” onto the emptied spaces (空).
In visual art where the object is to reveal, what does the fabrication of emptying (making holes) mean? This ensues from the internal thoughts of the artist and the evidence can be found from a series of two-dimensional processes called ‘drawing.’ Definable shapes such as flowerpot, hearts, raindrops, and tears and the structures that connect and seemingly mesh them together make it highly assumable that they are fragments originating from the artist’s memories or experiences prior to any linguistic interpretation. Once you realize this to be the artist’s inclination, you’ll also realize that the artist is focusing her object of observation and contemplation closely inward toward herself and not outward.
The artistic manifestation which has germinated from such thought takes not the form of an attempt to reveal any particular thing but rather is the artistic mood and ambience, and thus a wide range of artistic association and fantasies which they may incite.
Ultimately, what we have witnessed is simultaneously the thirty spokes of the wheel as well as the empty space in between them. The massive entity hanging in the air and the holes which puncture the mass, the light which shines through those holes and the shadows they cast on the floor are also all facts we have witnessed. On top of this, there is another secret the artist has set up. “Summer Shower” suspended in mid-air, can easily move under the slightest condition. Either with the opening and closing of the gallery door or at someone’s cough, the viewer may encounter “summer Shower” in a different pose from a moment ago.
It just may be that the artist is not showing “Paper Garden” to us but is rather inviting us to be a part of it.
Eun-young Kim-Choi (Esthetics)