Your Eyes Are Stupid | Singapore Biennale 2013

Mixed Media Installation
Dimension variable

Videos:
Broken Tools Series: Your Eyes Are Stupid | Duration 1:31 mins
Broken Tools Series: If we’re Going to Die, We’ll All Die Together | Duration 3 mins
Wilhelm Scream | Duration 0:48 mins

Our perception of the world is greatly influenced by culture and social conditioning. Joo Choon Lin’s investigation of this is informed by her interest in technological developments. As various technologies of representation devise new ways of capturing the likeness of things (e.g. high-definition technology), so the quality of the surfaces of these things undergoes a transformation. Consequently, ‘reality is reconfigured and the natural state of objects is modified, degenerating the subject’s essence and reflexivity. Surfaces are replaced by another sense of ‘reality’-a glossy, hyper-real world that we sometimes choose to believe in over the tangible world.
In this video and sculptural work, three videos address the idea that objects have an alter-ego nature. In the first video, the nature of a knife is altered by the movements of user. The viewer no longer recognises the knife as a tool meant for cutting, as the knife highlights previously unknown peculiarities and is reincarnated from a hard to soft material. The viewer begins to disassociate him-or himself from the familiar, socially determined function of the knife and sees a new potential for the object. The knife is freed from its former role.

The second video shows a plywood table that appears solid, but seconds later, tools are thrown into it and they slowly submerge into the plywood surface, which is now recognised as a mushy surface. The tools are a hand saw, screws, a screwdriver and a measuring tape. Once disposed into mushy surface, the presence and functionality of these tools are dislocated, akin to a body disappearing into quicksand. The viewer is prompted to think about salvaging them; it is at the verge of losing these objects that their presence and value seem the most visible.
The third video shows a piece of meat jolting out of its Styrofoam packaging as if its nerves are still intact, and it starts to make noises. Through the three videos, joo questions if objects have an independent life. Do or can they have a ‘natural’ voice once they are freed from their socially dictated purposes? Can these objects be there if we no longer need them, or do we miss them only when they are no longer available? Joo draws back from the everyday presence and original uses of these objects, to highlight the absurdity of social conditioning formed by our utilitarian habits.

The accompanying three object-sculptural works echo the videos in their fundamental philosophy. A wishing pond, containing synthetic goo instead of water, waits in the middle of the exhibition space; when coins are thrown in, they slowly disappear into the goo. A ‘solid gold block’ is sandwiched by two concrete blocks as it inflated and deflated, its state constantly evolving. The third object-sculpture is a wooden crate but it is translucent, in opposition to the opacity of wood or the crate’s function to provide concealed storage. All three pieces again reference everyday beliefs, and Joo questions what they really are and whether one can readily trust them. For example, with the wishing pond, there is a sense of relief when we see money, an object burdened with meanings, slowly disappearing into the unknown- yet what exactly is this ‘unknown’ that we so willingly trust?

The phrase “to clap eyes on” refers to seeing things for the first time and suggests that the eyes do not only look, but also fundamentally feel the presence of things that are represented. Perhaps if we re-examine and relook at objects, therefore alienating and defamiliarising ourselves from mass knowledge ans social experience, we might develop a deeper relation with the objects of this world.

Links to watch the Video:
Broken Tools Series: If we’re Going to Die, We’ll All Die Together | Duration 3 mins
https://vimeo.com/64251298
Broken Tools Series: Your Eyes Are Stupid | Duration 1:31 mins
https://vimeo.com/82440099
Wilhelm Scream | Duration 0:48 mins
https://vimeo.com/82439907