Jeremy's Experience at SASG

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1. How did you find working at SASG?

It is great to have a studio and I really enjoy working in my studio every day. I go to the hostel just for sleep. For me, this is a luxury since space in New York is very limited and I only have one room for everything. I am making the most of my space here and making installations in the studio with video and sound, photographs, and loudspeakers.

Since I arrived I have been waking up around 9AM (sometimes much earlier) to begin work. I am taking full advantage of my studio space and the available equipment. I feel that I am growing as an artist here.

I am also aware of our position in the community. I am very sensitive to how people are in this neighborhood. I have enjoyed engaging with the public with my Sound Workshop and Free Improvisation Session and studio visits from many students of all ages. It is really interesting to see how people react to my work. I feel that I am speaking about the neighborhood and Seoul at large in my work. I hope that it resonates with people here.

The workshop I presented was interesting for me since I have never taught students of that age before.
The classes that I taught before were at the university level. The young people are very interested and inspired by the simplest things—things that I take for granted. I hope that my Sound Workshop was inspiring to them and that it might make them think about their environment. I believe that some people in this neighborhood were not familiar with the kazoo. I would like to think that I might have inspired some of them to become musicians through the toy music instrument jam where we played "music" with kazoos, castanets, rhythm sticks, percussion eggs and cymbals.

Also, accompanying Hueng Soon Im to the public library screening and concert event in northeast Seoul in Gang-Seo Gu made me realize that young people have so much enthusiasm for music. The kids provided a wonderful rhythm section. I was really touched by how open they were to anything that I could teach them. They were really looking up to me and I enjoyed showing them the guitar and how to make chords. One of the young people was playing guitar in no time! I wonder if she will be a musician some day?

When my collaborator Kenya Kawaguchi was here we were unable to do a performance at Seoul Art Space due to a projected disinterest from the public from our manager. We made the most of the time that he was here and did a performance outside on the streeet corner. I brought my guitar and laptop with a portable speaker and he played his traditional flute. Many passersby noticed us, but most just walked through fast to the subway or back to the factory. It is possible that our manager was correct in that projected disinterest or perhaps people have just not been exposed to experimental improvised music since it is new to most people. Also, it was not an official concert in a traditional concert venue, so this may have thrown people off.
I believe that the public needs to be challenged in the face of commercial pop music and quick cut commercial television editing and the barrage of information. Society as a whole as developed ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and become desensitized to anything that does not fit in a box or category. This particular concert was interesting because Kenya and I were reacting to the sounds around us (people walking, low factory sounds, passing traffic, conversations, etc). There were a few people who seemed interested for a moment. This was a spontaneous event/action on the sidewalk, one block away from here. I was interested in seeing how people would react.

In New York, street music is very common. I have only seen one "street" musician in the subway playing guitar and singing. Needless to say, a business man started arguing with him to tell him to stop. So, maybe some of the public is not ready for such music. Something that is out of context made this particular man uncomfortable. This lone guitarist had no city logos and big expensive stage to accompany his performance. No one invited him to play. Why did this business man become so uncomfortable with someone expressing themselves freely and begin yelling at the musician? I need to ask why. There seems to be a problem here. Was this man homeless? If so, why are there so many homeless people in Seoul sleeping in the subway stations? Doesn't the city provided shelters for these people?

Finally, I recently organize a Free Improvisation Session which was more of a participatory session than a workshop. Questions that were raised during the work shop were: What is freedom? Are we free? What does it mean to have total freedom? It was an experiment with a visiting musician from Tokyo, a dance teacher from Tokyo w ho is teaching at the university here, French residents (one dancer and one visual artist) and myself (sound and video) to lead this session which was open to dancers and musicians and the public and local community. The results were interesting. People seemed to enjoy themselves and there were some unexpected moments. Some moments during the session weren't working, but there were some really nice moments when the group felt as a whole. Many artists and musicians from Seoul and other countries were present and participated. It was moderately successful in some respects.

Maybe the public could be engaged more if it was clear to people that Seoul Art Space is a public place that anyone can walk in to. The public and community might be intimidated by the space and not realize that they are free to walk in at any time. This could be beneficial to the public community and the artists as well.

2. How was living at SASG, compared to other international residency?

This is my first international residency. I was a guest musician at The Watermill Center last summer for 5 days. At Watermill, meals were provided three times a day which was very nice. It was a chance for all of the artists to meet and get to know each other better. There was a real sense of camaraderie there. In this residency I have gotten to know many of the artists who are here often, but for the most part, people keep to themselves. There are a few artists that I have never met before and some I have only seen in passing. People are friendly for the most part. But, something could be done to give the residency more of a sense of unity. Sometimes I feel very isolated in my studio and sometimes I like that. But, it would be nice if everyone got to know each other well. Meeting with some of the artists has happened naturally through parties organized by the artists. So, we have developed our own unity.

In addition, there is little or no mention or discussion of people's artwork. At Watermill, Robert Wilson personally engaged with every artist with discussion and critique. Seoul Art Space does not engage the artists in this way. While I am very fortunate to have space and a studio here, I would prefer it if studio visits could be set up that would benefit the artists.
Discussions of people's work has also happened naturally with conversations that arise when artists meet. Something could be done in this area. For example, when the curators from New Zealand visited, there could have been open studios for possible conversations with these art professionals. They gave a lecture, answered 2 or 3 questions and were escorted away. Any possible engagement or discussion with the artists was cut short.

Another critique of the residency is that there needs to be more translation of all written material to English. I have received emails only in Korean that I have not been able to understand. Meeting agendas have mostly been written in Korean and the meetings were mostly conducted in Korean. For English speaking foreign artists, this is a problem. Deadlines and important dates need to be underscored and translated into English so that there is no confusion and everyone has a clear understanding. It makes me realize that I need to learn more Korean if my time in Korea continues. I appreciate that everyone is doing their best
to accommodate the foreign artists here. I feel very fortunate to be here and lucky to have such a nice staff of people and artists to spend time with.

3. Did residencing at SASG effected your work? If so, how?

Absolutely. I have been very inspired by the sonic environment of Guemcheon. I have been inspired to shoot many photographs and video here because everything fascinates me. I am printing out large photographic prints for the first time.

I think that I am continuing to absorb Korean culture and the environment of this neighborhood. It has taken much time to adjust to the 14 hour time difference and the shock of being in a culture that is so different. I am sure that my experience here will affect me and my work a long time to come. I think that I am still working out what it is that I will say about this neighborhood and Korean culture. I have really engaged with everything about being here to create new works with materials (sound and video) collected from my immediate surroundings of this neighborhood and Seoul. The length of my residency is relatively short, so I may not realize the effect of working and living in Geumcheon has or will have on my work until I complete my project which consists of field recordings and video that I have collected and continue to collect.