Dr. Yiyun Kang Q&A

Sep 1, 2023

Portrait of an Asian woman wearing a scarf staring straight into the camera
Portrait of an Asian woman wearing a scarf staring straight into the camera

Interview with Dr. Yiyun Kang

We spoke to Dr. Yiyun Kang, esteemed artist in the field of projection mapping and immersive art, about her new commission premiering as part of ART on THE MART's 2023 fall season. On view from September 14 until November 15, 2023, the work, titled Only in the Dark, responds to humanity's environmental crisis and the unfathomable power and intelligence of AI technologies. We sat down with the artist to learn more about the inspiration and motivations behind her work. 

 What do you hope audiences take away from your projection?
First of all, I wish the audience would enjoy the experience itself, and then I want it to lead the audience to think about the message it is trying to convey. My work Only in the Dark can only be seen in the darkness. The title alludes that we see the light only in the dark, and the light shines even brighter in the deep night. Unfortunately, we are entering a new dark age, and our current environmental crisis and rapidly evolving AI technology are daunting challenges for humanity. These issues seem to be a consequence of our past actions. However, we seem to find a way out in the worst of times. This work tries to share a message that we can collectively think about for our inclusive future. It is a reminder that even in the deepest darkness, there is always hope and light.

What technologies inspire you as an artist?
I find inspiration in creating hybrid art forms that combine various mediums. For instance, I enjoy integrating digital rendering, film, AI, analogue, and digital sound altogether in a single project to weave my narrative. I love discovering the new qualities that emerge when disparate mediums collide. I employed this technique in creating Only in the Dark as well.

What technologies are you exploring in Only in the Dark?

3D modelling; motion graphics; 6K Ultra-high definition; 200fps high-speed filming techniques; AI training; AI generation; analog and digital sound making and editing; and VFX. 

What’s a fact about THE MART that you discovered during your research?

For me, it is important that this project is being displayed in THE MART in downtown Chicago. Therefore, I aimed to identify distinctive attributes of THE MART building that I could incorporate into my project. I wanted to ensure that my project is site-specific as well as context specific.

While researching this building, I found that THE MART has long been implementing sustainable practices. For instance, in 1996, THE MART became one of the first major properties in downtown Chicago that adopted the district cooling system (Thermal Chicago) to reduce the discharge of CFCs. It is inspiring to see that the building has consistently addressed environmental issues throughout its history. For this reason, THE MART provides a perfect context to showcase Only in the Dark.

What do you think is the future of digital art?

In the future, we will see advancements in technology such as MR, XR, and AR. This will be due to not only technological advancements but also the challenges our environment will face as a result of climate change. As a result, new forms of digital art will emerge that are relevant to these technologies. However, I believe it's important to remember that the focus should always be on the story and narrative behind the art, rather than just implementing novel technology.

Also, the cohabitation with AI requires us to genuinely ask ourselves what makes humans a human and the true essence of creativity for humanity.