Winnie Soon

Short bio:

I am an artist-researcher born in Hong Kong. My works examine network culture and computational processes, which take the form of interactive & network media, installation and digital print. My works and lectures have been presented at galleries, art events, universities and conferences, including V&A Museum, Pulse Art and Technology Festival, Microwave International Media Arts Festival FutureEverything Art Exhibition, Taipei National University of Arts and Hong Kong Baptist University. Currently, I am PhD fellow at Participatory IT research center (Department of Aesthetics and Communication) in Aarhus University, researching the notion of ‘liveness’ in the context of Software Art.

Project: [Artistic research: the reflexive processes of ‘thousand questions’]

My art practice often deal with technology and programming, this involves understanding and reading the formal logic of software through interface and representation, technical specification and program code. This also requires a sensitivity towards computational environment, which is culturally and technically dynamics as many of my works are interfaced with networked data source. As such, the making process goes beyond the technical/material conditioning of the work.  My research project reflects upon contemporary software art that operates in and through a real time network, in particular those artworks that incorporate cultural data as part of the production process. Being an artist-programmer (McLean, 2011) and an artist-researcher, I investigate the assemblages of software and its technical conditioning of social/cultural processes, as well as a the wider cultural implications of software through reflexive thinking and making of artworks. It is similar to what Borgdorff describes as “artistic research” (2010), where the process of thinking and making contributes not only to the art field, but also critically examine and response to the cultural production logic. The thinking and making is a reflexive process, it does not only reflect upon on the art object per se, but reflection is an on-going process that combines theory and practice. It starts from preparing and gathering information to conceptualising the artwork direction, understanding both technical and cultural materials.

My artistic research involves a process of reflexive inquiry even the artwork is finished or has been exhibited, it still invites “unfinished thinking”  – that is the reflexivity about “thinking in, through and with art” (Borgdorff 2010:42). In other words, even though the artwork is finished (in a production sense), it is still incompleted. As Borgdorff argues, artistic practice does not produce formal knowledge like the new discoveries in natural science, but through the articulation of art it invites unfinished thinking – to both artist and audiences/readers. I would argue this coupling of reflexive thinking and artistic practice offers a deeper navigation to the material and its agency through understanding the operative aspect of code/network/data. These nonhuman entities are equally important in understanding our relationship with the world as Jane Bennett reminds, “These material powers, which can aid or destroy, enrich or disable, ennoble or degrade us, in any case call for our attentiveness, or even ‘respect’” (2010: ix).

I am going to present an artwork calls ‘If I wrote you a love letter would you write back? (And thousands of other questions)’, which is made by Helen Pritchard and myself. This is a network art project, drawing thousands of questions from online matter into the gallery space. The questions are gathered in real-time from the social media site Twitter and encoded to speech.  Tthe tweets are extracted using open API and search for a specific keyword. In this work, I am examining the live interfaces, including data query/authentication process via API, library usage like text to speech, communication process between my program and the Text-to-Speech engine in a Mac computer, the reading and writing operation that a machine is constantly performed. My research question to this project is how might we understand digital artwork through live interfaces? How are the interfaces incorporated the quality of mutability/unpredictability that might reconfigure the understanding of liveness? [the last question is rather big because I have to define liveness, but I don’t want to distract the discussion here by bringing in complex concept of liveness at the moment. I still put it here because it is one of my thinking line as part of the entire thesis. So the Friday presentation is more illustrate my approach towards reflexive inquiry.]

See more details about the work:

Sample recorded sound:


One thought on “Winnie Soon

  1. hi Winnie,

    Thanks so much, it’s a nice work. There’s much to reflect on, but herewith a quick question of whether you could program the randomness of tweets out of it. In other words, could you not draw on what is ‘trending’ at Twitter? Or if you wanted to collate something specific, like the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, etc. So a specific event. It would also be a question of how you (e)valuate the keywords you are using. This is in regard to thinking about the agency of your work that ties into the materiality of computation. You could even incorporate how Google Translate would pronounce certain words in the way they (machinic) produces the language.

    Liked by 1 person

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