Monday, October 9, 2017

got taste?

Tradition. Fuck Tradition.

Aesthetics. Fuck Aesthetics.

Taste. Double Fuck Taste.

And yet I creep towards it like a baby towards its mother's teat.

To be born under pre-existing structures that do not honor who you are—sexism, racism, classism--I wanted to be a light colored male with good taste. The opposite of what I was. Then I could concentrate on what I was actually seeing and be taken seriously for what I was witnessing: the horrors of the world in the name of love and being human.

But if I were a light colored male with good taste, would I be seeing what I was seeing and would I be experiencing what I was experiencing? I've always been told that I had a male brain. And hated my female body for not being able to follow through on it's commitment to being male. But it turns out that I am who I am. I can only be who I am. Even if I struggle to become something else, I cannot. And in the mean time, all the labels that were given to me-female, male, Korean, American, designer, artist, depressive, introvert, stubborn, stupid, clever, loud-these labels confused me and harmed me more than it helped me in understanding who I am. 

I am Yoon Soo Lee. I am a witness to this life and this community. I am a witness to this life and community with curiosity and pragmatic optimism.

Our most dominant sense is our eye sight. What would this world be like if we never had sight? What would that “reality” be like?  Because right now, I think we tend to think what we SEE is true and real. However, what we see is different from our lived experience. A few years ago, the visual offering of a Black U.S. President painted one kind of picture of our country. These days, the existing conditions of living in bubbles has shattered our visual understanding of our own manufactured reality. 

Sight is so wonderful and sight is so limited.

I am interested in these large framing ideas around visual communication. But this is my interest, and it doesn’t have to be any other person’s interest.
 I share with you today what kind of plant I am: I am a conifer with prickly needles that lives on the outskirts of large mountains.

As visual communicators, we convey the human experience through one major point of entry: sight. But I think we need to venture further and not just stay with sight and all of it’s siblings called, beauty, aesthetics, and taste. 

Because sight is so wonderful but it is also limited. 

We are practicing in this field or any other field of study because we want to keep living—hopefully with our core values intact: joy, happiness, health, safety, love. Yes, we live in a capitalistic world. Yes, our country is in turmoil. And yes, we have to earn a paycheck to feed ourselves and put a roof over our family. 

But there are many ways in which we can practice our values through the medium of visual communication. And that is by reminding ourselves that the end goal of design practice is not the just object—be it a website, app, or book—but it is about honoring the human experience. It is about honoring the human standing in front of or behind the object.

When ever you feel lost, when you find yourself in doubt, think of the human being you want to understand. And that, very well may be you.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

I am a tortoise.

I am a tortoise. I am a gorilla living in a tortoise shell. My identity is entombed in fight, rage, fear and protection. I have fought all my life for my identity and I have become a great fighter. Bullies know that I am a fighter and leave me alone. I am five foot one but when I stand up to fight, you would think that I was bringing an army of a thousand.

I am a tortoise. I am a gorilla living in a tortoise shell. And I am tired. The shell is hard and it is heavy. It's hard to live with a heightened sense of war on a daily basis. It is not sustainable. It is not sustainable for me.

My war was this: I was fighting back people who hated me as a women; fighting back people who didn't want me to be smart: fighting back people who wanted me to be quiet and submissive, fighting back people who wanted sameness and not standing out. Fighting was a way of living. Being angry meant that I was alive.

I do not want to fight any more. I do not want to be angry as a default. I chose my partner in life so that I could learn how to live with peace. But it is like a general who has only seen war being asked to go into retirement. A general who has only known battle to live in peace. The general is being asked to put down her gun, her armor, her machete, her weapons of mass destruction. The general is bewildered at this abandonment. The general is worried. The general thinks that I will die. So the general is scheming up a coup. For my benefit. So that I will not die. The general whispers in my ear: you are going to die if you put down your armor. Your armor is already down, so you will die at any minute.

I am in the stages of mutation. Or transformation. Change can be scary and sometimes it can hurt. But I am learning how to live for the rest of my life. I cannot live as a warrior anymore. I cannot keep looking out for possible threats and bombs and hostile forced entries. And even though I want to crawl into a hole and die, I know that that day too will come. All I have is today and this moment. 

I think about what animal I want to be next. Maybe a bird. Light, flight and sky. Not too bad.