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.