Sougwen Chung

Sougwen_Chung_Exchange_540

Sougwen Chung is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in New York. Born in Canada, culturally Chinese and educated at Hyper Island in Sweden, Sougwen’s various cultural influences are paralleled in her work’s transcendent take on the boundaries of media and genre. Recently her work has been shown at the Art Directors Club in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Geneva and at Public Functionary in Minneapolis. Her unique pieces have also been the subject of features in Dazed and Confused, The New Yorker and The Creators Project.

Sougwen’s work is engaged in a dialogue between traditional methods and technological processes. Her practice encompasses installation, sculpture, hand drawing and performance, in an effort to experimentally challenge ideas about form. Often elusive and in playful defiance of precise definition, Sougwen’s aesthetic is characterised by a sense of timelessness that itself feels distinctly of the future. So hard to categorise, her work has, at various points, found a home with record labels such as Ghostly International, and art galleries.

Combining her fine art training and interactive media education in Sweden with her childhood schooling in violin, the creative possibilities of sound and light inform many of Sougwen’s most celebrated works. In May of this year, she exhibited Chiaroscuro, an installation exploring the interplay between light and dark at Mapping Festival in Geneva. Immersive and deeply evocative, the piece consists of two modes, Chiaro, a large-scale sculptural drawing, and Oscuro, a series of projected visuals and light effects. The overall experience for the viewer is one of hypnosis and expression that exists between states.

Chiaroscuro 600_2

sougwen-13_chiaroscuro02 600

Images: Chiaroscuro.

 As each installation of Chiaroscuro is the product of a bespoke collection of drawings, constrained and uniquely animated by the space of its realisation, it is involved in a dramatic illumination of our conception of the abstract. However, while the performative aspects and the ever-changing role of shadow and light orientate the piece towards the future, its name has been borrowed from the Italian Renaissance.

This bridging of the artistic past and technologically orientated present is apt, as it encapsulates the idiosyncrasies of Sougwen’s method. Making use of paper and ink, charcoal and cloth, magnets, LEDs, wood, film, Photoshop, Cinema4d, electric violin and projectors, her work is illustrative of the deep interrelation of the analogue and the digital.

In conversation with Alpha-ville, Sougwen explained her playful collision of the traditional and the technological. “Coming from a performance and fine art background, I have a deep appreciation for a “virtuoso” artistry. It’s compelling to examine how these deeply-honed modes of artistry can be augmented, distorted, transmuted — and to what effect, by technology.”

sougwen-13_scilicet_promo04-600

Image: Scilicet.

Sougwen’s work also involves a collaborative element. “I think of collaborating as tapping into a sort of interdisciplinary ecosystem of co-creation,” she explained. “The distinctions that separate a film from a website or an installation are becoming less definite, so the parameters that comprise creative collaboration are afforded new variability.”

Sougwen has spent the tail end of 2013 traveling to her ancestral village in XinHua province in China and through Asia. “I’ve been developing a new installation for 2014 in a mobile studio setup as I’ve been moving through cities. I’ve been drawing, taking some notes, some field recordings, capturing textures and images. Vietnam is next.”

Sougwen trip 600

Image: Sougwen Chung.

Sougwen Chung participated in Alpha-ville EXCHANGE on January 2014. EXCHANGE is a unique opportunity to listen to artists who are at the forefront of art, design and technology. Sougwen Chung is also a curated artist by Alpha-ville on Sedition.