Tell Me What I’m Remembering
December 26, 2023
How do we assess the reality before us when it is beyond our comprehension?

Throughout childhood, into adulthood, I have been reminded of somewhat random imagery in my head, of the memories I have never had. The scenes are vague but deeply embedded causing me to live in the in-betweenness of these dream-like realities. Over time, uncertainty has escalated, becoming progressively overwhelming. I always questioned what is beyond what seems to be. One day, my cousin accidentally revealed to me I had leukaemia when I was little.

While my memories are of certain places, objects, shapes and/or colours directing toward what the cousin said, the more I have tried to actively remember these moments, the more and less vivid they simultaneously have become.

This confusion led me to look for a stable outside source to rely on, in order to process these experiences, because nothing from the inside appeared stable. My artistic interest since has developed to take advantage of fixed rules of mechanics—one particular way of consistent manoeuvre— to unravel an emotional and/or personal human experience.

In this project, I explore the fragility, instability, and fluidity of memories. On one hand, I have photographs that represent the faded memories. I juxtapose them with a tweaked transcribing AI, which starts with an initial text of medical facts about leukaemia including etymology, types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. The AI then picks up its own sound along with surrounding sounds that enter through the microphone. Viewers are invited to interact with the work, either consciously or unconsciously. The newly collected words and sounds are incorporated into the existing version of the text and this new version is then read aloud. Over the course of time, the text is altered and distorted, ultimately changing the narratives.

When one remembers something, they are remembering the last time they remembered of an event, not the actual event. Both the photographs and the transcribing AI indicate the constantly shifting nature of memories with the influence of oneself and one’s surrounding factors.

About Artist

Claire Sunho Lee is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher born in Seoul, Korea. Lee’s practice engages with seeing various meanings within one “reality” by questioning acceptable norms. She sees “normal” as what one knows based on the perspective(s) they have rather than being defined in one way or another, thus having multiple meanings at the same time. She often thinks about the ways of “being” and how we exist in the world individually and collectively. Lee experiments with this idea through the concept of “control and surrender” in everyday life settings and suggests new perspectives to look at the familiar. Through the means of rules, logic, and algorithms, she examines psychological complications, human conditions, trauma, and more.

Lee received her BFA degree in Photography and Imaging from the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (New York, NY, USA) in 2017 and received her MA degree in Photography from the Royal College of Art (London, UK) in 2021. Her recent achievements include a group exhibition at V.O Curations (London, UK) and Cromwell Place (London, UK), features on TOFU Magazine, VOGUE Italia and Musée Magazine, and shortlist for Lumen Prize. She recently gave artist talks at Southbank Centre and online both hosted by Arts & Health Hub.