Repetition, multiplicity, and the unexpected synergy of light are ongoing themes in Soo Sunny Park’s installation art. Park uses the ethereal qualities of light pitted against industrial materials to create her deeply visceral interactive encounters.
“Light is really the surprise element for me in how it changes in the space,” Park says. Park spent the month of July as the 2015 Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art building this striking installation. Silver Linings consists of over one hundred fifteen panels of two-inch blocks of wire mesh measuring four feet by five feet.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is met with a basket-woven configuration of brims and swells of tarpaper-black and blinding-silver Mylar formations, undulating up and over in an almost tornadic swirl. Bursts of light push through cracks, and puddles of bright-white illumination create shadows that dance on the gray walls. Even this element of the work is deliberately calculated: “Shadows are the completion of my work. I want the light and air to be recognized as being complete elements,” Park explains. The result, as with all installation art, is that visitors respond to the work and feel as if they are walking among the clouds or submerged in deep, muddy waters depending on the point of entry and where one lingers to conjoin with the art. Visitors must duck to pass under the low-hanging curvatures, while strips of Mylar, like birthday crepe paper, flutter with the breeze created by the passing body or by the wind from the air-conditioning vent. The pungent smell of the tarpaper fills the long, tunnel-like space.
“This is where the conceptional ideal meets the physical,” Park says. It is these in-between spaces of reflection and absorption that push the boundaries of what is conceived as art. They are as much a material for sculpture, Park says, as the tangible material. It can be a bit disorienting to try to determine whether you are above or below—flying or drowning. “I don’t know what the work is going to be until I am installing it,” Park says. All of these elements: the space, the materials present and absent, including the visitor, become part of this unforgettable and poignant installation piece.