[ISEA2019] Artist Statement: Hye Yeon Nam – Invisible Stream

Artist Statement

Mixed Media, 36x36x22 cm.

Invisible Stream uses a computational system to evoke understanding and spark a discussion of current racial stereotype issues. It explores the political implications of how freely racial discrimination is expressed on online platforms, where such discrimination can be easily hidden. It not only represents discrimination, but also voices the feelings of the victims and reveals the lack of conversation about this issue.

Invisible Stream receives data from the Twitter online platform, filters by keywords, and prints sentences that include derogatory racial terms on paper from a thermal printer. As sentences are printed, robotic hands with silicon fingers cut the thermal paper, leaving a pile of printouts on ground. As the fallen papers pile higher and higher, the audience can pick up the papers to read, take, or throw away. Amongst the pile of ignorant messages, one may find examples that seek to educate the speakers about the injured feelings and sensitivities of the victims.
Invisible Stream the most important purpose of Invisible Stream is to raise awareness and start discussions, not for the audience to remain in frustration. By confronting the audience with a live stream of racism, the installation poses controversial questions about the origins, function, transmission, and lineage of prejudice. Since these robots resemble parts of the human body, yet are controlled by computational and mechanical systems, Invisible Stream reveals the different meaningful and reflective layers between human and machine.

  • Hye Yeon Nam (SK/USA) is a digital media artist working on interactive installations and performance. She foregrounds the complexity of social relationships by making the familiar strange, and interpreting everyday behaviors in performative ways. Hye Yeon’s art has been showcased in The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C, Times Square, the art gallery Eyebeam and The Tank, the Conflux, the D.U.M.B.O. Art Festival in New York, FILE, SIGGRAPH, CHI, ISEA, E3 Expo, the Lab in San Francisco, and several festivals in China, Istanbul, Ireland, the UK, Germany, Australia, Denmark, and Switzerland. Her work has been broadcast on the Discovery Channel (Canada) and LIVE TV show Good Day Sacramento, published in Leonardo Journal and featured in Wired, We Make Money Not Art, Makezine, Business Insider, Slashdot, Engadget amo ng other publications. She is currently an assistant professor of digital art at Louisiana State University, USA. hynam.org