Maureen Duffy: Postcards from the International Authors Forum


Oum Jeong Soon: 'Another Way of Seeing'

Oum Jeong Soon is an artist from South Korea. Her project, 'Another Way of Seeing' which has been running for more than 20 years, takes off from the question 'what does it mean to see?' and uses various artistic approaches to access perspectives perhaps only available to the visually impaired.

Below are extracts from an interview with Oum Jeong Soon by Katie Webb conducted in conjunction with the exhibition of her work at the event ‘Postcards From the International Authors Forum’  at King’s College London in 2017.

You have been directing the project, 'Another Way of Seeing', since 1996. Why is the project important for you as an artist, and to your art?

My identity as an artist incorporates conventional artistic methods with collaborative projects.

I use those two methods to deal with the central question that leads my work―

“what does it mean to see?”

These methods are creating my own work, and working with others in an 'artist's lab' with blind participants.

How has your approach as an artist been important to the project?

Since I was young, I have always been intrigued by the act of seeing, what it means to really see, beyond the boundaries of sight.

I think that was what led me into art, and the questions followed me over the course of my career. Being interested with the visually impaired and ending up working with those who cannot see was a natural extension from my approach as an artist.

‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, Kwon Yu-Jin, Chungju Sungmo School for the Blind, mixed media.

Can you tell us about some of the specific things you have done with 'Another Way of Seeing'?

Many of the visually impaired people we work with at 'Another Way of Seeing' have told us that this project has helped them feel self-dignity as human beings.

Sighted people who learn about this project say we have given them new insights and mention that they have gained new perspectives about their bodies and vision.

I think this bond is extraordinary, that we aren’t just a project for disabled people, and can give insight to people of all kinds of vision.

The installation view above shows ‘Harry potter and the Goblet of Fire’, by Kwon Yu-Jin, Chungju Sungmo School for the Blind, Mix media. Kwon Yu-Jin said "I made this in response to reading "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire". To me, the book felt like this."

What does “another way of seeing" mean in your work?

The words themselves express the wish to find other perspectives and methods of seeing. I seek to discover those different ways through artistic endeavors. A wider approach is to think of “seeing” as a creative perspective. As the founder, I can say for sure that even 'Another Way of Seeing' itself is a product of creativity.

Below is a photograph of Dots Come Together, written and Illustrated by Oum Jeongsoon. Dots Come Together was developed as a tactile book for image education in blind children. It follows a dot as it comes together with other shapes and patterns to create larger images.

'Dots Come Together', written and illustrated by Oum Jeong Soon.

The Elephant Project was one iteration of 'Another Way of Seeing'. What was this project?

This project is for the visually impaired students and artists to explore the question ‘what does it means to see’ through touching an elephant. Students and artists create their own version of an elephant, the biggest animal on Earth, after experiencing the animal. We are hoping this project will break the prejudice that visually impaired people cannot make art.

What is the future for 'Another Way of Seeing'?

I envision 'Another Way of Seeing' becoming a platform for the expansion of access to art.

I hope that it can become a place of collaboration for various professionals with interest in visual impairment to come and work together. I also hope the contents we create will help raise awareness and become incorporated into regular curriculum, books and museum programs for a wider audience.

‘Unfolding the Folds of an Elephant’ exhibition view: This exhibition begins where different approaches and perspectives of the artist Oum Jeong Soon and the visually impaired meet to explore the question “what does it mean to see?”.