Letter to Dujo

Video Installation
Creative Coding
Algorithmic Music

Letter to Dujo is an installation composed of one channel video with stereo audio and a letter on music stands facing each other, where the viewer can sit in-between to read, watch, and listen.

In the one-channel video, the artist recites her grandmother’s letter to her mother, written in the 1980s. Soon her voice fades into string music, lasting for the whole reading. On the other music stand, there is a copy of the letter and its English translation. The paper of letter is written in a wrong direction, in Korean direction with Japanese layout. Following this misuse of medium, English translation is written on a music sheet. 

The string music is generated through MAX-built music-making algorithm, built in collaboration with Shawn Greenlee, which mainly uses pitch detection to translate speech to strings trio in minor. This translation from human speech to music de-signifies the whole meaning from the original letter, except for the very first word, the name of the writer’s daughter, “Jinsook.” Instead, this de-signification unintentionally leaves mournful strings sounds.

Dujo is the artist’s grandmother’s unofficial name, and she died when she was 69 years old, which is the same age with her daughter’s current age. She wrote the letter when her daughter was 29 year old, which is the same age with her granddaughter’s current age. The granddaughter reads the letter, as if she could be an envelope which encompasses this female legacy, folded like a letter to meet the faces of each other.  Thus, this piece is an impossible effort to translate the past conversation in the present tense to overlap three different timelines of the female generations of the family. The artist asks,

“What it is to inherit female legacy in the male-dominant history? Is it inheriting memory? Or is it becoming the deceased one?”
“How can we imagine alternate legacy, memory, and history in a non-linear way?” 

Essays written in research process (full research reader linked above)

1 minute excerpt from Letter to Dujo (2022)