Jamie Wyld (Vital Capacities’ Director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you’re thinking about doing during the residency?

My name is Seo Hye Lee and I use the pronouns of she/her. I am a South Korean artist based in Somerset, UK. My practice revolves around the use of illustration, sound and installation – I like to explore the nature of sound and, in particular, the boundaries between listening and hearing. I frequently use my experience as a deaf person with a cochlear implant as a starting point to create my works. Being both a hearing and a deaf person has provided me valuable insight into accessibility in daily life and it has motivated me to challenge the notion of listening.

JW: One of the aims of Vital Capacities is to create an accessible site (so more people can use it) – how do you think this will be an opportunity to develop your way of working?

Seo Hye Lee: It’s really great to be given the opportunity to think about accessibility in terms of art and how one can share the process of documentation in an accessible way. I know that there’s still work to be done to create the perfect way to showcase art in an accessible way for everyone – I would love to learn more about the possibilities and continue to implement what I’ve learned going forward. As a deaf individual, I have come across frustrating experiences such as not being able to enjoy video art because it doesn’t have any subtitles! That would be the first priority for me to ensure that my videos are all subtitled if there’s any dialogue. I would like to experiment with this to see how the use of subtitles can change the perception of the events.

JW: What would you like to achieve through the residency? Is there a particular project you’ll be focusing on?

Seo Hye Lee: I am very excited to test ideas that have been simmering for a while and try to realise them in real life! There isn’t a particular project yet, but I definitely would like to try and expand on what I previously created to showcase my BSL book titled ‘Partial Gestures’, made back in 2019 during Artist Self Publisher’s fair. To present my publication, I recorded subtitles shown on the documentary ‘Sound & Fury’ directed by Josh Aronson. This documentary was interesting as it focused on Deaf families who were debating whether Cochlear Implant was something they should get for their kids and whether this would mean they could fit into hearing society easier. Watching documentaries such as this on YouTube was interesting as it is a platform notorious for having awful subtitles. I intentionally showed partial moments behind the inaccurate subtitles to give the audience the sense of frustration when trying to figure out the context of the film. Hopefully, I can expand this project in new directions and continue my research around the use and language of subtitles.

JW: How do you see the next few weeks unfolding? Where would you like it to take you?

Seo Hye Lee: In the first week I would like to start with organising the clusters of ideas regarding the language of subtitles and define my core ideas to carry forward. And then aim to broaden my research and experiment with film archives. I would like to look in depth into the history of subtitles and styles of language used. In particular, how subtitles can be used to communicate the context such as music and actions or movement on screen. I look forward to seeing how these weeks will unfold! Overall, I hope that the residency will help me to grow my ideas into an exciting project that will further my own research and practice but also hopefully be enjoyable and interesting for others!

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