Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) refers to an abnormal network of blood vessels in which arteries connect directly to veins instead of going through a bed of capillaries. In 2010, Yong Soon Min experienced a massive headache—triggered by the stress of a Korean language proficiency exam—that turned out to be a cerebral hemorrhage. The malformed blood vessels in the left hemisphere of her brain had ruptured, engulfing it in blood. Though AVM surgery removed the tiny abnormality, Min underwent a year-long process of therapy to rehabilitate her affected speech and memory. Even to this day, she confuses pronouns like ‘she’ and ‘he’ and often speaks one word when she means another, disrupting the relationship between the signifier and the signified.
Installed above a printed flooring of Min’s personal library of books and mementos, a decagon-shaped table extends around a partition wall which divides the exhibition space into halves, like the two hemispheres of the brain. The ten sections are cut through with five corresponding pairs of words: pizza/pyramid; diaspora/diarrhea; womb/tomb; happiness/penis; and thank/spank. Across the surface, glass spheres flow along the grooves suggesting synaptic connection between each pair. The benches for the visitors to sit on are carved with phrases based on Min’s memory retrieval of five slogans, including one which she inherited from her parents: 남남북녀 (nam nam buk nyuh), a severe shorthand expression that means: ‘handsome South Korean men are best with beautiful North Korean women.’ In the two corners of the space, wall vinyl of a Vulcan greeting and air quotes connect like a Mobius strip suggesting that cognition is based on a foundation of constructs within which language can elaborate our thoughts, yet becomes susceptible to the slip of the tongue.
“Last Notes and Sketches, Min Tae Yong (1918-2001)” is an homage to Min’s father composed of folded panels in the style of Korean byung poong. The pages are displayed as swiveling windows to reveal marks on both sides. On disposable notepads, her father’s handwritings and diagrams combine complex and sophisticated ideas about physics, revealing an obsessive mind for order and latent cognitive strife. Written in Korean, the panels contain thirteen concepts of the multiverse that defy easy translation. In his “Cognitive Transitive Simulation To Achieve Communication” prose, Min Tae Yong writes about being in a ‘cosmic membrane’ composed of ‘cosmoans, galaxians, starmen,’ and all the anthropic entities whose spirits permeate the cosmos. He ends this page with a series of questions: “Is the spirit strong enough? Is the technology advanced enough? To be able to be on line with them?” This final draft bears the deliberate marks of his revision as he crossed out ‘the’ to replace it with ‘your.’