About

 

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Jung Hee Choi is an artist and musician, who works in video, performance, sound, and multimedia installations. Her work has been presented in the United States, Europe, and Asia including FRAC Franche-Comté, France; Berliner Festspiele, Germany; Dia Art Foundation, Guggenheim Museum and MELA Foundation Dream Houses, NYC; FRESH Festival, Bangkok; Korea Experimental Arts Festival. Choi’s work is in the collection of the Fonds régional d’art contemporain (FRAC), Franche-Comté, France, and Dia Art Foundation. The New York Times listed Choi’s Tonecycle for Blues performed by her Sundara All Star Band as one of The Best Classical Music Performances of 2017. Commissioned by MELA Foundation, her video sound performance and installation, RICE, was chosen as one of The 10 Best of 2003 in the December Artforum. In 1999 Choi became a disciple of Young and Zazeela, with the traditional Kirana gandha bandh red-thread ceremony taking place in 2003. In 2002 she cofounded, with Young and Zazeela, The Just Alap Raga Ensemble and has performed as a vocalist in every concert, including those at Dream House at the MELA Foundation, New York; the Yoko Ono Courage Award ceremony (2009); the Third Mind Live concert series at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009); the Merce Cunningham Memorial Celebration (2009); and the five-concert Pandit Pran Nath Memorial Tribute Tour in Berlin, Karlsruhe, and Polling, Germany (2012); Dia Art Foundation (2015). Choi has directed the presentation of Young and Zazeela’s installations and performances including the Centre Pompidou-Metz, France; Kunstmuseum Stuttgart; and the L.A. Philharmonic centennial celebration, featuring a performance of The Second Dream of The High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer in Dream Light (1988– ). Since 2018 Choi’s works have been presented simultaneously with Zazeela’s light and Young’s sound, creating a continuous collaborative Sound and Light environment in the Dream House at the MELA Foundation. 

Choi graduated with a BA summa cum laude and received an MA in art and sound from New York University. Since 2008 Choi has taught raga at the Kirana Center for Indian Classical Music, New York. She has appeared as a guest artist and lecturer at the School of Visual Art, New York, and École supérieure d’art (now La Haute école des arts du Rhin), Mulhouse, France. Choi’s essay “SOUND: A Basis for Universal Structure in Ancient and Modern Cosmology” was published in the Festschrift Antonio T. de Nicolás: Poet of Eternal Return (2014).

Choi has presented Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest (2007– ), a series of environmental compositions with video, evolving light-point patterns, drawing, incense, performance, and sound. Her synthesis of expression in this series, which involves the concept of Manifest, Unmanifest, collectively creates an intersubjective space as a unified continuum and emphasizes the totality of sense perceptions as a single unit to create a state of immersion. 

Choi’s solo drawing exhibition, Black: Trans: May: Light presented by The Korea Society in New York, 2019, was featured in the Artnet News Editors’ Picks and the Hyperallergic art journal’s must-see list, “If you have experienced Choi’s work before, you are not likely to forget it. It operates on you like a deep tissue massage of the apparatuses by which one perceives the outside world. She does all this with light point drawings, graphite drawings, and etchings allied to sound. The work is more than mesmerizing; it’s transfixing.” 

Choi’s electroacoustic and modal improvisation ensemble, Sundara All Star Band, premiered in 2015 performing her Tonecycle for Blues Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Ensemble Version with 4:3 and 7:6 at La Monte Young Marian Zazeela Jung Hee Choi Dia 15 VI 13 545 West 22 Street Dream House, New York. The founding members include La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, Jung Hee Choi, voices; Jon Catler, fretless guitar; Brad Catler, fretless bass; and Naren Budhkar, tabla. The ensemble performed again in her sound-and-light environment Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest XI at the MELA Dream House in August 2016 and October 2017 with Hansford Rowe, fretless bass. The New York Timeslisted Choi’s Tonecycle for Blues as one of the best classical music performances of 2017.

From August 17, 2017 to April 7, 2018, MELA presented Choi’s Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest XI in its Dream House. The premiere of Choi’s sound installation The Tone-field: perceptible arithmetical relations in a cycle of eight Indian raga scale permutations, 17 VIII 17 – 18 IV 07, New York converted the Dream House space into an audibly perceptible number-field that orbits through eight modal scales based on the ancient raga systems of India. The twenty-four-hour cycle of The Tone-field was recalculated daily to create a modal scale that is appropriate for the time of day corresponding to the movement of the sun in New York. For the first time the MELA Dream House opened for a continuous twenty-four hours, starting August 17 at 2 pm and again on April 6 at 2 pm, to provide a full one-day cycle of The Tone-field. As part of the exhibition, three live performances of Tonecycle for Blues Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Ensemble Version with 4:3 and 7:6 were performed by The Sundara All-Star Band on September 30, October 6, and October 14. The installation was well received by an audience of overflow crowds from around the world. Seph Rodney reviewed the exhibition and wrote: “The light patterns look like a god’s dream. . . . I move my head. Doing so makes me realize there is an architecture to the soundscape. Something guttural appears when I turn right; something more lyrical in the middle, and then a droning, like a garden full of chanting monks, when I turn left. . . . It’s demanding nothing of me but my presence. . . . There is the existence of a habitation specifically set aside for dreaming — imaginative excursions into the self where intuition is the more convincing wisdom. I am grateful for this space designed to compel that inward motion.” 

In 2015 the Dia Art Foundation acquired a unique version of the Dia 15 VI 13 545 West 22 Street Dream House, which opened to the public from June 13 to October 24, 2015. In this installation, Young and Choi presented for the first time their sound environments in simultaneity. Regarding Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest IX at the Dia 15 VI 13 545 West 22 Street Dream House in New York, the New York Times declared in 2015: “A movie-screen-size black surface is perforated by tiny holes through which bright light passes, creating a roughly symmetrical, Rorschach-like image resembling swirling galactic gas. This is overlaid by slowly changing, soft-focused shapes in colors from toasty brown to luminous blues that mask and reshape parts of the basic starry image. . . . ‘Tonecycle Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 Sine Wave Version . . .’ With extended listening, what at first seemed mechanically repetitious turns out to be a complex interweaving of different, slowly oscillating pitches. If you give in to it while watching Ms. Choi’s hallucinatory screen, you may find yourself in an altered state of consciousness, on the verge of some ineffable, transcendental revelation.” Art in America reviewed the exceptional collaboration, “The most significant difference at Dia is the addition of two works by Jung Hee Choi, a longtime collaborator and disciple. Environmental Composition 2015 #1 is a monumental ‘light point drawing’ and video projection, constructed from thin, black metallic sheets pierced with needles and lit from behind. At 14 feet tall and 23 feet wide, it is a brooding presence in the space. An accompanying audio piece, Tonecycle Base 30 HZ, 2:3:7 (2012), is a cyclic rotation of 77 sine wave frequencies. It moves so slowly that it can be heard only retroactively, lingering as a sonic afterimage that, with its portamenti, invigorates Young’s constant tones.” (September 2015)

Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest V was presented by FRAC; the École régionale des beaux-arts (ERBA), Besançon, France; Centre d’art mobile, Besançon, and SONIC/Le Quai, École supérieure d’art, Mulhouse, in ERBA from December 2011 through January 2012. Manifest Unmanifest V featured two large-scale multimedia installations, videos, and her sound environment Tonecycle Base 60 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version with Young and Zazeela in New York and Choi in Besançon improvising live across the Atlantic for the opening reception. The relationship of the improvisations to the drone continuously elaborates the musical meaning of the pitch. This exhibition presented RICEand her more recent installation Environmental Composition 2011 #2 (2011), created with light-point drawings on black wrap and video. Two works in the exhibition, Environmental Composition 2011 #2 and Tonecycle Base 60 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version, were acquired by FRAC, Franche-Comté, and exhibited there through August 25, 2013.

In Berlin during the Pandit Pran Nath Memorial Tribute Tour in 2012, Choi presented Tonecycle Base 60 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version with Light Point Drawings #7 and #8 (2012) from Environmental Composition 2012 #1 on the entire ground floor of Villa Elisabeth from March 19 to 31, 2012, as part of the MaerzMusik Festival of the Berliner Festspiele. This sixty-hertz version of Tonecycle allowed a harmonious interrelationship of the pitches to those of the Dream House taking place upstairs.

Later in 2012, MELA presented Choi’s Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest VI, featuring four Light Point Drawings set in her new sound environment Tonecycle Base 30 Hz, 2:3:7 with two highly acclaimed concerts performed by Choi, Zazeela, and Young to overflow crowds.

In 2010 the MELA Foundation presented Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest III, featuring three large-scale multimedia installations, a series of drawings, videos, and her new sound environment, Tonecycle Base 65 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version, with Young, Zazeela, and Choi improvising over the implied tonic. The exhibition premiered the installation Environmental Composition 2010 #1 (2010) created with needle-perforated point drawings on black wrap with video. The drawings are viewed as indiscernibly moving light from a video projection glowing through the pinholes, creating abstract and analogous representations of Manifest Unmanifest. In 2011 MELA presented Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest IV, which included her installation of calligraphic needle holes of moving light displayed in a wall of four floor-to-ceiling scrolls, her new Environmental Composition 2011 #1, and the world premiere of two live concerts of Tonecycle Base 65 Hz, 2:3:7 Vocal Version with Young, Zazeela, and Choi, again improvising over the imperceptibly changing implied tonic in a paired setting with RICE.

Choi’s three-week solo drawing, video, and sound installation Ahata Anahata, The manifest The unmanifest, As a wheel that is one-rimmed and threefold with one-hundred and one spokes and where the illusion of the one springs from the other two was presented in April 2007 at Tompkins Square Gallery, New York. Further expanding the concept of Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest, Choi’s solo exhibition Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest II, presented at the MELA Dream House in September 2009, included multimedia installations, a series of drawings, videos, and a sound environment, illuminating various aspects of her work and their relationships across media.

Choi presented RICE (1998–99), a video, sound work, performance, and installation in a setting of Zazeela’s Imagic Light (1993) in the MELA Dream House in May–June 2003 and in October–November 2005 as a part of the La Monte Young Seventieth-Birthday Celebration. The 2003 presentation was chosen as one of the ten best of 2003 inArtforum, for which Chrissie Iles wrote, “This video-sound work was presented in May at Dream House, the permanent installation of La Monte Young’s eternal music and Marian Zazeela’s magenta lights, and one of Dia founder Heiner Friedrich’s great legacies. A hypnotic projection of rotating mandalic forms radiated out from Zazeela’s magenta color field like silent fireworks, while the sound of Choi tracing a circle around the top of an overturned cooking pot with a rice paddle created a single repeating tone that resonated deep in the solar plexus.”  On March 28, 2009, Choi presented a live video, sound work, performance, and installation of RICE with Composition in the style of La Monte Young’s 1960 sustained friction sounds (2000) in a setting of Zazeela’s Imagic Light II (1993–2009) in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Dream House.

Choi’s video and sound works have been presented at 2007 and 2009 FRESH festivals of international video art and short films, CODE, Bangkok; 2007 and 2008 Chuncheon International Mime Festival, Korea; 2009 and 2010 Korea Experimental Arts Festival, Seoul; 2010 BITT Festival, Seoul (2010); GLOCAL Media Art Festival, Chungju (2011); Thinking MEDIA III, Chungmu Art Hall Gallery, Seoul (2013); JEJU International Experimental Arts Festival, South Korea (2016); Ulsan Art Performance Festival, South Korea (2016); and Asia Contemporary Art Week, New York (2016); as well as at Diapason, New York; Gale Gates et al, New York; Monkey Town, Brooklyn; and Hinterconti, Hamburg, Germany. Her drawing, video, and sound installations were exhibited at the Asian Contemporary Art Fair, New York (November 2008); Art Asia Miami (December 2008); Spazioersetti, Udine, Italy (2019); and Korea Society, New York (2019). The multimedia installation Environmental Composition 2008 #1 (2008) was featured as part of Faces & Facts: Korean Contemporary Art in New YorkCelebrating the 30th Anniversary of Korean Cultural Service NY, Korean Cultural Service, at Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery, New York, in December 2009.

Choi has collaborated with Young and Zazeela to produce long-term video documentation of their lives and work, including the Dream Houses and affiliated events. For the Young, Zazeela, and The Just Alap Raga Ensemble long-term video installation of 05 II 05 PM NYC Raga Sundara (ektal vilampit khayal) set in Raga Yaman Kalyan at the Regenbogenstadl Polling Dream House, on February 5, 2005, Choi was video director, video mastering producer, and a vocalist. Choi also directed the video of The Just Alap Raga Ensemble concert in March 2009, from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Dream House, featuring Young, Zazeela, Choi, and Da’ud Constant, voices; Jon Catler, sustainer electric guitar; Charles Curtis, cello; and Naren Budhkar, tabla, which has now been installed permanently at the Kunst im Regenbogenstadl since the opening of its 2009 season.

Choi was founding producer and director for Mantra TV, a cable and webcast vehicle for advanced arts in New York and Korea from 1998 to 2006. Her programs featured original works of art, music, dance, experimental film, and discussions of creative processes. Choi curated Syn‐Aesthetics, the Media Mavericks 1st Experimental Film Festival, New York, in 2006; BITT Festival for the Arts, Seoul and Chungju, South Korea, in 2010; and film and video programs for the Korea Experimental Arts Festival in 2010. She has cocurated exhibitions in South Korea, including the Konkuk University Exhibition of International Professors in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and Thinking Media III in 2013. Choi received the Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds 2006 award, supported by the Electronic Media and Film Program at the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2014 she received a project grants award from New Music USA.

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