Artist: Ahram Jeong
Composition: Staying Alive
Ahram Jeong is an inventive and boundless artist. Her 2010 work, Staying Alive, exhibits the fearless limits of constructing multiple performance pieces that enable different interpretations of each listener. Using her own heartbeat, computer software and a drum set placed in a dug out hole, Jeong creates an improvised and interactive world of percussion. Tom Tom had the privilege to feature her work and the story behind it in our print magazine Issue 11. Here is her piece featured online.
Ahram Jeong’s interdisciplinary projects explore performance aspects of media by creating scenarios where subjects interact via the transformation of technology. Using bodily rhythms to trigger photographic apparatus, create music notation, and stimulate improvised music, the work transforms humanity’s conscious control over machines into something akin to collaboration. The continuous negotiations with the object, the action, and the other implied participants, become important as a kind of performance. Through the process of public engagement— meeting the artist, meeting one another, and agreeing to participate—Jeong, in essence, reverses the traditional roles of spectator and performer.
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, and currently living and working in New York, Jeong was recently awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship for her work, (Staying Alive, 2010), Staying Alive, 2010, Multi-channel video and sound installation.
For Staying Alive, the artist dug her own grave and recorded her heartbeat using an invented recording device and computer MIDI software to generate musical notation. In the installation, the real-time heartbeat score is paired with two other videos showing the artist digging her own grave and a drummer playing solo improvisation inside the grave using the heartbeat recording as rhythm and tempo.
Jeong’s bodily rhythms serve as the inspiration for a chain of action and reaction: the heartbeat translated into notation, that notation translated by the drummer into sound and action, that sound and action captured by the camera and translated into video, and the final transformation being that of the installation itself. Something as essential and personal as a heartbeat is reduced to its most pragmatic reality. Nothing more than a faint sound generated by an automatic electric signal. Simultaneously personal and anonymous, the final product provides a score for the audience’s experience that reverts the music to its hypothetical origin — the heartbeat, the first music heard in the mother’s womb.
Text and photos courtesy of the artist