Back Room Gallery is our unique gallery space in Holdrons Arcade. We invited artists to submit proposals responding to an Open Call, for week long exhibitions in the space.

<Time+Machine> from Soa J. Hwang runs 16th-20th September, 2020.

Firstly, how was your lockdown?

Wow. That would be a question that we need to talk about for hours and hours! 

I have to say the lockdown was the strangest period in my life. It was unbearably horrifying to hear so many people losing their loved ones not being able to hold their hands say goodbye.  

Though yesterday my daughter’s friend gave her a rainbow keyring to remember the lockdown. I found it extraordinary that we still have a strength to find the colourful lights in the darkest times.  

What’s your background? How/when did your interest in art start and where did you study?

I was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea and moved to London to study Fine Art in Slade, UCL. 

My interest or I would say my obsession in art, especially in painting, starts quite early. My mom used to say I was such an odd baby, sitting and doodling for a whole day. Funnily enough, it’s not much different now. I still do that every day! 

Tell us about your solo exhibit

<Time + Machine > is my first solo show and the show is about how we could draw time and communicate its meaning through a machine language. 

It is a three-channel interactive installation and I would call them virtual paintings. Created in a game engine Unity 3D, programmed to respond to the audience using a depth camera RealSense. Prescience and movement manipulate how the narrative unfolds within each film, reflecting the challenge of seeing things from another’s perspective and how time, memory, engagement, and experience shape the way we relate, recall, and behave. Meaning, colour and form weave together, dissolve, ebb, and flow in a vivid fragmentation of perceived material and matter.

The length of their attendance will impact on their sensorial experience, encounters, and standpoint. No viewers will experience the same story. 

What’s your process when making a work, what sort of influences do you look to?

My work often begins with a drawing. Then I build a 3D mesh in Maya and finalise the work in a game engine Unity with assembling, texturing and scripting. I found that writing code in machine languages is almost writing a scenario.

When I make the work, I try to capture the sense and the emotion that I want to deliver. Sometimes it comes out the way I wanted, but more often resulted in unexpected failures. Oddly enough, that’s a process of making artwork for me. Best works usually come out of thousands of failures. 

What are your favourite materials?

I love the feeling of graphite pencil on a paper, water-colour smudged, thick layers of acrylic colours and texture of wet clay. I can keep the list going…

Also, I love experimenting with machine languages. For now, I am quite into the Houdini, which is a VFX software and its manipulation of 3D mesh is very satisfying.  

Do you make art full time or work elsewhere alongside it?

A place where I make art full time will be my utopia. I am an artist and a mother of one (it is a not-yet-socially-recognised full-time job) and sometimes do part-time translating jobs.   

What do you listen to while creating?

During the lockdown, I was quite into dance music to forget about the virus. 

Though whenever I am in the darkest place, I go for BTS MIC Drop. Always cheers me up.

What I have in my library are (also heavily been listening) – 

Visit Soa J. Hwang’s exhibit at the Back Room Gallery between 16th-20th September, 2020.

All other winners and runners up of the Back Room Open Call will be exhibiting throughout the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

View the full programme here.