February 17, 2014


This was an email sent to two friends. This material has been minorly edited and formatted to be shared online.

Dear Ellie and Dan

Hope you are starting a great weekend! and thanks for hosting the fondue dinner the other day. Sorry I was a bit quiet that night, I was feeling under the weather. Now I’m good and ready to start working and go to Korea for another month. the chances are low that I will see you before I leave wednesday night. So here are few things I’ve been meaning to share with you.

I told you I’m finding interest in post-industrial landscape, as extension of urbanism. When I go for walks, or enjoying winter sports, I’ve been thinking about geographic borders and how artificial they are. for example, I was searching for the northern top of Manhattan in Inwood hill, but it turns out the northern top is actually physically in Bronx, in Marble Hill.

For more pictures from my search of the northern top of Manhattan

Since we are hyper-connected most of the time to the Internet and spatial data, we are dumbfounded once they are not accessible, or when they provide false information. The question about geography leads to broader question of territory and habitat: how capitalism and technology influence the spaces furthest away from the urban centers. Thus space of flow (Castells’ classic theory as well as his newer analysis of occupy- arab spring in ‘Networks of Outrage and Hope’ 2012) and enigmatic and struggle of capitalist space (Harvey’s newer book Enigma of Capital is in conflict with itself. And on the other part, nature keeps being very resilient and find a way to win. This way, I think I’m still an optimist

I’ve been re-inspired by the work of my friends, Mary Mattingly and Jon Cohrs. Jon is the artist who makes films about post-industrial landscape and flavoring factories in New Jersey Meadowlands. And Mary, as you may know, has been working on various mobile habitats based on post-apocalyptic scenarios.

We did few projects together (my role was often curatorial) in Eyebeam and Korea. For example, Resistance and Resilience was a show we did in Bennington College, and here are some picturess from the crazy roadtrip I co-organized in the sites for developing canals in Korea.
photos by Noh Suntag. Roadshow:South Korea was a collaboration between Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and Total Museum

And also works by Trevor Paglen keeps inspiring me for his blunt, no-bull shit- approach to geography of power. but I relate more to Fernando Garcia Dory for sensible aesthetics and thoughtful approach.

So I know you guys (especially Ellie) are interested in these topic. I wanted to see if we can find time and space to think more about it, and engage in deeper process with the material.

And my key question is. Is it possible to reconstruct image of nature as nature would see itself?

I think the question is related to my thinking about computation, in that I think about the meaning of computers without humans, thus communication without humans, or messages. Excommunications, new book by Galloway, Thacker and Wark is guiding me with this thought. Can we apply what we learn from such reductionist approach (or radical minimalism) to the medium (tools, or techniques) toward nature and environment?

Also, I’m kind of keen of landscapes that show resilience and resistance between nature and urban spaces. Like highways and parks, and ski resorts and golf courses. I think they reflect my conflicted desire to enjoy nature (by possibly the most capitalist notion of enjoyment - ski and vacations, and hope for preservation and integration with the whole earth)

Anyways. maybe this residency in Shandanken might be a good time and space to think about it with you guys and anyone who might be good fit.

I’ve meet the director and met the artists who participated in past year. I was thinking if you guys are interested, I can collaborate with you on the call? or I can write it and have you as potential collaborator too.

Also the brain book im reading is really good Synaptic self and the book that got me into that one is actually What should we do with our brain?

talk more!


2/17/2013 12:20pm Brooklyn, New York.

This is an email written in reply to the above correspondence, by Ellie with some input from Dan

Hey Taeyoon,

Thanks for the thoughts- we were definitely brushing up against things I’ve thought about a lot (and want to think about more!) during our fondue evening. I agree, the conversations should continue, and perhaps grow into more than just conversation!

There is a lot that interests me in references you just sent, and lots of reading I’d love to look into, but only know vaguely- I did a lot of reading and research on art/environment/ecology topics from other angles last semester for my DIAP class, and would like to mesh some other perspectives into it: http://aita.ellieirons.com/#/readings

Your interest in borders and territories (and their interface with spatial data, networking, GPS) is something I think both Dan and I are interested in. Related to the concept of the postindustrial landscape and borders, I’ve been interested for a while now in the concept of the “edge effect” which in ecology refers to places where two different landscape structures come together (like a meadow and a forest)…these regions tend to be the richest & most productive because the organisms that use these regions have a higher diversity of options (they can choose from both). These are the kinds of things I like to think about in relation to urban, suburban and ex-urban spaces, especially those regions that may be “rewilding” due to neglect, decay etc. Thinking about mapping and border drawing from the perspective of the physicality of the land (watersheds/water flow, soil composition, surface type) can allow for new ways of understanding how we divide and use land.

Along the lines of the communication thing (computers without humans, communicating by themselves/to themselves) this is slightly different, but I’ve been fascinated for the past few months by new understandings of the way plants communicate. They do, just in ways that don’t mean much to us, and are hard to decipher because their time frame is so different. Great description of the state of the research Michael Pollan’s NY’r article, The Intelligent Plant. And of course this crazy documentary from the 70s which maybe you’ve seen (it’s been largely debunked, but the new research puts it back in the spotlight again): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_X2Z9v8-6Q

A few other references in this area that I’ve been looking at/thinking about:

Bruce Sterling’s keynote for Art + Environment Conference
Making the Geologic Now
Timothy Morton on Hyperobjects, Ecology without Nature etc

The Shandaken Project looks awesome. I’m all for time upstate, and time spent upstate contemplating with like-minded folks, then all the better. I’m happy to help with an application in whatever way seems useful…

Good luck with the upcoming trip, and let’s be in touch!

Brooklyn, NY

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