Memorial for Laptop
On December 23, 2020, the artist Suhyun Choi’s laptop passed away. They realized that they had developed a racial-emotional affinity towards their personal tech devices, even though the manufacturing of such objects propagates techno-Orientalism – a theory which posits a dystopic technologically and economically dominant East that serves as an antagonist to the historically hegemonic and heroic West. The viralization of East-Asian bodies has been and is inherently connected to the West’s fear of the East in technological advancement, as technological prowess has equated to colonial and imperial brute strength.
‘Ornamentalism’, a theory of Yellow feminist ontology articulated by Anne Anlin Cheng, further traces the haunting history of economic relationships between the West and the East producing the narrative of Yellow femininity as aesthetic embellishment and objecthood. Throughout histories of industrialization, the labor of producing technology has been racially coded—forwarding the stereotype of Yellow femme bodies as programmed and programmable, cold, object, unfeeling, productive, and laborious. Technology and labor have thus become the avenues for dehumanization and disposability. In an attempt to mitigate this, Choi proposes a humanizing relationship to technology as a means of humanizing Yellow femmes who are inherently read as objects. What would it mean if we changed our relationship to technology to one of care and humanity? Can the care for our objects decolonize technology?
Choi will create a Korean memory setting in which to enact this caring relationship through rituals of remembrance. Choi states:
The traditional Korean memorial space aids spirits in their transition from life to death. Memorializing my laptop is a spiritual act that provides the intention of recognizing that technology was created from the earth’s resources and labor, and consciously parting with them to return them back safely. Through this framing of care as a mnemo-technology, and memorial as a mnemo-technique, I am proposing to shift the way we understand ourselves, our being, and our relationship to technology.
The centerpiece will be a large floral arrangement on top of a wooden altar containing a transparent acrylic box that holds the artist’s laptop SSD. Below it, a table will hold jesa (Korean memorial objects) such as used computer parts and Apple product detritus. In front of the jesasang or altar table will be a donation box for jo-euigeum, where people can donate money in odd numbers to Asian American labor rights organizations. Throughout the course of the Session, the public are invited to donate their broken personal devices and place them on long horizontal display tables. They will be invited to write loving farewell letters to acknowledge their relationships with them. After the exhibition, the donated electronics will be recycled responsibly.
Floral Installation Designer: Jaz Solana (they/them) @radjaz
Garment Designer: Euimi Lee @eui.mi
Care Committee: Tsige Tafesse @astoldbytsige and seh-reum tom @theweb_
Art Handling: Kyle Ingram @kyleingram_
Memorial for Laptop is part of Recess’s program, Session, which invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.
On view: November 11, 2023–January 25, 2024
Marcela Torres and Assembly
September 14–November 10, 2023
KING COBRA and Hue Hallums