2022 in review

Taeyoon Choi
12 min readApr 14, 2023
Taeyoon wearing white, in a room with many laptops that is displaying virtual garden
Photo by Min Hwa Maeng

2022 was a year of commitment and revelation. In this posting, I’m focusing on professional reflection but as life and work interweave, a great deal of personal reflection, growth and experiences are included. I’m thankful for the positive changes and important people in my life. I asked a few friends and followers if they have any questions for me. Here they are.

1. What have you learned this year? — Questions 1~7 from Lauren McCarthy

I learned the importance of trusting myself and grounding my core principles. Trusting myself is different from being arrogant. I admit I’ve been arrogant in the past and I don’t want to be arrogant in the future. I want to be open-minded while being deliberately focused. I want to be fair and analytical while trusting my instincts and feelings. Sometimes, or a lot of the time, I may be wrong. It’s okay to make wrong decisions or mistakes but it’s not okay to make decisions or worse, indecision based on the fear of what others — especially those with more power — will think of you. Conflict avoidance eventually leads to more serious conflicts elsewhere. I need to trust myself so others can trust me, and I can return the trust back to them.

2. What do you wish you had known at the start?

This year, I became a bit more aware of the global economy, and politics and how they relate. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t imagine the Russian invasion of Ukraine would continue and impact the world through supply chain blockage and energy shortage. I wasn’t thinking much about how we will experience climate change in local contexts via fires, droughts, and floods, how the alt-right and extreme conservatism and nationalism will take new turns globally. I was surprised how the U.S. tech stock market fell sharply in the second half of the year, as they directly impacted the global economy and labor conditions. Some people think there may be a long, severe recession in the near future, but it may look and feel differently from recent recessions. I’m also curious about the historical recessions, particularly two great recessions in the 1930s to see what we may experience in our lifetime. With these contexts, I am paying attention to global and local conditions of the market, labor, environment, education, and arts.

Locally, the economy in South Korea and East Asia writ large has been struggling. There was an increase in the USD-Won exchange rate this year, hitting beyond the 1 USD = 1400 KRW at some point. The real estate market in South Korea is experiencing a sharp fall after multiple years of inflation. Personally, I’m experiencing some challenges as an independent artist/ freelancer whose primary income is now from South Korea. I’m diversifying my source of income, building professional and personal networks of care, mutual aid, and cooperation, and investing in very long-term projects, spaces, and initiatives. I believe that good work can come out even in the toughest times and that we can ride the wave if we collectively support each other.

3. What is a topic on which your opinion/ thoughts has changed?

I was a little cautious to openly criticize the cryptocurrency, blockchain, NFT craze and hype over the last few years. My caution was in respect of a few people I met who convinced me to be open-minded about their possibilities. But all the signs were telling me that the hype was going to be a farce first, soon to be a tragedy. Witnessing massive shipwrecks, Luna and Terra collapse and FTX, followed by the overall fall of the crypto sector one after another, I think a lot of the hype was based on false promises at the cost of many investors. Any enterprise may fail, but the remorseless attitude of the people who created the mayhem anger me. I won’t take any more bullshit egalitarian marketing such as ‘Democratizing’ finance. I do not believe tech will be the sole solution to social problems. Tech reflects the society which created it. In a way, crypto scammers are no different than traditional scammers. They happen to have the new tools to fool the mass. At the moment I’m skeptical about cryptocurrency will actually bring the values the cheerleaders promise. I look forward to being proved wrong. Until then, I hope to have levelheadedness, hands-on skills, and insights about new technologies and their social implications.

4. Which was your favorite moment of this year?

I got married in June. The months of preparation for the wedding ceremony were joyful yet complex and stressful at times. Right after the wedding ceremony, my wife and I were finally alone and free of responsibilities, we went to eat ddukbokki, a common street food and a pint of beer. We enjoyed ourselves at a nondistinct pub near our place. That hour of relaxing, happy, comforting time was very precious. We felt happy to have finished the wedding ceremony and ready to move on with our lives.

5. What have you gotten closer to?

I think I’m getting closer to finding my voice as an artist, to figure out what I want to do in my practice. I simply want to make art and support other artists to make art. I do a bunch of stuff, teaching, and other freelance gigs, but they are all toward my primary goal of making art with other people. Over the years as my practice grew, I experienced true appreciation as well as some misunderstandings and criticisms which were very hard. I appreciate thoughtful criticism. I learn from mistakes, and I admit I’m a part of a racist, sexist, ableist, Capitalist world that rewards exploitation, alienation and appropriation. I often find myself in dilemma — how I can do anything meaningful when I’m so complicit in the issues I care about?

Art is powerful not because of how it can solve social issues, but because of how it weaves together complex, nuanced, contradictory aspects of human experience and the natural world. I believe art is important because it can achieve what politics can not, it can fulfill profoundly human emotions that money can not, and it can reconcile conflicts in a way that academia or policymakers can not. I will continue to do what I do and support people who are near and far from me because art is a collective exercise of living together.

6. What was the funniest thing that happened to you?

I can’t recall the funniest thing but I remember the evening I went out with other artists and curators for the Moving Ground exhibition. We had such a good time and I laughed until I lost myself. I hope to have more chances to hang out with other artists.

7. Reflections on your huge life shift would be so welcome — from Elmsly

I ‘love’ New York but New York is not the center of the world, nor London or Paris. Yet, those places hold geopolitical power in the current Capitalist world where pop culture reproduces the myths that center the said places.

Leaving New York and the project which I invested much of the last decade has been bittersweet. The big life shift came with many challenging consequences, and I lost many nights of sleep. But it was a ‘love’ truly. I miss the people and the city’s creative energy on a daily basis. From some perspective, I’m thankful for the life I have here in South Korea, and the kind of opportunities I’m exploring. I think it was the right decision to move out of New York. I should have probably done it a year earlier when I had the gut feeling. and I did not write much about my professional changes in the last few years (there are some impressions in 2021 in review) but 2022 feels like a major step forward.

I’ve also been thinking about how ‘leaving’ a place doesn’t actually let you leave the problems you had there. Here, I’m privileged in many objective categories and life is indeed much easier to live. However, I notice a lot of similar structural issues, discriminatory practices based on race, gender, and class, and implicit bias that people inherited from colonialism, especially in the elite academia, arts and cultural organizations. This time, I’m thinking about what I should do with my privilege.

What was one thing that inspired awe in you this year? — Question from Adina Glickstein

“Friendship persists to the test of time.”

Other questions from friends that I will answer later.

What happened this year that made you imagine a new image of the future? — from Mushon Zer-Aviv

How do we build infrastructure that allows us to thrive collectively as artists instead of falling into one scammy trap after another? — from Kyle McDonald

How have you personally learned to be true what you need in your life instead of convincing yourself to settle for something that’s mostly ok? — from Kyle McDonald

What projects and collaboration do you have planned for next year or you wish to take on? What themes are you working on? — from Yonyon

Exhibitions

I got to participate in a few nice exhibitions in Korea. Here are some of them.

Skyline forms Earthline, Curated by Hyejung Jang, Doosan Art Center 2022.04.20 ~ 2022.05.25

I’m not a political person
New wall drawing about 2019 Hong Kong protests

The 2022 World Heritage Festival, Andong, South Korea curated by Bom Roya.

Moving Ground at The Reference curated by Nury Lee.
2022.09.20 ~ 2022.10.02

Exhibition of Distributed Web of Care graphics on public billboards in Seoul city center via Art Station Seoul.

The drawing was displayed on five billboards in Gwangwhamun area

garden.local at Boanstay curated by Serena Seungah Choo

Project information is available here.

Talks

January 21 Deem Forum with Mia Birdsong, Zenat Begum, myself, and moderated by Ari Melenciano.

Deem Forum full video

Here’s a note from the panel.

January 27 Goethe Institut Smart City: Poetic Garden

February 5~6 Disability Arts Panel with ArtsEquator and Equal Dreams

February 11 Caring Society for Social Sustainability: Care Economy, Care Democracy and New Imaginations for Care, Panel with Nancy Folbre, Joan Tronto, and moderated by Hee-Kang Kim

A giant, empty hall at the Yonsei University (due to COVID-19 restrictions)

July 18 Hidden Layers at TH Koln

There were a few more like 이음캠프, which was mentioned in this NY Times article ‘In South Korea, a Hit Show Brings Autism Into the Spotlight.’

I gave a few more lectures in the fall, like October 28 at the Seoul Institute of the Arts and Decolonial curatorial Agenda for the Green New Deal at Art Sonje Center.

Photo by Hyojung Seo
Panel with Boseon Shim, poet

Workshops

March 4 Speculative Lessons/Just Futures organized by Dr. Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and Carly Schnitzler

April 30 Busan Biennale Curators Workshop

May 2, 9, 16 Leeum Museum Workshop

May 27 Arko Museum 융복합 (transdisciplinary) workshop

December 6 VH Award Eyebeam Stop Work

P2P Residency Distributed Web of Care at C/O Berlin

Residents of P2P Residency
P2P Residency at C/O

Teaching

June~October Online English Lessons
June~August Offline Coding Lesson

Student work made with p5.js
Intermediate Coding Lesson Group

Started teaching at Yonsei University Department of Sociology this fall and taught a class titled Art, Tech and Social Change. Here are two guest speakers.

Gina Lee of Leeum Museum
In-ah Shin of Scene of Today

Collecting

Sujin Choi’s work

Sujin Choi’s ceramic works
Lauren McCarthy gifted Conversacube

Memories

January 7, Lunch with Na Kim
February 5, Babysat Jongchul’s daughters
February 11 GEEF Forum, Spoke in memory of J.K. Grahama Gibson
March 1 Ian Cheng and Veronica So
March 11 Binna Choi and Maya West
March 12 y2k92 concert in Seendosi
March 16 purchased a piece
March 23 New York, Cheon and his daughter
March 26 SFPC cleaning, Todd and Melanie
March 27 Soyoon of Se So Neon
March 29 Nick Doyle in his studio
March 30 Christine Sun Kim’s mural and Suzanne Lacy’s exhibition at the Queens Museum
April 1~4 Upstate New York
April 6 Meet with Ishac Bertran, Suhyun Choi, and many other friends in the West, Brooklyn
May~August Lots of personal events
Hawaii
LA
The desert
Dana Davenport
Tellef Tellefson
Xuan Juliana Wang
August 27 my cousin Keesang passed away
September 4 Frieze Seoul
September 24 Artist talk at the Reference, Seoul
October 28 Went to the North Korea lookout with E. Tammy Kim
November 15 Decolonial Curatorial for Green New Deal, Art Sonje Center
December 8 KW show
December 10 Evan Roth’s show at the Berlin library
December 11 Berghain with Thomas Mader
December 12 DWC residency at C/O Berlin
Berlin friends
Christine Sun Kim and Thomad Mader.
Sam Hart and Alexis Convento
Joonyeon Park
Mina Ha
Favorite K-pop: New Jeans
Favorite movie: The Worst Person in the World by Joachim Trier

New Year’s Resolution

Apply for a Ph.D. program.
Learn about colonization and decolonization.
Focus on Code Ecologies research and project.
Teach with great commitment and integrity.
Practice quantitative Research method.
More studio time, making things.
Take up on travel whenever there’s a chance.
Become a better, more responsible human by acknowledging past mistakes and actively improving my mind, heart and behavior.

End note

I started writing this review at the end of December 2022. It took me three months to finish it. Phew! Here’s what I’m working on now.

I’m researching e-waste. The ways raw materials are extracted in the Global South, labor conditions, and the ways that the consumer e-waste is exported from the Global North back to the South, are my research focus. The movement of natural resources, labor, human, and the Sustainability-Tech-Greenwashing is a new form of colonialism that started in the 16th century. I’m planning free workshops on e-waste, data cleansing, recycling, and right-to-repair this year, in Korea and online. If you want me to run a workshop in your city, in person or online, contact me studio@taeyoonchoi.com

Thanks for reading. I can be found most active on Instagram and Twitter.

--

--

Taeyoon Choi

immigrant. art. tech. learning. accessibility. inclusion. Co-founder @sfpc. fellow @datasociety. artist http://taeyoonchoi.com