Ground. Signal. Code. Notation

© Keum Art Project, photo credit Christian Frey

Artist Chan Sook Choi, Humboldt Forum 2017

Article by Roxana Florina Popa

Energy made visible in a 9-minute video projection on the façade of the Humboldt Forum at the Berlin Palace


Chan Sook Choi, a Korean artist, uses electromagnetic motion of 129,600 photons to translate energy into a digital algorithm.

Interested in places rich in political and social movements, the artist sees the eastern façade of the Berlin Palace as the meeting place for the sky (kun), a masculine principle, with the earth, a feminine principle. This is also the place where yin and yang activate each other and the 5 converting phases are born: water, fire, wood, metal and earth.

A researcher of the old Chinese teachings yijing, Chan Sook Choi confronts the western thinking with a view point that looks for the immaterial in the material and aims to discover meanings in the relation between nature and culture, technique and art, history and future. 

Yin Yang Su Wha is a Daoist reflexion on our relationship to a certain place and its eventful energy. Dynamic energy currents and their ephemeral digital shapes bring Humboldt Forum an Asian reading.

The flowing signs symbolise transformation, change and passing away. They arise continuously in a vertical, horizontal and circling movement. Vanishing in the next moment, they immediately take new forms: dots and lines, grids and nets, clouds and swarms.

Based on cosmological speculation and scientific dialogue between Daoism and quantum physics, Chan Sook Choi describes the relationship between the overarching oneness and the mode of action of duality – yin and yang – calm and motion.

Interview with the Korean artist, Chan Sook Choi


Roxana Florina Popa: If you were to introduce your artistic work to the public in Berlin in one word, what would that be?

Chan Sook Choi: It is very difficult for me to describe my work in one word. Reflecting on my work, it is really so that I intend to define it through means beyond words.

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RFP: Can you disclose to us your discoveries about the secret energy currents of the Humboldt Forum?

A video light projection by the artist Chan Sook Choi on the east facade of Humboldt Forum in Berlin Palace

© Keum Art Project, photo credit Christian Frey

Artist Chan Sook Choi, Humboldt Forum 2017

CSC: In my Project “Yin Yang Su Wha” – “Yin Yang Water Fire“, the light plays a very important role: not only as a form of energy, but also as a metaphor used for centuries to refer to knowledge and insight.

In my interpretation, the façade of the Humboldt Forum is a knowledge mountain erected by mankind. For running the projection, I decided to let light illuminate the façade from the eastern side of the building.

The focus of “Yin Yang Su Wha” falls on the migration of knowledge in a movement from the Orient to the Occident and the other way around.

RFP: Is it possible also for us to identify the energy of Yin and Yang and of the 5 elements?

These are not abstract things. It is about simple, practical things that we can notice every day in our environment. For example, a tree, that is wood, burns in fire and generates ashes, and further, the ashes turn into soil, and one day, metal can be extracted out of the soil.

Yin and Yang means to reach equilibrium in things that are not compatible with each other. On this purpose, there is never an absolute way.

RFP: What does attract you to study yijing? When did you come in contact for the first time with this knowledge? Under which circumstances?

I stumbled over yijing when I started exploring deeper my identity as a Korean artist. I began researches in order to find out what determines my world outlook, my language and my culture. I am not an expert in yijing, but it is like a code in my genes. One can find it also in modern physics or in the discussions of antique philosophers.  In principle, yijing is a philosophy about the correlation of time and place.

© Keum Art Project, photo credit Christian Frey

Artist Chan Sook Choi, Humboldt Forum 2017

RFP: Is there a difference between becoming and change? Are we also becoming during change?

There is no standstill in modern physics. We are always in a moment of becoming. There are processes that we cannot see. Like the interaction of particles. When one thinks in these dimensions, one can actually see a continuous interaction and interconnection.

A video light projection by the artist Chan Sook Choi on the east facade of Humboldt Forum in Berlin Palace

RFP: What is the relationship between oneness and duality? Are they challenging each other?

Yin and Yang show duality in its extreme form, however, through the balancing of duality, oneness can be born.

As to how one interprets and lives them, this is a real challenge in one’s life.  The perfect oneness exists only as idea and utopia.

Oneness is the boundlessness and the last limit at the same time.

RFP: If we would like to reflect on our relation to a specific place, how should we apply “Yin Yang Su Wha”?

To recognise the work of nature, and to recognise in which relation the human work must be with the work of nature: this is the purpose” – Zhuangzi

Special Thanks go to the artist and Mrs Keumwha Kim from

Keum Art Projects in Berlin


Chan Sook Choi is born in Seoul and studied Visual Communication and Experimental Media Arts at the University of Arts in Berlin. In 2008, she won the first prize of the International Media Art Award of Bibliates and Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In 2009, she received the Prize of Junior Academics of the Land of Berlin. In 2010, she was nominated among the female artists of the New Artists Trend of the Seoul Art Foundation. She was presented in 2011 as the Artist of Tomorrow of the Sungkok Artmuseum and in 2013 as New-Rising Artist at the Alternative Space Loop. Her works can be seen at the National Theatre in Seoul, in Queens Museum in New York City and also, ARosS Aarhus Kunsthalmuseum. Since 2016, she is a Professor of Art and Technology at the Hanyang University. Choi´s art covers performance and installation and video and photography. The artist plays with how we experience place and time and creates situations full of atmosphere in which our bodies are choreographed in changing experimental set-ups. Chan Sook Choi lives and works in Berlin.  

Roxana Florina Popa is the author and self-publisher of the book “Beauty Elegance Creativity – 12 Interviews on the Act of Creation

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