Yehwan Song is a South Korean web artist and designer who creates anti-friendly, non-user-centric, unconventional, and diverse independent websites through which she tries to flip the general understanding of web design and subvert user behaviours. Song aims to illuminate inequalities in the digital environment and reframe digital accessibility.
In collaboration with the Digital Visual Studies project at the University of Zurich, Song has created a website that combines the collection of Helsinki Art Museum HAM and multimodal machine learning technology.
In Newly Formed, users visit an online map of the city and can interact with the public art collection based on geolocations. Through the map, the user starts to see the city through the collection, jumping from one panorama to another through portals, from which they can explore new groupings based on metrics created by the machine. New entanglements emerge from the combined agencies of the model, the visitors, the collection, and the city.
Digital Visual Studies (DVS) is a five-year cooperation project funded by the Max Planck Society and hosted by the University of Zurich from January 2020. The DVS team for Newly Formed includes Tristan Weddigen, Darío Negueruela del Castillo, Leonardo Impett, Iacopo Neri, Pepe Ballesteros, Valentine Bernasconi, Jason Armitage, and Ludovica Schaerf.
In my practice I focus on the insecurity and discomfort elicited by the web – a negative aspect that tends to be hidden behind technological utopianism and immoderate expectations of comfort, speed, and ease of use. I reveal the discomfort experienced especially by users who are not considered to be part of the major user group. I believe that digital discomfort derives from a lack of consideration for diversity and the deprivation of care.
Interactions with the internet differ significantly depending on the user’s social environment, political infrastructure, and linguistic background. This means that much of the internet remains censored. Accessible data is filtered, and net neutrality is easily infringed.
When these differences are ignored and we continue to chase the illusion of speed and connectivity, we encounter digital discomfort. I pursue meaningful interaction with the entire internet over a wide penetration rate, and diversity over consistency and efficiency.
Yehwan Song’s work has been shown in various exhibitions and events around the world. Her most recent shows include The 17th Istanbul Biennial (2022); Distant Gallery, online (2022); To you: move toward where you are, Arko Art Center, Seoul (2022); Data Jungwon, Kim Heesu Art Center Art Gallery, Seoul (2022); While I’m Standing Here, online/Foundry, Seoul (2021); Hybrid by Nature, online/Goethe-Institut (2021); Seoul Biennale of Architecure and Urbanism 2021; Venice Biennale Korean pavilion: Virtual School Tour, Seoul/Venice (2021); World On A Wire, online, Beijing, Moscow, Seoul Rhizome & Hyundai motor studio (2021).