With her projects already shared in places like Germany, Korea and France, multimedia artist Jiwon Choi is now set to bring her award-winning work to the Montclair State University Film Forum on Feb. 8 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. in the School of Communication and Media’s Presentation Hall.
A series of lectures and presentations by some of the most influential film and video professionals, the Film Forum allows anyone interested to hear guest speakers discuss their medium and the creative process that accompanies it. These events generate conversation about the political, societal or artistic themes within the creator’s work, which Choi’s pieces have an abundance of.
Born in South Korea, Choi was prompted to move to the United States at the young age of 15 because of struggles with the competitiveness of Korea’s education system and its focus on the technical elements of art as opposed to the creativity behind it.
She went on to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where she studied fine arts and graduated in 2013, followed by earning an MFA in Photo, Video and Related Media in 2016.
According to Choi, her artistic practice is greatly impacted by the identity crisis she experienced from having lived in both countries.
“I felt I couldn’t identify as either Korean or American,” Choi said. “And my early works evolved around my diasporic experience in the U.S. I began to think about this duality and I developed a perspective that was neither an outsider nor an insider.”
Choi now creates her own projects in addition to helping produce creative video assets for clients, whether they be editorial, commercial, musicians or artists. Just recently she worked as a videographer for Netflix Korea to create content for their social media. She has also worked with “Vogue Korea,” “ELLE Korea,” Coach and Bobbi Brown, as well as “Harper’s BAZAAR” to create a video editorial story for the K-pop boy band Stray Kids.
Choi has a particular interest in using the K-pop music genre to explore ideology.
“Popular culture indicates a society’s current values and social issues,” Choi said. “K-pop is a soft power that’s on the rise. It reenacts militarism, capitalism, lookism and the list goes on. Yet, its tailored sound and visuals makes it hard to resist. I see K-pop as an ideology itself and propaganda. As a fan and professional in the industry, I want to acknowledge the potential of a conversation and change that K-pop could bring.”
One of Choi’s works that does exactly that is her graduate thesis, “Parallel,” a half-hour video in which an interview with Choi’s grandfather, who served in the Korean War, is contrasted with the rise of K-pop.
“Parallel” introduces viewers to Korean history and culture as it explores how ideology prevails across generations, individuals, illusion and reality. It has won several awards, such as the International Young Filmmaker Award, a Red Carpet Image Award and an honorable mention for Best Experimental Film
“Parallel” and the recognition it received is very significant to Choi, who wanted to share her grandfather’s experiences with the world and generate attention toward Korea.
The story was brought alive through video art and the performative elements, sounds and visuals that exist within it. Choi feels through multimedia art, there is no limitation on the manipulation of images that breathe life into her ideas.
“I love working with my medium,” Choi said. “I appreciate every step from producing to postproduction. After careful consideration, practice using a camera lens to translate my idea into imagery always excites me. Also, the digital medium is very convenient to present and transport, and it will have an ever-living life in a digital form.”
This passion for multimedia art was recognized by professor Roberta Friedman, who was drawn to Choi’s work when selecting her to be a guest speaker for the forum.
“I loved her work,” Friedman said. “It is bold, creative and substantial, combining documentary and fiction. And, K-pop is in the air right now.”
Choi’s visit with the Film Forum is free and open to the public. All masked individuals are welcome to hear her speak and watch the screening of her videos, which Choi emphasized she is grateful for.
“My works are built in layers,” Choi said. “I hope every audience of mine will have their own experience and take as much as they receive from my works.”