Vicki Thai speaks to Jeanie Choi
Photography by Alex Thebez
From Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Jeanie Choi will be graduating from Parsons the New School for Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography. Jeanie uses photography, video and performance in a series of collaborations with her family. Her work was recently exhibited at the Radiator Gallery in Don’t Worry What Happens Happens Mostly Without You, along with her thesis Silence Makes Us All Liars, at Calumet Gallery.
Vicki Thai: How do you feel about Instagram? Are you a fan of it/or do you find it as an “accessible” way of making images reminiscent of the days when analog photography was popular?
Jeanie Choi: I thought I would never download this app, but now I use it on an almost daily basis. It makes things easy to send images to my Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook accounts all at once.
VT: Do you find yourself taking images solely for the purpose of posting them on Instagram?
JC: No, I’m not good at posting images LIVE. I’ll usually post photos days after I shot them. I think it’s a bad habit I got from posting images to Tumblr. I take it as a curation so I take time to find images that will make sense to me one after the other.
VT: I’ve noticed today there is an excessive amount of technology where cameras/video cameras capture more than enough information. What defines it is the quality of the image and the speed in which it captures information. While there is this new technology, people prefer a more simple way of shooting that give it a “vintage” look. 16mm film cameras, Polaroid cameras, etc. There has also been a bunch of apps for the IPhones that generate imagery that look like it was from an old movie. What do you think of this trend from the past in the present day?
JC: I don’t have anything against it. Usually people who use those apps don’t have a role as artists. Now if my respected colleagues did that or someone I admired did that, I would question their reasons.
VT: What are some trends that you have noticed on Tumblr?
JC: I guess it depends on who you follow and on Tumblr I don’t follow one specific style. You can really find anything on my dashboard, from comics to the news. I don’t follow any blogs on cats, but I do see a lot of cats. Other than cats, I see a lot of film stills, food… (I’m scrolling down my dashboard as I’m trying to answer this question, and hey look, two more cats!)
VT: How do you feel about Lomography and their toy cameras? Do you think that any of these images could ever be shown in an actual gallery, or part of a portfolio?
JC: Sure, I’ve seen it happen. I was trained to be the “traditional photographer” my first year of college, but the more I examine the art world now and have been involved in it for a longer time, I can’t say that the medium we use matter as long as there is a clear intention behind it.
VT: Do you think that because there is a decline in the use of film, people are becoming more aware of what once existed, that they are using these apps?
JC: It’s hard for me to compare film with apps because they’re two completely different mediums and processes for me. I enjoy shooting film as much as I enjoy being up to date with social media.
VT: How does this fit into your work? I’ve noticed you shoot and document video using an old video camera. Is this for personal reasons, or aesthetic reasons that inform your work?
JC: It’s both for personal and aesthetic reasons. My father obsessively shot film and video when I was growing up so any camera from the 90s is nostalgic to me. I bought the camera my father used back then on Ebay and began to incorporate that aesthetic into my own work. I have reappropriated footages from his own videos, and shot new footage to continue his practice. Because my work has a high female presence, I want to bring in my father through this medium and his tradition.
VT: Do you find this process of shooting with an old video camera important to the work? Would it differ if you were to shoot it with an HD camera?JC: I sometimes think about the generation we grew up in since the technological advances have been so drastic and exciting over the last ten years. And I like how a camera that I am using now from 1997 is considered “old” compared to an HD camera. I’m not opposed to shooting with an HD camera, but it would be completely separate from the bodies of work I have done that concern the reasons why I use an 8mm video camera.