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Peer-reviewed paper




FROM 21 DEC. 2020

I enjoyed watching the video of the very interesting exhibit called Let There Be Light at the Hong Kong Polytechnic Fashion Gallery. The fashions are beautiful, and I found access to the back story even more satisfying. The designer’s explanation was thoughtful and brought attention to materials, technique and concept, each of which can be a source of artistic inspiration. These garments bring all three together in poetic symbiosis. The resonance between the gritty psychedelic art of the 1960’s, which I remember well, and Dr Sun Young Choi’s very refined, almost ethereal pallet was thought provoking.
The concept of Light in her work will make the wearer seem to glow from within the garment. If the drug induced artistic inspiration of the 1960s has changed so much, what else has? Are we in a better place now? I was particularly pleased by her explanation of sewing techniques. The Korean seams in particular are very effective in her garments, as they are in Korean Pojagi wrapping cloths. The construction using multiple layers in some of these garments suggests the indigo dyed multi-layered jackets made by the Chinese minority Miao people, which may not have been what the artist had in mind at all, but which resonates with me. This inclusivity of multiple traditional and historic concepts and cutting-edge 21st century techniques is emblematic of a rich artistic world view. Dr Sun Young Choi has created a unique and visually enticing collection. Bravo.

Barbara Shapiro 

Past Textile Society of America Board Member

Advisory Board Member Textile Arts Council FAMSF

This exhibition is an outcome of thinking about fashion and mentality that elicits a tension between matter and mind, and secular and sacred, respectively.

Images dominate our current era. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are captivated by images, which hold sway over our thoughts and behaviours. Living in this era that overflows with myriad images, we can see the way images drive our desires and how desperately we cling to the virtual world.

Adrian Piper, an American philosopher, said that there is a close relationship between the 1960s and the first decade of the new millennium, and characterized that relationship with an emphasis on images. Piper then added that what drove the renaissance of images in the 1960s was the psychedelia.

If psychedelics were the spiritual basis of the 1960s, what is or should be its basis in the modern-day world?

I define the association between the 1960s and this decade as the emphasis on images and the pursuit of mentality. In expressing the connection between the two time periods in clothing, I have expressed not the giddy and nauseating psychedelic images, but the transcendentality or mentality of the images as converted by the light by combining the visual illusion that is emphasized in visual art as part of psychedelic art and the images of radiating strokes of light that spread out in all directions.

Since ancient times, light has served as a figurative essence that symbolizes the divinity of the absolute being. In Christianity, too, light is the most important essence, as it connects heaven and earth, the sacred and the secular. The early Greek fathers of the Orthodox Church thought that as beauty itself, God mediated between us and the ideal world through the symbol of physical or spiritual light. They believed that light occurred on earth from the discharge of light as such, that the divine beauty of heaven could be re-enacted through the splendour of colour and the physical luxury that symbolized light, and souls could be elevated through such re-enactment.

A total of eighteen outfits were designed to remind modern-day digital natives not of the negative aspects of images, but of the beauty and innate meaning of light as the origin that creates images by expressing the longing for the absolute and spiritual beauty that is symbolized by light.

Specifically, I have used a moiré fringe and pronounced effect as my motifs in developing designs. To highlight the theme by tapping into these two effects, I have developed clothing with unique layered structures with a printed pattern.

In The Origin of the Work of Art, Martin Heidegger said, “Beauty is the way in which truth occurs as unconcealment.” Similarly, I hope the light of revelatory truth that the invisible God as the transcendental being presents to us will reveal something of itself through this collection.

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