Water Table
Installation, Exhibition / 2019, 2020
Presented in
the Design Show 2019, SAIC
Floating in a Room of Water, Roman Susan

wood structure, metal, ceramics, tile, resin, clay, sound 

"Water Table" is a table shaped like a natural landscape, on which several objects are placed adjacently. Each object including the table has a unique story related to "water". Some objects look like things that are familiar to us, whereas others are abstracted and mysterious. It is a space in between a mundane table and an illusory landscape. In this space, by listening to the stories and connecting them to the objects, people expand their own experience and relationship to the water.

1. Public bath
My grandparents operated a small public bath in a town for more than 10 years, until I was an in elementary school student. There was a small room with an open window for a receptionist and it was the only place in the public bath where you could not feel any moisture at all. When entering the women’s locker room, I could immediately feel the air becoming warm and humid. That space was the in-between space of the baths and the small-room. Some were naked, some were fully dressed and some were putting their clothes on, and you could feel the awkwardness in that space, coming from the different layers of their cloths. Passing by this locker room and entering the public bath, it was dark and dim. The steam that formed from hot water filled the entire space. I could feel the steam entering my body through my nose, mouth and skin every time I took a breath. When I got in one of the bathtubs, it was hot enough to soak myself in it. The volume of hot water that was filling up the space between the strangers and me distorted the shape of our body. People in this space were calm and focused on cleansing themselves. My favorite time was cleaning the public bath with my grandma at night. The rubbing sound of brushing and the sound of water hitting the tiles resonate inside the bath very loudly but in certain rhythms. While cleaning the bath, I would get inside a long and narrow tub, lying down and closing my eyes in the tub. I could feel the water slopping very gently and flowing with my entire body, and it felt like my body was moving along with the water as well. Now that I think of it, it was a kind of meditation in water.

2. A story of my grandma's water bowl
My grandma is a Catholic. She previously didn't believe in religion, but she got baptized a few years ago and has been going to a Catholic church every weekend. When she goes to the church, she puts that so-called holy water on her forehead with her hand, makes the sign of the cross then prays. When I asked “How’s the Catholic church?” then she said, "I honestly don’t know much about a Catholic church, bible verse or God. I simply have a lot on my mind and many things to worry about, and I need a place to pray. Back in the day, when I had some concerns and couldn't sleep at night, I used to go outside to a field and scoop up a bowl of water and pray for a long time in the yard outside. That comforted me."

3. Eggs boiled in hot water for 13 minutes
A couple of eggs are placed in a small pot and water is poured until the eggs are almost immersed. Place it on top of stove over medium heat. Here, a timer with the 13-minutes setting is essential. If you boiled for more than 13 minutes, eggs become dry. When the timer goes off, the heat of the pot and eggs is cooled down using cold water. Cold water creates a gap between the egg and eggshell, making it easy to peel the egg. Applying cold water is stopped when sizzling heat disappears, because warm eggs are much tastier than cold eggs. Now is the time to peel the eggshell. This is the most intense moment. Will the eggshell be peeled cleanly, without pulling out the inner part of the egg? By rolling the egg and gently peeling the eggshell after cracking it, a sparkling and opaque white oval-shaped egg reveals itself. Eating the egg that has been boiled in hot water for 13 minutes with a small dose of salt is truly delicious. It fills my stomach better than when the egg fried or scrambled.

4. Stalagmite Drinkware
These are vessels and cups. I was representing the way natural forces of water shape the landscape of stalagmite and stalactite by pouring and stacking multiple layers of plaster. While practicing this, I kept imagining an unexplored cave somewhere under the ground. Through people’s movements of pouring and drinking water in and out of the vessel, it expands its value, bringing natural circulation into everyday life.

5. Freezing test
I put water in a cup made out of wet clay and froze it. The cup split into two parts with lots of cracks, by the water in the cup and the clay expanding. I dried it at room temperature. The ice adhered onto the cup, melted along the clay surface giving the ice an erosion effect with a bumpy texture.

6. Repetitive labor corresponding to the repetitive form
It was the last summer vacation. My routine was pretty simple at that time. When I finished my shift in the woodshop in the morning, I went to a park and had my lunch. After that, I worked in the ceramic studio for about 4 hours. At the studio, I cut a bunch of similar shapes from a slab of clay and attached them together. I slowly dried them in a plastic bag. While drying, I carved out the surfaces little by little to make them flat and smooth. I repeated this action every day up until it was perfectly dry. I sometimes felt bored with this repetition, yet it was more like a feeling of stability.

7. East high-west low geography
An image of east high-west low geography has always been in Korean textbooks. It indicates the geography of Korea where a range of mountains running north and south is situated on the east side so that it has high altitudes on the east and low plains on the west. I’ve lived in a city in the west. While living here, I have imagined the far east side getting higher. And then, I kept imagining the very high mountain range, and also the vast Pacific ocean over the mountains. With this in mind, I looked at the river in front of my place, thinking that this water of the river would come from far, far away. All these thoughts made me feel like I know where I am again.