Jason Yung — Painting in light with structure and code

When I encountered Jason Yung’s work I was drawn into a state of perceptive engagement by the patterns emerging from light. Exhibiting Unus Mundus in the HoloCeter exhibition SPACE:LIGHT and spending time with this piece I found myself asking Jason questions, but our dialogues in the gallery would be interrupted. Unable to come and see his exhibition NEW PAINTINGS, I asked Jason if he could share his approach to painting in light with structure and code.

Jason Yung, Unus Mundus (2019). Performance with Furmi Gomez November 17, 2019 during SPACE:LIGHT. Curated by Martina Mrongovius for the HoloCenter at The Plaxall Gallery, Long Island City, New York.

During the first wave of the pandemic Jason Yung’s LED lightbox Unus Mundus was installed at VRBAR in New York for LIGHT WINDOWS a HoloCenter project to commission and connect and light art in the windows of locked down cities around the world.

Jason, thank you for participating in LIGHT WINDOWS. I’m curios how did it change Unus Mundus to have it viewed from the street through a window and with some ambient light?

Do you think your work is seen differently when multiple pieces are shown together and how was the experience of your exhibition NEW PAINTINGS affected by the pandemic?

In the exhibition text you say, “Painting is the creation of images through the organization of space, which happens through the differentiations of form and color.” The texture and materiality of your work however is very different to painting with paint, or digital painting. What new visual principles have you found emerging from your light art?

By not overwhelming the viewer with light I feel that the works draw you into them. There is a harmonious quality to your compositions, in particular the geometric balance and blending of Temple 5 (2020). Is this a type of energy that you are looking to create or do you feel it comes through your process of working with light?

Jason Yung. Studio images, 2020. Left: Temple 1, Right: Temple 1 and 2 facing each other.
Jason Yung, Temple 5, 2020

You describe your practice at stepping towards painting. Light painting often refers to the process of coloring with and moving light over a long photographic exposure, but your ‘paintings’ use diffuse surfaces to create present yet changing fields of light. There feels like a play between the dynamic of the composition and the duration of perception, as if the viewer is encouraged into a state of long exposure. Do you intend for viewers to spend a certain amount of time with the works?

They certainly do. Spending time with Unus Mundus I felt the same engaged calm that I feel when watching light across water. Could you describe your collaboration with Furmi Gomez and how music and the duration of a performance changes how you consider and program your pieces?

Jason Yung and Fermi, New Union at 5–50 Gallery in Long Island City, New York

To program the LEDs with an Arduino controller you use code and math. Could you describe this process? Do you start with how you want something to look, or do you begin with an algorithm?

Paul Klee, Ancient Sound (1925)
Jason Yung, Succotash (2019)
Jason Yung, Untitled (2019)
Jason Yung. Left: Untitled (2019), Right: Not Seeing The Yellow River The Heart Does Not Die (2019)
Jason Yung. Left: Marbles (2019). Right: Elixar (2019)

When you installed Undus Mundus (2019) in SPACE:LIGHT you came to the gallery and reprogrammed work and, I assume, have continued to do so. Are the pieces ever ‘finished’, perhaps ‘closed’ is a better way to describe this? Are the previous programs still a part of the piece or are these replaced with each iteration?

— correspondence between Jason Yung and Martina Mrogovius, November, 2020

Curator of holographic, immersive and optical art exhibitions at the Center for the Holographic Arts. Occasional artist