Light Work

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Sophia Chia: Character Space

In 1987, Sophia Chai immigrated to New York City from South Korea as a teenager without knowing English. Looking back, she has described that experience as feeling untethered to any internal compass that she could use to navigate her place in a new country with a new language. She visually explains these experiences to us by reinterpreting the Korean language’s characters in photographs that enable us to see the contradictions of visual and verbal communication.

Chai uses optics (focal length, perspective, perception, and magnification) to pin down the marks, rubbings, and paintings on her studio walls. The overall effect is a collage of ideas, with an efficient yet complicated economy of picture making with intentional gaps. These gaps can describe the moment right before the sound of a word comes out of the interior space of the mouth.

Special thanks to Daylight Blue Media

Light Work

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The podcast from Light Work, a non-profit photography organization in Syracuse, New York — Support this podcast by treating yourself or a loved one to something at

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