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Smith Gallery offers a psychedelic experience

Smith Gallery – Elle Duncombe-Mills
Smith Gallery - Elle Duncombe-Mills
Photo by Elle Duncombe-Mills.

Elle Duncombe-Mills

Doyi Lee ’16 pushes visual stimulation to its brink with new Smith Gallery exhibition, “Bounce.” Exploring the natural balance between highs and lows, Lee encourages viewers to abandon everyday cerebral thought and viscerally experience the psychedelic environment that she has created.

Lee first conceptualized the installation when she took a seminar with Professor Jeremy Chen, Art, last semester. She then saw the work as largely experiential—a departure from her usual narrative-based pieces.

“It started from ideas of overstimulation and data overload, kind of having the desire to harass the viewer and all of their senses,” Lee said. With a dynamic display of suspended balloons and vibrant projected visuals—which was initially displayed in her own house—Lee has certainly accomplished these goals.

This second, Smith Gallery-based iteration of the work has formed new conceptual depth and resonance, according to Lee.

“As I repeat things, I’ve noticed I focus more on the process,” Lee said.

She explained that, while the balloons in her first installation held air flawlessly, the ones in the Smith Gallery piece deflated over time. Though frustrated at first, Lee soon embraced the material change as an integral part of her piece.

“I kind of see a metaphor in [the wilting balloons],” Lee said. She explained how her piece explores the relationship between life’s highs and lows, the positives of overstimulation and the negatives, the fullness of life and its inevitable decline.

“I liked the change in that you can’t really tell it’s a balloon anymore … it hides the material,” Lee said. She also cited the presence of time itself as a material, which she acknowledged mid-way through her Smith Gallery show by incorporating full balloons alongside the original ones so that viewers could see the comparison.

While “Bounce” can certainly be characterized by themes of change, change itself seems to be a familiar entity for Lee, who sees it more as an opportunity than a challenge. Though she has always gravitated towards digital media, which she utilized for the projected film aspect of “Bounce,” installation work is a new technical and conceptual frontier for her.

Lee admits that she is excited about her new artistic explorations and that this direction has enabled her to accept the title of artist more readily.

“I didn’t identify with it until even last semester,” she said about being called an artist, but that stance has shifted along with her work.

Opening up about her struggle between making political art versus more abstract or experiential art, Lee explained the importance of redefining the dynamic between art and observer.

“I want my work to change people in some way,” Lee said, but she wants the change to happen at a level deeper than words.

With “Bounce,” Lee boldly transcends language, instead creating an environment that our bodies can experience in ways our mind can’t. Lee said that her work is meant to cause visceral and physical reactions, and that she ultimately wants to influence the viewer through the skin.

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    Ladd NorwinatkinFeb 5, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Very nice piece Miss Duncombe-Mills. Love the ‘retro’ of the artwork.
    Psychedelic !!!!