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Claire Sunho Lee: Tell Me What I’m Remembering

Born in 1993, Seoul, Korea.
Currently lives and works in Seoul, Korea.


Throughout childhood into adulthood, Claire Sunho Lee has experience recurring mental imagery of memories. These scenes are hazy but deeply ingrained, causing her to exist in a liminal state between dreamlike realities. Over time, her uncertainty has grown increasingly overwhelming, leading her to question what lies beyond the surface of what appears to be. One day, Claire’s cousin accidentally told her that she had leukaemia when she was very young.

Although her memories are of specific places, objects, shapes, and/or colours that relate to her cousin’s revelation, the more she attempted to recall the moments, the more and less they become vivid.

Through her ongoing project Tell Me What I’m remembering (2021-ongoing), Claire explores the fragile, unstable, and fluid nature of memories: “On one hand, I have photographs that represent the faded memories. I juxtapose them with a tweaked transcribing AI, which starts with an initial text of medical facts about leukaemia including etymology, types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.  The AI then picks up its own sound along with surrounding sounds that enter through the microphone. Viewers are invited to interact with the work, either consciously or unconsciously. The newly collected words and sounds are incorporated into the existing version of the text and this new version is then read aloud. Over the course of time, the text is altered and distorted, ultimately changing the narratives.”

When someone recalls something, they are actually recollecting the last time they remembered an event, not the actual occurrence. Both the photographs and the transcribing AI indicate the ever-shifting nature of memories, influenced by one’s self and external factors.

Claire Sunho Lee is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher born in Seoul, Korea. Lee’s practice engages with seeing various meanings within one “reality” by questioning acceptable norms. She sees “normal” as what one knows based on the perspective(s) they have rather than being defined in one way or another, thus having multiple meanings at the same time. She often thinks about the ways of “being” and how we exist in the world individually and collectively. Lee experiments with this idea through the concept of “control and surrender” in everyday life settings and suggests new perspectives to look at the familiar. Through the means of rules, logic, and algorithms, she examines psychological complications, human conditions, trauma, and more.

Lee received her BFA degree in Photography and Imaging from the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (New York, NY, USA) in 2017 and received her MA degree in Photography from the the Royal College of Art (London, UK) in 2021. Her recent achievements include a group exhibition at Noorderlicht Photo Festival (forthcoming in 2023; Groningen, Netherlands), CTYPEMAG Gallery (Bangkok, Thailand), V.O Curations (London, UK), and Cromwell Place (London, UK), features on VOGUE Italia and Musée Magazine, portfolio review prize from PH Museum Women Photographer Prize, and shortlist for Lumen Prize (Photomonitor Student Award). She also recently gave artist talks at Southbank Centre and online both hosted by Arts & Health Hub.

Click here to follow Claire Sunho Lee on instagram.

Edited by Tofu Collective