The Porous Material Conversion: C-Flex Incubator, Gwangju, Korea, 2022
The Porous Material Conversion: C-Flex Incubator is an audiovisual installation work that investigates the relationship of the body with the research on the production, weathering, and preservation of plant-based biodegradable leather through the tea fermentation experiment. The artist reproduces the nameless, yet the very first organism, bacteria that had been exterminated by oxygen produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in the early oxygen-free earth 3.5 billion years ago. Wondering whether these bacteria ‘might have been the common ancestors of all living creatures on earth’, she reflects on the material’s chemical evolution and extinction through the sound, smell, shape, texture, and color observed during the fermentation process. The term C-Flex (Carbonii dioxidum Flexioni) in the title means the refraction of carbon dioxide and reflects the artist’s hope and belief that life will reemerge in a future environment of lower oxygen levels caused by CO₂ emissions. The water tank used in the project, which was inspired by the incubator for babies, serves not only as an experimental tool designed to measure the changes in oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane, temperature, and humidity levels that occur throughout the life cycle of bacteria but also as a miniature world that represents the changing global environment. Soh Boram’s reflection on the objectified animal body based on research on extinct deer and the leather trade extends to the material growing inside the water tank and repeats itself through the artificial plant-based body. Through the recording device attached to the water tank and the microscope connected to the screen, the work visualizes the growing process from bacteria to flesh and throughout the body, eventually offering a brief moment to breathe with C-Flex.