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Thank you

Jean Shin

Pause
Feb 6 —
May 24, 2020

Using discarded cell phones and computer cables as the material and rough-hewn rocks from Chinese art as the form, Jean Shin’s site-specific installation asks how technological innovation contributes to climate change. 
When the museum invited New York–based artist Jean Shin to create a site-specific installation, she started with the context. “I began thinking about the Bay Area as the historical epicenter of both tech and the environmental movement,” she says. Pause connects these two ideas by using e-waste as the material and the scholar’s rock, symbolizing a fetish for nature, as the form. Pause is an installation of and about technology, but without electricity, WiFi, flashing lights, moving images or sound.

The project began with a call for donations of old cell phones and Ethernet cables. “I am always thinking about waste,” says Shin, who has created previous installations from discarded pill bottles, umbrellas and 35mm slides. “I wanted to use e-waste to raise the issue of ethics in tech,” she explains. “Engineers are always racing to innovate, to create new software without thinking about how the hardware will be left behind.” 

In her studio, the artist constructed three sculptures from obsolete cell phones in forms reminiscent of irregular, rough-hewn scholar’s rocks in Chinese art. In the gallery, miles of old computer cables on the floor encircle these vertical forms, suggesting ocean waves or the raked gravel of Zen gardens. Finally, donated data devices are entombed by cords to create orb-like seating. 

Shin hopes that when you visit Pause, you will do just that: unplug from your devices and experience stillness within the silent gallery space. The installation aims to create a place to reflect — on toxic e-waste’s impact on the environment, on the planned obsolescence central to our consumer culture and on ways to reclaim ourselves in today’s attention economy. 


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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

KQED
KQED selected Jean Shin | Pause as one of the six Bay Area art shows to see in 2020.

THE NEW YORK TIMES 
T Magazine from the New York Times
“Brooklyn-based artist Jean Shin can transform piles of refuse . . .
into meaningful and elegantly simple sculptural installations. . . . ‘Pause’ features three boulder-like forms, or, as Shin calls them, ‘scholar’s rocks,’ encrusted with well-worn Nokias, Blackberries and smartphones that glitter like granite."