Jaz Hee-jeong Choi

Nothing is set ever, for ever, or pure. Everything everywhere all at once, moving

Chilli. Put a little bit on your palm. A tiny bit is okay if you’re cautious. Lick. And feel. Feel how they make their presence known. Feel how they travel inside you. And these little things. Tiny little things. Notice what they’re doing to you, for you and with you together. Right now, I’m easily reminded of the spicy Korean soft tofu stew I had a couple of days ago, which made me feel really good. It also reminds me of home, and it’s there’s-molten-lava-in-my-mouth-and-it’s-too-late-to spit-it-out-I-have-to-swallow kind of way. Rice! It’s hot inside, outside. It’s comfort. It’s love for me. It may not be for you. And that is okay. But I do wonder what we can pay attention to like this and really pay attention and feel. And “know” it that way. And learn that every time it may feel different for me, for anybody. But we know this. Because knowing always continues. And we have to learn. In Korea, when something is hammered into a hard surface like a nail on the wall and it moves like this, when it should be set and hard and forever there, but it still kind of moves, we say “nonda.” It’s playing. I love that. And it’s always possible to change. And it is always changing and nothing is set ever, for ever, or pure. Everything everywhere all at once, moving. So we have to play. Let’s dance.

Pay attention to the many things that make us and move past discomfort to work and play with them

So for me, doing creative work and projects to show and perform, these are very important. Yes, especially because they open up other possibilities of different kinds. But equally, perhaps more important for me is the actual process of messing and being messed up, down, sideways, and really kind of entangling again, because at least for me, it’s never about the thing that we make or what we would define as methods or processes, like it’s a “thing”, but rather [about] how we might pay attention to the many things that make us and the worlds and move past sort of discomfort to work or play with that, including those things that are not easily visible or sensible right here, right now, like ghosts, you know? So together and togetherness is really important. You can’t do this alone. It’s quite meaningless.

Much dishonesty comes from fear

I guess I start every day. Again and again every day. But I can talk about some significant events that really affected me and who I am and what I do, at least how I see who I am and what I do. The first is the COVID pandemic and the lockdown, and associated with them, the rise of Asian hate. I had encounters that were very racist, which I had experienced before in different parts of the world, including where I live, which is Naarm or Melbourne. But this time it was quite severe and explicit and just … not necessary (note: it’s NEVER necessary). And there were in the media people talking about, people saying things like how gracefully Melbournians survived this lockdown period because Melbourne was deemed the most lockdown city in the world at the time. And I felt completely erased. I felt, no, we didn’t. And it really made me ask honest questions about myself, the meaning of home as an immigrant, and worlds that I thought made me. And just really facing myself as the settler-colonizer, colluder, and also at the same time, the colonized all at once. It was a really painful but necessary process, and very transformative, fundamentally so for me. Also, I became quite unwell, very unwell actually, in places that I wasn’t familiar with and I didn’t know very well. And recognising the self as not really this autonomous being—I can look after myself, you know. And some bits of that, I thought, had to do with confidence but it is really arrogance. I think seeing that changed me quite a bit and being aware of the vulnerability and recognising self as needing care, and importantly, learn to receive care. That really changed me as a human being and everything that I do. Through this, at least and at last, I learned to be more honest with myself. I think much dishonesty in this regard comes from fear. And… hack fear. Fall in love instead.

Art as feral care

Creative practices are so powerful in imagining and bringing about change. And for me, transformative creative practices are not about showing or performing, as I mentioned before, but to live. It is really to live. So I’m interested in art as living less about making to show, but to live together as always. So I’m interested in art as feral care.

About Jaz Hee-jeong Choi

Jaz Hee-jeong Choi (최희정) is the Director of the Care-full Design Lab, Associate Professor, and Vice-Chancellor’s Principal Research Fellow at RMIT, Australia. Their transdisciplinary research and practice recognise ‘care’ as the core of transformational encounters in different places – ranging from cities as complex cyberphysical networks to forests as moving creatures. They build on this to explore, often through creative-critical engagements, how creative practice in varying forms and scale can be done care-fully. Their work is often playful, multisensory, and participatory, and starts from the margins to understand, imagine, and co-create just liveable futures. Their current research and practice focused on feral care is found at the intersection of self-care and mutual aid in different cultural and more-than-human contexts; creative methods for research and engagement, and; transformative entanglements.

CreaTures resources

Pirici, A. (2022). Entanglement [Festival keynote]. CreaTures Festival, Sevilla, Spain.

Dolejšová, M., Botero, A., Choi, J. H. (2022) Open Forest [Festival Pechakucha presentation]. CreaTures Festival, Sevilla, Spain.

Dolejšová, M., Wilde, D. Choi, J.H., Botero, A., Zamuruieva, I., Light, A., Gi, F.G.l & Miller, M. (2022). The Feral Gift Exchange [Festival presentation]. Uroboros 2022 Festival.

Dolejšová, M., Botero, A., Hee-Jeong Choi, J. and Ampatzidou, C. (2022). Walking in the Open Forest: Playing with Stories and Data. In GamiFIN Conference – GamiFOREST track(online).

Choi, J. H-j., Botero, A., Ampatzidou, C., Beavers I., Dolejšová, M., Jain, A. & Lohmann, J. (2021). Re-membering with Fantastic Creatures. [Conference presentation]. Eco-creativity: Art, Music, Ritual and Global Climate Politics. 19 Nov 2021, Milton Keynes, UK.

Ampatzidou, C., Dolejšová, M., Choi, J. H-j. and Botero, A. (2021). Feral Ways Of Knowing And Doing: Tools And Resources For Transformational Creative Practice [Conference presentation]. 2021 Pivot Conference: Dismantling Reassembling – Tools for Alternative Futures. 

Botero, A., Choi, J. H-j., Jain, A., Lapin, K., Sharma, S., Pineros, N., Lintunen, A. & Catlow, R. (2021). What is a forest? When is a forest? [Panel discussion]. Vienna Biennale for Change 2021. 

Ampatzidou, C., Choi, J. & Gil, F. (2021). Mapping instances of Co-evolution in the Commonspoly game actor network. [Conference presentation]. Transformations conference 2021.

Dolejšová, M., Ampatzidou, C., Choi, J. H-j., Botero, A., Beavers, I., Pokrywka, A., Van Amstel, F., Satomi, M. & Perner-Wilson, H. (2021). Feral Creative Practices Panel [Panel discussion]. Uroboros 2021 festival. 

Choi, J. H-j. & Feral Drifters @ Care-full Design Lab (2021). More-than-Human Dérive – Uroboros Edition [Festival presentation]. Uroboros 2021 festival. 

Braybrooke, K. & Choi, J. H-j. (2020). Dérive Drift: Uroboros Edition [Festival presentation]. Uroboros – Designing in Troubling Times 2020 festival.

Dolejšová, M., Choi, J.H-j., Botero, A. and Ampatzidou, C. (2022). Open Forest: Data, Stories, and Walking-With. In Participatory Design Conference 2022: Volume 2 (PDC 2022 Vol. 2), August 19–September 01, 2022, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. ACM, New York, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.1145/3537797.3537864

Botero, A., Dolejšová, M., Choi, J. H-j. and Ampatzidou, C. (2022). Open Forest: Walking with Forests, Stories, Data, and Other Creatures. interactions 29 (1) 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1145/3501766

Ampatzidou, C., Dolejšová, M., Choi, J. H-j. and Botero, A. (2022). Feral Ways Of Knowing And Doing: Tools And Resources For Transformational Creative Practice. In Proceedings of the 2021 Pivot Conference: Dismantling Reassembling – Tools for Alternative Futures. OCAD University, July 22-23, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21606/pluriversal.2021.0016 

Dolejšová, M., Ampatzidou, C., Houston, L., Light, A., Botero, A., Choi, J. H-j., Wilde, D., Altarriba Bertran, F., Davis, H., Gil, F., and Catlow, R. (2021). Designing for Transformative Futures: Creative Practice, Social Change and Climate Emergency. In Creativity and Cognition (C&C ’21), June 22, 23, 2021, Virtual Event, Italy. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 9 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3450741.3465242

Choi, J. H. & Light. A. (2020). ‘The co-‘: Feminisms, Power and Research Cultures: A Dialogue. interactions 27(6). https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3429697