In the afterlife of trauma, stillness becomes an easy enemy. It does not denote a lack of sound or voice. Rather, it magnifies and intensifies residual frequencies. For me, sound sometimes escapes me, falling away and leaving a silence saturated with terror. My recent body of work is a way to reckon the experience of sitting with and in the stillness. In this endeavor, I return to methods I honed working with my own family archive and apply them in new ways to articulate my own archive of experience. This point of entry explores fragmented memory through the site of the family archive. Various waterways trace diaspora, and lived experiences serve as their own dense sites of silence. I work to locate my own family within larger historical projects, such as racialization and heterosexism. Further complicating my work is an additional fracture between physical documentation held within archives and the experiences they are meant to represent, often omitting complexities of war, survival, resilience, anxiety, joy, and the multitudes that the archive fails to hold. I say that my work is akin to floating silence because I feel that is the most true. It locates itself on many crossroads between love and loss, connection and isolation, the recordable and the unrecordable, time and timelessness, and place and placelessness. It is unresolved and quiet, but never empty.
Sam Soon is a MFA Fine Arts and MA Visual & Critical Studies dual-degree candidate at California College of the Arts (CCA). Previously, they earned their BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in Photography and Imaging. Their work centers around trauma’s residue. Tracing waterways, mapping the family archive, and carefully excavating lived experiences, much of their photo/archival based installation work makes inquiries regarding fragmented memory, particularly in relation to Chinese diasporic life and international adoptee experience. On the weekends, they like to be outdoors skateboarding by the beach, practicing baking bread, and spending time with their family (both chosen and of origin)!