School of Art, Media, and Technology

Parsons Faculty Sowon Kwon Publishes “S as in Samsam”

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Secretary Press and Triple Canopy are pleased to announce the publication of S as in Samsam by Sowon Kwon.

Sowon Kwon begins her book S as in Samsam by recounting her twenty-something
cousin visiting New York City from South Korea. Having not seen the cousin since she
was a girl with ribbons in her hair, Kwon wonders about the degree of formality with
which to address her. She notes the importance, in Korean, of “establishing the correct
amount of distance between you and another.” She goes on to ponder the coincidence of
the homophony of the Korean slang term of respect and affection for teacher, Romanized
as sam, and the diminutive of the name Samuel. Sam seems to crystallize the traffic
between formality and intimacy, and even the touching of disparate language families.

In pursuit of such interplay, prompted by viewings of operas and sitcoms, aided by search
algorithms, Kwon creates a constellation of sams: Samuel L. Jackson merges with Uncle
Sam, Sam Cooke mingles with Samson, Saruman spars with Toni Morrison. As she
assembles images, Kwon reveals how authority and nationality are personified. At the
same time, she remembers how authority was exercised by her own teachers, how they
struck a balance between knowing and not knowing, how they illuminated “a way from
information to meaning.”

Book launch and artist talk: Triple Canopy, 264 Canal St, NYC | March 23rd, 7 pm

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