Taey Iohe

Pa pa possible

Still images, 2 min 19 sec

Pa Pa Possible shows a Korean sign language translator, Lim Hyun Sun, asking a series of questions regarding how much a subject or her language can accomplish. Lim asks the following in Korean sign language:

Is it possible to drink water?
Is it possible to write a letter?

Is it possible to read this?
Is it possible to tell me a story?
Is it possible to live honestly?
Is it possible to never die?
Is it possible to run away?
Is it possible to talk about you to others?
Is it possible to translate a foreign language?
Is it possible to hold your breath when your plane takes off?
Is it possible to remember what happens then?
Is it possible to start a war?
Is it possible to be guided by the sun and the moon?
Is it possible to live freely?
Is it possible not to feel fear? 

Lim consistently asks about the possibilities of doing something. When she makes the gesture for ‘is it possible’, she places her palm onto her closed mouth. Then, as she releases it, the sound of ‘pa’ escapes as the air pushes her palm away.

Installation view

The gesture required to make this ‘pa’ sound is part of Korean sign language, and translates as ‘is it possible’ with the implication of a question mark. So, without Lim knowing English, and without the audience knowing any Korean sign language, this gives an important clue in the video that the physical gesture of releasing a sound (even though Lim is silent) is asking about the possibility of doing. I focused on the ‘pa’ gesture resonating with possibility in a literal sense as a plosive sound.