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Community Spotlight: Woohun Joo

From Think Tank Scholar to Faculty Member


So, who are you? 

My name is Woohun Joo and I am a visual designer, audiovisual artist, and sonification researcher. Mywork creates sound from abstract visual art. I mainly focus on how minimalistic visual art can be transferred to auditory domains and how my sound-making processes can be conversely visualized. I like to explore the potential of graphic and sound design as an integrated art form for multi-sensory user experience, art expression, and communication design. I am currently teaching foundational design courses in the Digital Art and Media Design program at the School of Visual Arts at Penn State University as an assistant teaching professor.

How did you end up working on Sonification and Auditory Displays?

When I was a graphic designer in Korea, I liked to think about graphic design in connection with music. One day I came across the audiovisual work of Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, and Byetone. Since their work is very minimal compared to other electronic musicians, the link between sound and visual has come closer to me. Looking at their work, I thought I could turn my graphic designs into electronic music. So I quit my job, went to graduate school, started learning digital art, sound design and electronic music, and realized what I was trying to do was some kind of sonification.

What is the role of Sonification/Auditory Display in your research?

In my work, sonification is an essential process for my graphic design to become an integrated art form combining with sound. I would like to call my work as sonification-driven graphic design. My work starts with graphic design, but my graphic design languages are utilized to determine sound synthesis, spatialization, and composition.

What is the most challenging part in your work?

Being objective or concretization of my idea between sound and visual is the hardest thing. Strictly speaking, there is no absolute connection between them. They are just two different media and have their own unique qualities. In my work process, the hardest thing was to come up with convincing stories that could deliver to my future audiences. It was a battle between abstraction and objectivity and this was something that I had constantly struggled with throughout my PhD research. Since I have a graphic design background, abstraction is a very familiar concept to me. However, the objectivity I had to have in order to develop and solve my research hypotheses required a change in my mindset. Now, switching between abstraction and objectivity became a natural part of my work, but I still think it is the most challenging part.

Anything special ICADders should know about you?

I would like to expand collaboration opportunities. If you are interested, please feel free to reach out to me at

What would you like to say to ICADders? 

Sonification has a relatively shorter history and a smaller community in comparison to visual communication design and there are many unexplored domains. But despite that, relevant research is actively conducted every year regardless of its scientific or artistic value. Every year, I am very encouraged and inspired to meet researchers and artists with similar interests through ICAD. I hope we can all make a healthy sonification community.

What is your favorite sonificaton/auditory display ever? 

The one that came to my mind first is Atau Tanaka’s Bondage.

What is the study/tool/work in the field of auditory display you are most proud of? 

The work I am most proud of is my PhD dissertation considering the quantity and effort. But for this question, I would like to link you to the most recent sonification work that will be exhibited at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul, Korea from February. I created sonification-driven ambient drone for a visual designer, Kyuha Shim’s generative visual art. The sound here was synthesized and composed based on my color sonification system with a combination of custom synthesizers and samplers that I newly created for DDP’s immersive projection space. This work means something to me because it has a completely different sound design approach from my previous sonification.

Any way to learn more about your work or reach out to you?

You can see my work at Thank you.

Published in Community Spotlight