The interview with media artist Hyun Jean Lee was conducted in November 2013 via email exchanges. Currently living and working in Seoul, Korea, Dr. Lee is actively engaged in art and research projects while teaching young media artists at Yonsei University. In this interview, she earnestly talks about balancing herself as an artist and theorist, and explains her process of creating art. All photos and videos are courtesy of the artist.
You started as a painter but took up media art in the late 90’s and have been working with media art since. How did you make that transition?
Although I am working with different media now, my previous experiences with painting have influenced my sensibility and my way of thinking. I painted more than 10 years. During those years in art schools, I practiced to become a professional painter. But when I learned how to use video, I realized that the video medium was also very attractive.
Around that period, I gradually got interested in video, and I explored how to include the passage of time in painting. I also put an effort into making three-dimensional qualities by adding tactile layers onto the visual layer, although a painting is basically in the two dimensional realm. However, when I started to create video installations with the three dimensional screen structures, I found the video medium would be a more appropriate form for me to convey my idea efficiently and imaginatively. I could create my screen as I intended, for example, regarding the size, volume, and its form. So I started putting more time in creating video installations. Then I wanted to learn video art. That’s why I decided to study in the U.S.A. By the time I entered the ITP program at NYU, my interest had extended to incorporate interactivity. At ITP, I concentrated on learning computer programming, physical computing as well as how to manipulate video interactively.
Although I don’t paint now, I still often make drawings. Particularly when I work with installations, even when the overall creation process requires a mechanical and logical approach, I try to push my perceptual intuition and sensibilities into my work that I have accumulated from painting.
You are also a theorist. How does your study/teaching affect what you create as an artist?
Well, I am still not accustomed to introducing myself as a theorist. ^^ But I think I really enjoy studying and researching. During the Digital Media program at Georgia Tech, where I completed my Ph.D. study, I had to read lots of books and theoretical articles to pass the qualifying exam. It literally took several years.
Over the course of such years, I gradually became a researcher and got interested in the theories of digital media and media art. In fact, I had an interest in art history and theory before entering the ITP program. In order to understand them more thoroughly, I also read many books on philosophy. Although I had to spend most of my time obtaining technical skills at ITP and putting much effort into learning interactive media technologies at the Georgia Tech’s media lab (syn-aesthetic media lab), the years I had to focus in navigating these diverse theoretical realms gave me a chance to extend my previous theoretical interest.
I think that the attractive part of studying theories is the very process of understanding diverse theoretical perspectives and finding a map of how one theoretical issue can be connected with others. The feeling of drawing the map and expanding it bigger is really intriguing to me, and it makes me want to be involved in such theoretical practices more often. This practice sometimes helps me look at my artwork in a more analytical and critical view.
I think that the process of researching and writing is very creative like the process of making artwork. It is also a system of generating and developing new ideas. However, grasping theory and applying it at the same time is not always good. Sometimes theoretical work and art work conflict inside me. I think theories help me look at the world in logical and analytical ways. But when I habitually apply the similar approach to create my artwork, this analytic way of thinking blocks me and makes me hesitate sometimes. When a critical view advances too much, it becomes hard to work on my art, because artwork creation requires sensible perception, which differs from logical thinking. Theory can affect artwork creation in a negative way.
Recently I thought that I would have to try harder in order to strike a balance between artwork creation and theoretical research. I think the best way would be spending my time more evenly for both, although it is difficult to focus on them simultaneously. I tend to concentrate on theory and art separately, with a very long interval of time in between. These days, I thought of spending more time on artwork creation in earnest, since during last ten years, I spent more time on the theoretical studying.
You asked me how teaching affects me. Teaching is always great fun and productive for me. I learn a lot from students and actually I got many artwork and research ideas while teaching. When I see what and how I teach would influence how my students think and create, I feel a strong responsibility in teaching.
You recently re-created a previous work of yours “The sea – recognition of sea space” (1998). What made you revisit the old project, and how is it different from the original production?
Yes, last May, I revisited my old video installation piece, “The sea – recognition of sea space” (1998). I re-created the work and entitled it as “The Cubic Sea” (2013). The reason I revisited this work is simply because the art museum of Ewha Woman’s University asked me to show this work for the museum’s exhibition.
Since my video installations are often big, it is hard to reserve the work as it is shown in an exhibition. So I break down my installations after exhibitions and whenever there is a request of showing, I just consider recreating for the new context. Actually every installation, I think, needs to be reconsidered based on the context of an exhibition. Spatial context is very important. When a show is decided, I visit the actual space where my work will be located and decide how to install the work in that place, based on the size and the moving route of the room, entrance and exit, lighting condition, and so forth…
This time when the museum asked me to show the work that I created a long time ago, I thought of creating an entirely new work. But when I visited the space they provided me, I kind of understood why they asked me to show that specific work. Thus, I decided to just recreate it. Based on the very specific spatial condition and the situation of how my work is inter-related with other works, I had to decide the cube size and position of it.
Most of my work, including “The Cubic Sea”, is a video installation using beam projectors. I always think about how many projectors to use and how I can provide them, whether I have to prepare them or the museum/gallery provides them. Budget is always an important issue to consider.
In the 1998 version, I used four projectors and could not make a projection on the top of the cube. For “The Cubic Sea” this time, I used a projection mapping technique with two projectors, to cover all five sides of the cube. The entire cube became bigger in size. I wanted to make the viewers feel as if they were in front of the sea at the seashore. To provide such a feeling, a certain amount of size is important. But at the same time, I wanted to make the cube to look like an object when it was viewed from a certain distance, for example, from the entrance of the room. I needed to finalize the exact dimensions of the cube to support these two conditions. This process was fun and personally meaningful for me.
In many of your works, the natural scene made with video projection seems to offer a soothing experience to the viewers. It reminds me of the effect of natural phenomena described by Alain de Botton. Is there a reason why you often work with the landscape/natural imagery?
“Vast landscapes can have much the same anxiety-reducing effect on us as ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time. Against them, or within them, our weak, short-lived bodies must seem of no greater consequence than those of moths or spiders. Then, too, whatever differences exist among people, they are as nothing next to the differences between the most powerful humans and the great deserts, high mountains, glaciers and oceans of the world. There are natural phenomena so enormous as to make the variations between any two people seem mockingly tiny. By seeking these out, and experiencing a compelling sense of the insignificance of all humans within the cosmos, we may mitigate whatever discomfort we feel over our inferior position in the social hierarchy.”
– Alain de Botton, on the effect of natural phenomena, “Status Anxiety”
Encountering Two Times (2012)
I know most of my artworks are using natural scenes. Probably it is due to my sensibility and personal preference. I like to use natural scenes to provide calm and meditative experiences for viewers. Such experiences could be called soothing experiences, as you pointed out. Also, I think it is somewhat related to the soothing effect of natural phenomena as Alain de Botton said. But the difference is that I don’t care too much about the insignificance that a human being feels in front of nature. What I want to borrow, simulate or represent from nature is that we are also a part of nature. I also want to express the beloved feeling that nature gives us.
I was born and raised in cities. I am not a person who has grown up in nature. But my sensibilities are strongly attached and refreshed in nature whenever I experience it. I think most people also share this kind of experience and I want to share this with them. I want to create a work to transport the viewers to their own old memories of nature.
In the summer forest you created in “Light Green Leaves with Light”, you hear the sound of the bugs, see the images of the sunbeam and can walk between trees full of leaves. With the projection light, is it also warm like the real summer?
Light Green Leaves with Light (2012-2013)
Yes, it is! At least, I think so. No, I think it is really warm at the center of the work.
In “Light Green Leaves with Light”(created in 2012 and 2013), I used three 6500 ANSI lumens projectors. Since the projection screen material is a fabric that is used for a silkscreen print, the projection light penetrates into the screen a lot, so there is lots of loss. Therefore, I had to use very strong and bright projectors. Also, I had to create a certain feeling of surroundedness in the space. Three projectors were the minimum number of projectors for this purpose.
In this work, I intended to use the projection light as one source of light. Projection light is an artificial light. But I always think that the projection light or RGB lights in it provides a very similar feeling as the natural light. Another source of light that I wanted to present was the sunlight in nature that I captured in the video. Thus, in the work, the videotaped sunlight and the projection light are inter-mixing and provide the feeling of surroundedness. Because of the multiple sources of light with the actual heat generated by three 6500 ANSI lumens projectors, I felt really warm surrounded by the lights in the middle, when I walked around the work.
You made several iterations of the interactive project “Ripplecast” over the years. I believe you do this in order to provide the viewers an ideal sensory experience. How has the process been? Is there a next step for this piece?
“Ripplecast” was an ongoing project for me over the past five years.
The first “Ripplecast” used a still picture as its background image underneath the ripples layer, but gradually I switched it to moving images with sound. And I have kept changing the moving images of water. In the most recent version “Ripplecast 2012”, I scaled it up to be supported by two channel video projections. The reason I changed the water images is because I wanted to provide the viewers with the feeling of standing in front of the water.
The most ideal scene would be where viewers feel as if like they are standing in front of the water, forgetting the gallery and museum context. By expanding the screen, I thought it could approach the ideal scene one step further. I wanted to create the meditative feeling, as if we felt we were within nature. Thus I changed the video image of water several times. Also, since I had many chances to show this work at galleries and museums in Korea, as well as other countries, I wanted to show the beautiful scenery of Korea. I wanted to present the four seasons of a river depending on the actual season of the individual exhibition. Thus, I prepared different video images of water and changed it depending on the context.
What does audience participation and interaction mean to you and your work?
Well, I often create interactive works but I do not want to use interaction or participation just for the purpose of it. Interaction for interaction is not something that I want to create. Because I was a painter, I always think that there is an interactive experience when people look at paintings, between the viewer and the painting. Although it is more like an interactive experience happening in the mind and heart, I thought it could be said as an interactive experience as well as it is an experience with the work of art. I try to involve the audience’s interaction more actively when I want to create bodily and engaging experience for the audience. The experience that a viewer has during the time he or she spends with the work is an important element of my work. I would like to invite the viewer to experience my work and extend their engagement with it.
It is somewhat related to the phenomenological experience that the viewers can perceive while experiencing the artwork. I like to convey this phenomenological experience in order to provide the viewer chances to meet themselves, while they experience the work. Meeting themselves would be like meeting their old memories. To create this kind of experience, I used to make big size works where an audience can walk into and walk around.
For me, audience participation and interaction involved in the artwork become the very means of leading the audience to experience his/her individual self.
Most of your works are not about personal issues, but in your recent work (Playground series), you talk about your experience as a mother (the boredom of watching kids in the playground). Is motherhood affecting your work? If so, how?
Surely, motherhood has affected me and my work. But mostly it is because it takes up considerable amount of time for me. … Yes, I am somewhat agreeing with you that my works may seem as if they are not related to my personal issues. When I was an undergraduate student in the painting department, I was deeply concerned how to find my style in my work, thus I had to know myself. I thought when the work dealt with a personal issue in its theme or subject matter, it seemed authentic as an artwork. But I gradually found that I was more comfortable bringing my personal issues indirectly into my work. My works may not seem to deal with my personal issues, but I still think that my sensibilities and memories are deeply affecting my work. I never start with a very abstract idea or a general perception. My own sensibilities and memories motivate me to start a project.
Many media artists collaborate with other artists or engineers. Some of your works are also collaborative. Do you work with others at the moment? How important is it that you understand recent technology?
Yes, currently I am working with others. As I said above, I began to learn how to use media technologies at ITP. But when I graduated from ITP, I felt it was not enough for me. I felt that I needed to learn more about technology in order to achieve more hands-on skills and technological knowledge. Since I created my artwork individually before entering ITP, honestly I was not familiar with working with others. I continued my studies at Georgia Tech (GT) to get more proficiency and ability. But at GT, I gradually realized that maybe I would not achieve the level of skill and knowledge that I wanted in the end. Instead, I learned how important it is to work with other collaborators. I realized that the skill of communicating with other collaborators, in order to figure out the common problems as the work progressed, is far more important and difficult. In this process, I got to know that the most difficult part is finding a proper collaborator to work with, rather than deciding how to work.
After moving back to Korea, and working at Yonsei University (teaching media art), it was not always easy to find collaborators for my art projects. Since I am in a school now, most of my collaborators become my students or other professors. Sometimes I work with my old school and lab colleagues that I met at GT. Since I cannot learn and follow every rapidly developing media technology, learning from collaborators becomes more valuable. Recently I have worked with engineers, computer scientists, and HCI experts for diverse projects. I also work with my husband, Jeong Han Kim, who is a media artist and art school professor.
As you mentioned, both you and your husband (Jeong Han Kim) are media artists and work in academia. Though you two are not an artist collective, you do collaborate with each other. How do you decide when to work together and when just to stay supportive? Do you discuss work at home?
We have helped each other often, but for a while we did not collaborate for an art project. I think there is no specific reason for it, but when we got married, one of our professors said that we shouldn’t work together naively just because we were a couple. Actually, in some ways, our working styles are very different. Most of time I work with a single initial idea, and develop it until it is actually implemented. On the other hand, Jeong Han keeps changing his ideas while working; maybe his idea keeps evolving during the working period. Therefore, his initial idea is completed with a very different result. But for the last more than ten years, as closest collaborators, life partners and colleagues, we have discussed our ideas a lot, whether it is for a theoretical work or artwork. As we discussed a lot, we also fought a lot. We try to be very honest when we criticize each other’s work. Hearing harsh critiques from each other is always very painful, but since we can agree with the critique from the other, it soon becomes very helpful in developing our work. In fact, after graduating from an art school, it was very hard to hear really helpful critiques from outside.
Last year, Jeong Han and I started to work together as a team in order to create a project that was entitled Emergent Mind of City (EMC). Jeong Han currently leads this project along with another designer, Jeong Do Kim. Our team is called AM (Art of Mind group). For this project, AM is collaboratively working together with the BiKE lab (Biomedical Knowledge Engineering lab) of Seoul National University (The director of this lab is Professor Hong Gee Kim). The EMC project is still a work in progress, but we have presented it in several media art and technology venues already.
What is the “screen” to you now?
Since I started working with video in 1997, the screen has replaced my canvas. Like the canvas, the screen is the realm for my artwork imagination. My Ph.D. thesis is about the screen as a boundary object between the real world and the virtual world. The screen, as a boundary object, is a conceptual realm. It simultaneously contains diverse times and spaces in it. Therefore, the screen becomes a psychological and philosophical domain. I think that the screen is the realm of imagination where artists can create the imaginative experience through it.
My dissertation begins with a sentence “Screen becomes everywhere”. Now we are really in an era where screens are everywhere, and screen experience will expand more and more into our daily life. I attempted to create a malleable screen display when I was at Georgia Tech, at the beginning of my studies, but I realized that it would not be possible due to my small budget and the limitation of technical knowledge. But nowadays the flexible screen becomes an actual product. Screens still continue to evolve along with other emerging technologies, creating new kinds of experiences. It is still a means of communication and expression. The question of what contents to show on the screen, and how to create the screen experience as a perceptual and interactive experience is still wide open to be explored for me as well as other media artists and designers.
Any artists that you admire, feel influenced by and want to introduce to the readers?
In recent years, I felt I needed to know more about Ólafur Elíasson’s work. I visited his solo show at MoMA PS1 in 2008. Before visiting the exhibition, I didn’t know about him and his work. But one of my friends who I met in an artist residency program told me to check out his work. So, on my way home after the residency, I dropped by his show in New York. The show was titled “Take your time” and it was fascinating. It was an unforgettable experience for me. I liked how he used the materials and created the naturally engaging experience by using media technologies. He often uses analog and mechanical technologies, but they create a very attractive and interactive experience for the viewers. After I saw several other projects of his on YouTube, and also at his solo exhibition in Seoul, I thought that I needed to research him and his work. I wanted to understand more of his sensibilities and methodologies that he incorporated in his work.
How do you want to define yourself as an artist?
Hm… this question is the hardest one to answer in this interview so far. I have thought for a very long time about how to answer this. But I still cannot define myself either as an artist or a theorist. Maybe I can, but at the same time, it may not be correct or appropriate. Or maybe I don’t want to define myself at all.
It is easier to define myself as a mom and a teacher. Being a mom and a teacher is a given fact for me, although I have tried hard to achieve those titles in my life. But being an artist and a theorist is not the same as being a mom and teacher. I write articles and papers, and create artworks with ideas I want to express. But how these creations would be read, perceived, and received as artwork and theoretical work is beyond my personal intention.
So, I just keep exploring and creating what I am interested in showing and sharing. Maybe I am an artist who hopes to create art that can generate substantial value and meaning for the viewers. Do you think this answer is too general? Hm, yes, this is surely a very difficult question.
Please share with us if you are working on any new project at the moment.
Jeong Han and I, with others, are developing the EMC project now. The EMC project has been presented at the Seoul Media Art Biennale 2012 (Media City Seoul 2012), Re-new Art Festival (2013, Denmark, Coppenhegen), IEEE Viz conferences (2013, Atlanta, U.S.A.). It will be presented at the Siggraph Asia, Art Gallery in November 2013 in HongKong. In addition, I am further developing “Encountering Two Times” by collaborating with Jeong Han. We are working on how to connect “Encountering” project with the concept of qualia landscape.
I am also involved in a project experimenting with the next generation of screens such as transparent displays and flexible displays. This project is created for the experience design and interaction design research purpose. I am working with many other scientists and artists on this.
Also during recent years, I have gradually thought of making my personal art projects more in earnest. My last solo show was held in 2009, and I have not found a proper chance to continue it since, so now I am thinking to put more energy to resume it.
More on Hyun Jean Lee: http://hyunjeanlee.com/
- Interview by Inhye Lee
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Through responsive dance, [radical] signs of life externalizes the mind’s non-hierarchical distribution of thought. Music is generated from the dancers‘ muscles and blood flow via biophysical sensors that capture sound waves from the performers’ bodies. This data triggers complex neural patterns to be projected onto multiple screens as 3D imagery. As the audience interacts with the images produced, they enter into a dialogue with the dancers.
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Waveforms is an exhibition of interdisciplinary art works showcasing sound as the principle component. This exhibition explores, through an examination of creative and artistic practices, the interface of sound and new media technologies. The works in the exhibit include a number of trans-disciplinary interactions and collaborations that include sound in the context of visual and spatial artistic practices, including sound sculpture, installations, and performance works.
Featured artists include Carrie Bodle, Jacob C. Hammes, Norbert Herber/Rowland Ricketts, Tesia Kosmalski, Lou Mallozzi, Shannon McMullen/Fabian Winkler, Stephanie Rowden, and Jesse Seay. The list includes both emerging and established artists, primarily from the Midwest. Norbert Herber, artist and faculty member at Indiana University, will moderate the Symposium/discussion.
Because this exhibit is about the exchange of thought among a variety of disciplines, it will highlight the role that artistic practice and creative thinking have in our appropriation and understanding of technology, including practice and dialogue related to changes within both the natural and man-made environment. By comparing material practices in a variety of creative fields, new insights are gained into the way that artists and collaborators recognize the “new” and how the “new” becomes a building block for future discoveries.
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“Pulse Park” is comprised of a matrix of light beams that graze the central oval field of Madison Square Park. Their intensity is entirely modulated by a sensor that measures the heart rate of participants and the resulting effect is the visualization of vital signs, arguably our most symbolic biometric, in an urban scale.
In Pulse Park, evening visitors to Madison Square Park have their systolic and diastolic activity measured by a sensor sculpture installed at the North end of the Oval Lawn. These biometric rhythms are translated and projected as pulses of narrow-beam light that will move sequentially down rows of spotlights placed along the perimeter of the lawn as each consecutive participant makes contact with the sensor. The result is a poetic expression of our vital signs, transforming the public space into a fleeting architecture of light and movement.
Pulse Park is inspired by Roberto Gavaldóns film Macario (Mexico, 1960) in which the protagonist has a hunger-induced hallucination wherein individuals are represented by lit candles, as well as by the minimalist musical compositions of Conlon Nancarrow, Glenn Branca and Steve Riech. Pulse Park is the culmination of a series that Lozano-Hemmer debuted at the 2007 Venice Biennale with Pulse Room.
The concept sketch was printed in an edition of 12 copies.
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Tim Hawkinson is known for creating complex sculptural systems through surprisingly simple means. Inspiration for many of Hawkinson’s pieces has been the re-imagining of his own body and what it means to make a self-portrait of this new or fictionalized body. Sculptures are often re-purposed out of materials which then artist then mechanizes through hand-crafted electrical circuitry.
Tim Hawkinson is featured in the Season 2 episode “Time” of the Art21 series “Art:21 — Art in the Twenty-First Century”.
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Iraqi born Wafaa Bilal has become known for provocative interactive video installations. Many of Bilal’s projects over the past few years have addressed the dichotomy of the virtual vs. the real. He attempts to keep in mind the relationship of the viewer to the artwork, one of his main objectives being to transform the normally passive experience of viewing art into an active participation. In this, his latest effort, Domestic Tension, viewers can log onto the internet to contact or “shoot” Bilal with paintball guns. Bilal’s objective is to raise awareness of virtual war and privacy, or lack thereof, in the digital age. During the course of the exhibition, Bilal will confine himself to the gallery space. Over the duration, people will have 24-hour virtual access to the space via the Internet. They will have the ability to watch Bilal and interact with him through a live web-cam and chat room. Should they choose to do so, viewers will also have the option to shoot Bilal with a paintball gun, transforming the virtual experience into a very physical one. Bilal’s self imposed confinement is designed to raise awareness about the life of the Iraqi people and the home confinement they face due to the both the violent and the virtual war they face on a daily basis. This sensational approach to the war is meant to engage people who may not be willing to engage in political dialogue through conventional means. Domestic Tension will depict the suffering of war not through human displays of dramatic emotion, but rather through engaging people in the sort of playful interactive video game with which they are familiar.
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The Cabinet of Curiousness is an antique wooden card catalogue with 20 drawers. Functioning as an interactive piece, the opening of each drawer activates a voice or piece of music from within the cabinet. The audience, assuming the role of a DJ, may experience the clarity of sound from one drawer or a cacophony of sounds from numerous drawers opened simultaneously as the cabinet is played like an instrument. A contrast emerges between the obsolete system of cataloguing single pieces of data and our current tendency to inundate ourselves with excessive information. An investigation of knowledge, time, and our relationship to objects and music.
Work by Janet Cardiff & George Miller
Materials: Unique oak card catalogue with speakers and audio
Dimensions: 52 X 17 1/2 X 27 inches (132.08 X 44.45 X 68.58 cm)
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Omnivisu was a temporary interactive installation which took place at the S/U station Warschauer Str. from july 7th through 17th — Tower of Light in Oberbaum city
The S/U station Warschauer street is one of Berlin’s most important interchange stations, especially at night. From the Warschauer bridge, a wide panorama over the center of Berlin presents itself and near the bank of the river Spree, where the Berlin wall used to run. Here the characteristic tower of the former light–bulb industry Narva rises. This is not only a symbol of the desolated GDR–industries, but also a relict of the new–economy boom in berlin and its ending as well as the arrival of media corporations like MTV and Universal.
A gazing tower
The unmistakable landmark of the area is transformed into a building with human character, equipped with the eyes of the people who interact with the installation. They can participate directly and in real-time through a showcase which is placed on the busy site of the bridge. Once somebody looks into it, their eyes are filmed. The video signal is transmitted and projected on the facade of the building. A big brother who sees the world with your eyes.
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Sound installation (related to sound art and sound sculpture) is an intermedia and time based art form. It is an expansion of an art installation in the sense that it includes the sound element and therefore the time element. The main difference with a sound sculpture is that a sound installation has a three dimensional space and the axes with which the different sound objects are being organized are not exclusively internal to the work, but also external. A work of art is an installation only if it makes a dialog with the surrounding space. A sound installation is usually a site-specific but sometimes it can be readapted to other spaces. It can be made either in close or open spaces, and context is fundamental to determine how a sound installation will be aesthetically perceived. The difference between a regular art installation and a sound installation is that the later one has the time element, which gives the visiting public the possibility to stay a longer time due possible curiosity over the development of sound. This temporal factor also gives the audience the excuse to explore the space thoroughly due to the dispositions of the different sounds in space. Sound installations sometimes use interactive art technology (computers, sensors, mechanical and kinetic devices, etc.) but we also find this type of art form using only sound sources placed in different space points (like speakers), or acoustic music instruments materials like piano strings that are played by a performer or by the public (see Paul Panhuysen).
Kim Kichul has continuously been working with sound, against more traditional, visual forms of art. To Kim, sound itself is the subject rather than an added element that composes a part of the whole sculpture, and it is a continuum already inherent with a meaning.
Kim first started using sound in his work through an experience he had while listening to the radio. He experienced temporal-spatial qualities of sound, and felt as though he were looking at the actual physical sound coming from a radio. His work 11-Faced Avalokitesvara presented in his first solo exhibition in 1993 departed from the word Avalokitesvara, which explains feeling the subject as if to see it. Kim was deeply moved by a verse from Bomunpum, the 25th chapter of The Sutra of the Lotus, which stated that if Sattva, in their suffering, chanted the Avalokitesvara with a simple concentration, they could reached Nirvana. By placing 10 statues of Avalokitesvara on radios each tuned to different channels, he presented a compositional method of observing sound through synesthesia.
It’s clear to see that sound itself is Kim’s main subject of interest especially through his earlier work Sound Looking (1999), which visually materializes the properties of sound dependent on the auditory senses. In this work, particles in a clear tube move according to the waves of the generated sound, and all things visible are mobilized in order to reveal the invisible sound.
Sound Gear, Rain drop Sounds, Eight Channel Speaker
“Sound Looking – Rain” is a sound installation that investigates the nature of perception and representation in relation to the Buddhist concept of emptiness. Suspended from the gallery ceiling is a matrix of audio speakers, wires and monofilament, the audio that fills the space is a sound collage of falling rain. Kim’s sound landscape induces us to float between the opposing forms of sight and sound. Kim also references a formal minimalism as we experience the shifting relationships between sound, speakers, the gallery space and our bodies.
Wooden Bell, Sound Gear, Water Drop Sound, 2000 Seoul, Korea
2008 Center for Integrated Media, CalArts, CA
Sound Gear, Voice Activated Servo Controller, 2006, Seattle, WA
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Missing: An interactive installation by The xx, Kyle McDonald, Aramique and Matt Mets explores the concept of the album “Coexist” through the relationship of man and machine. 50 robotic Sonos players follow movement inside Missing’s dark emotional landscape.
Visit the Sonos Studio (145 N. La Brea in Los Angeles) from Nov. 15th – Dec. 23rd to see the installation in person and sign-up for e-mail invites to upcoming events: http://www.sonos.com/studio
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