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JANUARY 2 ~ JANUARY 31, 2007


Air: Three Scenes Speechless, video installation, still image, 2006


Kim who earned his D.A. degree from New York University, creates video installations that have been exhibited widely earning much critical acclaim both in New York and abroad. In the anti-novel tradition of Husserl who advocated continually confronting the reader with the unexpected, Kyujung Kim’s images are concerned with the subjective experience presented to the viewer as a way of drawing him into his constantly shifting personal views. The anti-novel Tristan Shandy tradition has recently experienced a revival in France in the form of the ‘New Novel’ but unlike these revivals that could at times appear too self-conscious or dull, Kim’s images in their exciting content touch the viewer to the core and reverberate to his psyche.

At its narrowest interpretation and in recent philosophy of thought the term ‘phenomenology’ is often restricted in meaning to a characterization of sensory perceptions such as hearing, seeing etc. Kim’s personal experience as seen in his series of video images Air: Three Scenes (Inner/Outer Space,) 2006 appears to be much richer in content than mere sensation. Traditionally phenomenology has also been defined more broadly including the meanings, events, and situations we personally experience--such as the flow of time. Kim’s 3 channel video and audio installation series is comprised of three pieces entitled Inner/Outer Space subtitled respectively, Waves, Windows, Reflections DVDs that are projected through 3”x17” LCD screens. By using the Adobe Premier program and Matrix Board for video editing Kim superimposes the images creating visually complex multi-layered compositions. Additionally, Kim uses other software such as After Effects with which to produce special effects transforming his layered transparent forms to convey Husserl’s ‘retention’ ‘now-apprehension’ and ‘pretention.’ By so doing, Kim brings about their comprehension from a multi-variant temporal and spatial cross-sections of past, future and present caused by continuously running image and sound loops. Kim challenges viewer perception and his/her epistemological assumptions through his constantly evolving and shifting images of nature—rippling waters, reflected clouds and trees, and sounds.


Air: Three Scenes Self-reflection, video installation, still image, 2006



Because of their strong nature based concept Kim’s images can be read in terms of both Indian and Greek ancient philosophies about the elements. The idea of the four elements in Greek doctrine developed into five over time and culminated with Empidocles in his four ‘roots of things’ in which the source of being resided in earth, fire, water, and air. These were also reflected in Hesiod who wrote of them in his Theogony, while the epic poets like Anaximander used the word ‘air’ to mean mist, it was Anaximenes who used the word to mean ‘air’. Kim uses Air in his titles in this sense but also as ‘aither’ the fifth element, which in its semi-philosophical aspect means “celestial fire,” the stuff of which the stars are composed associated with Zeus. This quality is especially evident in his third work of this series Reflections, part three that depicts clouds, trees, sun, and that in its luminescence is closest to “celestial fire.” Its colors are cool reflective, other-worldly, bordering on the greenish mauve of some of Monet’s late Nympheas panels. While the works’ hues shift and change the sun becomes a constant presence right up to the end when it ceases to exist along with the sound. The white noise in the background is ordinary interspersed with street noises and car horns while simultaneously the patterns formed by the shifting and moving water are circular and Turneresque in their vortextual movement. Philosophically, Kim’s images are opposed to the Monism or fixed logical laws of Parmenides, developing to convey plurality without the skepticism of the post-modernists.

In Vedic teachings as evidenced by the tenth book of the Rg Veda water is the all powerful source of everything although the Agni or fire is the underlying world substance. In the Atharva Veda water, fire and air were accorded special status as elements. The Bradharanyaka Upanisad combined three elements into one creation process that dates back to those of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Then the Taittiriya Upanisad incorporated into the other three elements fire and ether that exists in space and carries sound. Kim’s titles Air: Three Scenes, Waves, Windows, Reflections offer us clues to his subjects as well as his state of being. His works epitomize the Vedic principles of stages of matter in which consciousness awakens from the primordial mythic state to acknowledge its own existence.

Indian Atomism has four elements and although there was a fifth it was considered as the space between the other four, overall, however, the Indian traditions after the Mesopotamian, advance quaternity. It is clear that Kim is interested in creation as well as states of being and how we interpret them subjectively. In his works he examines the intricate relationship between nature and man, as well as the interactive states between the digitally transformed images of nature and the viewer’s perception, and epistemological assumptions through his images. In his Waves part one Kim articulates the following words that move to cross our field of vision upon a blue background of rippling water “Space is a connotated meaning of nature. Virtual time and space as well as actual time and space, psychological as well as physical, my imagination and mind exist in space. Space is the link between my outer and inner sides. My mind comes from my soul, again my soul returns to my body.” Thus, not only is he interested in the phenomena of the states of matter but also like the atomists in the spaces between, not only the physical and the psychological but also the spiritual and the virtual.


Air: Three Scenes Dream1, video installation, still image, 2006

Kim’s interest in the elements is seen in part three of video one Waves, in which he again engages us with text upon a grassy expanse of greenery that reads “Air itself presents several concepts air is the medium of sound, light and color. Air is a physical mixture of elements. Air is the most essential element that humans need. Air gives us life. Air cannot be seen or touched in this atmosphere. Air affects us eternally and establishes a relation between humans and the space in which they exist. Air has value as a unit of matter. Air affects us in a space with different atmospheres. Air allows us to exist as an element in space, not as an individual consciousness in space. This concept gives me a feeling of existence.” Indeed in Kim we witness a very special combination of talents in philosophy and art-making as well as technology, a union that enriches each viewer’s existence and well as life in general. Kim’s complexity informs his art and his successful methods of disseminating his ideas assuring viewer involvement, place his work in the realm of possibility rather than the rarefied atmospheres of either museum or virtual space.




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