Yeon Jin Kim
My practice is based on extending and revitalizing traditional forms by combining them with video to create a unique and cohesive idiom. For example, I extend the tradition of scroll drawing to produce narrative video. I adapt basic sculptural practices to build models and scenarios that defy certainty of scale and location.
My work develops out of my reading and research into a variety of issues and topics. These studies eventually lead to drawings, collages and plans that then evolve into models and sets. I use drawing as a way to invent, to think through ideas, to develop narratives and characters. I then film from the scroll drawings and three–dimensional models.
For example, In “Migration”, the camera is located in a small model train and travels through a desolate world. Although devoid of human presence, we see many different kinds of animals and slowly, as events develop, a possible narrative begins to emerge. As in Hitchcock’s “the Birds”, the breakdown of the natural order is signaled by the fact that there is something wrong with the animals.
Many of my video works assume a breakdown of the natural order but also show wildly proliferating new growth from unexpected sources. Charged atmospheres and hallucinogenic landscapes are offset by the enduring charm, inventiveness and resiliency of nature. However fantastical, my work springs from my fascination with the complexities of human nature and always refers back to human experience, much as fables do. Hitchcock, Terry Gilliam, Kafka and Lewis Carol are ongoing influences on my work. From change and chaos come unexpected new orders and relationships.
Another recent project, “Spaceship Grocery Store”, records a day in the life of an alien living on board a city-sized spacecraft on a journey lasting the life-time of several generations. As he walks from his modest home to the grocery store the alien - protagonist witnesses scenes of cruelty, militarism and repression. The narrative from this otherworldly realm outgrows its specific occasion to suggest a wider applicability. As in the film “District 9”, after the initial exoticism wears off we are left with familiar issues, suggesting that the laws of physics are not the only constants that prevail throughout the multiverse.
My work invites an aware, involved viewer/participant. I use conventional rendering techniques and everyday materials in my drawings and models. I adopt deliberately low-tech filming and animation processes, use hand-operated puppets and characters, and uninflected long takes to display the obvious artifice employed. This requires a conscious suspension of disbelief by the audience, who knowingly enter into the work, “filling in” a narrative that the action merely suggests. My work makes room for the viewer as a participant in and interpreter of events, not simply as the passive recipient of completely formulated experiences. This role for the viewer is crucial as it encourages an activated subject, willing to engage art, and by extension, life, in an adventurous, open-minded way. I believe in the capacity and desire of the public for complex, meaningful experience.
artist’s website: www.yeonjinkim.com