Artist Profile: Christine Sun Kim

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have a significant body of work that makes use of or responds to network culture and digital technologies.

Christine Sun Kim, Speaker Drawing (2012)

Your own physical presence seems integral to your work. Sometimes you are literally in the space, guiding people and forging an interaction—I think of Gesture Sign Art that I saw at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in 2012, where you showed instructions on an iPad for viewers to manipulate transducers and piano wires in space to create vibrations together. At other times you leave objects in the space that show evidence of your actions, like the Speaker Drawings that manifested transducer vibrations on paper. Do you think of those projects in terms of action and evidence? Are they autonomous, or do they require you to activate them?

Some of my performances are about the process of building a platform and conducting participants to become my voice (Subjective Loudness in Tokyo, 2013) rather than leaving my traces afterwards. It seems as if my "voice" as an artist cannot be conveyed without all those people’s involvement. It’s almost a direct reflection of my everyday communication. I expand my voice through other voices.

The Speaker Drawings were my baby steps as a sound artist, and I don't do them anymore. They were very straightforward: sound to visual. I'm so into the conceptual aspect of sound that these drawings almost feel like decoration, almost empty... or just a vessel. I like getting messy, though.

I met you while working for the Bard MFA program and was hired to be your note taker—I would transcribe all your studio visits with professors and afterwards you would read how the conversation had been translated through your interpreter from ASL [American Sign Language] to spoken English. I suddenly understood to what extent all communication is mediated artificially, and also confronted issues of accessibility for the first time. Do you think you're placed in an "educative" role by default in an art world where accessibility is so rarely part of the conversation?

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Sound is Here: An Interview with Barbara London

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The Museum of Modern Art is making headlines in the wake of its recently opened exhibition, Soundings: A Contemporary Score (recently reviewed for Rhizome by Sam Hart). Organized by Barbara London, associate curator in the department of media and performance, and Leora Morinis, curatorial assistant, the exhibition stands as the museum's first major presentation of sound art.

Soundings thus marks a pivotal moment in the history of sound in the arts, as one of the world's most influential art institutions converges with a longstanding tradition of sound-based artistic practice for the first time. I met with London after seeing the show to discuss the exhibition and her curatorial process. The following is an extract from the full transcript of our conversation. 

Camille Norment, Triplight (2008). Microphone cage, stand, light, electronics. Courtesy the artist.

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Sampling Sonic Culture: MoMA’s Cautious Entry Into a World of Noise

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Carsten Nicolai, Wellenwanne lfo (2012). Water tank, water, mirror, audio equipment, stroboscope, display screen.

"Careful listening is more important than making sounds happen."

— Alvin Lucier

Considering the vital role American artists of all media have played in the emergence of sound art, one is inclined to speculate as to why MoMA is just now mounting its first major exhibition dedicated to the subject.

 

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