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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Lyfe, Labor, Lunch

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Lunch Bytes began as a series of panel discussions on the topic of art and digital culture in Washington D.C. in 2011 and 2012. Curated by Melanie Bühler and supported primarily by the Goethe Institut, it expanded across the European continent from 2013 to 2015, partnering with local institutions in nine cities and bringing together 112 “artists and experts” for 24 events. As a final hurrah to conclude the series, in March of this year 24 past participants were invited to a conference at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, with four panel discussions each corresponding to one of the overarching themes that quartered the series: Medium, Structures and Textures, Society, and Life. Bookending the conference panels were keynotes by art historians David Joselit and Melissa Gronlund, plus a summary panel at the end.

While in previous events each of these large headlines possessed a sub-heading and a detailed focus text for the panelists to address, the conference took much broader strokes, allowing freer interpretation of those topics. Content therefore took shape horizontally through the confluence of individual perspectives, geared by participants rather than through top-down direction.

I moderated the final themed panel of the conference, “Life;” interpreting this title became a springboard into the discussion. In my introduction I emphasized the fact that anything “life”-like can also be construed as a form of labor: particularly the practices of artistic representation, self-representation, and representational politics presumably at stake in this conference on digital society.

The first speaker, Cornelia Sollfrank, provided a historical context to those practices in relation to cyberfeminism, while simultaneously critiquing the generational position she felt she represented and the ahistoricism of contemporary practice that could imply. Second, Cecile B. Evans re-routed the expectation of artistic self-narrative by converting the platform into a “live ...

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In the future, people will pay to feel unemployed: On Melanie Gilligan's latest film

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 Melanie Gilligan, The Common Sense: Episode 1 (2014)

This article marks the online premiere of Melanie Gilligan's The Common Sense: Episode 1, which will also show on our front page through Thursday, May 16. The full series will be available online on June 11, 2015 at thecommonsense.org

Last week for Rhizome I wrote about some qualitative changes effected by Airbnb on the city of Berlin, referring to a quantitative survey called "What do the data say?" to get a grasp of the lived reality of the "sharing" economy and the labor it entails. This week, I refer to the most recent video project by Canadian artist Melanie Gilligan, The Common Sense, for an entirely different way of making meaning from this reality—not in an analytical sense, but in a speculative one. 

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