The Korean Cultural Centre UK celebrates Yunchul Kim’s Nomination as 2018 Artist of the Year.
Art Radar looks at the show and talk to the curator to observe Kim’s works, including installations, drawings, sketches and documentation produced over the past decade, as well as the new work Cascade (2018).
The Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) nominated Yunchul Kim as 2018 Artist of the Year and is currently holding Kim’s first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, “Dawns, Mine, Crystal”, to introduce a key aspect of Korea’s vibrant contemporary art scene to UK audiences. The curator of the show, JeYun Moon, tells Art Radar about the reason behind the choice for his nomination and how the exhibition process has been:
The KCCUK’s Artist of the Year began in 2014. The momentum was Ikon Gallery’s invitation of Lee Bul for their 50 anniversary exhibition (curated by Jonathan Watkins). In an attempt to expand the KCC’s collaborations with UK institutions, I approached Lee Bul and Jonathan Watkins and suggested the co-production of the show. This was one of the most successful programmes and we decided to continue to work with this format in order to enhance our collaboration with some of the most prestigious public institutions in the UK such as Art Night and Spike Island.
For the last five years, Artist of the Year has introduced some of the most interesting artists from Korea who made a significant impact to contemporary Korean art scene. It has also served as a platform for presenting their first ever solo exhibitions in the UK. Although Kim Yun Chul has been introduced in the continental European scene (for instance, ZKM, Ars Electronica, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien), he has never been shown here in the UK.
When Kim Yunchul won the Collide International Award in 2016, he was invited by FACT in Liverpool for the combined residency with CERN in Geneva. This was the moment when I started discussing about the possibility of a show with Yunchul and FACT. Also, the Korean Cultural Centre UK in Berlin invited Kim Yun Chul for the solo show in 2017 (curated by Kahee Jeong). I was fascinated by a world of materials so affectively devised by the artist. This show gave me conviction that it is the right timing for the KCCUK to present his show in London.
Yunchul Kim (b. 1970) is an artist and an electro-acoustic music composer based in Seoul, Korea. He has been working across the realms of contemporary art, science and visual effects. He has participated in numerous exhibitions internationally, such as at ZKM, Germany; Ars Electronica, Austria; International Triennial of New Media Art, China; VIDA 15.0, Spain; Transmediale, Germany; ISEA, Germany; and New York Digital Salon. Kim also was the winner of the Collide International Award 2016, CERN, and was awarded the third prize at VIDA 15.0, Vida Foundation in 2013.
Kim’s practice approaches the boundaries between art and science employing the materials as the centre of his creation as well as basic forms and images. Kim’s interdisciplinary investigation deals with new materials found in synthetic manners – he is especially triggered by the artistic potential of fluid dynamics and meta-materials. His practice is an exploitation of fluidity experiments inside of materials and observation of particle conditions. Cosmic radiation, acoustics, vibrating impulses and magnetic forces were Kim’s key inspirations to create a form of visible particle collisions, fluid movements and reactions in a physical reality. The KCCUK exhibition title “Dawns, Mine, Crystal” thus has special meaning in connection to his practice and exploration of the world of materials, as the curator Jeyun Moon explains:
The exhibition title is a direct reference to philosopher Michel Foucault and his study of Raymond Roussel in Death and Labyrinth. ‘Dawns, Mine and Crystal’ is the title of one the chapters in this book. The title establishes an intersection of a world of materials with complex layers of metaphors and symbols.
Through these unusual materials, he produces ever-changing, fascinating, dazzling, captivating and yet strange and unfamiliar images, which give a sneak peek into the worlds of alchemy, astrophysics and new technologies. The curator Jeyun Moon talks about the barriers the curatorial team has encountered while preparing the show:
His interdisciplinary practice that pushes the boundaries of art and science has complex layers. I guess how to create readable messages or interpretational materials was the most difficult question for the curatorial team. Highly specific science-based knowledges had to be translated into more plain languages so that it can reach out to wider group of audiences. Moreover, his works refuse to be captured within the realm of language. Therefore, in a way, our curatorial attempts to capture Yunchul’s works in the realm of language and to produce meanings was against the wind.
In 2017, Kim was invited to untertake a creative research at the Arts at CERN programme in Switzerland, the world’s largest laboratory for particle physics. Cascade (2018) is the outcome of his two-month residency at Arts at CERN and one-month at FACT as part of the Collide International Residency Award.
Cascade (2018), a fluid kinetic installation, features 18-metre-long interconnected transparent tubes filled with clear fluid kept in constant circulation. Through this installation, Kim demonstrates how to manage and generate light by colloidal suspension (a term from physical chemistry) of photonic crystals. The tubes, he used in Cascade (2018) are composed of three elements: a liquid transfer system called ‘Impulse’, a 41-channel muon detector named ‘Argos’ and an interconnecting tubing termed ‘Tubular’. Kim explains how this system works thus:
When Argos detects particles, it transfers the signal to Impulse to trigger the flows of fluids in Tubular, so that fluid continually circulates within them.
Kim describes Cascade (2018) as an air shower of particles, continuing:
When cosmic rays come to Earth and reach its atmosphere, they collide with an atomic nucleus in the air and produce secondary particles which are called air showers, like a waterfall pouring down to the ground. I am interested in the implications of these events from the invisible world and their relation to my works–both semantically and physically.
Kim also seeks to materialise the imaginary by transforming the origin of materiality. Especially with the installation work Triaxial Pillars II (2017), he explores particles and fluids that undergo multiple transition states. Talking to Forbes, Kim says about his practice:
In material engineering, we have structure color made by the structure of molecules, In science labs such structure color meets various synthetic materials, resulting in the creation of materials that change color from temperature variation or stretching. This experience of new colors and materials can provide inspiration, not only for myself but for other artists too.
In the installation Argos (2018) – a work that calls to mind for its shape and structure the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – searches fundamental changes evoked when the relationship between matter and force is reassembled. Meanwhile, Effulge (2012-2014) features six panels filled with a photonic crystal – nanosized iron grains in a liquid suspension that gets stirred by air pumps. Ultimately, Kim’s practice works towards visualising the realm of the imagination. The artist commented on his work as being “psychological, sensual and symptomatic”.
A selection of five sketchbooks is showcased to present the fundamental ideas of his artistic creation. Accompanying these almost invisible yet subtle drawing books, Amorphic Scape (2012), a large-scale pencil drawing, demonstrates Kim’s own fictional world of liquids and gases in motion.
Talking to Art Radar, the curator JeYun Moon expands about the exhibition:
When I first encounter Kim Yunchul’s works, I felt a huge relief as I immediately noticed that there were not many symbols and meanings that I should read from. Contemporary art becomes about reading the meanings, contexts and even history. But Yunchul invites audiences to be away from our familiar world of language into an unfamiliar, strange yet captivating world of materials.
Soo Jeong Kang
“Dawns, Mine, Crystal” by Yunchul Kim is on view from 18 September to 3 November 2018 at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Grand Buildings, 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW, United Kingdom.
* Cascade will be part of Quantica, a touring exhibition by Collide residency artists travelling to FACT in November 2018 and onwards to Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona in Spring 2019, Le Lieu Unique in Autumn / Winter 2019 and iMAL in Spring 2020.
Related Topics: Korean artists, technology, new media, installation, museum shows, events in London
- “Digital Promenade”: the Seoul Museum of Art celebrates its 30th anniversary – August 2018 – “Digital Promenade” presents 30 pieces selected from the Museum’s collection and 10 new site-commissioned works by young Korean artists
- Lee Bul takes over London’s Hayward Gallery into a retrospective extravaganza – August 2018 – London’s Hayward Gallery celebrates its 50th anniversary with “Lee Bul: Crashing”
- “Landscapes Where You Live”: 4 Chinese and Korean artists at Crossing Collective in New York – August 2018 – Crossing Collective presents “Landscapes Where You Live” with works from Jungwoo Hong, Zhang Jian, Kakyoung Lee and Zaun Lee
- “Transmission”: art and technology at Galerie Huit, Hong Kong – May 2018 – the exhibition features works by Gordon Cheung, James Clar, Troika, Doreen Chan and Alejandro Guijarro
- “Our Bright Future-Cybernetic Fantasy”: exploring AI, robotics, biotechnology and the posthuman at Nam June Paik Art Center – September 2017 – “Our Bright Future-Cybernetic Fantasy” explores technology and art from the perspective of Nam June Paik’s Cybernetics
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