dazzled & muddled

Placid waves ripple amid emotions that have been tamped down firmly and compressed. Resting quite firmly against this space are vibrations and sounds that appear dazzling but quickly lose their direction, become muddled, and dissipate. In the past, KIM Daum has focused on the senses and emotions that arise along temporal and spatial borders—but in this exhibition, the artist gathers together the various impulsive feelings that occur in individual lives between reality and ideals. Ambivalent residues of emotion that rest at the base of our individual existence without ever being fully diluted—from melancholy, helplessness, disillusionment, and frustration to joy, hope, and pleasure—are arrayed and overlapped in the exhibition’s space and time as the different sensory fragments employed by the artist. Pieces of emotion that do not lend themselves to examination in a way that suits the word “everyday,” they do form certain patterns in themselves, but they are unfixed and constantly flowing, as if in a mode of alternating positive and negative feelings several times a day.

It has always been the case in art that attempts to capture things in language are doomed to fail. We can only acknowledge the realm of the senses, where it slips away and scatters in the air before it can be anchored into words—just as the feelings of a given day do not stem entirely from one reason or point in one direction. These splintered fragments of everyday emotion, without any sense of a central focus or bearings, are what become inscribed on the person’s body. KIM Daum uses the medium of lyrics to inscribe these inscrutable fragments of emotion emanating from daily experience. It is as though he is resisting forgetting and attempting to explore the archetypes that underlie our way of life today. Yet what appears on the canvas is something deconstructed and fragmented that is reconfigured into an unreadable linear image, as if to prove how inherently impossible it is to try to grab hold of and review time as it passes. Interspersed here too are images of unclear context. With the feeling of frustration, there is a growing sense of compulsive attachment to each day as it begins anew, even when it seems predestined to bring more failures. The scattered, broken, splintered texts remain as archetypes and rules, traces and clues, making us aware of another day that has passed by indescribably.

In the series Imprint the texts are oriented toward sounds that cannot escape the mouth. Through the images, silent sounds are unsettled as they come in contact with other images. In Dazzling whispers, stumming stars, a montage of images stripped of their sources does not attempt to present a complete narrative through the combination of shots; it is more akin to the feeling of dissonance that is created by the connections among shots. The amplitude of feeling is heightened by the push-and-pull of the ambivalent materiality (black-and-white and color, low and high resolution, graphics and actually filmed footage) and the composition of the video image as a mixture of points, lines, planes, and shapes. The layering and linking of images arranged in quasi-dialectical fashion generates meaning from structure. Arranged in rows as they repeatedly appear and vanish, the images are not connected in a harmonious cause-and-effect relationship but are presented in a horizontal repetition of surfacing and disappearance that prevents them from taking on narrative qualities. If anything, the feeling is of the focus being shifted to another perception that arises through collision and contrast. Connected in chains of up-and-down dimensions (the Imprint series, Dazzling whispers, stumming stars) or before-and-after (the video composition), the images unfold before us as a dramatic situation while the meaning expands or converges amid this interlinking continuity. Through relationships in which they appear in rows as single cells, the individual shots acquire meanings that they did not possess before, achieving a kind of comprehensive structure.

Finally, the temporal and spatial senses that emerge from the process of images visually clashing and connecting are further amplified through sound. To achieve perfect harmony, the artist overlays with video with sound compositions that approach and then recede, placidly flowing and then suddenly varying their melody and rhythm. By strengthening the acoustic textures, he designs emotional vibrations that travel between the two extremes of comfort and discomfort. Sound is well suited to introducing a specific spatial element to a setting (exhibition) that is structured along visual lines. It can extend the gaze beyond the frame of the image before us, and it can draw us away from an image that adheres to the here and now into a past moment or future time. Image and sound complement each other as backgrounds and foregrounds, creating a kind of time and space for those present. What remains in this time and space—which are very deeply rooted in reality yet also endlessly breaking away toward some ideal—is a particular ambiance. It is the resistance of what may be the only gap that exists between reality and the ideal.

In this exhibition, KIM Daum is both confronting reality and envisioning ideals. But he does not endeavor to make an “event” of the everyday for art’s sake. Without latching on, he seeks to show it as it flows, while changes are occasionally brought forth by the placid ripples as frustration and courage arise anew, again and again, between yesterday and tomorrow. His hope is to look upon this state just as it is. Rather than representing a separate reality and ideal, the stage he creates could be seen as a liminal stage, a surface connecting the two. In a place where any sense of direction has been lost—a place that seeks to escape reality yet is unable to reach the ideal—the sound and image create a dissonance that allows us to see how everyday experience begins anew each time amid both tranquility and trembling. The feelings that flow here are ones of impulse and restraint; without a defined narrative, they repeatedly break down and rebuild the ordinary. And amid this tightrope walk between joy and despair, their direction is toward the viewer standing here right now.


Participating artst : KIM Daum
Curated by KIM Sung woo
Text by KIM Sung woo
Design by KANG Joosung
Installation technician : Mujindongsa
Photo by CJY ART STUDIO (CHO Junyong)

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