Taeyoon Kim

MAAP Space, Brisbane

The emerging South Korean artist Taeyoon Kim (b.1982) has a specialist background in film and video. He studied live-action at the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles from 2000-2002, and in 2007 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. 

MAAP (Media Art Asia Pacific) is dedicated to showcasing dynamic media art from Australia and the Asia Pacific region. Accordingly Kim’s recent solo exhibition at MAAP focused solely on three of the artist’s recent video works. The exhibition, his first in Australia, gives prominence to the visual properties that characterise video as an artistic medium. He is disinterested in the conventional production structures of visual media, which emphasise the significance of the narrative element of video. Kim’s artworks are distinctive for their lack of narrative and sound. Concerned rather with ‘the flow of time, and uncertainty’ as integral components of video, his artworks hinge on the link between moving images. This produces ‘non-linear video constructions’ that, Kim explains, ‘Create a new sense of rhythm and draw attention to the physicality of the viewer.’1 

Mounted on the wall at the entrance to the exhibition space is 1204 (2014), a two-channel video work. Each channel plays on a random loop from one of two standard (medium sized and rectangular) television screens hung vertically side-by-side and just below eye level. The uncut footage captures the various entry corridors of an apartment complex, shot from the perspective of standing in an elevator moving between different floors. From this perspective the break between floors becomes visible. These intermittent black outs contrast against the view of the corridor, drawing attention to the flatness of the screen in real time. The unconventional vertical orientation of the screen draws attention to its three-dimensional sculptural form existing in real space. The tension created by the repeated shift between reading the screen as a two-dimensional and three-dimensional object is captivating. Furthermore, one is compelled to continue engaging with the video because there is no limit to its duration. A condition achieved by Kim through the random looping of each segment between the two screens, which disrupts the possibility for narrative.

To the right of 1204 is the entrance to the main exhibition space. Upon entering the darkened single space the colourful images emitted from the multi-screen installation, Steady Griffins (2014) is immediately captivating, and although concentrated on the left side of the space, the five-screen installation dominates the room. Three of the standard screens are mounted horizontally across two walls at varying heights. The remaining two screens are strategically positioned vertically on the floor, each supported from behind by a specially designed and fitted wooden box. Similar to 1204, the verticality of the screens draws attention to their three-dimensional sculptural form: a quality of the medium made even more obvious by the inclusion of a recognisable support structure. Noticeably, the supporting boxes are left open, exposing all of the technical components, including cables and media players. In addition the cables attached to all five screens are clearly visible running down the walls and along the floor to the power outlets. This is a deliberate and successful method of drawing attention to the unique material properties of digital media intrinsic to video.

Each screen plays random sequences from the popular animated television program ‘Family Guy’. However, this is not obvious as the content is visibly obscured and reduced to brightly coloured abstract moving images. Kim recorded the episode playing on his IPhone by using another IPhone on top. The multiple layers of videos in random loops create ‘coincidental rhythms’ that play with our sense of time and again create an unlimited duration.2 The sense of an unlimited duration is reinforced by the ability to move freely between screens, this encourages spending more time in the space and repeated engagement with the various elements of the installation. The lack of narrative—an accepted element of video that conventionally dominates and controls our reading of it—allows for random, independent thoughts and the ability to shift gaze and move independently throughout the installation.

Visible to the right of the entrance, in the same room as Steady Griffins, is Kim’s most recent work Clear Away (2016). Mounted horizontally, alone on a small wall, the standard single screen is positioned at just below eye level. While filming, the artist again, purposefully, creates conditions that produce interference and blotches. Similar to both earlier works, these abstractions deny the possibility of developing or associating any narrative with what is depicted. What is unique to Clear Away is that the footage presented is of one continuous shot, looped. Interestingly, it has the intended effect and works in much the same way as the random looping of video. It both suspends the duration of the video indefinitely and prevents a linear-reading of the work. 

Kim’s exhibition is as much about perceiving video as a non-linear experience as it is a unique deconstruction of the video medium. Moving through the space, the deliberate and considered selection of the works, their installation and the overall layout becomes apparent. When read together the works echo the non-linear structure of each individual video. It is this overall effect created by the exhibition that provides crucial insight into Kim’s practice, effectively showcasing his in-depth understanding of the significance and potential of video as an artistic medium. 

Taeyoon Kim, Steady Griffins, 2014. Five channel video, random loop, colour, no audio. Photograph Mike Richards. 

Taeyoon Kim, 1204, 2014. Two channel video, random loop, colour, no audio. Photograph Zoe Knight;

Taeyoon Kim, Clear Away, 2016. Single channel, colour, no audio, 7:24 looped. Photograph Mike Richards. 

Taeyoon Kim, Steady Griffins, 2014. Five channel video, random loop, colour, no audio. Photograph Mike Richards. 

notes: 

1. Seolhui Lee’s interview with the artist. Accessed 08/07/16: http://www.maap.org.au/exhibitions/taeyoon-kim-interview/

2. Ibid.