Reconstruction of Landscape
Chung-Hwan Kho (art critic)
Clear vinyl pads and ultramarine blue are key elements that drive Yunsoo Kim’s work. It would be accurate to say that ultramarine blue conveys the concept of his work and the three-dimensionality represents the process of transferring that concept to a formative structure. Therefore, it is safe to say that different artworks are derived, and variations made, from these two different conceptual axes.
Among different forms of works by the artist, three-dimensional work has comparatively clearer forms and more accessible concepts. The artist uses the foot as a motif, seemingly inspired by her interest in the human body as well as the foot being an analogy for the road we walk in life. In the work, she cuts out the shape of a foot from a clear vinyl pad of even thickness, then places the foot-shaped cutout on another vinyl pad, in which yet another foot shape is cut. As the process proceeds, due to the thickness of the pads, the initial shape of the foot gradually becomes blunt, taking on a streamlined curve. When the vinyl foot-shaped cutouts are stacked on top of another, the first model—that is, the original shape of the foot—reveals itself at the top. Nevertheless, the traces of the footprints constitute the entire form, which therefore can be said to contain the trajectory of all the footprints as if they were a stratum in of themselves. In other words, they are trails of existence, prints left by a being after it passes by retained as traces.
These shapes are formed in such a way as to resemble footprints carved on the seashore or in the desert; like a sandbank formed from waves rushing in and out; a sunken shape left by the passing wind; linear patterns form at the point where the vinyl foot pads overlap, thus creating a layered structure that resembles the landscape contours of mountains, cliffs, whirlwinds or amorphous, kaleidoscopic clouds. In this way, Kim’s works begin with foot-shaped cutouts. Yet, when the foot is moving in all directions, it creates its own analogous scenery, a landscape of consciousness, or of the subconscious.
Although the artist’s work all begin with a foot, they recall the stream of consciousness technique (by writer Marcel Proust), given that the copies of the original foot cutout move in all directions, following the flow of consciousness as they transform in countless forms, and of the concept of formlessness (by writer Georges Bataille), given that there is no predetermined shape. In fact, the technique of stream of consciousness technique or the concept of formlessness is advanced, expanded, and deepened even more indistinctly, more tenuously, more ambiguously, more delicately, more deeply, and more poetically in Kim’s series of drawings—clouds, starlight, moonlight, waves, or in her books rather than in her three-dimensional work.
Ultramarine blue literally means “blue from beyond the sea.” Although there are traces of Orientalism and colonial imperialism indelibly embedded in the word, the artist remains intrigued with the meaning of the color. As a result, she has indiscriminately collected blue objects from beyond the sea, including pigments, clay as picture material, and objects. Then she paints, draws, and creates objects in blue from beyond the sea, depicting the sky, clouds, starlight, and dead quiet. Even her three-dimensional vinyl footpad installations are reminiscent of a transparent and deep blue. Would it be accurate to call her a voluntary enthusiast for the blue that is only found beyond the sea?
Meanwhile, regarding the objects from beyond the sea, Romanticism and metaphysics are also part of them. There are appendants of metaphysics that include the place from which beings come from and return to, death and afterlife, and spirituality and sublimity. The artist draws and creates these appendants. Beyond the sea are words that have yet to be written, words that belong to elements that have yet to be assigned, words that refuse to be signified, and words that are forcefully signified but whose meanings are distorted. Therefore, the vague, ambiguous, delicate, deep, and poetic words that are likely gleaned from beyond the sea are reconfigured in these works. In this sense, it is fitting to say that Kim’s process is a kind of plotting that matches signification (nothing outside meaning) and conceptualization (everything is replaced by concepts). That is, the artist is painting lines of flight from different desires. It is also safe to say that the artist is moving beyond the laws of space and time through her paintings, drawings, photos, objects, installations and their by products, scrolls, and painterly structures of folding screens, moving instantly to where space (and even time) is far away, deepening and ever-widening.
The artist’s latest works that depict humming (to sing a tune alone or murmuring to oneself) are poetic. In comparison with the predictable narratives found in novels, the space between a line is relatively broad. Therefore, it is safe to say that Kim’s work has structure and physiology that are non-deterministic, changeable, reversible. Although there are artworks with a self-contained structure, these works have an open-ended structure in which meaning is contingent upon what meets what and how it is placed. In semantics, a semantic body in isolation does not guarantee meaning, rather circumstantial logic creates meaning. It is not until a painting or an object is placed under a given circumstance that meaning occurs. Therefore, an object’s meaning changes when the situation changes. In this sense, rendering or directing (which includes conceptual and spatial directing) in a situational work should in fact be viewed as an alternative name for creation.
In this regard, it is possible to say that Yunsoo Kim stages concepts and space, thereby reconstructing a landscape. That is how the artist opens landscapes that look like a collection of poems. Not to mention the novel idea of a teleportable folding landscape (or a portable landscape, if the imagination is exercised).