Revealing a deeper understanding of what sound means in our world, how it works as “currency” and “ghost,” Performance Artist Christine Sun Kim explores sonic media without the benefit of hearing. She finds how to make its presence more physical, to find greater dimensions of movement, and to make a personal connection beyond what most of us might find in the everyday sense. As she describes it to NOWNESS:
There are social norms surrounding sound that form our speech development and our way of handling sound with care. They’re so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without sound.
In a beautiful short film, you can watch her process in her studio, thanks to filmmaker Todd Selby:
Cult photographer and filmmaker Todd Selby’s latest short is a revealing portrait of performance artist Christine Sun Kim. Deaf from birth, Kim turned to using sound as a medium during an artist residency in Berlin in 2008, and has since developed a practice of lo-fi experimentation that aims to re-appropriate sound by translating it into movement and vision. “It’s a lot more interesting to explore a medium that I don’t have direct access to and yet has the most direct connection to society at large,” says the artist. “Social norms surrounding sound are so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without it.” Selby filmed an exclusive performance from Kim in a Brooklyn studio as the artist played with field recordings of the street sounds of her Chinatown neighborhood, feedback and helium balloons, and made “seismic calligraphy” drawings from ink- and powder-drenched quills, nails and cogs dancing across paper to the vibrations of subwoofers beneath. Working with sound designer Arrow Kleeman, Selby carefully choreographed the film’s ambient score to reveal the Orange County native’s unique relationship with sound. “Her work deals with reclaiming sound because it’s a foreign world to her and one she’s not comfortable in,” explains Selby. “I wanted the film to act as an artistic conduit for her to tell her story to the world.”
Todd Selby x Christine Sun Kim [Nowness.com]
I was once a speaker at DEAF, which stands for Dublin Electronic Arts Festival. Not thinking, I told the customs officer in Ireland that I was a musician attending the DEAF Festival. He had some cheeky comment. In this context, of course, what he took for granted can take on an entirely different meaning. If you have background in understanding accessibility and design, for people with different sense capabilities in vision and sound alike, I’d love to hear them. The world of sound technology most of us inhabit describes a very narrow range of expectations for vision and sight.