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Award-winning artist Kim Yun-chul's 'Evanescence': When art and science collide

All News 17:58 July 20, 2016

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- In the convoluted and mysterious field of science, some find irresistible artistic potential. Berlin-based composer and artist Kim Yun-chul is one of the leading artists in this front.

On Wednesday, SongEun ArtSpace in southern Seoul opens an exhibition of Kim's works titled "Evanescence" that focuses on the artistic potential of fluid dynamics, metamaterials and new materiality.

"When people see my work, they ask me 'What is it?' instead of 'What is the meaning of your work?'" he said when he met with reporters on Wednesday afternoon before the official opening of the show.

"I am thrilled to hear it because I interpret the question as a possible indication that I might have entered the phase that I always wanted in terms of art, which is, I don't want to be defined by words," he said.

"You can't grasp what I am doing by words. They are flowing, constantly changing and are not fixed. I am interested in a process, not a conclusion."

Last month, the artist was awarded the fifth COLLIDE International Award presented by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and its revolving partner. This year's partner is the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), a Liverpool-based organization that supports and exhibits art.

With the award, he gets a two-month, fully-funded residency at CERN in Geneva and one month at FACT in Liverpool. There he will study what he calls "Cascade," which "looks at the possibility of controlling the propagation of light through colloidal suspensions of photonic crystals," according to CERN.

Studying composition at Chugye University for the Arts in Seoul, he moved to Germany in 2004 where he studied audio and visual media.

One day in 2005, he took a photo of himself with a digital camera and renamed the image file as a Microsoft Word file. Then when he looked at it in Microsoft Word, he saw a lot of weird, incomprehensible characters. Fascinated by the transformation, he spent 12 hours a day writing them down in a big piece of paper. It took him three months to complete the project.

"It was like a watershed moment for me to turn my attention to visualization."

The exhibition shows ten works by the artist, including "Effulge" (2012-2014) where photonic crystals ascend and descend by the force of air pumped from the bottom, thereby constantly creating new figures and patterns inside the acrylic box. With the project, in 2013 he won Third Prize at the VIDA 15.0 Awards, the International Art and Artificial Life Awards designed to encourage the convergence of art, science and technology.

Also on display is his new project "Cascade" installed on the nine-meter-high wall of the exhibition hall. The latest, on-going project will be researched further during his upcoming residency at CERN.

Curator and colleague Park Jung-yeon, who's been working with the artist for four years, said "Kim creates materials by himself. You can't imagine how much effort is put into his projects. It is hard to describe the joy when you materialize the material that you thought would be possible only in your head."

In the run up to the opening show, the artist hasn't slept for three nights due to difficulties in containing the fluid material inside its acrylic container.

"My goal is to stabilize the project. The work is in progress. If you visit the exhibition tomorrow, you might see its change," he said, adding "I am fascinated by things unstable, its tension and dynamic."

The exhibition runs through Sept. 3.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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