latest update : 02 09 2019


It took me a long time to realise that sublimity is always accompanied by the feeling of pain. All this far, I have confused the painfulness of the sublime with the feeling of nostalgia—a nostalgia for things that I have truly loved on which I have spent countless hours. But now I have come to know otherwise.


For instance:

- Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, known as “Symphony of a Thousand”

- André Gide’s writings

- Michael Angelo’s Pieta


It would be far too strained to claim that the feelings that I encounter from these works are solely joy and pleasure. There has always been something behind these positive feelings. My love for them has also distressed me--there has always been a choking poignancy that suffocates me.

Felix Mendelssohn describes this phenomenon as “schmerzhaft angenehme Empfindung”, the simultaneous feeling of joy and anguish. Listen to the Symphony no. 8 by Gustav Mahler. The storming choir consisting of one thousand people almost bores the sky and tears my heart apart. Read André Gide, his extremely restrained yet rapturing writings. They resemble the sound of prayers. Go to St Peter’s Cathedral to see the Pieta, with the face of Maria that is extremely calm and peaceful yet bearing the biggest grief of all. In Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni”, the commendatore scene from Act II, when the Ghost comes down tearing walls and storms in anger: “Don- Gio-van – ni! A ce-nar te-co!”, it is a rather fearful moment, yet did you notice the mournfully soft and subtle tune that follows underneath, f – e – f – g ? In Beethoven’s famous Symphony no. 9, the part when “Ode to Joy” comes in, breaking the silence, have you seen the conductor, full of sweat, singing with the choir, conducting as if he will break his arms very soon, with a face full of joy, rapture, and at the same time terribly distorted with pain...

I seek to bring forth this combined feeling of joy and suffering, and to reveal the pain behind the sublime. 

JeeMin Kim 28. 10. 2018

현대 미술 작업을 하며 제 작품의 형태와 주제는 계속해서 변화해 왔습니다. 이 안에서 어떠한 공통적 맥락을 찾아본다면 이는 숭고의 양가적 감정에 꾸준한 탐구를 이어왔다는 점일 것입니다. 제 작품은 그 대표적인 소재에 있어 숭고의 양가감정, 서구의 고전 종교예술, 클래식 음악, 언어철학 등을 다루어 왔습니다.


가장 최근 1년 이상 작업 해 오고 있는 ‘움직이는 샹들리에’ 연작은 그 동안의 작업 중 유일하게 제 성장 환경을 표면적으로 이야기하는 작업입니다. 개인적 기준으로 특정한 ‘숭고’의 감정을 유발하는 요소들을 콜렉션 형식으로 모아 무대적 설치 작품으로 이끌었습니다. 펠릭스 멘델스존은 ‘즐겁고도 괴로운 기분’이라는 표현을 사용한 적이 있습니다. 제게 숭고란 환희와 고통을 동시에 수반하는 양가적 감정입니다. 이는 에드먼드 버크가 주장해온 불쾌에서 쾌로 전이되는 숭고와 일맥상통하기도 합니다. 저는 이와 같은 경험을 서구 고전의 고급 문화(high culture)의 어떠한 순간 들에서 경험합니다. 동양 문화를 배척하고 서구 문물을 우상화 하였던 보수적인 기독교 집안에서 자란 유년시절과 10대에 영국으로 옮겨 폐쇄적 기숙 학교에서 대성당 등을 옮겨 다니며 성가대와 클래식음악 활동을 했던 성장 배경이 이러한 현상을 불러일으킨다고 생각합니다. 이 숭고의 감정은 특히 그리움(nostalgia)의 감정과 크게 닮아 있었습니다. 하지만 여기에는 현대를 살아가는 동양인 여성으로서 백인 남성 중심으로 이루어졌던 고전 시대의 문화에 그리움을 경험하는 아이러니가 존재합니다. 이렇게 ‘움직이는 샹들리에’는 언제나 서구 고전시대의 일원이라 믿어 의심치 않았던 제가 처음으로 서양-동양 사이에서 본인의 시대적, 그리고 문화적 위치를 처음으로 고민하게 된 작업이기도 합니다. 호미 바바(Homi K. Bhabha) 가 제안했던 문화적 혼성 공간에서 제국주의 국가 문화를 향해 우리가 갖는 기형적 노스탈지아와 한국 현대 미술의 정체에 대해 장기적으로 연구하고자 합니다.


“After all, the chandelier has always appeared to me as the principal actor, seen through the large end or the small end of the lorgnette.” (C. Baudelaire) 


이 설치 작품에서 서구 고전문화의 산물이자 개인적으로도 큰 애착을 가지고 있는 오브제 샹들리에를 주제로 삼았습니다. 보들레르의 <Journaux intimes>의 한 구절에서 그가 샹들리에를 극장의 주연 배우로 여겼 듯이, 마치 무대처럼 꾸며진 배경 앞 샹들리에는 시리즈 별로 각기 다른 움직임을 반복하며 narratives와 감정을 전달하는 공연 속 배우의 역할을 수행하고 있습니다.

​김지민 02.09.2019





The aim of my research is to prove the potential linguistic function of art. In my previous works, I have attempted to expose the limits of natural language and to show how this boundary could be dissolved when art is recognised and employed as a form of language. I believe that art has the potential to become a grammatical language, by which the artist can transmit certain ‘unspeakable’ ideas. I also believe that the development of a practical method of communication in the language of art is possible, and I deeply aspire to be one of its developers.

Occasionally, after watching a great film, the afterglow dies out through the subsequent conversations: we cannot help but to come up with interpretations of the film, in the hope of finding a satisfactory and logical explanation of the director’s intentions and the deeper meanings embodied in the artwork. Susan Sontag calls this “the intellect’s revenge upon arts”. I have always felt an immense difficulty in explaining art in our natural language. Why does art have to be explained? Why do we always try to translate art into texts? It could sometimes be enough only with an artwork. Art itself certainly can convey to us information even beyond the limitation of our language. Could art be considered as a form of language? When people make conversation in daily life, we “know” the language to understand, not “interpreting” what others say. If we understand art itself as a language, with its peculiar grammars and unique expressive function, then it would be utterly superfluous and futile to explain or interpret an artwork.

My intention is to show that art is not a kind of artificial showmanship but an alternative language for us who have reached the limits of words. It is a language we have never studied or learnt, yet have embraced since our birth. It sometimes is more powerful and rather more forthright than our tongues. Socrates has suggested this ability of recognising language of art as a genius of artists. According to Plato, true artists are people who can discern the ideas conveyed in artworks just as we read ideas from a book. Moreover, most of the times they seem to be unaware of their ability to do so. We naturally absorb and acquire our native languages, and artists are no exception. In modern linguistics, the idea of ‘Universal Grammar’ (UG) advocated by Noam Chomsky states that the ability to acquire language is innate to every human being; we are born with the capacity to learn, comprehend and eventually use language. Analogously, I believe that each human being is endowed genetically with the innate capacity to develop a language of art, which has its own set of grammatical rules.

On conveying formless notions, human language is absurdly lacking and has its limits. Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his earlier work Tractatus Logico Philosophicus, claimed that natural language has a strict underlying logical structure, and draws the distinction between ‘sensible’ and ‘senseless’ propositions. According to Wittgenstein, only those propositions that correspond to possible state of affairs are meaningful. One implication is that only the things about the natural world can be meaningfully said; other things, such as art, religion, ethics and metaphysics, though they might have great importance to us human beings, are inexpressible in the sense that they fail to conform to the logical structure of natural language. He says: "No, not everything you desire to express in speech is expressible in speech: there is indeed the inexpressible in speech. The failure of your sweeping claim shows itself, and what you run up against in your failure is what we might call the mystical." Following Wittgenstein, many philosophers in the early 20th century began to hold the view that language is unsuitable for expressing elusive concepts. These philosophers thought that it was necessary to confine our language, so as to avoid ambiguities and confusions. I wish to advocate a new solution: instead of limiting our natural language, we use language of art to express these otherwise inexpressible things. Therefore art, the innate language, could be used instead to transcend the limits of ordinary language. Then the fundamental question is this: How could the transformation between metaphysical form and artistic language be made?

Langer has introduced the idea of a human as a “transmitter” and “transformer”. Within the process of an artist’s self-expression, an artwork is created as a result. This causes the percipient that reproduces an artist’s experience through art. A complicated psychological phenomenon operates between the creator of artistic language and the perceiver. Thus the relationship of the artist’s speaking situation and the response made from  the listener also is crucial, yet those two elements cannot be regarded in the same light. There is no certainty that our linguistic expression is also used by others with identical meanings that we have. An artwork is the best sign to find out about the artist’s internal experiences, yet it is extremely hard to draw the identical conclusion from others unless the creator speaks for him/herself. This as well is an irony of linguistic reproduction. If the artist and the listener fail to reach a consensus, how could we decide the correctness between those two? What is a successful conveyance? Is it necessary for the perceiver to gain the same result as the artist intended? Before understanding, ordinary language requires competence in a certain language. Artistic language might do as well for both the maker and the viewer. To make this perfect conveyance possible, it requires same level of capability for the receiver, as if we need to be fluent in French to understand French conversations. If all people have the same capability of understanding the language of art, then everyone would receive the same messages; that is to say, experience the same feelings that the artist attempts to express. However, I claim that the language of art is not a universal language; this innate language differs by individual artists. Therefore a successful conveyance can be achieved without an exactly the same understanding of the artist’s message; the level of understanding is to be compromised.

For practical works, I have been developing the methods of communicating metaphysical experiences. LPO Project, which I have performed as an installation work could be a piece of evidence. In this work, I have made the audiences to sit in a dark room with their eyes closed, and let them listen to Beethoven. A screen was projected in front of them. I used the fact that humans can actually detect light when their eyes are closed, more delicately than we expect. When we listen to music with our eyes closed, we always get to see a new kind of emotional painting in front of us. I have tried to deliver this elusive experience through the vision beyond their usual sight. Language and sound seem very different, yet they are in fact the same. Art, sight, and music: I believe all of these are essentially the same intangible language. My practical work until now has mostly been based on this idea. I gave, as an example, three types of artistic languages: poetic language, visual language, and sound language. In particular, I have tried to bring this sound language into artworks as I found the similarity of music and ordinary language very fascinating. The function of the language system is diverged greatly into vocal language and written language. This happens equally in music. Music is possible to be made into sound: the alphabets (notes) gather to make sentences and stories (music). It is also possible to write text (musical scores) as letter (notes).

What if I try to translate text into metaphysical form, instead of translating art into interpretation? As experiments, I have considered musical notes as alphabets. I have allocated a certain chord on each alphabet, and I have moved this into a manuscript paper. Astonishingly, when performed, it sounded like a proper work of music. To push this idea further, I have attempted several ways of making this music into installation work. I wanted to make this tune into a sound installation, but without any electronic equipment. The series of installations “Art as Language” with the shape of a Mobil consist of glass panels. Each glass piece is adjusted to represent each tune of the sentences. Glass panels (alphabets) create sound together (words), make sentences and eventually provide messages. 

JeeMin Kim 08 01 2018 

철학자 비트겐슈타인은 언어에 있어 “Speakable"과 ”Unspeakable"이라는 두 가지 분류를 둡니다. “Unspeakable"은 말할 수 없는, 즉 인간 언어의 한계로서 소통이 불가능한 부분을 말합니다. 우리의 일상 언어는 의도를 전달하고자 하는 많은 부분에서 그 능력이 현저히 부족합니다. 찬반 논란이 언제나 존재했던 주제이지만, 예로부터 많은 철학자 혹은 예술가들이 시각 언어보다 음악 언어의 우월성을 주장 한 바 있습니다. 우리의 일상 언어 체계는 크게 음성언어 그리고 기록 언어로 나눌 수 있습니다. 저는 여기서 일상 언어와 음악 언어 사이의 흥미로운 공통점을 발견하였습니다. 음악은 소리로 표현됩니다: 알파벳(음표)들이 모여서 문장과 문단(음악)을 만듭니다. 또한 음악은 글로 쓰여질 수 있습니다: 글자(음표)들의 조합으로 텍스트(스코어). <Art as Language> 작업에서 각기 다른 음으로 조율된 유리 판넬들(알파벳)은 함께 부딪히며 소리(단어)를 만들고 음악(문장)을 만들 것입니다. 언어 철학과 예술 언어의 관계와 예술을 일상 언어의 수준에서 탐구 하였을 때, 이 예술 언어의 효과적인, 혹은 성공적인 소통 방법에 대한 고민을 담은 작품입니다. 

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