Yunchul Kim: GLARE: Seoul


19 September — 17 November 2019

Barakat Contemporary presents GLARE, a solo exhibition by artist Yunchul Kim, running from September 19 to November 17, 2019. Yunchul Kim studied electronic music in Korea and media art in Germany. Since his studies, the artist has been studying the essence of materials and using artwork as a way of showing their inherent dispositions. During his many years of analysing different materials, Kim has demonstrated the possibility for the imagination to create another reality that transcends the domain of human experience.


GLARE is both a realization of the artist’s imagined world of materials and a story about a dimension that exists before humans have established culture or become defined through language. To achieve this, the artist works to visualize different, unrevealed layers of the world through the organic relationship among machinery as “non-human agency”, human beings, and objects. Presenting the type of strange, surrealistic landscape we might find in science fiction, GLARE shares an experience of intense temporal and spatial collision. This quality stems not just from unfamiliarity in terms of the external aspects of Kim’s materials and mechanical structures, but also from the phenomena that arise as the materials and corresponding mechanical structures move and react in these spaces.


Over the years, the theme of coexistence between art, science and technology has been explored by many artists, scientists, and theorists. In the contemporary art of the 20th century, a number of different movements in art history were rooted in the technological revolution: Russian constructivism with its exaltation of mechanical civilization as a new image of society, Italian futurism with its application of mechanical dynamism to modern aesthetics, and the Bauhaus’ intermedia art with its integration of art, technology, and industry, to name a few. Since then, artists have continued experimenting in various ways with the relationships between nature and technology and between the human being and the machine. Recent years in particular have seen a burgeoning of reflective discourse encouraging a departure from the anthropocentric way of thinking driven by modern philosophy and science in the West. Yunchul Kim’s artwork could be seen as an exploration of a world that reveals its potential through a perspective that regards human, nonhuman, machine, nature, material, matter, and so forth, as equal agents, all active and interrelated in the world.


The world of the GLARE exhibition is created by fluids that flow rapidly amid slender, capillary-like tubes; materials that fluctuate due to unseen forces; substances that reveal their own colors and patterns; and materials that undergo behavioural changes, as powerful whirlwinds converge toward a single axis or substances repeatedly and rapidly rise and fall. As they relate organically with kinetic structures, these materials play an active role in a new form of creative process. The work Argos (2018), for example, is a 41-channel muon particle detector. It reacts with a flash each time a muon particle emitted by the universe is detected in the air – a mechanism that is carried over to another work titled Impulse (2018). Taking the form of a chandelier, Impulse is a work consisting of numerous cylindrical tubes that extend out like the hanging branches of a tree as clear fluid flows through them. Every time Argos detects a particle, it transmits a signal to Impulse, with the result that we can see with our own eyes the air bubbles and motion of the fluid running through the artwork. The new work, Chroma, is a large installation consisting of curved surfaces and a kinetic structure surrounding over a hundred 276 cells. Each surface is filled with hydrogel, a transparent material. As the surrounding kinetic structure moves, the materials’ different colours of light can be seen to organically emerge with subtle changes in the material’s shape as it reacts to this movement. Yunchul Kim’s works of art are not simply mechanical devices or materials with fixed forms, but non-human agencies that react from one moment to the next amid organic relationships with other artworks, human beings, and the world – so what we sense is not a fixed shape or a machine changing regularly according to some algorithm, but the flow of material and structure changing naturally within their spatial surroundings.


GLARE is a process of experiencing a dynamic world of fluctuating light and flowing materials, but it is also a moment where the suspended, unseen material aspects of matter are newly manifested through a sense of depth. The artist describes this as a “world of materials.” That world is a universe perceived through physical signs before any expression through language, one of an active interrelationship between humans, objects, materials, and matter. In presenting us with a new perceptual paradigm for viewing phenomena, Yunchul Kim’s artworks open up a new space for a sensory and contemplative experience into the world of materials. In experiencing the dynamic movement seen in the artoworks - the endless rising, falling and colliding - the viewer gains a new framework for visually receiving, perceiving and understanding these pieces. The world of GLARE becomes newly realized when viewed not from solely a human perspective, but also from a material perspective.


Yunchul Kim

Yunchul Kim is an artist, an electroacoustic music composer, and the founder of Studio Locus Solus in Seoul. His latest works are focusing on the artistic potential of materials, metamaterials (photonic crystals) and especially on the context of magnetohydrodynamics. His works have been shown internationally including: CCCB, Spain, FACT, UK; ZKM, Germany; Ars Electronica, Austria; International Triennial of New media art, China; VIDA15.0, Spain; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany; Transmediale, Germany; and New York Digital Salon, amongst others.


Kim was the winner of the Collide International Award 2016, CERN, and was awarded the third prize at VIDA 15.0, Vida Foundation in 2013. He has received grants from renowned institutions and organizations such as Ernst Schering Foundation, Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art. Having taught in several academic institutions, Kim was chief researcher of the research group Mattereality at the Transdisciplinary Research Program at the Korea Institute for Advanced Study. He is a member of the art and science project group Fluid Skies as well as Liquid Things, an artistic research project at the Art and Science Department of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria.