Berlin-based artist Christine Sun Kim (b.1980, California), who has been deaf since birth, explores the materiality of sound in work that connects sound to drawing, painting, and performance.
In the course of developing her own visual language, Kim has explored and employed elements from various information systems. By combining aspects of graphic and musical notation, body language and American Sign Language (ASL), she uses these systems as a means to expand what each is able to communicate and to invent a grammar and structure for her compositions.
Her performance work is central to her practice, and often provides the starting point for works on paper that display witty evocations of powerful sounds. Employing a wide variety of props, from the iPad, transducers, and audio speakers, to piano wires, helium balloons, and even her own breath, a whole range of sounds, vibrations and frequencies come into play. She is persistently questioning what she calls "the ownership of sound" and highlighting the parameters, social values and sets of rules based around that which is constantly present and yet invisible to us all. She writes:
"As I acquired American Sign Language and English, I became aware of my relationship with sound and its social currency. I identified the parameters of each language and how they interrelate with social behaviour. In part, my art practice is an attempt to shift my relationship to sound away from society's strictures; that is, rather than seeking approval for making what are generally perceived to be correct sounds, I produce and translate sounds based on my own perception. My desire to legitimate my perceptions drives my interests in linguistic authority, the process of translation, and the deconstruction of preconceived ideas about sound."
Kim has exhibited and performed in worldwide venues such as Sound Live Tokyo, Tokyo; LEAP, Berlin; Carroll / Fletcher, London; nyMusikk, Oslo; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; Recess Activities, New York; Calder Foundation, New York; the Museum of Modern Art; and MoMA PS1, New York. She has collaborated on sound projects with artists such as Devonté Hynes, Thomas Benno Mader, Wolfgang Müller and Alison O'Daniel, and has held residencies at the Whitney Museum, Haverford College, and Southern Exposure, along with Fellowships at TED and MIT Media Lab.