Deaf from birth, artist Christine Sun Kim explores the social rules of sound

Christine sun kim is a sound artist. She sends vibrations of her voice along the strings of the piano stretched through the rooms and invites people to feel the strings. She conducts “silent choirs” composed of facial expressions and looks. And she writes musical scores, which in itself wouldn’t be surprising. Except for one thing: Kim is deaf.

Last June, Art Beat visited Kim at Artisphere, a cultural venue in Arlington, Virginia, where she was artist in residence. Abstract sketches of musical tones lined the walls, visitors interacted with a large visual projection, and a thick wire rope ran the length of the room.

By placing her fingers on a miniature transducer, a device that converts her touch into sound, Kim edits the audio tracks of her performances.

Kim has been deaf since birth, but from an early age she was keenly aware of the social norms governing sound. She was reprimanded for being too loud. She learned to stay quiet while people slept and to avoid making noises that others considered “inappropriate.”

But as she got older, she began to question these “rules”. During a visit to Berlin in 2008, she discovered artists who experimented with sound and realized that it could be a vehicle for her voice and ideas. So Kim began to explore sound art, and in doing so, her relationship to her missing sense began to change.

Kim had participants interact with sound in Oslo last year. Video of Siri and Sive.

“Now I’m freeing myself from what I’ve learned all my life,” Kim told Art Beat through her sign language interpreter, Mia Pennywell. “I look at sound from a new perspective of mine and find out which sounds I like and why I like them. “

She calls it “unlearning sound etiquette”. It has become a theme of his artistic mission.

Participants reflect on Kim’s “A Choir of Glances”. Video of UIC Free Art School.

On December 17, she was named Senior TED Fellow for 2015. Earlier this month, she delivered a audiovisual performances in Stockholm, Sweden. She also has a next one residency at the University of Texas at Austin, where she will create two new sound installations.

As Kim produces new works, her exploration of sounds remains deeply personal, she said.

“This is about my curiosity. It’s about finding out how sound affects things. It’s about my own closeness and intimacy with the sounds that I explore, ”Kim said.

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About Marjorie C. Hudson

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