It is not difficult for me, an outside observer of the Korean art scene, to distinguish Kim Heecheon’s works from those made by his peers, a group sometimes informally referred to as Postinternet artists. Trained in architecture, Kim chose to work with moving image when he decided to become an artist. His videoworks often employ digital technologies – such as VR in Mumbling in Hell, Tumbling down the Well (2017) or Face Swap in Sleigh Ride Chill (2016) –and multiple narratives to depict the living conditions of our time, as well as contemporary ways of perceiving reality, approaching truth and dealing with personal emotion, all of which have been rapidly changed and formed by digital technologies.
On first sight, Kim’s work is technology-centric and often dominated by an architectural and urban-planning aesthetic. Yet upon further examination, one finds that his works are also rich in narratives and often employ various types of literature, by juxtaposing texts or stories recorded in different formats including private letters, live broadcasting and interviews. Kim’s work engages in world-building (which includes a regularly occurring alternative Seoul, as seen in his 2015 trilogy, Lifting Barbells, Soulseek/Pegging/Air-twerking and Wall Rally Drill), through which physical reality, digital facts (in the form of data or computer models) and human psychology interact with each other. In a similar way to artists like Harun Farocki and Hito Steyerl, Kim confers to his audience a world where the future has collapsed into the present, and in which its inhabitants are unable to reconcile with their new reality.
Kim Heecheon lives and works in Seoul. His videowork was on view this spring and early summer in a solo exhibition at Doosan Gallery, New York. He has previously shown in Doosan Gallery, Seoul (2017), and was included in the Istanbul Biennial (2017) and Kunsthal Aarhus (2016)
Aimee Lin is editor of ArtReview Asia
From the Summer 2018 issue of ArtReview Asia, in association with K11 Art Foundation