Denial of Letters, Viewed as PerceivedKang, Seon-Hak (art critic)
Denial of languages could mean all-out negation of human thoughts, lives and culture. As Kim obliterates those letters one by one, they get translated into images. And deconstructing existing images and meanings, while shuffling between texts and contexts, gives rise to new images and meanings, negating conventional images and ways of lives, running through hidden meaning of lives, and paving the way for a great leap to a new life.
In a series of such blotting-out, what gets obliterated are always letters, characters which are not natural, but artificial things. Characters are the most artificial means of the human kind and also a frame work to interpret the world, which brings us to the double meanings found in this obliteration, i.e. not just the letters as a sign itself but the inherent artificiality get blotted out. And the traces get translated into images. The works that obliterates photos of newspapers and articles can also be understood in the same vein. Letters are a superior tool in understanding the world around us, but its superiority sometimes interferes true understanding of the world, as they define events, things, while getting in the way of further interpretation. Or they may even manipulate things and events at the hands of people who use them. Therefore, they should be understood just a paradigm, and not necessarily reflecting truth. Perhaps it is such awareness that urges Kim to keep obliterating letters in his works. Previously, his works directly dealt with current events, but the mode has evolved to take a more subtlety, by blotting out printed letters of such newspapers instead, which can be interpreted in the same context. Then, what would we eventually encounter if we kept deleting, blotting out the characters and letters we invented? It would be just a pure existence. What’s hidden and what’s revealed, and underneath the colors that hide them, we would be able to see their traces. And this is what the artist attempts to see and intended us to read, i.e. duality. As his works highlight such duality of language and visual images, the depth and width of the meanings in its shuffling between collages and décollages will totally depend on viewers who perceive them.