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ESSAY
Woo Young Kim
by Dr. Gerhard Bartsch &ndash\; Professor of Philosophy and Histor y of Art

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"The sound of water says what I think."
(Zhuangzi\, Chinese philosopher\, 4 th/3rd century BC)

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Wooyoung Kim&lsquo\;s photographic work has an elemen tary\, fascinating effect. Eschewing the allegorical\, they mean nothing be yond themselves\; and they have a special impact\, to which we will return later.

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Kim&rsquo\;s work consists in observing everyday things and their emptiness\, things which normally remain unperceived. In the deliberately graphic photographic work of Wooyoung Kim we are shown different aspects of nature\, from the microscopic world to the wideness of the "empty" ocean w ith no horizon. Captured with small rain drop craters or bubbles\, the surf ace we see in the image could belong to the moon or the ocean. Round-arched grinding traces displaying patterns like growth rings bleached by the sun suggest cut wood or rock. Wizened\, aged skin with rhythmic arch sections s uggests lived-through growth processes. In even smaller cut surfaces the ey e slides over sandy edges which appear like tranquil landscapes viewed at a distance.

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Moreover\, the photographs with sparse traces left on the wal l or in the water have the effect of a photographic record of a crime scene .

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The imagination-provoking power of stains on the wall\, of the fire in the chimney or the imagination-enhancing water courses and streams were we ll known even before Leonardo. But the great renaissance polymath from Vinc i intensified these stains and process-like appearances using them as an in spiration for\, and a material origin of\, art through their conscious repr esentation and by paying them particular attention. On top of this\, his ge nius consisted in making these natural processes into aesthetic objects thr ough his creative power. Genius or not - this phenomenon of using objects s uch as these to stimulate the imagination has since been confirmed and rese arched time and time again psychologically using a scientific model of enqu iry. It has\, for example\, been successfully employed in the Rohrschach Te st and other healing methods.

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The specific aesthetic effect of Wooyoung Kim&rsquo\;s photographs does not lie in symbolic heightening things but in existential and material references between them\, in an original "nakedne ss" devoid of atmosphere. This elementary\, natural process-like phenomenon cannot be caught with a western rational stance which seeks to reduce ever ything to a term. This attitude towards the world\, which separates itself from the subject and classifies nature as a system of external objects\, do es not lend itself to an understanding of the creation and passing of thing s natural - of which\, of course\, one forms part oneself.

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The ancient F ar Eastern view\, which understood nature as being identical with one&rsquo \;s own person\, has intuitively employed a different kind of access to the world. In ancient Taoism\, using the principles of yin and yang\, the pola r switch between being and not (yet) being in interconnectedness and interd ependence\, the experience of the world and of one's own person formed an o rganic whole. Tao means that which happens by itself\, the process of natur e or\, in a famous phrase of the time\, "the flow patterns of water".

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In Western philosophy there has\, however\, been a time when the ancient Ioni c philosophers\, such as Thales of Miletus in the 6th century\, raised the question of the origin of all that is and answered it without recourse to s upernatural powers. The primary principle was water on which\, we might not e\, the earth was presented as floating.

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His successor Anaximander of Mi letus asked the same question more radically in the first book of Greek pro se (coming after Homer's epics) and overcame mythical thinking with his ans wer that the boundless dynamic matter was the original ground for the macro - and micro-cosmos. The ocean\, he said\, was a remnant of the first total inundation and that humanity descends from fish.

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Returning to the work o f Wooyoung Kim\, in whose photographs there are actually but a few things t o be seen and they consist mainly of relics of traces of water and rain\, w e can say that if we possess this kind of questioning and open attitude\, a rich present of one&rsquo\;s own answers could be the unexpected reward.

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Postscript:
From Shi Tao: C omments on Painting\, c. 1700\, paragraph 18: "To complete the task."
Man receives the task of painting\, for the active and unconditional gift of himself in the face of mountains and water. (his comment)

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"Mountains and water are my task. Since the task is not far away\, I take the fact that they are controllabl e to be my task&hellip\;

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If a man can only see mountains as his task and cannot see water as his task then it would be as if one drowned i n a wide ocean and did not recognise its shore or if the shore did not know that there was a wide ocean. For this reason\, the wise man knows his shor e and when he drifts along on a stream he listens to the sources and rejoic es in the water."

DTEND:20131109 DTSTAMP:20140419T022809 DTSTART:20131024 GEO:34.0818892;-118.3827726 LOCATION:CMay Gallery\,8687 Melrose Ave. Space B226\nLos Angeles\, CA 90069 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Solo Exhibition\, Woo Young Kim UID:303478 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20131024T200000 DTSTAMP:20140419T022809 DTSTART:20131024T180000 GEO:34.0818892;-118.3827726 LOCATION:CMay Gallery\,8687 Melrose Ave. Space B226\nLos Angeles\, CA 90069 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Solo Exhibition\, Woo Young Kim UID:303479 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR