IN VISIBILITY en 2012
Sangjin Kim is concerned about the system of human cognition in relation to semiotic perspective. To exemplify his interest, he creates various works using language, sound and time as the main means of representation. In the second project of Situated Senses, he expands the range of his concerns to the issue of space. In the instability of signifiers in the signifying system of language, he has discovered a similarity between language and space. According to his idea, space itself is as empty as a vacuum before it is filled with certain contents, which identify the space. That is to say, the intrinsic attributes of the space are determined by the particular criteria used for classification in the society. For him, the individual cell space, which is isolated and excluded from society, is the conflictual site of power and social control. It means that a void space is determined and identified by a certain type of governance, power, knowledge and other social-political agents. In this aspect, the cell space becomes ambiguous in that it is not only neutral but also subject to forms of governance. In addition to this concept, he also problematises the instability of law, which is based on written language and is liable to be changed due to social changes.
In Kim's work IN VISIBILITY, he installs a unique device to visualise the instability of socio-political classification by statute, which relies on written language. The device consists of two parts: the upper part of the work is designed to print out edicts of British criminal law on the surface of the water, while in the lower part the printed law dissolves into the fluid. Try as they may, the audiences can never read the law because every words printed on the water is immediately dissolved and disappears into the framed water tank. The moment of dissolution asks a question of the audiences about the validity of division. In addition, the text of the law printed on the water surface is revised as time goes by. As ambiguous as the characteristics of the cell space itself, Kim questions the absoluteness of the written law and its flexibility, and goes even further to control power to question power in the society. Furthermore, he adds spatial tactics at the entrance of the cell to symbolise a form of governance. As to the notion of spatial tactics, Low and Lawrence-Zúñiga define it as 'the use of space as a strategy and/or technique of power and social control' in their book The Anthropology of Space and Place. This is also reminiscent of Foucault's thought on the relationship of power and space by positing architecture as a political 'technology' working out control and power over individuals, which makes each individual a 'docile body.' Regardless of its environmental considerations, Foucault describes the materiality of a prison as an instrument and vector of power, a technology of power over the body. Under the control of spatial tactics devised by Kim, the audiences can never secure a clear view of the whole space or even enter the cell. This is because the door is blocked by the glass tank full of water and sparsely screened by timber. Allowing only a limited, obscure view of the cell, he casts doubt on the reliability of social norms, which are human inventions and control the society. The whole process of Kim's work allows the cell to exist on the line of demarcation between being neutral and that of being governed, helping to recall the title of the work, IN VISIBILITY, a state of being visible but also invisible at the same time.
Jungin Hwang ( a curator of Situated Sense 02: 30cm of Obscurity)