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BlipTalk with Jean Y. Kim


Jean Y. Kim loves live visuals. She is especially fond of creating and mixing low bit graphics and patterns using some GP2Xs and a Game Boy Advance.  Drawing from an eccentric range of influences that include Robert Ryman, Edie Sedgwick, and http://www.asciipr0n.com/, she works to create an environment in which light and pixels can organically interact. Now that she can cross Blip Festival off on her list of life goals, Jean intends to leave the GP2X and GBA behind and provide visuals for the next Spice Girls reunion tour. Or The Sugarcubes, whichever comes first.

Blip: Before you began doing visuals, where you into doing any different types of art or music?

Well, I am currently in my last year of art school so I spend most of my time in the darkroom printing photographs or in the studio making “art”. I also have some design experience, even though I’m not actually very good at it, typography is difficult!

Blip: How did you first become aware of the possibility of visuals, and doing them in the style that you are doing them now?

Towards the end of 2007, I first started learning different programming languages and it just so happened that my friends in this band, Anamanaguchi were playing this festival Blip something or other. That was really the first time I really saw not only how coding could be used to make its own kind of beautiful imagery but also how a musical show could become something so much more special and dynamic with the right kind of visual component (and not something cheesy like a Ken Burns style montage at a Spice Girls concert). I was so stoked about that I set two goals: make my own visuals and one day play Blip and become so cool that Joseph Gordon Levitt calls me and asks me to be his girlfriend. Two years later, one out of two is not so bad…

As for my own VJ style, it is totally derivative of and influenced by my “big brother” Paris Treantafeles. I mentioned to him in passing at Blip 2008 that I was interested in making visuals of my own someday and he just pulled me into it, from setting me up with different hardwares and softwares that I still use, to asking me to play with him, to letting me be obnoxious about pressing different buttons on the mixer. I think that by now, I’ve been able to make and program graphics unique for me, but the approach and attitude is very much Paris’s. If it wasn’t for Paris, I definitely would be at home twiddling my thumbs in front of a Processing patch. Or pretending to make something in Processing but actually watching Brick for the zillionth time.

Blip: How does your background influence your current work?

I think that because I don’t come solely from a coding background or a design or drawing background, I have a tendency to mix graphics and colours that I think are somehow conceptually connected or just look good together even if the processes get a bit messy. I think stylistically, I do tend to take a designer’s approach to each set, where I’ll try to make things that are specific to each musician, as if they were a super easy going (most of the time) client who need another outlet to increase their personal brand.

Blip: Where do you see yourself in the greater chip music/art/visualist community?

Inside the greater chip/music/art/visualist community, I feel like the little sister who got to tag along with her big brother and his friends when they went to the movies. She feels cool because his friends are nice to her because they don’t want her to go back crying to her mom and get her big brother in trouble, but feels really young and awkward when they start talking about things like high school algebra and puberty. Also, they think she’s kind of weird because in the car, she made a wedding between her Transformers figure (Optimus Prime) and Dr. Barbie doll.

Blip: Who are you most excited to see at blip? Why?

I’m super super super excited about seeing The Hunters, I’ve been a fan of Coova for a while and this new project of hers sounds rather spectacular. Also, I just can’t wait to see what Rosa Menkman pulls out, I think her style and approach are incredible but it’s basically impossible to experience visuals from abroad so I’ve been dying to really see what her live set looks like.

Blip: Where do you see your progression as an artist heading? Deeper into your current style, or perhaps something different?
I try not to think about that too much because it never goes the way that I think that it will, and no matter what it’ll be a result of my work so I’m sure it’ll all look basically the same. For now, I think I’ll try to get more into the different mediums that I’m currently working with, hopefully I’ll find a way to combine all of them in an interesting way and maybe even develop my own VJ app! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, ozone layer and economic crisis first…

Jean Y. Kim is performing visuals on all three days of blip. More info here.

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