Soy Kim

Multidisciplinary Artist • Designer
Soy Kim is an artist who specializes in interactive works, driven by a deep commitment to introspection and societal awareness. Through her art, she explores the complexities of race, class, and gender, utilizing technology and emotion to ignite meaningful dialogue and introspection.

At the core of Kim's practice lies a dedication to social awareness and advocacy. Her art serves as a platform to amplify marginalized voices, challenge systemic inequalities, and advocate for positive change.
Thesis Faculty
Melanie CreanErnesto KlarAlexander KingGloria DuanAyodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde

엄마

My mom always said to do the exact opposite of what she’s done in her life. Never end up with someone like my dad, never put aside your dreams for others, never rely fully on a man, and never make your kids your whole life.

Through an immersive biographical interactive installation, I delve into the profound narrative of my mother’s life, encapsulating her journey through marriage, motherhood, immigration, financial hardship, and mortality. My artistic exploration is deeply rooted in a personal quest for understanding, sparked by the discovery of old VHS tapes and Hi-8 cassette recordings containing glimpses of familial rituals, cultural ceremonies, and candid moments from my upbringing.

As I meticulously sifted through this archival footage, I found my mother often at the forefront, her expressions a poignant contrast to the events unfolding around her. This observation ignited a relentless curiosity to unearth the untold stories behind her enigmatic gaze and to shed light on the intricacies of her experience.

In crafting this interactive narrative, my aim is twofold: to foster empathy and insight into my mother’s journey, and to provoke contemplation on the universal themes of family dynamics, cultural identity, and the human condition. By juxtaposing footage from 1990s Korean videos with snippets of American commercials from 1999, the year of our immigration, alongside quintessential American home videos from the 2000s, I seek to blur the boundaries of time and memory, inviting viewers to traverse the interwoven tapestry of past and present.

Central to the interactive experience is the element of facial detection and features recognition, which immerses viewers in an intimate engagement with the narrative. As participants interact with the television display, the story unfolds amidst glitchy interruptions, reflecting the fragmented nature of memory and the transient passage of time.

In one projection, I juxtapose quintessential early 2000s American home videos with footage from Korea in the 1990s, particularly focusing on events such as my paternal grandfather’s 70th birthday. This selection is deliberate as it illuminates the individuals for whom my mother dedicated her life, often overshadowing her own presence. It captures the essence of her role as a dutiful daughter-in-law and a self-sacrificing mother, navigating the delicate balance between societal expectations and the pursuit of what she believed would bring fulfillment — primarily, her dedication to her children.

Another projection displays my parents’ honeymoon on Jeju Island, presenting a seemingly idyllic narrative filled with the picturesque landscapes of the island and carefree moments of youthful joy. Through this portrayal, I aim to capture the allure of this romantic escapade, showcasing monuments of Jeju Island and the uninhibited enjoyment of its surroundings. Yet, beneath the surface of this apparent bliss lies a deeper exploration of the complexities within their relationship and the contrasting realities they faced upon returning to the complexities of everyday life. This projection serves as a poignant reminder of the multifaceted nature of love, juxtaposing moments of fleeting happiness with the enduring challenges of partnership and commitment.

The third projection presents overnight footage of my parents’ liquor store in 2001. The atmosphere is eerie, with empty spaces devoid of human presence, serving as a poignant metaphor for the unacknowledged hardships endured by my parents. This haunting imagery, created by an aged VHS tape, vividly illustrates the profound exhaustion and weariness that permeated their daily lives. Furthermore, it symbolizes the fleeting nature of time and memory, juxtaposed against the stagnant backdrop of financial hardship and trauma.

This piece prompts reflection on self-sacrifice and the complexities of familial dynamics and societal pressures. Through this biography, I invite viewers to contemplate the nuances of sacrifice, identity, and the evolving understanding of fulfillment over the course of one’s life journey.