Some artists go to great lengths to bring together a space where their creativity can thrive, spending large sums of money (often while living on lackluster means) to create studios that allow for the freedom of expression, not just for themselves, but their friends and guests.
Whether it’s to create works of fine art, make music, build out-of-the-box items or to produce light shows that would bring our ancestors to their knees, finding the adequate space is not an easy feat. Musical instruments and recording equipment cost a pretty penny, fine art supplies seem to come and go as quickly as they can be purchased, and building lighting displays is an expensive artistic venture, involving heavy and delicate equipment. To do it all, though, is an artist’s dream.
This was a challenge faced by local artist Yun Kim, who has dipped his toe in perhaps every artistic pool one could name. Multifaceted musician. (Kim plays with the excellent Skinny Cooks.) Sound designer. Lighting guru. You name it. Anyone who's taken so much as a peek into his home would know — this man makes art. Kim’s completely converted his living space into a studio of multidimensional proportions, one that “reflects the artistic space” within his head.
A South Korean born in the Philippines, Kim moved to New York City after graduating high school in 1995, and there, he saw a world of art much different from any he'd known.
“What began my journey to drumming especially was my homeroom teacher in the Philippines who was actually from Dallas,” Kim says. “From there, it was living in New York City that opened my eyes. It was the ‘If you make it here, you can make it anywhere’ mentality. I was inspired by so many things and interactions between different art forms. One guy would sit on the corner and use doorknobs and other things to create instruments, and it was a beautiful musical artistic creation.”
It was when Kim moved to Dallas in 2000, however, that the professional world of art began to materialize before him.
“Everything started to make sense,” he says. “Everything I was learning and absorbing started to apply, and I started to make sense of it in a practical way.”
After meeting a group of friends in the gaming industry, Kim saw a pivotal movement in his creative growth. He began to take interest in design and the limitless canvas that technology was proving in the world of art. With his three friends Danny Rodriguez, Alfredo Silva and Micah Massman, he created a company called Who’s We Design Studios, where they began to break barriers in the world of design.
“We were honestly some of the first designers to break the mold as far as the possibilities of how you tell a story on the internet,” he says, bringing his hands up in a passionate and visual explanation of how they would add gaming-like effects to traditionally flat, digital images. “We were innovating the web design field when it was still simple, that Spielberg experience on the web.”
While still a hardcore drummer at heart, Kim’s work in design led to a physical manifestation that sparked an interest in light design. Before the growth of EDM, when highly advanced light shows began to gain mainstream attention, he was working with lasers and projection mapping to create light displays that reflect and symbolize a unique work of art. This new category of art has created a new facet in the modern art world, one that few have been able to master.
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“I was developing a process with projection mapping to create a sort of optical illusion with fine art, basically meant to enhance a work and bring it to life,” he says. Kim says he then began experimenting with notable Dallas artists like IZK Davies when Deep Ellum Art Co. opened.
“It was the perfect place for us to test out some of what we were doing and create something completely new,” Kim says of the venue.
It was through his work in projections that Kim fell into this fully encompassed world of art that he feels is so well-described by design. And finally, it has physically manifested itself in the creative space that is his home. Not only is his bedroom split into a full music studio, equipped with a drum set, various-sized bongos, endless lines of keyboards, synthesizers, string instruments — and, he has at least eight guitars — but he’s got all the necessities for the fine artists as well, to sketch, paint or create whatever it is that comes to mind.
On top of that, Kim’s made the walls a new kind of canvas through projection mapping. He’s mapped the entire upper layout of the room, from halfway up his 15-foot walls to the center of the ceiling. In doing so, the artist has brought his creative space wholly to life. So, whether you like creating art in a vortex of lights, beneath soaring stars or within the Great Barrier Reef, with the power of technology the canvas is limitless.