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Life & Work with Junha Kim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Junha Kim.

Hi Junha, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I’m a digital artist making experimental digital images and animation with surrealistic 3d graphics. The very first 3d model I created was a simple wine glass in the ‘3D Modeling and Design’ class in my 2nd year of undergraduate school. Before that, my art practice consisted of collage animation with cutout digital images, but I was so fascinated by sculpting my original objects in digital space in that it showed me the possibilities of unconstrained world-building which could be the closest to my imagination. Also with 3d data, I could expand my pieces to various artistic forms by integrating them with experimental digital techniques such as generative algorithms, interactive programming, or particle simulation.

After finishing 21 months of my mandatory military service in the South Korean army, I got back to my 3rd year and decided to take experimental 3d image and animation as my primary media for the art practice. Since I’m a self-taught artist, In the rest of the undergraduate period, I tried to develop my own visual language and styles by exploring diverse methodologies of 3d modeling, texturing, and animating.

When I had to choose my next step after graduation, I wanted to develop my art practice in a community where embraces interdisciplinary and experimental art since I was a little bit frustrated by the somewhat conservative art academies of South Korea. Finally, in March 2020, I received an offer from the California Institute of the Arts, and I’m here in L.A. currently pursuing my master’s degree in fine arts.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I had to fight loneliness with my art practice. I mean, sometimes I had to encounter moments my works are outside the mainstream fine art world. It was not easy to find someone who had similar interests in artistic media I’m using among fellow fine artists since most of the 3d artists I met were mainly focusing on commercial design such as character animation, visual effects for films, motion graphics, or game production. It was inevitable for me to experience that fancy “CG(Computer Graphics) industry” since I had to check trending CG technology for developing my own methodology for art-making, but I couldn’t feel I was actually belonging to it. Being cautious not to show off technological spectacles, simultaneously I aspired my works to be appreciated like classical painting, sculpture, or film. My journey was paving my own way between classical fine art and cutting-edge graphics.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
With surrealistic 3d images distorting material, form, or context, my digital works questions ordinary images and experience. I’m skeptical of any concrete ideology and love to create mysteries and fantasies with experimental digital images. My art practice aims to visually confuse the audience and tries to blur any existing boundaries such as human/non-human/machine or reality/fantasy. Even my artistic media try to challenge conventional art genres by confusing viewers whether my work is real or digital, sculpture or image. I make digital images and also animation, so my works have been featured in film festivals and also art galleries like Japan Media Arts Festival, SIGGRAPH ASIA, and SICAF.

What makes you happy?
The inclusive and inspirational atmosphere here. I was so impressed by the hospitality people here showed me when I moved to California from South Korea in late August 2021. It was my first time living in the US and I was a little worried about settling down here as a foreigner since I’m not a people person. So far, however, every people I met here were so cheerful and nice to even strangers. Once, on the last thanksgiving day, I missed a train from Newhall to Burbank airport since I couldn’t get noticed the train schedule is changed that day and I was about to miss my flight to Michigan. Then at the platform, a gentleman named Henrique who missed the same train came to me and asked me if I need a ride to the airport. Thanks to Henrique, I could arrive at the airport on time and I was so surprised at his kindness to a stranger, which I can’t easily imagine in my hometown.

Also in the art community, I always feel artists here embrace and respect others’ works regardless of the genres. They enjoy sharing thoughts with fellow artists from diverse backgrounds and having a conversation with them brings me fresh ideas. I’m spending the happiest days with art-making in an encouraging environment with fascinating mentors and colleagues including my partner Joey, who is always supportive of my works and an inspirational artist with her surreal aesthetic which highly resonates with me.

Contact Info:

  • Email: digitalnogada.art@gmail.com
  • Website: www.Junhakim.com
  • Instagram: @digital_nogada

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