“Form of Life” Presented as Art_Lim Seong-hoon aesthetics, art critic

Form of Life” Presented as Art

Lim Seong-hoon

aesthetics, art critic



I. Wittgenstein said aboutform of life” in his book,Philosophical Investigations (Philosophische Untersuchungen). However, it is difficult for us to know what he means. That is because he doesn't use this concept by defining it clearly. Defining a form of life is difficult, nevertheless we could say that life is not a transcendental form, but a certain cultural form that weaved together like a net in human life. As widely known, Wittgenstein's philosophy is about language. In Philosophical Investigations, he said, “Imagining a language means that we imagine any form of life.” He also said, “People match up with each other in a language. This is not an agreement on opinions, but a consistency in a form of life." Although he mentioned the "language", even if the word "language" is changed into the word "art", I think it is still relevant. That is because imagining art means that we imagine a form of life. The agreements gained in art is not simply prescribed agreement, but the agreements as a form of life that a community makes, searches, and opens in the process of producing and enjoying art. When I carefully look into Kim Soon-im's works as a hole, I am reminded of form of life in the special context again. It was not by chance at all. In the form of life represented through Kim Soon-im's work, we can perceive the remarkable aesthetic features from the material choice to the subject. I want briefly to mention the features in this article.


II. Her work, <Landed Ocean-Oyster Land> recently installed in the building of the Incheon Art Platform is the work that shows form of life. That is because at a single glance, we can grasp her artistic attempt to represent the people's daily lives who led the life in the sea, that is, another land for them. I heard that the production process is not so easy for her, but at first glance, from the formative point of view, her work was surprisingly ordinary. I felt that the material and subject were connected excessively and the formative tension didn't properly implement in the utilization of objet. On catching a glimpse of the works from her earlier to later ones, we can figure out intuitively that she is much sensitive to the formative sense. And yet, in this installation work, she intentionally weakens the sensitive elements, and then she focuses on presenting form of life. Looking at the work again, suddenly it reminds me of such fundamental questions as: ‘What do you expect of installation art? What really matters is how life can be expressed into an artistic form. As Nietzsche emphasized that life is art and art is life at the same time in his middle and latter period of developing his thoughts, we can easily find such an equation.


III. Kim Soon-im started her career from the field of sculpture, but until now, she has tried various works not tied to specific genre or type, such as painting, sculpture, photo, image, performance, installation. So, what is the key point in her works across various genres and extended in various ways? It is her difficult pursuit of the aesthetics as form of life. It is more obvious in her environmental art developed in various ways for the past few years. Art is situated at the original place of potential, that is, the co-existence between human and nature. Her work shows this through art as an extended play.


IV. In her works, thread is used a lot as work materials. In fact, the thread plays rather a mediating role that makes the relation possible than its own existence. The thread links up one memory with another memory, and in a sense, it triggers reminiscence. It seems that she has a compulsive idea that if without the thread, all the world would be dispersed. If so, do we think the thread as a metaphor of desire for relationship? It's hard to think so. A piece of thread is actually made with the slender threads of different strands twisted and overlapped. Therefore, the thread, in fact, simply is not a formative indicator that orders, or implies the relation. In other words, the thread is the aesthetic device that leads the form of life not into a fixed form, but into a formative tension.


V. In her works, stone also appears frequently. The artist also records the stone collected in nature. In this situation, the stone becomes the elemental art material showing symbolically the relation between nature and culture. What's interesting is that she doesn't present any narrative through the stone hung by a thread or the stone on the floor. She named it as <I Am a Stone>. But in fact, the stone doesn't fly, and the stone can't become the artist, namely, 'me', either. The stone itself is the manifestation of meaning. We can translate the work that ties the stone to a string and adds a feather on the stone into the attempt that shows a double meaning of stone. Nevertheless, prior to an artistic practice, it first turns out to be just a stone. What appears in front of us is not the name of the stone, but the stone itself.


VI. Judging from what I have mentioned so far, you could mistake Kim Soon-im for the artist who does very abstract and conceptual work. But she really isn't such an artist. Rather, she is true to the fundamental and solid formativeness. Merely because she is more interested in leading the formativeness into form of life, her works look very different from the work that constructed sensuously. Her several works directly or indirectly shows the experiences gained when she stayed in many residencies around the world. What matters is that her life experience is not motivated by the curiosity about the unfamiliar things, but her attempt to extend another phase of life into art. The journey to get there, not here. It is her desire and struggling to experience more extended art aesthetically. But, eventually, what remains is useless, or vain traces. All those that have passed and left return to her workroom.


VII. She works as an octopus spreads its arms. In fact, when an artist makes one kind or another work, going after his or her heart, this situation is a huge burden for the artist, too. It is difficult for her to exhibit all the earmarks of her style. Nevertheless, she appears not to be greatly bothered with that as if her art is the work that makes her look around, search, record, and think. On this account, maybe I want to call him as an artist who implements form of life. It is not everything to present a refining power in a formative way. She always asks about why she has to do the work in the name of art, and she always reproduces the various aspects of life in the subtle, delicate ways, most of all, with the aesthetics of tension. She will not stop experimenting these attempts as long as she will not stop her work.


VIII. It is not easy for an artist to make art in the form that can be read in the social context. That is because art is subjective, and starts from the artist's personal sense. Nevertheless, as the aesthetics of Kant clearly emphasizes, art, within its subjectivity, can't go past the universality-not defined conceptually, but open artistically from the reflective point of view-that can be communicated with people socially and culturally. In other words, the most subjective art cannot turn its back on form of life that co-exists in the society. I want to sum up the core in the aesthetics of Wittgenstein and Kant that mentioned at the very beginning of this article as follows. Art is a play representing form of life that exists as a tension between subjectivity and universality. I didn't fully consider the formative feature of her works. Because these features are fully explained in the two work book published by her! What I really want to say is that her work is a play represented in this form of life. The artist who plays a beautiful game in this way will certainly be happy.



Lim Seong-hoon


He graduated from the Department of Aesthetics of the Seoul National University, and earned a M.A. and Ph. D. at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. He currently is an assistant professor (aesthetics, art criticism) at the Sungshin Women's University. Her main theses are as follows: Kann Kants Asthetik fur den Kunstgenuss der Masse?」「Aesthetics and Communication of Five Senses」「Ist die Kunst zur Philosophie geworden?-in Bezug auf Kants Asthetik und Dantos Kunstphilosophie」「City Beautification and Art: Some Critical Reflections on "Art on the Street"」「"Die Kunst bejaht.": Das Moment des Erhabenen in Nietzsches Asthetik」「Art and Publicity」「Environmental Aesthetics.