Olivier Lapidus’ final collection at Lanvin, the oldest of France’s fashion houses, was, in part, a unique collaboration with Techism founder and artist, Krista Kim. Using technology to manipulate light, her meditative works become an immersive experience – one that is at once at odds with our technologically consumed culture and yet adaptive to it. RAIN speaks with Krista Kim about her inspirations, Techism, and the Lanvin Fall/Winter 2018-19 collaboration. Explore the runway images and select works in the gallery below. Images courtesy of Artist Agency. Interview by contributing editor, Joel Mojica.
RAIN: Hi Krista, where are you at the moment?
Krista Kim: I am based in Toronto and I frequent Paris and NYC for project planning and production.
R: Tell me about Techism and your interest in the merging between technology and art? Is there a manifesto? Any other collaborators in the movement?
K: Our digital revolution is like no other revolution in history because of its scale and speed of disruption. The adaption of new technology and social media platforms has created sweeping changes in our global culture, and there has never been a more crucial time for artists and philosophers to adapt, to create and to influence culture. Algorithms are controlling our interactions on social media platforms, and a vast culture of sharing and liking has created an narcissistic and egocentric society that is lacking in humanity and connection. It is our very “connectedness” on social media platforms that is diminishing real human connection.
Artists express humanity in their work. The contribution of art using digital technology will create a more connected and humane culture, which will affect how our society chooses to use and innovate digital technology for the future. It is the demonstration of possibilities and expression of free thought, using digital technology as a tool for humanity, that will create a more balanced culture. Techism is a movement that recognizes technological innovation as an artistic medium, and encourages artists to promote digital humanism in the formation of culture.
Collaboration, co-creation and dialogue with engineers and technology specialists is key to this movement, because we are in a transition phase between the institutionalized “painting & sculpture” tradition of artistic expression, into digital. Freedom of thought, individualism and equality in a future of digital disruption and technological advancement is important for the future of humanity. I recognize the unique challenges that society will face from social media platforms, algorithms and AI in this new and uncharted future and we choose to express connectedness, humanity and transcendence at the forefront of technological innovation through collaboration, dialogue and freedom of expression.
Our future is unknown, but we are aware that hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, brain computer interfaces and the opening of the space frontier. The importance of Techism, and its influence on humanity is crucial, now. It is imperative that companies who are ushering in this new civilization such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and Neuralink, recognize the importance of creative human expression, and support the Techism movement for the preservation of a free-thinking society, and cognitive transcendence of highly organized and complex digital constructs that will connect human consciousness on a level that will forever transform our world and human existence. Empathy, humanity and rational free-thought must thrive in our future. The creation of a free, humane and great digital civilization is our core belief and vision. My manifesto is available on my website: www.kristakimstudio.com My recent collaboration with Lanvin was premised in Techism.
R: Would you consider yourself part of the Post-Internet art movement; the movement which advocates the use of both online and offline methods to engage with digital culture?
K: I am philosophical in my approach, which is why I was compelled to start the Techism movement. Greater questions about the future of humanity, spirituality and how art impacts the creation of a new digital civilization, these questions motivate me.
R: We are all much more visually driven today than ever before, however, many agree the sea of information in which we live in today has shortened our attention span, do you agree?
K: Younger generations were born into this matrix of social media and they must deal with complex issues pertaining to self-identity, digital addiction, depression, isolation, human/cyborg interfacing, surveillance capitalism… the threat to the core identity of being human is real. Democracy and free will is not inherited—it must be defended with every generation as it is easily swept away by an invisible matrix controlled by powerful companies of big data mining and algorithms that control human behaviour in scale. We are currently at the mercy of algorithms and software design, which is why I am compelled to promote Techism.
R: Our world is now filled with digital products which we consume the same, do you consider your art a digital product or a physical one or both?
K: I believe that art in the digital age is consciousness itself, and it is collaborative and co creative. My art is digital, and it can be presented through a screen, or produced in Pleximuseum (my unique production method). My intention is to create a meditative experience for the viewer. Very soon, the screen itself will be obsolete, and we will be communicating through computer brain interfaces or wearables.
R: You are currently working on public art installations – can you tell me about that?
K: I created a sound and light installation called “8×8” in collaboration with sound artist, Tenille Bentley. It consist of lights animation on huge LED screens 13 meters large by 3 meters high. Public watching it will get special emotions out of it. It’s very meditative, relaxing and positive energy. This installation was done in America first and will be in Paris this summer, NYC and we have plans to expand the installation to major cities worldwide.
R: You describe your work as transcendental or visionary, has anyone ever compared your work to Mark Rothko?
K: I believe a true visionary embraces disruption and innovation to improve the world. I prefer not to be categorized. My process and my philosophy came from years of independent exploration, personal introspection and process. I am honoured by the compliments, however any comparison to Rothko in the media is unintentional on my part.
R: How did the collaboration with Lanvin happen? Have you always had an interest in fashion?
K: My agent, Mikael Kraemer, founder of Artist Agency introduced Olivier Lapidus to my work and he approached me last October to begin a collaboration for Lanvin. He is a part of the Techism movement. We together chose five of my artworks from my portfolio, and I entrusted him with creative license. I was very honoured that Lanvin, the oldest French couture brand was inspired by my work. They will celebrate soon their 130 years anniversary.
R: How was it seeing your work as a static digital image like on social media? Does that represent your work or add a layer of artistic intent in some way?
K: My work involves a dialogue about social media and it’s far-reaching behavioural implications on culture. I was discovered on Instagram and I started my account in 2015.
R: Tell us about the process of how your works are made and how they were applied to leather goods and ready to wear?
K: I am capturing light, my caption “light is the new ink”… I used to paint, and now I have transferred that same artistic sensibility into digital. I am self-taught. It took me four years to master my current technique to create the current artwork that you see today. I also am pushing the boundaries of digital production of fine art.
The technology that I use to produce my work is only two years old, and I was the first and still the only artist to engage this technology to create fine art using the vibrancy of color “pop” and visceral expression. The pigment applications, the Pleximuseum material, the technology, my style of creating artwork and the visual language. My artwork is an expression of what is creatively possible in digital algorithm painting in our current time.
The five artworks selected for LANVIN were from my portfolio. I created one new artwork No. 33 v.65 for the LANVIN Fall Winter 2018/2019 fashion show, but the other four pieces were selected from my inventory dating between 2016 and 2017. LANVIN selected the pieces based on the traditional color palette of the house of LANVIN, namely gold, red, beige, grey, black and blue. Their choices of the artworks were based on the seasonal colors and traditional color palette of LANVIN.
R: Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
K: I am in love with the entire collection! I definitely would be pleased to wear everything including the amazing PVC jacket, the black to blue gradient pants, and the incredible gradient gown. I love them all, it’s hard to choose between your children. The bags are fantastic! The shoes too and scarfs will be very convenient. I am looking forward to autumn, when the collection is launched during September.
R: Are there any artists (light artists or otherwise) that you admire?
K: My references are Rothko and James Turrell. I also very much admire Robert Irwin, Olafur Eliasson, Mary Corse, and, of course, Korean artists such as Nam June Paik and Lee Ufan.
R: You’ve lived all over the world, do you have a favorite city? Do various places inspire you?
K: I am extremely lucky. I have lived in so many places around the world, I am very grateful for each culture and friends that welcomed me from Toronto, New York, Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo. I am happy everywhere in the world, there is so much to learn from everyone… I love traveling and discovering things. For me, I see art as the highest expression of spiritual enlightenment.