Cult photographer and filmmaker Todd Selby’s latest short is a revealing portrait of performance artist Christine Sun Kim. Deaf from birth, Kim turned to using sound as a medium during an artist residency in Berlin in 2008, and has since developed a practice of lo-fi experimentation that aims to re-appropriate sound by translating it into movement and vision.
“It’s a lot more interesting to explore a medium that I don’t have direct access to and yet has the most direct connection to society at large,” says the artist. “Social norms surrounding sound are so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without it.” Selby filmed an exclusive performance from Kim in a Brooklyn studio as the artist played with field recordings of the street sounds of her Chinatown neighborhood, feedback and helium balloons, and made “seismic calligraphy” drawings from ink- and powder-drenched quills, nails and cogs dancing across paper to the vibrations of subwoofers beneath.
Working with sound designer Arrow Kleeman, Selby carefully choreographed the film’s ambient score to reveal the Orange County native’s unique relationship with sound. “Her work deals with reclaiming sound because it’s a foreign world to her and one she’s not comfortable in,” explains Selby. “I wanted the film to act as an artistic conduit for her to tell her story to the world.”