Krista Kim, the self-identified founder of the Techism movement-circa 2014-undergirds her process and seeks to encompass other artists working with tech within the Techism philosophy. "The contribution of art using digital technology will create a more connected and humane culture," Kim asserts.
Her pieces are abstract color-field images that find aesthetic antecedents in James Turrell, Mark Rothko and Robert Irwin. Digital prints on Pleximuseum, the works have the illusion of luminosity because the substrate is translucent.
"Techism is a response to the current trend where the majority of the human population is blindly following social behavior prescribed by new technologies, and no one is paying attention to the quality of human culture as a result of this adaptation. Many artists still debate the meaning of painting in 2017. I am not against painting, but I feel that many can set their paint brushes aside and begin exploring the future. I feel that this is a waste of precious human capital, as artists should contribute to the creation of future culture."
Folio Weekly caught up with this latest iteration of a painter of light ('light is the new ink' is her tagline), to dig into the Techism manifesto, Transhumanism and the threat of technology.
In your manifesto, are you riffing on [curator and poet] Frank O'Hara's "Personism"?
The philosophy of personism is not related to my manifesto. My manifesto is clearly defined by the unique period of history we are experiencing right now. This is the transition stage of human civilization from analogue into digital. We're in the middle of digital disruption. Eventually, artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfacing, augmented reality and biotech will change human beings to posthuman. Posthuman is a term used in Transhumanism. Transhumanism is the philosophy that technology will alleviate much human suffering and disease and create a better human civilization in the future. Humans will live longer, disease-free, with more enhanced processes of daily life that are enhanced through artificial intelligence and other technologies that make life easier, more proficient and peaceful.
Transhumanism is an interesting theory, but there can only be a peaceful utopia if the values of empathy and freewill are upheld and defended to the highest degree.
You say that the algorithms that drive humans' online life-and thereby our life-control our behavior making us less human, can you talk about how you see your work combating the egocentric nature of society and reasserting humanity?
Unfortunately, technology creates the greatest threat to control and manipulate the entire human race. As an artist and a futurist, I can envision how the human population can become dehumanized and culturally reprogrammed. In Techism, it is believed that the act of creation in the language of digital technology will preserve and perpetuate the values of empathy, freewill and freethought. Art unites us; it creates a bond for all human beings, because it is a pure expression of what it means to be human.
As an artist, it is my intention of creating a sublime, healing connection using digital technology. I am interested in creating healing, meditative light and sound installations like the one in Art Republic, for hospitals, museums and public spaces.
Currently, artists are stuck in a paradigm that looks to the past. Art is an institution that has also become archaic. Once artists en force begin to focus on creating culture for future civilization using digital technology, you will see a blossoming movement toward greater human connection and freedom of expression. Creating a culture that inspires empathy and freewill using technology is the goal, which also has a rippling effect in technology companies and engineers. Culture is like an ocean, and the ripple effects of art will be felt throughout society. It is important to begin advocating this message and to push the movement forward and to shift the current perception of technology. So far, we have only begun to scratch the surface. The possibilities of how technology can become a medium for humanity have not been explored to their full potential. I have exciting projects planned but it will take collaboration with tech companies to execute properly.
Do you frame your work in relationship to Walter Benjamin? [In 1936, Benjamin wrote, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," which tackled a shift in human perception in the wake of photography and film.]
I do not frame my work in relationship to Walter Benjamin. My work is influenced by Marshall McLuhan. I believe that McLuhan's theory-that the medium is the message-is extremely relevant today, and translates very well into every aspect of our lives.
Your manifesto calls for large companies like Facebook, Google and Samsung to invest in Techism ... but how do you propose to intersect with the individual on a more intimate level?
I am calling on major technology companies around the world to get involved in the techism movement because it is through their platforms that we can actually create meaningful work. Art is no longer a painting on the wall in a gallery. Art has become consciousness itself because the medium is the message. Our digital devices have become an extension of the human mind. We can reach billions of people at once, so why not have them integrate and collaborate and co-create on a whole new level around the world, transcending time and space? You may not see what I see because it hasn't been done yet, but these projects will happen. A new era of art is upon us.
You also mentioned an idea of digital humanism. Can you talk about this idea and is it-as you see it-a logical extension of Erasmus? [Erasmus of Rotterdam was a 15th and 16th century philosopher/theologian who valued individuals and critical thinking rather than dogma and superstition.]
I refer to human progress and freedom in the digital age. My concern is that we are losing a sense of empathy and freewill and freethought through our recent collective adaptation of new technology and social media platforms. In an age when people are more social on social media platforms than person-to-person, and algorithms control what we see and do. Techism was created as a response to this new threat to human civilization.
You talk about Facebook and other social media platforms. How does your work make use of these non-place platforms?
Our society is experiencing digital overload; we have become addicted to our digital devices. Capturing moments on our iPhones and posting them on social media to earn "likes" has trumped the actual experiencing of life. Social behavior has become egocentric with more value being given to virtual popularity, than personal reflection. As a community, we crave authenticity and self-awareness. But how can we overcome our digital overload?
Numerous scientific studies have proven the social, psychological and health benefits of meditation. And mindfulness is now becoming more mainstream as people begin to flock to meditation classes, wellness retreats and yoga centers. It is our belief that meditation and mindfulness is key to restoring balance within ourselves and our communities.
Japanese Buddhist monks built Zen gardens over 1,200 years ago to create a communal space that visually imparts a sense of meditativeness and mindfulness. Our communities need public art spaces that will do the same thing; spaces that allow people to decompress from the stresses of everyday life using the digital language of our times.