The Multiple

Dong Yoon Kim, Hays, from Memory Series, 2009

“In today’s global society, we are continuously exposed to a multitude of cultures that bring up endless questions of identity which cause us to compete harder and harder to maintain our sense of being” (PQ, 20).

In this image, at first glance, we see what is a very clouded, black and white landscape. The image is obviously that of either multiple exposures or multiple negatives piled into one. As we navigate throughout the photograph, we see such impossibilities as there being a sky that grows out of the sky—with leading lines that pull your eye into the middle of the photograph where we seem to be in something resembling an agricultural field. When I first saw this photo, a few years ago now, my snap judgment made me think that these were bison or some other form of animal in this field (later proving Kim’s idea of the human narrative). However, even looking at the title of this image, we find that these are hay bails; even though even looking closely, it is hard for my eyes to believe it.

Through the layering of these images, Kim tries to emphasize the importance of individual circumstances and the role they play in the instability or unreliability of the formation of memory. With the specificity on both direct and indirect memory, he discusses the hazy narrative that we can form over time. “Even though I have lived in various places, after a period of time I have become unsure of specific details which are related to where those events took place yet I am aware of the when in which they occurred” (PQ, 20).  I think this is an idea that we all can relate to very easily. I, for example, have lived in quite a few cities within the past six years, some for fairly short periods of time, and it is difficult to have one clear-cut memory of a place or a space in which I inhabited. I think even more so with my hometown, in which I lived for 19 years. How is that memory formed now? What parts do I chose to remember? How, in my memory, do I choose to navigate that sphere? Which parts are emphasized, where is importance given, maybe most importantly—what parts did I choose to forget? We all, in continuous retrospect, form a narrative about our lives. We are constantly editing our memory to form some grand narrative because we as humans feel the need to view our lives as having importance outside of our own temporality. “By ‘stacking’ each image, a new spectacle is created and the circumstances are compressed—this process freezes the moments I capture and intervenes with the indexes normally experienced from viewing a single vantage point” (PQ, 20). It is important what Dong Yoon Kim is doing here in his work. The ability to step outside ourselves and look back at our own learned practice is something not every person, or even artist, is willing to do. Realizing that these ideas lie within us, and not merely in the other, can be the origin of some very powerful introspective art.


Kim, Dong Yoon. “Dong Yoon Kim- Memory.” PQ 2009: 20. Print.

Kim, Dong Yoon. Hays. 2009. Photograph. The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY.


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