Shelf Life, Published by Werkplaats Typografie, 2017

A publication with thoughts and texts and images by Jin Kwang Kim (and Paul Elliman), book designed by Adriaan Van Leuven, 2017, BUY


My work falls between a twin interest in spirituality, which can refer to the search for meaning in present life, and spiritualism, which often refers to a communication with a non-living spirit world from the past or the future. Both terms are formed from the word spirit, which itself derives from Latin spiritus “breath”, and therefore usually relates to non-physical substance in contrast with material things or the corporeal body. This allows me to follow my interest in language and graphic design as something that exists in both material forms and as part of a more ethereal or metaphysical spirit of life.


My research begins from a series of instinctive personal questions regarding the world in which we live. A world and a way of living that increasingly require us to disregard personally held and often contradictory distinctions between, for example, truth and value, citizenship and consumerism, even time and space. More and more I begin to consider alternative paths through the imposed structures of our so-called modernity. And to search for other ways to think of language, and via language, to rethink my relationship to the material world. Certain philosophical concepts that I find useful in my research include the noumenon, which recognises that things exist beyond our awareness, knowledge and use of them; atemporality, and the notion that things exist according to their own time or sense of genealogy; and dematerialisation, which carries with it the suggestion that the world and its surplus of objects might be better perceived through other kinds of values and belief systems, including those of theology, mythology and the teachings of Zen Buddhism. My work has been motivated and shaped by different interests in the conceptual background framed here. It has provided a structure loose enough to trust my own feelings and approaches along a path guided by many influential spirits that will no doubt continue to influence and inhabit my work.


To be alive is to find yourself between an old world and a new world, a constantly emerging world. Perhaps everyone who ever lived did so under the pressure of that feeling. Yet our time seems more than ever characterised by the saturation of things, images and information. All of them able to reach us at almost any given moment. So much so that it is easier to feel overwhelmed. To feel that there is no longer any actual substance to the world, only a vast simulacra of life, and ones own sleeping subjectivity within it. But as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche forewarned, the somnambulist must continue to dream in order to find their own way through a world that is otherwise an impenetrable cloud, fixed solid in its pre-existing ways. Nietzsche believed that ideas are also a form of life itself, and that established concepts and thoughts are there to be challenged and even destroyed as part of life’s process of constant renewal. Others later counselled that ideas, as much as anything else, made us. The writer Marcel Proust suggests that there is no subject only a mysterious impulse to decode the different symbols of a text in which specific expressions of thought correspond to each given symbol. Walter Benjamin pursued the logic of this as a simultaneous expression of thoughts and emotions rather than as writing in any classical sense. Seeking to abolish imposed distinctions between thoughts and ways of communicating them Benjamin developed a fragmentary form of writing using direct quotations, personal notes and openly unresolved ideas in ways that always acknowledge a reader’s own space to participate in the thoughts being offered. The reader is always a participant in the text, a co-author, an interpreter and finally a re-author of it. The many authors that have informed this text are alive within it. Even better to have readers to receive some of the signals and to continue its resonance that way.


Within ReasonI love the quietness and stillness of a room. The sound of our movements broke the silence of the room. But having no prospect of progress, no value, all I had was a series of nothing jobs.  What are you laughing at?  Oh, nothing, sir.  Not anything?  No single thing. All kinds of things. All things. Not anything. I said nothing. Is that a mistake? Surprise nothing. Translate nothing. Translate nothing to Azerbaijani. No Azerbaijani translation found. Time for nothing. No, no time for nothing. But I have time for nothing. Nothing Facebook, nothing Wikipedia, nothing YouTube, nothing music, nothing song. Translate nothing to Hindi: kuchh bhee to nahin. Nothing, like silence and emptiness, can be negative terms in our world of noise and excessive production. For some people the opposite applies. Notions of silence and emptiness provide active channels to a world that engages itself. And us with it. I wanted to follow a path that might help me to explore the Buddhist philosophy of ‘as it is’ or Tathata. I wanted to find a sign for the elusive 'thingness’ of all moments, spaces and objects. That these ‘things’ might convey their own unknowable-to-us subject like a natural shadow stepping away from its artificial referent and become the air. But how about something? Something’s happening. You want me to say more something. Something between amusement and regret. We read something. Some thing. Choose something else. Choose something. Say something else. Something else. Some thing of an object, a thing, a being, a substance, or something. I am something but you really are quite something else. You have something. A flash. A fascination. Magnetism, sorcery, chemistry. Magic. Beauty. Body. Stuff. Material. Something. Stuff. World. The hand one is dealt is sort of enough. Enough things. Translate enough to Korean 충분히. Pretty much, quite some, more or less, being, somewhat, sort of, temperately, gently, quite a bit. P.E., 2017




A Great Opening (The Box)

Exhibition, Installation & Performance, June 2017


The World of Silence

Film1: objects briefly seen and then covered by white sheets of Furoshiki, Film 2: light and shadow, June 2016,


Silence and emptiness can be negative terms in our world of noise and excessive overproduction. In Buddhism the opposite applies. Notions of silence and emptiness provide active channels through which the world can begin to engage with itself, and us with the world. I wanted to develop a project that might help me to explore this Buddhist philosophy of ‘as it is’ or ‘Tathata’. I wanted to find a sign for the elusive 'thingness’ of all moments, spaces and objects. That these ‘things’ might convey their own unknowable-to-us subject, like a natural shadow stepping away from its artificial referent, becoming the air.


A letter to darkness

Hello! Darkness!

Thank you for visiting me again today! When you come back, the pretentious outlines of the world disappear; instead a true picture appears. Also, the crazy rocking desire in my heart can slowly calm down. This moment is the happiest time for me. Thank you so much! In fact, I have been afraid of you for a long time. With a worry that everything I made would disappear in the dark… People I like would disappear in the dark… Most importantly, I was so afraid that the person who lives in my heart and the memories would disappear. So, when you came to me, I was too scared to look at you. I just wanted you to leave as soon as possible and just closed my eyes to try to sleep. However, now I am looking forward to seeing you again. Someday if you come back to me, please stay with me forever! Please promise me that you will erase everything and take back everything to be one again! Please promise me!




Images and silence

It is the soul that preserves the silent images of things. The soul does not, like the mind, express itself about things through the medium of words, but rather through the images of things. Things have a dual existence in man: first in the soul through images, then in the mind through words. The images of things are preserved in the soul as before the creation of language. The images in the soul point to a higher realm beyond language, where there is nothing but images, where images speak as words and words as images. “The different between our active thinking and the thinking of God is that God expresses Himself through things themselves, using them as a language, whereas we express our thoughts only in the language of words.” (Solger)


It may be that things bring their images to the soul so that the soul may pass them on to the Divine, to the Original of all images and all things. Picard, 1952, pp.80–81




ISIA/Werkplaats Typografie Summer School Website

Website design, 2016 and 2017



Concept and Art Direction: Jin Kwang Kim with Armand Mevis

Animation: Jin Kwang Kim

Development: Fred Cave

Typeface: GC 15 by Bold–decisions



Concept and Art Direction: Jin Kwang Kim with Armand Mevis

Animation: Jin Kwang Kim

Sound: Luca Napoli

Development: Cas Spoelstra

Typeface: Lars Extended by Bold–decisions




Te Huur

NY Art Book Fair Contribution, Image and sound, animation, 2015


Coming to Arnhem for the first time, I experienced the usual irritations and disappointments in the process of finding an apartment. There is nothing new about this kind of situation, but technology seems to intensify the possibilities and the disappointments in ways that I feel are connected to my work as a designer. I present this work at an over-accelerated speed, making it difficult for the viewer to follow it or even keep up with it. This is what it felt like to me. Constant digital information offering me things and then rejecting me. At the same time I am physically trying to be in a specific place but not knowing how to find a place there. More and more we seem to have to live in an ever widening gap or disparity between information and the physical world. My thesis is an attempt to explore or find ways to resolve some of the discontinuities between an overly communicative world and our personal sense, spiritually and intellectually, of a place in it.











– Web development by Doy