Do you ever wonder what happened to your first ever online account? Is it still alive somewhere out there in the great void that is the internet? For Handi Kim, a visual artist currently based in The Hague, this subject matter prompted the start of a project titled Replikka, exploring the authenticity of our online identities.
It all started when Handi had trouble finding her first online account, and eventually gave up the search. “With this experience, though,” she tells It’s Nice That, “I started to question how many duplicated ‘I’s exist in the cyber world, and who owns the authentic identity if I cannot get into my account? Who can judge which one is either real or fake?” With all these questions in mind, Handi decided to visualise this experience through a publication. This was the start of an array of projects delving into the matter. Subsequently, she went onto code the question “Where is my first account?” into a visual language, and also designed a body of work challenging the viewer to guess which account was real or fake.
Now, she has printed all the works from the project in runs of screen or Risograph prints, an apt decision by the designer, who chose to produce sets of multiples to further blur the line between original and copy. “I wanted to ask the meaning of authenticity in our society where, virtually, I could be duplicated over and over so many times,” she adds. Born and raised in South Korea, Handi studied Ceramic Craft in the Korean capital before moving to The Netherlands to study graphic design. She enjoys working with a variety of mediums, expanding her skillset, not to mention her aesthetic judgements at the same time.
As a youngster, Handi recalls how the conservatism of her area has informed her practice today. Surrounded by mountains in the rural countryside, Handi tells us: “There was a strong belief of what men and women should do, and what the elder and the young should do.” She remembers the strict hierarchies between these groups, and the frustration at having to deal with the discrimination of being a daughter and an elder sister in both obvious and subtle ways. “During that period,” she continues, “the only way of escaping from a ‘miserable’ community as a small child was watching animation on TV.”
With a world of imagination just on the other side of the screen, Handi delved into the virtual worlds where characters live in pixel images. While watching them, she “could dream about ideal worlds where [she] could speak aloud,” somewhere she could share her thoughts, energies and desires. In turn, this became Handi’s primary motivation for embarking on a creative career, finding solace in creative freedom which has led the visual artist to go from one strength to another.
All of her works start off with small questions or reflections sparked by personal experience, then make their way into visual language. She tends to express herself through code, translating information into an array of visuals from messy grids and patterns, to surreal objects or abstract graphics. Presenting the viewer with an abstracted artwork, she allows the audience to make up their own minds as to what is before them. Commenting on society while pushing her practice both visually and technically, Handi’s ultimate goal is to unite people with different perspectives with her artworks.