Dr Hyo-Sun Kim

Dr Hyo-Sun Kim completed her PhD May 2014.

Hyo-Sun’s research is titled: The possibility of risk: the visible and the perceived- an exploration of waster pieces within Korean and UK ceramics.

All of art records a process but the transmutations wrought upon clay by the addition or evaporation of water, the exposure to air and the process of firing to temperatures often exceeding 1000 degrees Celsius, inevitably leaves traces of the accumulative effects of qualities of material and process within both the surface and the form of the ceramic object. These nuances are the result of different degrees of risk-taking on behalf of the intervention of artist. They are also constant reminders that the art of ceramics is one that is uniquely affected by the technical processes, quality of material, and correspondence of body knowledge. My research into the visual phenomenon and aesthetic of ‘risky ceramics’ investigates the potential of waster pieces to create an impression of the ‘thing-as-it-is’ described by Silke Von Berseordt-Wallrabe (2007) its ‘natural’ and serendipitous- in the hope that the product will achieve ‘originality’. These are in respect of the individual quality of material. Also the esteem of the ‘material prima’ (the alchemical reference connotes the transformational aspect of the creative process) described by Roland Barthes (2002).This emphasizes upon the materiality of phenomenon therefore, the embodiment of a corporeal presence transmitted via process (firing and throwing) and matter (risk) to the art of ceramic. Consequently the resulting works relate to something else as an accident, something that happens and something by chance, that entail an unknown and unexpected result. Freud (1976) described ‘the mechanism of parapraxis and chance actions’ in correspondence to the structural elements in the analysis of risk and risky work.

The best examples of risk can be found in Korean moon jars. Historically, these unusual yet now highly acclaimed ceramics treasures were underestimated, and recognized only as waster pieces. From these factors, the following questions emerge: What degree does the risk, impact upon waster pieces? How do these different creative values of interpretation and possibility of our identities and culture inform ways of being in contemporary ceramic practice? Informed by this critical research, the process turns into a valueless attempt to comprehend and reinterpret the object. A restructuring occurs which draws the viewer closer – either into failure or fault – regarding visual interrogation, or upon successful decipherment, reconfigure the image as a distant echo of risky ceramic classical tradition. In contemporary ceramics a future stage in this ‘risk-embracing’ process is where making proceeds with a concept, with creation appropriate almost ‘innately’ and serendipitous to the anticipation that the product will achieve ‘authenticity’.

This research addresses a significant critical and cultural gap in the contemporary ceramic field relating to taking risk. Also, this aligns to the paucity of research in this area, and the need for a critical re-assessment of risk, post Pye. In response to this, research will enhance identification of embracing risk in destroyed ceramics that has opened up new possibilities for the waster pieces, as the means to realizing an extreme wider vision as described by Duchamp, ‘distorts itself as it pleases and creates a new figure of the unit of length’.

Photo credits: D Williams






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