Unreal Nature

August 27, 2015

My Only Friend

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:56 am

… the … camera was just there, breathing, flickering, like a small animal.

This is from the ‘Interview with Gina Kim’ found in Adventures of Perception: Cinema as Exploration by Scott MacDonald (2009):

Kim’s first major work, the personal epic Gina Kim’s Video Diary (2002; 157 minutes), is a subtle, often troubling, generally exquisite, surprisingly intimate, sometimes wildly narcissistic coming-of-age story. Focusing on what would normally be seen as minor domestic details, and confined to Kim’s small apartment and the seemingly insignificant actions that take place there, Gina Kim’s Video Diary tracks Kim from her arrival in Los Angeles, with few resources, no friends other than her video camera, and virtually no English …

Gina Kim

All of the following is from within MacDonald’s interview with Kim:

Kim: … I was always looking for some new medium that was not completely conquered by the Genius, Modernist, Male Artist. Back then, there was something incredibly fresh about video, and I was especially intoxicated by the narcissistic feature of the medium: the instant feedback. I would hook up the video camera with the monitor and observe myself. It was like an I-watch-myself-film-myself kind of looking. When I think about it now, it sounds silly, vain, but that was a period when I really needed to find my own identity and to define myself as a female artist. I really didn’t have any role models, any mentors.

[ … ]

Kim: I started documenting myself in the fall of 1995, and then when I moved to the United States, I was recording every day, sometimes for five or six hours. That was pretty much all I ever did back then, because I didn’t have any family around, I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t speak English — I didn’t even have furniture. I was so scared to go out. The video camera became my only friend, my family, my pet, everything. Sometimes I was so lonely that I would turn the camera on just to feel that I was not alone, and to see someone, myself, moving in the monitor. This was not performative taping at all; the video camera was just there, breathing, flickering, like a small animal.

[ … ]

MacDonald: At one point in Gina Kim’s Video Diary you say, “I choose narcissism; it’s the only option when you don’t want self-pity”; is that your line or is it a quotation?

Kim: Definitely my line — nobody else would say that [laughter]; it’s a strange thing to say. I think my mother chose self-pity and I hated that; she always complained, “Oh, I made a sacrifice for you, and that’s what made my life miserable.”

[ … ]

Kim: … Gina Kim’s Video Diary is painfully narcissistic, but that was a good starting point for me in coming to terms with myself: to grow up and live, you have to understand that you exist. The only thing I could do was to look at myself and be reassured that I exist, that I’m really here, that I don’t just exist in the gaze of others, that I’m flesh and blood.




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