YoungEun Kim
Selected Works
Work List

Brilliant A
Single-channel video, multi-channel sound
16 min 56 sec

Brilliant A (2022) shares the history of how the pitch “A,” used as a standard for tuning most modern instruments in orchestras and other settings, was set at a frequency of 440Hz and how the pitch has been set continually upwards due to human auditory preferences for “brighter sounds.” Apparent influences include the competition among instrument makers seeking higher profits through such sounds, along with military bands from Europe and the US sending sound traveling over long distances to boost troop’s morale.

The work further reconstructs the speculative moment when the standard pitch A was introduced in Korea. The delivery process of a piano is recreated based on historical materials from the early 20th century that recorded the first piano that was brought to the city of Daegu by an American missionary.

The piano’s arrival ushered in significant modifications to the theories and tastes of sound instilled in Koreans’ aural perceptions at the time, triggering the various acoustic collisions that arose as the ear for traditional music gave way to the ear for Western sounds. Through this recreation, the work explores the symbolic significance of the Western piano that brought the pitch “A” into Korean society.

#1-3 Installation View at SONGEUN, Seoul (Photo by Jihyun Jung)
#4-8 Still cut

1 min Video Excerpt