YoungEun Kim
Selected Works
Work List

Flesh of Sound

Speakers, plywood wall
6 min 12 sec
Dimensions variable

This work began from an interest in the power of collective voice as a nonmaterial tool utilized to re-contextualize song. Participants of any demonstration, regardless of the occasion, often bring with them a song or excerpted phrase, completely out of context, made appropriate by the physical and material properties of the collective voice. Songs used during protest stand as potent symbols, reinforcing strong emotional bonds among protestors. Much of the time, new songs are written for the occasion. Other times, however, the collective selects a pre-existing, arbitrary tune to serve a revolutionary purpose.

One song, in particular, the “Happy Birthday To You” song, sung during the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, became the accidental song of choice by protestors. During the protest, an unintentionally pressed megaphone button caused the accompaniment part to sound, leading to enthusiastic applause and a mass sing-a-long; the song instantly acquired symbolic power through a collective voice. Following this event, each time the protest reached peak unruliness, a minority of protestors would begin singing this song, quelling the curses and shouting, ultimately transforming the whole atmosphere.

Placed in the context of this work, a single, humming voice begins the melody, gradually enriched by an additive process of layering more voices and melodies atop the humming. The process presents the shift in the way song is embodied across the spectrum spanning from a singular voice to a collective body.


Flesh of Sound #19
Speakers, plywood wall, scores and news articles printed on tracing papers, wooden frame, sound 
5 min
Dimensions variable
Installation View at Visitor Welcome Center, Los Angeles (Photo by Ruben Diaz)

#4-5 Installation View at Art Space Pool, Seoul (Photo by Chulki Hong & YoungEun Kim)