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Serenity at the edge of tech: Discussing art for wellness with Krista Kim

Canadian-Korean Metaverse artist Krista Kim explores her meditative arts practice and sheds light on tech art's potential for mental wellness.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Aug 01, 2022

The contemporary artist Krista Kim pursues a highly modern, cutting-edge digital practice that can be summed up with just one word, 'serenity'. She creates large bodies of shifting colour that are visually pleasing, and yet, carry a curious restraint that always prevents them from becoming overwhelming for viewers. It is clear that she is not one to pursue the spectacle of art; far from it in fact: Kim's work is meant to calm and focus the human mind, and not to play any part in its overstimulation. However, her bodies of colour are but a portion of her greater oeuvre, which also includes several projects undertaken in the Metaverse. As her website tells visitors, "Krista Kim is the founder of the Techism movement (2014), whose work explores the concept of the digital consciousness. Her interest in digital technology and its revolutionary effects on human perception, media, social structures, and communication have led her to work in both, the digital and physical realms." Kim has been pursuing her signature language of shifting gradients through digital software since 2012. It was lockdown during 2020 that prompted the artist to create Mars House, which is a virtual environment wherein she applied her practice of utilising the digital interface as a sort of focus-point for meditative wellness. Mars House became the first 'Metaverse Home' to go on sale in March 2021, leading to Kim receiving great recognition for her work, worldwide.

Continuum Times Square, 2022, image, Krista Kim | Continuum | Krista Kim | STIRworld
Continuum Times Square, 2022, image Image: Krista Kim; Courtesy of Michael Hull and Times Square Arts

Discussing herself, the artist tells STIR, "I am Canadian, and my background is South Korean. I am a Metaverse artist who builds worlds. My practice is grounded within meditation, and I practice Transcendental Meditation twice daily. I strongly believe that the Metaverse should be designed first and foremost to elevate humanity." Kim studied Political Science at the University of Toronto, wherein she developed a keen interest in media, technology and politics. She moved to Asia after college, and began writing for the The Korea Herald newspaper as the entertainment columnist. She also began painting, and once she found herself in Tokyo in 2005, began studying abstract Japanese painting, out of which she connected most deeply with the Zen art and design she would see in Kyoto. "I believe Kyoto is a living Metaverse, wherein the practice of Zen consciousness intersects every design and artistic undertaking within the city. I had my artistic epiphany when I encountered the Ryoanji Temple Garden there. It is such a serene, minimalist space, that I entered a Zen state of consciousness while meditating. I began creating Zen digital art in 2012 when I entered the Masters of Fine Art program at LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore. I want to bring Zen into the Metaverse for the mental wellbeing of future generations," she explains.  

No. 1024 v4b, 2021, image, Krista Kim | No. 1024 v4b | Krista Kim | STIRworld
No. 1024 v4b, 2021, image Image: Courtesy of Krista Kim

The artist mentions that she admires Rothko, James Turrell, Leonor Fini, Toko Shinoda, Ryoji Ikeda and Salvadore Dali, and when asked what the message behind her work is, responds with the succinct explanation, "light is the new ink". This phrase can be found on her website as well, and the artist expands on it, saying, “Digital is the future, so it is inevitable that digital art will become mainstream." The artist views the new crypto paradigm as a huge turning point in the status quo that hitherto governed digital art practices. She finds NFTs exciting as they represent the growing empowerment of creators that are breaking free of corporate interests. Kim says, “Web 3 is a creator’s economy, where creative IP is king. Creators are now empowered through the blockchain to control their own IP and monetise through collaboration, community engagement and activation in the metaverse. I certainly value the physical creation of art, however, NFTs represent a paradigm shift of economic and social change that encourages creators to lead and collaborate.”  

Continuum LA, 2021, image, Krista Kim | Continuum | Krista Kim | STIRworld
Continuum LA, 2021, image Image: Krista Kim; Courtesy of Vellum LA

One of Kim's more prominent works, Continuum, is a “soothing visual meditation using light that fosters a uniquely calming experience.” It was created during the COVID pandemic that altered the lives of all, worldwide. The artist’s focus on mental health and well-being through digital arts practice marked a notable, even profoundly spiritual pause within the places it was featured at. These include Times Square and Miami Art Basel, where her piece was very well received, and was regarded as "offering a great sense of peace to the masses, on a monumental scale". The large-scale artwork was produced in collaboration with the artist Efren Mur. Kim’s work utilises a massive array of LED lights, along with photography, photoshop, binary code as well as more dynamic software and hardware, handled along with progressive engineers that share her passion for combining tech and art. The artist explains that her work here celebrates the beauty and transcendentalism of technology, and attempts to introduce her audience to the digital consciousness of her Techism movement.

700 v2, 2021, image, Krista Kim | Krista Kim | STIRworld
700 v2, 2021, image Image: Courtesy of Krista Kim

As Continuum’s website explains, "Kim compares her intentions behind the work to ancient Japanese Zen gardens in the hopes that her public artwork creates a communal space that imparts a sense of meditativeness and allows people to decompress from the stresses of everyday life using the digital language of our times." She is eager to continue the Continuum World Tour, and discussing her other plans for the near future, tells STIR, “I am now building Metaverse worlds which integrate my architecture and design concepts through my new production studio and Metaverse platform (to be announced soon) with my co-founder and partner, Peter Martin, who is one of the pioneers of Metaverse production. Our philosophy is to create Metaverse realms that elevate humanity through education, health and wellness, and fine arts, at the highest levels of production within the industry.”  

Krista Kim | STIRworld
Krista Kim, 2022, Image Image: Kerim Safa Courtesy of Frederic Auerbach

Krista Kim is a strong believer that great art is ideas that change the world. The Canadian-Korean artist ends our interview with this, "The NFT is immutable, so art is forever encapsulated in the blockchain that will exist for infinity. Art that is uncensored and immutable. In a million years, an alien race will learn about human civilisation through NFTs."

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