Emerging Voices Interview: Hana Kim

By Erik Petersons on December 17, 2019

Hana Kim’s work as a projection designer adds a new dimension to the four Perelman Theater concerts in our Emerging Voices Project. Full text translations will be paired with still and moving images, projected on a large screen behind the artists, offering audiences a compelling way to follow the narrative and emotional arc of each song. We spoke with Hana about her work and how her experience immigrating to America has shaped her thoughts on the project.

Erik Petersons: Tell us about your work as a projection designer and give us an idea of what the concert experience will be like.

Hana Kim: As a projection designer, I construct immersive visual environments to support creative storytelling. For Emerging Voices, it is especially exciting because we will be traveling through different historical eras and their themes each night, yet all four concerts create a bigger arc to examine the role of art songs in expressing both individual and national identity. I am creating a visual language for each program that can stand alone, but is also subtly connected through the development of the whole project.

Most of the works are based on poems which motivates me to think about poetry’s visual language. Rather than merely illustrating the story, I am interested in exploring the effect of projections when intertwined with the soundscape and its associated poetry. How abstract does it need to be? Is it a juxtaposition of opposing images? It is also important for moving images to have a rhythm that allows the music to breathe, rather than overwhelming the audience with an overload of images.

[projection design for Janacek's The Diary of One Who Disappeared]

EP: How has your experience immigrating to America shaped your thoughts on this project?

HK: I am originally from Seoul, South Korea, a largely homogenous society. Coming to the U.S. gave me an opportunity to examine my own identity, being surrounded by so many people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Immigrating to a country is like re-living a life. It amplified the sense of the world around me. The smallest things need great attention to decode, resulting in multiple interpretations. At the same time, while I was examining my own personal identity and trying to find my own voice, it also made me aware of Korea’s own geo-political positioning in the global society.

What excites me to work in live performance is that I get to recreate this amplified, multi-sensory experience to tell stories. I am especially interested in the chemistry between the sense of space and the moving image. Going back to the issue of defining myself as an immigrant, all these questions have to do not with the abstract, but the very concrete nature of my own existence as a human being in the context of this country. It’s exciting for me that we’re looking into a very personal expression of identity through art song, yet it’s curated to look at the bigger societal and political backdrop as well.

Hana Kim's projection design will be featured at all four Emerging Voices concerts at the Perelman Theater. For more information about Ms. Kim's work, visit her website.