Object stories: Illusory ceramics by Jin Eui Kim

By Penny Craswell

South Korean-born, Cardiff-based ceramicist Jin Eui Kim has created a series of ceramics using a layering technique that results in patterns with an optical illusion effect. I discovered his work at the Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London and was immediately impressed by the precision of the pieces, and balance of form and patternation.

OPject Instability no.9, D: 30.8 cm × H: 6.7 cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim
OPject Instability no.9, D: 30.8 cm × H: 6.7 cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim

Jin throws the pots on the wheel and then applies paint in 18 tonal bands from black through to grey and white to create a distinct stripe that deceives the eye, playing with concave and convex shapes. The occasional red or pink band serves as a highlight, while the finish is matte rather than gloss, providing a muted effect that is subtle and beautiful.

Jin says: “My work explores how the perception of three-dimensional ceramic forms can be manipulated by the applications of tonal bands (18 different tones from light as white to dark as charcoal black) on their surfaces. Depending on the arrangement, using gradients of width, interval or tone, illusory spatial phenomena can appear and thus significantly influence the actual three-dimensional forms.

OPject Reversal no.19, D: 33.5 cm × H: 6.7cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim
OPject Reversal no.19, D: 33.5 cm × H: 6.7cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim

“The duration of viewer’s attention, viewer’s position, tone or colour of the background are also crucial influencing factors for the creation of such illusions. My works attract viewers by visual phenomena as well as physical confusions appearing on their surface. I work in between the concepts of illusion and reality. I restrict or remove data (information) on the surface to increase the chance of the viewer’s perception shifting between illusion and reality. I often look at my work with half closed eyes, in the darker light and with distance which provides less information of reality enabling me to see the illusion.”

This excellent video by R&A Collaborations shows Jin making the ceramics in a mesmerising sequence, and he describes how still and quiet he must be to create objects with such precision.

More on Jin Eui Kim

OPject Floating no.17, D: 23.7 cm × H: 5.8 cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim
OPject Floating no.17, D: 23.7 cm × H: 5.8 cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim
OPject Manipulation no.19, D: 14.3 cm × H: 44.2cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim
OPject Manipulation no.19, D: 14.3 cm × H: 44.2cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim

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