In The Studio With Jae Kim: One Man’s Trash...

Jae Kim has mastered the art of the speed walk. He zips down the curb, always ahead of the pack, eyes glued to the ground in a hunt for new treasures. It’s a new habit that stuck; ever since he moved to Chinatown, Kim’s work has consistently reflected his surroundings, and is literally created out of found objects (i.e., trash) from the streets of his neighborhood.

I’m kind of manic. So when I’m walking, it’s hard to keep up because I’m scanning the ground. People will stare when I walk past a certain thing and come back to it, and then put it in my pocket. For me, I get very obsessive. I focus on one thing, and I want to do it 100 percent, and this is definitely taking up my time and focus.”

Kim is a photographer by trade, but the camera has admittedly taken a backseat to the artist’s latest obsession. With his new hobby-turned-artform, the pressure to create is absent; it’s just simply fun.

“When I make introductions, I say I’m a photographer,” he says. “But it builds up this pressure to produce, and have this idea of always feeling the need to shoot. With this, there’s no pressure. It feels so new to me, it’s so exciting. I mean, I’m using free fucking materials you find on the street and making something aesthetically pleasing for the eye. It just feels like legos. It’s awesome.”

With this, there’s no pressure. It feels so new to me, it’s so exciting.

This isn’t Kim’s first foray into the world of found objects; he has previously created parking ticket collages, selling them in order to pay the ticket off. This new venture is much less practical—there’s no bill that needs paying, and the materials are obviously free—but the element of rescuing and reinterpreting provides a sense of purpose all the same.

“Maybe, in a couple years I’ll just burn out of it. But I feel like it’ll be an everyday thing for me. Every time I walk, I’ll find something new. Honestly, I’m having so much fun with this.”

Stay tuned to Milk for more rising artists. 

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