Projecting the Voice: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Passages Paysages

Kristen Kreider

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s video and sound installation Passages Paysages (1978), sets up a scene of address where I, as the listener-viewer-reader, effectively become the artwork’s site of reception, a ‘you’ receiving fragments of a life story – shown to me, told to me – that I am entreated to reciprocally recollect. The artwork’s compulsively repetitious and performative act fabricates a self-representation marked by opacity both at the level of its narrative and at the level of the cinematic apparatus itself: its technical shifts from photographs and stills into slides, slide projections into video recordings, video into the materiality and spatiality of the video screens spatialised in relation to the listener-viewer-reader. In this paper I argue that the artwork communicates in and through this opacity while I, as the listener-viewer-reader confronted by that which I do not fully comprehend, have a desire to understand.

Engaging in an act of ‘critical performance’ that draws upon Jane Rendell’s practice of ‘site-writing’ I work intimately and subjectively with Passages Paysages by first developing a series of images in relation to Cha’s artwork that recall for me my experience of it, in situ. Using these images as springboards for discussion I ask: How does Passages Paysages enact a form of self-representation through a polyphony of ‘voice’? How is this polyphony of ‘voice’ embodied within the complex cinematic apparatus, and to what effect? Positioning myself as the artwork’s site of reception, ‘you,’ how do I perform, interpret and respond to the coded visual and verbal message(s) of the artwork, as well as to the traces of an absence made visible? Performing and interpreting the artwork, I thus engage in the act of another’s self-making: the poiesis of a life drawn from memory.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2009


  • theresa hak kyung cha
  • passages paysages
  • kristen kreider
  • voice
  • cha

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