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Youna Shin

MA work

Art in Communication: An Exploration of the Role of Language Agency

What exactly is meant by language? On a simple, superficial level, we can say it is a tool of communication. On the other hand, at a deeper level it can be a distortion in communication that makes people experience a loss of agency – pure thinking can be transformed beyond original intention and recognition. But this condition connected to language and agency can have many fluctuations due to a number of factors. This has an important bearing on the contemporary art world, a globalised landscape in which artists of all manner of backgrounds are seeking to communicate in verbal and visual language. 

In this dissertation I consider the role of language in art, by first drawing a connection between Derrida’s notion of archi-writing and the idea of conceptual idea, arguing that the connection lies in the focus on the producer’s original shapeless, non-material thoughts. 

I then consider how two artists, Susan Hiller and Florian Pumhösl are working with visual language, yet approaching the communication process respectively from objective and subjective positions. It is then suggested that Pumhösl’s work can be said to fit with Barthes’ idea of death of authorship in that each reading of a text, or viewing of an artwork is producing a new entity. 

Finally, the Japan-based artist Ufan Lee is presented as an artist whose work deals with communication but from a more circulatory position as part of an organic process of communication. 


  • Youna Shin
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Curating Contemporary Art, 2014

  • My interests lie in the cross-cultural experience of artists working across boundaries and how language mediates the artistic process. Before coming to London I worked on a number of exhibitions and art fairs in Seoul, especially connected to contemporary art and design, and this motivated me to want to experience the curatorial process in an international environment. My work at the RCA has helped me to build on my early curating experience and develop a passion for performance and video art, especially that which is connected to themes of identity in flux. 

  • Degrees

  • BA Metal Arts and Design, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, 2009
  • Experience

  • Press internship, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, 2013; Volunteer, Camden Art Centre, London, 2012 
; Internship, Moving Image Art Fair, Bargehouse, London, 2012; Committee of Asia Top Gallery Hotel Art Fair, Seoul, 2008–9; Curator, Keumsan Gallery, Seoul, 2008–11
  • Exhibitions

  • Irrepressible Seoul, Hackney Picturehouse, London, 2012; Korean Eye: Fantastic Ordinary, Seoul Museum of Art, 2010 
; Asia Top Gallery Hotel Art Fair, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Seoul, 2009 ; Weng Fen, Keumsan Gallery, Heyri, Korea, 2009 ; Asia Top Gallery Hotel Art Fair, Hotel New Otani, Tokyo, 2008 ; Dileep Sharma Solo Exhibition, Keumsan Gallery, Heyri, Korea, 2008