KangHee Kim goes by the name of Tiny Cactus on Instagram, which is where I first came across her work. The social media platform has propelled the young photographer to success. Of course, many others have found it to be an invaluable tool for promoting their work. Kim migrated to the United States from Korea when she was 14, a difficult age to move to a new country. And yet, here, the young student’s love for the arts was allowed to flourish, and she went on to study painting at university. Photography emerged as a sidelong interest. After posting her images on Instagram she started to get recognition from online publications, and been commissioned by brands such as Carven and Adidas.
The photographer has developed a distinct process to constructing intriguing images. Her aesthetic is also recognisable: her photographs are crisp, brightly lit, and often feature suburban and urban landscapes, palm trees, clouds, and elements of infrastructure. Some photographs look almost mundane, but something about them looks slightly amiss. The atmosphere is not sinister. The saturated colours and high definition of the photographs give them a sense of the surreal. Imagine being out all day in the hot sun at the beach. You are dehydrated; everything begins to look unbearably bright. Light spots appear when you close your eyes. It is like your brain is slowly melting inside your scull. Everything begins to looks a little off. This is the sensation I get from looking at these images — KangHee Kim inserts mirages into pedestrian scenes, giving us a glint of an imaginary world that intermeshes with daily life. Blink and it’s gone.
The photographer’s visual tricks are addictive. Scrolling through her feed, you search for the modification in each image, trying to trace the boundaries where two or three different photographs meet to become one. It is compelling to take this sense of wonder on the commutes we take throughout each day, unmoving pockets pf possibility on mundane journeys. Keep up to date with the prolific photographer on Instagram and on her website.