Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Siting Sound

Redistributing the Senses in Christine Sun Kim

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2021), 15, (2), 219–238.


If, as Jacques Rancière says, the politics of the aesthetic inheres in the distribution of the sensible, the work of sound artist Christine Sun Kim embodies this fact as an issue specific to disability and deafness. Her drawings and sound installations make visible and tactile sounds that as a deaf person from birth she can’t hear but that, at the same time, enable her listeners to hear through a deaf optic. As such her work not only distributes senses, but redistributes cultural values associated with sound and voice. The article studies several of Kim’s collaborations and installations during the 1990s and 2000s. She often invites both deaf and hearing audiences to participate in her installations, allowing both to experience—and critique—sound and voice from different vantages. She also creates whimsical drawings of musical notations to foreground their arbitrary relationship to presumed acoustic standards. The article situates Christine Sun Kim as a key figure in the development of a critical disability and deaf poetics.

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Author details

Davidson, Michael