Unknown City #08

Hyungmin Moon2002

Korean Art Museum Association

Korean Art Museum Association
Seoul, South Korea

Unknown Project is of Unknown City and Unknown Story. And the Unknown City is a series of photographs of cityscape and merchants in the supermarket. The cityscape images in the Unknown City are photographs that Hyungmin Moon took traveling the world. Though the scenery seems familiar, it is hard to recognize the location as the letters and symbols on the signposts and billboards are erased. In this series, Moon intentionally eliminated all the ‘information’ defining the city. The city appears to be strange and serene devoid of any form of linguistic and symbolic indications usually provided for convenience, speed, or accuracy. Regarding this series, Moon states that it is not a reproduction of reality itself but a question or observation on rules and conventions continuously indoctrinating us pretending to be ordinary and familiar. This process eliminating all letters and symbols from the picture is a rearranging process of randomly selecting customs, systems, and information, resulting in a silent space. How the audience will react to a familiar but ambiguous city free from rules and customs becomes the object of the artist's observation from a far.

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  • Title: Unknown City #08
  • Creator: Moon, Hyungmin, 문형민
  • Date Created: 2002
  • Physical Dimensions: w2500 x h5000 cm
  • Type: Photography
  • Medium: Digital C-print
  • Critic's Note: The artistic practice of Moon Hyungmin cannot be defined by one genre as it encompasses painting, photograph, installation, sculpture, and video art. Though it isn't new for an artist to work in different genres, retaining the characteristics of his own style throughout the whole practice is unusual. Moon is one of those artists who keeps his balance, and this is possible as he works within a common pattern of ‘contradiction between form and content’ and ‘black humor'. The theme of ‘contradiction between form and content’ is a basic element in his work. Reflecting technical sophistication in each genre, the well painted pictures and sophisticated photographs with neat composition are elements drawing viewer’s attention. But the stories that each work contains is more demanding and complicated. According to the artist, he is not painting but ‘producing’a painting, each work captures disparate or unexpected stories rather than validating formal traits of each genre. A range of contents, unattainable by the mere surface look of the work, undergo a process of research and modular system that continuously collide with images behind images. In this sense, his practice is meta-contemporary and conceptual. Another important quality of Moon Hyungmin's practice is black humor. Despite the fact that he is not judging values or taking a critical position, black humor produced in the process of maximizing the ‘contradiction between form and content’ makes the viewer question fundamental aspects of situations revealed as a result of discrepancy between perceived image and contents. Hence his black humor calls attention to social regulations and conventional notions which the general public unconsciously adheres to. It is the responsibility of the viewer to read what’s behind the image, or the bitter humor of the artist. The artist is simply probing the feelings and thoughts regarding his work and existing circumstances. As previously stated, while the ‘contradiction between form and content’, and the resulting black humor together with questioning viewers constitute the basics to understanding Moon's work, this appreciation requires to be contextualized against a larger framework. This is the reason that the artist is not satisfied with delimiting his work but produces work in series. He acknowledges that a work of art can be interpreted in so many ways depending on the situation and the time, resembling putting together pieces of a puzzle. That is why the meaning of his work is always fluid and can be translated anew.
  • Artist's Education: California State University. LA, USA. M.F.A., Fine Art/Photography.Art Center College of Design. Pasadena, USA. B.F.A., Fine Arts/Painting.

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