For the last 20 years, I have been thinking about <Reason and Instinct> and <The City and Human Being>. Before beginning current series of work, I worked on a series called
<Reason and Instinct> to show the situations that are derived when the young generation of the city face a certain situation. With more fanatical reasoning, it has led to the current series of works, <The Memories-City Life>.
What have humans forgotten?
Through past imperialism and World War I and II, humans have come to think of questions about the existence of human being in a sense of skepticism and negative perception of world’s capitalistic society.
Despite the development of new cultural order and the vigorous progress of philosophical research into the essential existence of human beings, current society does not seem to have gone better. Instead,
capitalistic market economy has gone more vital and the view on the essential human existence seem to have disappear. I have pondered on two things within the city: ‘the capitalist market and the essential existence’.
What is a city?
City is an environment to which humans have made using technological method - an artificial space for human being. It is getting bigger and bigger by today.
City is the center of the capitalistic market economy.
New products are pouring in every day in the city, and people who are indiscriminately exposed to television and advertising are taking for granted the advertising logic and message promoting the new product.
Humans believe that they are spending reasonably in their consumer activities, but they are already accustomed to preference development and habit based on the logic of the capitalist market.
As a result, they consume 'what the capitalist market requires' instead of 'what is necessary' and, unconsciously, they consume without realizing the state of their consumption.
Rather, they are living the urban life under the illusion that humans themselves consume through rational judgment and choice. "Can we say that humans exist in this state?"
I think this philosophical question of existentialism is still valid and even more vital in modern times.
In existential philosophy, essence is ‘humans remaining as human’, existence is ‘the fact humans really exist’ and dasein is ‘humans that currently exist’.
‘Are humans dasein with essence or dasein without essence in modern cities?’
Humans are living in harmony with one another in the city’s capitalistic market economy. Harmony means that they exist in affecting each other and wanted or not live by affecting one another.
I view the humans in the city as daseins without essence and they do what the crowd does, believe what the crowd believe and want what the crowd want.
They do not question what it is and why it should be but rather get affected by the lifestyle of the crowd that do not even know. Uniqueness of essential dasein disappears
and only those ‘daseins without essence’ remain in the city instead of unique individuals. These daseins seem to live adrift on everything happening in the city, as if they had no intention of doing so.
City is where humans easily forget about their essence and get forced into living as daseins without essence. So I question myself again.
“Am I a dasein with humanity or am I a dasein without humanity drifting around the city?”
I think that thinking about the ultimate purpose of human life is the process of learning how to live one's own life, and it is an opportunity to find the meaning and value of human life.
The characteristics of expression in my series include the following.
First, the product of the capitalist market that come out everyday - city requires humans to spend more than they need, and that is an unavoidable situation for humans living in cities.
Clothing is the main subject of my works. Sometimes other materials appear, but the reason why I chose clothing as my main material is because it is clothing that shows the characteristics of the urban
and capitalist markets at the fastest rate of change or the interval between so-called new products.
Second, mannequin, which promotes appearanceism - Korea is also called a country of plastic surgery.
While prejudice against appearance is not unusual, it is clear that appearance, which is obviously an external factor, is a useful factor in surviving in cities.
Mannequin’s appearance changed with the times. It means that mannequins are also made with emphasis on the external factors required by the times.
In my work, real humans do not appear in the work. Just like posters, however, they exist as publicity material, not as daseins, but actually as mannequins in show window.
Already, the most urbanized look that humans long for are replaced by mannequins.
Third, artificial light that boost the commercial value - when purchasing a certain product or item, most TV, commercial and show windows use an exaggerated light effect to give a dramatic effect.
When consumers purchase the product and check it at home, they feel it is not as fancy as they thought it would be. Even though it is the fancy product they saw on TV and in commercials.
The dramatic lighting effect (Mis-en-Scene) mislead human perception through human perspective. It makes humans dream as if the commercial model or the mannequin are themselves.
In cities, humans are always exposed to these situations, and these situations play an important role in not realizing humanity.
Fourth, the street that has show windows decorated with goods, mannequins, and artificial lighting - streets with show windows.
The street is a model of the capitalist market and a demonstration of why cities exist. The streets, which are forced to consume, are also spaces that reveal the city's urbanity to humans
and the crowd who have been unconsciously internalized and uncritically received messages transmitted through TV and commercials.
It is also a space where humans forget their state as essential daseins and drift away accustomed to the capitalist market.
I portray the extravagance of the city in my work. This is not to praise it but to showcase the pitiful truth of humans forgetting and losing the value of human lives living as essential daseins for they are seduced by the extravagance.
What makes humans human?
Why do humans exist essentially?
These questions are important problems that I hope to untangle through creation.
I sincerely hope one day I will be able to find the answer.
Youngil Joseph, KIM