Brooklyn Based Korean Artist Hyungjo Moon And The Unknown Valley Of Photography And Contemporary Images


By NOAH BECKER, August, 2018

Noah Becker: Where were you born?

Hyungjo Moon: I was born in Seoul, South Korea. I was raised as a typical kid in Korea - good students with patience.

NB: When did you get involved in making art?

HM: When I was in high school, I realized that I enjoyed looking at the shape of objects and landscapes. I also watched movies of which some parts that I liked -  they remained in my head like a print of a photograph. I started to draw some interesting landscapes, scene of movies, objects to make a collection but soon enough I was thinking about taking photographs. Photography allowed me to capture things instantly and to remember the moment - it has brought me opportunities to contemplate my imagination through the image. After a certain amount of time, I decided to learn some technical skills in photography and took traditional documentary style pictures - I was into that at that time. When I went to college, I majored in photography so that I was able to acknowledge better about history, the theory of photography and photographers and how to approach them more intellectually.

Hyungjo Moon, FM 1492, 2018, digital C-print

NB: What is your art about?

HM: I think the picture represents a scene composed through a systematic method. The systematic method uses photographs, chaotic layers of pictures, blurred lines, and unknown shapes on surfaces as materials. I used the system carefully with which I construct a picture (a scene) by layering photographic spaces with the camera, computer screen, and scanner. Through the translations of the layered approach, the system generates a unique allegorical meaning and, by chance, reveals the physical beauty of photography. With such methodologies, the photographic form is rediscovered by the construction of a system that preserves the quotidian aesthetic.

NB: Do you have a dream project for your art that you would like to accomplish?

HM: Not as a dream project, but if I could explain how photography effects society and is affected by society or reposition the role of photography, that would be good. I think I am the kind of artist who accomplishes what I need to do, because as a photographer, we need to collect and reveal the truth. We also watch what will matter next time and try them out or experiment but I do not think all artists should explain or expect something in the future but this is part of what I would like to achieve.

Hyungjo Moon, Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018, 2018, digital C-print

NB: I like the way you use color - what are your thoughts about color?

HM: Colors are the principle of visual things, they represent a light, basically, as a trace of reflected light - we are having tons of colors and reactions to these colors subconsciously. I think it is just important material for humanity to ponder and photographers have sensitive eyes to capture colors through shapes and light. I capture them through digital software like photoshop, making a dramatic effect and bringing dynamics to the image. When I make work, I tend to think about colors from the aspect of a graphic designer, putting colors to the image for a certain effect, most of the time an attractive effect.

NB: You are drawing over photographic images in some of your works. Is this accomplished by computers?

HM: Yes, I mostly use a digital drawing tool in photoshop.

NB: John Baldessari comes to mind when I look at your work. Do you see yourself as that kind of conceptualist?

HM: I have liked Baldessari’s work for a long time, I'm interested the way that he uses color. I do not think I am conceptualist because I did not set a certain concept by a mathematical thought process like Sol Lewitt. Conceptual art is not my method of approach in my photographs and images. My works are often collaged images but my subject matter uses them to reveal the unknown valley of photography and contemporary images through a certain method.

Hyungjo Moon, Beach (Blue), 2018, digital C-print

Hyungjo Moon, Red, 2018, digital C-print

NB: That's good to hear, so who are your other influences in art?

HM: I liked photographers from the Düsseldorf School in my early years of photography, and then interested in photographers from the Vancouver school like Jeff Wall. Bechers, Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth all influenced me in terms of style, technique, and conceptual method towards photography. Their thoughts about photography were totally different from those I had at the time. But I think the most impressive one was Thomas Ruff - he confronted the most important matter of photography at that time, which is capturing the reality and matter of representation. I had thought about how to make a ‘good picture’, but he influenced me to change everything. I could then think about photography itself as a medium, not a sheet of paper that has a printed image. WM

Noah Becker

Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023. 


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