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On Yunjung Choi’s Fantasyland
_Kate J Yoon (Ph.D.)
 

God made man in His own image and to resemble Him, but through sin, man has lost resemblance while retaining the image. Having lost a moral existence in order to enter into an aesthetic one, we have become simulacra. (Deleuze)


Yunjung Choi’s works with human faces. Each face is enlarged to take up almost a whole canvas and wears sunglasses. On each tinted lens is superimposed a popular image, such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, Mickey Mouse, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, Korean national flag or Jesus. Many contemporary artists have dealt with popular images, transmitted through the media for addressing the representation problem. In contemporary art the representation problem is an important issue associated with the identity problem of art itself. The popular media images are used by artists who think the art is concerned not with representing the real but with incarnating the imaginary.

According to Yunjung Choi, figures wearing sunglasses in her paintings mean we meet the myth through the media and popular images on lenses are the contemporary myths produced and reproduced through the media. These images as myths have become part of our life. But they are just contemporary icons with no substance.

Choi’s idea that images transmitted through the media have no counterpart in the real world, but are only simulacra, is clear in . The Mass media shows us not a real world but a simulated phantasmatic world. It blurs the distinction between the real and the simulated. It exerts power to make us believe the simulated world as real. It shows us celebrities’ images possessing all the wealth and happiness, and mass consumption products offering all the usefulness and freedom. These images repetitively appearing in the mass media create myths.

So far seems to offer nothing new. But media images are only part of it. The main theme of is face. Now move to the faces. They are adolescents’. Some faces look the same person’s. The faces wearing glasses with princess Diana image, with Korean national flag image and with Jesus Christ look the same, but their hairstyles, hair and skin colors are different. The face wearing eyeglasses with the Coca Cola image looks similar but somewhat changed by plastic surgery. There are some affinities between the face wearing eyeglasses Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson, between the face wearing Madonna image eyeglasses and Madonna, and between the face wearing Mickey Mouse eyeglasses and Mickey Mouse. The face wearing the eyeglasses with Starbucks trademark has plump cheeks and they look filled with café latte. The face wearing eyeglasses with Korean national flag looks like Korean. The face with suffering Jesus Christ image eyeglasses seems to having lost one eye.

shows the human beings who pursue popular media images that are simulacra, and become themselves simulacra. Gilles Deleuze said “Modernity is defined by the force of simulacra.”
We could find Deleuze’s modernity in . It shows an age in which everything and everyone, even you and I, are becoming simulacra. We find in Yunjung Choi’s simulacra’s enormous influence. Yunjung Choi has advanced one step further with popular images. They are used for not only addressing the problem of representation and identity of art, but also identity of self.

Our reaction to would be diverse. One would criticize modernity, the other would praise modernity. One could feel curiosity, the other powerlessness. One may think about pop art and neo pop art, or modernism and postmodernism, or Plato and Deleuze. gives us chance to think about modernity seriously.