5 Jun 2008 — 5 Jul 2008

 Jackson Hong's page
Jackson Hong
Design for the Real World

Jackson Hong’s work always shows a cross between the unrest of design and the real world. On the one hand, his work represents design’s desires to exercise its healthy and invaluable influence on the real world usually restricted by economical and political limits while on the other hand, his work intends to highlight consumers or users’ wishes to go ahead toward the future, based on a rosy utopia brimming with commercial visual cultures. Jackson Hong has produced beautiful, yet perilous results by strangely twisting the methods of design.

His third solo exhibition in Korea is an extension of such attempts. Design for the Real World is initially derived from the book with the same title by design theoretician Vitor Papaneck published in 1971. Through this work, Papaneck asserted that designers should engage in political and social issues in the real world, departing from the utopia of superficial consumption. This book was translated into Korean under the title of Design for Humans and sparked repercussions before and after the 1988 Seoul Olympiad when consumer culture was aggressively being formed and the design market grew rapidly. Papanek’s book showed a type of design utopia in another context from the author’s own point of view. 25 years later, a crisis in the design world is often talked and efforts to enhance design’s social and industrial ability are made. In this age when the gap between the ideal and reality of design is wider than ever, the slogan Design for the Real World casts an empty yet solid shadow.

The real world Jackson Hong presents is condensed into an emergency case. He collects and modifies objects for everyday use or extraordinary use such as spoons, urinals, baseball bats, axes, and tools for emergency treatment sealed under the direction saying “Break glass in case of emergency.”. Confined to the case that is once broken and cannot be restored, these objects recalls our imagination of some unusual emergency cases. Such objects that guarantee normality by incorporating uncommon, perilous situations into everyday life in a strictly controlled manner arouse the operation of meaning that is not easily condensed.

One of In Case of Emergency series, Common Sense features a baseball bat inscribed with words, Common Sense. This baseball bat here is apparently ? commonly yet implicitly - a means for self-defense. If so, when is an emergence we have to hold arms in the name of commonsense. And, how many moments we have to persuade us that our commonsense is just a custom based on violence and blood not something absolute. When we make a decision to hold arms ? a baseball bat to protect our commonsense, how our faces look like? How far we are away or close to such faces.

Judging from his previous conception of extraordinary tools to solve a specific problem, we expect Hong’s following pursuits from the advent of new objects that secure their life by not being used. Unlike his previous work that paradoxically showed the incompetence of design or at least the limits of its capability, Hong’s recent pieces on display at Design for the Real World presents a new possibility, going further a step ahead from the mainstream design tendency and a gloomy description of the real world.
Common Sense
In Case of Emergency Series
Mixed media
1000 x 200 x 130 mm