HALF MOON EYES 2004 by Mina Cheon
This is a 12 minutes movie file of a flythru of Mina Cheon's "Half Moon Eyes" interactive media piece created in 2004 upon returning from her trip from Mt. Keumkangsan of North Korea.
The media piece is central component to the installation that mimics the first series of voting booths that were created for the 2004 Presidential Elections that had digital touchscreen monitors. The voting booths allowed viewers to enter a private interactive viewing of a myriad media piece on a touchscreen monitor that included animations, video, texts, and sound about the artist's traveling experience to North Korea in 2004.
While touching the screen that seem to look like a voting ballot, the piece takes the viewer to spaces that indicate information connected to the relationship between North and South Korea. The piece also allows for contemplation on how the two countries relationship (severed by the 38th parallel physically and the stark ideological differences between capitalist and communist nations psychologically) is determined by the outcomes of voting in America, and how American politics affected global politics in general. The private viewing was projected onto large screens outside the booths and in the gallery, blurring the lines between privacy and public domain with technology, especially commenting on the development of technologies in relation to politics.
The title "Half Moon Eyes," alluded to the beauty of North Korean women and their eye shapes, which was the metaphor used throughout the digital interactive piece to address the otherness that is created by media and politics. One can look at various footages of traveling through the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea, heading towards the North, and finally in North Korea at the Keumkangsan Mountain resort. Another navigation path allows one to follow the imaginary beauty of North Korean women who appear as acrobats, cheerleaders, police, nurses, and bus drivers. From the common North Korean woman, entertainers, mythological creatures, sirens, to military femme bots; they appear from real documentary forms to illustrations and fictive animations – furthering the notion of exotic othering that occurs with the violence of media, and binary schism between North and South Korean cultures as seen through mass media and news today.
This work was shown simultaneously in S. Korea (Insa Art Space, Seoul and America (Maryland Art Place) when Bush Junior was re-elected as President between 2004 and 2005. The interactivity with its sound, text, animation, and videos take less than two hours for its full viewing. Some people stay for a couple of minutes or remain in the booths for a lengthy period touching all parts of the interactive media piece.
During the summer of 2008, a South Korean female tourist was shot by a North Korean soldier while she was touring the Mt. Keumkangsan. The tour is now closed down and the opening of another great North Korean mountain, Baekdusan never occurred as planned. “Half Moon Eyes” is an interactive art piece that shows the rare documentation of the tour of Mt. Keumkangan in North Korea before it was shut down and before North Korea completely isolated itself from the rest of the world. The piece takes you from South Korea to North Korea through an embodied camera documentation of the travel to the mountain while it was forbidden to shoot any video in many places along the way.