Icons of Rhetoric | 북한의수사학아이콘
Project info

An Instant Film Mosaic of North Korean Media

Icons of Rhetoric (IOR) is a text & image project that concerns itself with the visual representation of North Korea and the contextualisation of media images. The project explores the visual lexicon which permeates the often cited 'most isolated country in the world': North Korea.

IOR investigates the ways in which translation - ‘image’ and the act of ‘making images’ combined with ‘where the image performs’ - serves as a form of transmission and circulation of ideas, ideologies and forms of knowledge between geographical locations, historical moments and cultural contexts - reflecting how 'we' receive and perceive images in the digital era raising questions about authenticity.

The series looks in to how 'we' (intended as Western societies and media) receive and perceive images from North Korea. The working process of the project includes the studying of North Korean news footage online, movies, literature and photographs which are then re-taken or re-interpreted using smartphones; which are then turned into Polaroids, playing on the aesthetic of authenticity.

IOR approaches North Korea in a way best described by ethnologist and North Korea expert Sonia Ryang: “to abstract the cultural logic that runs through North Korean society as an undercurrent to its human relations”, preferring an interpretative analysis to a more empirical one. Icons of Rhetoric contextualises North Korean culture as it is told to North Koreans in their daily life; it comprehends the perspective of what the DPRK tells its own citizens as if no one foreign eye were watching.

I use pre-existing content to investigate 'perception' and context following Fred Ritchin’s [author of ‘Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary and the Citizen’] school of thought about the emergence of art photography and photojournalism in a time of ‘inward looking mirrors and outward looking windows’.”