Managing Utopia


Participant Artists

Kieun Beck, Jia Chang, Yohan Han, Yoonsuk Jung, Naum Kim, Soyung Lee, Jungho Oak, Yongseok Park, Euichul Shin and Monitoring Team: Goeun Bae, Seungbum Hong, Minho Jo, Jungwha Jung, Youngnam Kim, Sohyun Moon


Michel Foucault's book "Discipline and Punish" shows how the structure of Panopticon, once designed as an ideal prison by Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism from the 18th to the 19th century, can effectively penetrate deep into social structures of mankind and individual lives. Unlike the premodern system of punishing with the persistent power of authority, this panoptic surveillance equipment became a democratic contrivance of monitoring that inconspicuously controls the system of power to be automatically operated. Above all, its imbalanced (seeing - being seen) system of visibility makes individuals unconsciously conformed to the system of authority.

The monitoring system based on such visibility is adopted to diverse fields through the development of technology, which makes humans just the target of information. Constantly recording information on individuals through a satellite, laser, a vector, and a surveillance camera make private spaces to shrivel. Furthermore, individuals have tendency to willingly take contrivances under the shared notion that it is safer to have everything seen and observed.

On the other hands, media with a great deal of power of visibility to invade everyday lives and personal spaces can change the meaning of human body and mind. Thus, people can easily become an object to be recorded or can be transformed unintentionally into the body and mind tamed by media. Since the popularization of internet cameras and networks, not only the media-created world is being recognized as the real world, there are also psychological tendencies of people enjoying such experiences as real-time broadcasting of private spaces or reality television programs exposing personal lives like "Big Brother".

The exhibition of Managing Utopia attempts to ask various questions related to the conflicts of living under the supervising authority for liberty and security in situations where these conflicts still remain unsolved. It displays blind spots in the virtual surveillance, filtering suspicious people, and such individual deprival under the pretext of protection as the government's authority, media's aggressive invasions of personal lives, humans as objects with numbers, celebrities' private lives, training bodies with absurdities, managing cityscape by construction and removal activities, social outlaws in subways, and regulating-punishing equipment.

Related Works

Pretty Good Look

Rule · Apparatus

Related Text

Interview: "Managing Utopia", Visual, 2010 Vol. 7., edited by The Center for Visual Studies, Korean National University of Arts


June 10–28, 2009, "Managing Utopia", Gallery 175