east asian philosophy


Art Writer’s Wednesday 18

Daehyun Kim aka Moonassi (b.1980, South Korea)

Korean artist Daehyun Kim, better known as Moonassi, is the author of a series of beautiful and intriguing black and white drawings. By mixing surreal and figurative imagery, Daehyun creates a voyage exploring human conditions and situation with a simple yet very unique way. Two year after his fist feature on Artchipel, we catch up with Artist to chat with us about his story, creative process and future projects.

Artchipel: Hi Daehyun, tell us about your education background and your practice.
Daehyun Kim: I was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1980. I majored in Oriental Painting. The word “Oriental” could make you confused. It’s actually a study of the old East Asian painting where I learned about related skills such as Ink wash painting, but also ancient East Asian philosophies and aesthetics.

A: You have been working on Moonassi drawing series since 2008. What does Moonassi mean?
DK: Moonassi is my artist name that I’ve been using since long ago. It was “무나 moonaa” at the beginning and has become “무나씨 moona-ssi” as people get used to the name. (“-씨 -ssi” is the most commonly used honorific forms of address in Korean, used amongst people of approximately equal speech level. It is attached at the end of the full name or simply after the first name if the speaker is more familiar with someone.)

“무나 moonaa” can be roughly translated as “There is no such thing as me”, or “Emptiness / Void in me”. When people call me “Moonassi”, it’s like if they are calling someone who has no identity. Isn’t it interesting?

A: You have a very distinctive identity. Could you share with us your creative process and how did you come to develop your aesthetic?
DK: At the beginning, I’ve never thought that my drawing is unique. But the more I draw, the more it became something special naturally. I just focused on what I really can draw, what I really want to draw, and what I prefer to use. The process is always changing. Usually I start with just a simple image that flashes across my mind, but sometimes I just concentrate on the subject or a word that I want to express. It’s almost like translating words into images.

A: You often put on stage one or several human figures with a very similar look, we can hardly identify their gender or age! Yet each of them seems to have a strong spirit and imparts a universal message to human hearts. Tell us a bit about these intriguing characters.
DK: The face with no expression actually is borrowed from old buddies painting which has always fascinated me since University. I thought that the face is perfect to conceal their feelings, because I don’t want to show directly if this guy is good or bad through their faces. The black simple suit that looks like underwear has been chosen to make you only focus on their gesture. I purposely don’t show the time, region or gender.

A: Do you have special rituals to get into creating mood?  
DK: Yeah I used to believe that there must be some special rituals to be able to create. For example, pushing myself into extremely bad or sad mood, sitting on the desk all night doing nothing like a zombie until something comes up in my mind, and so on. But now I’m trying to ignore these bad rituals. Somehow, now I can draw when I want to do. And I’m so happy that I can draw even during the daytime.

A: Which artists have inspired you the most?
DK: Interestingly, I’ve never got inspired by any contemporary artist. I’m more inspired by writings, songs and videos. I collect lots of images, songs and videos from Internet, but unfortunately, I forget easily artist’s names or artwork titles.

A: What has been your strongest memory to date as an artist?
DK: Sometimes, people send me a photo of his/her having my drawing tattooed on their skin. It’s really strange and beautiful to see my drawing on someone else’s body.

A: What is your project for the upcoming year?
DK: Making a new picture book, selling prints, hiking mountains and partying with friends more often, working less in the office and drawing more in my studio!

Thanks Daehyun for taking the time to answer the questions. Daehyun Kim can be found with updated posts on his Website and Facebook. His book Anonymous Drawing is available for purchase on Studiofnt.

[more Daehyun Kim aka Moonassi | Art Writer’s Wednesday with Artchipel]

Carpenter Stone went to Qi, and on reaching Quyuan saw an oak tree planted at the earth god’s shrine. It was big enough to shelter thousands of cattle under its shade, and measured a hundred arm-spans around. It towered over the mountains, and its branches began at a height of seventy feet. There were over ten limbs that could be made into boats. Visitors thronged as if it were a marketplace, but Carpenter Stone didn’t give it a glance and went on without pausing.

His apprentice gazed at the tree in satisfaction, then caught up with Carpenter Stone and asked, ‘Master, since I took up the axe and followed you I’ve never seen timber as beautiful as this, but you didn’t even look at it and went on without pausing. Why?’

“Enough! Don’t talk about it. It’s a useless tree: If you made boats out of it they’d sink, if you made coffins out of it they’d rot, if you made vessels out of it they’d quickly fall apart, if you made doors out of it they’d ooze sap, and if you made pillars out of it they’d be consumed by insects. It’s not a timber tree. There’s nothing it can be used for, and that’s how it’s gotten to live this long.”

Carpenter Stone returned home, and in a dream the tree from the shrine appeared and said to him, 'On what basis are you judging me? Are you comparing me with timber trees? The sour apple, pear, tangerine, and pomelo belong to the class of fruits and melons. When their fruit is ripe it’s plucked, and when it’s plucked they get damaged. Their big branches are snapped and their small branches are broken. Their lives are embittered by their use, and so they don’t live out the years allotted by heaven but die in their prime, broken by ordinary people. This is true of everything. Now I’ve been trying to become useless for a long time, and I’ve got it now as I approach death. This is of great use to me. Suppose I was useful: would I have gotten to be this big?Moreover, you and I are both things: where do you get off assessing things? You useless man about to die, how would you know what’s a useless tree?’

—  Zhuanzgi, “The Human World" 
A response to Isomorphismes' question 2/2

My understanding of East Asian logic is weak, but I remember that Joang Dze was making fun of a Chinese logician’s struggle to work out a puzzle about a white horse. It sounds to me like (millennia ago) that group of Mandarins hadn’t worked out supervenience or qualia–metaphysical issues which I think are still wrestled with today. That they come to the struggles from a different language (liu and qu I think are also part of the issue?) might illuminate something.

See, I’m not sure which logician would be doing that. The whole white horse bit comes up in the rectification of names, where by a name give something a meaning, and having the proper name/meaning association enables the proper functioning of the society of the country and the world itself. The haggling over qualia was probably due to the fact that the logician was trying to discern whether or not a white horse should go into the same class as horse.

I’m not much of a chinese scholar outside of the Tien Tai, Hua-Nen, and Mencius stuff as well as the Taoist stuff. My Confucian knowledge is limited to their wonderfully rich aesthetic theory.

Induction - an East-Asian perspective

Alright, if by induction, we mean the logical reasoning, it could be argued that induction is a reliable method of making statements about the world from a particular perspective, however, the truth value of these statements would be phenomenally empty in a sense, if we are to take the buddhist ontology as the ground from which we are proceeding. That is to say that any statement that we might make about the world is true based upon a particular nexus of events that gives rise to the observation from which we make out inductive reasoning. A classic example:

90% of Republicans are idiots. Max is a Republican. Max has a 90% chance of being an idiot.

With regards to buddhist onotology, we can make all of these statements, but we must recognize that all of the operators within the statements are bundles of causal results, that is, their phenomenal presence within the statment is built upon numerous conditions that give rise to “republicans,” but could also give rise to “democrats” or “bigots” in another arrangement: there is nothing essential to republicans, the statistic, or Max except what is granted to it by it’s causal relations.

In essence, I do not see that buddhist ontology (unless you’re doing Nagarjuna and Nyaya who have their own logic) would fundamentally be opposed to the statement, provided we don’t argue that the functions have any fundamental reality.


Miliann Kang, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Nahee Kwak, Research Assistant, Smith College ’14, Philosophy & East Asian Studies

I am conducting a study on how Queer Asian American women balance work and family responsibilities and would like to invite you to participate in an interview. While there has been much attention to “tiger mother” parenting, very little data is currently available regarding how Queer Asian American women are actually mothering and balancing the responsibilities of work and family life.

The interview will be completely confidential. Unfortunately, I cannot offer any remuneration, other than the satisfaction of knowing that your participation will potentially help to raise awareness of the particular challenges facing Queer Asian American women and to facilitate workplace practices, policy initiatives, and activism to better serve Queer Asian American women and their families. In addition, you may find the interview itself enjoyable and useful for gaining a deeper understanding of your own experiences and how they compare to other Queer Asian American women.

Anyone who self-identifies as an Queer Asian American woman, including immigrants, permanent and non-permanent residents, U.S. citizens, adoptees and those of multiracial ancestry, is welcome to participate. However, the study mainly focuses on second and 1.5 generation (those who were born in the U.S. or came here at a young age). The study includes single, married, divorced, lesbian and queer mothers and those engaged in both paid and unpaid work. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable answering any of the questions or if they do not apply to you, please skip them. For reasons of proximity, if I am unable to interview in person I may ask you to do a phone interview or fill out a written questionnaire. The interview usually takes 1-2 hours.

This research is being supported by an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral American Fellowship, a grant from the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a research leave from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at UMass Amherst.

Please contact my research assistant at naheekw@gmail.com if you are interested in participating. Feel free to forward this invitation to others who may be interested. Following is a fuller explanation of the research project.

Beneath the “model minority” stereotype of Ivy League professionals and controlling “tiger mothers,” little is known about the actual experiences of Asian American women as they move into the workforce, become heads of households, and negotiate ties to ethnic communities and culture. Focusing on these women’s experiences of motherhood, this study’s research goals are:

1) to illuminate the ways that gender, race, ethnicity and class influence the everyday practices of combining mothering and work responsibilities
2) to understand the articulation of individual and collective identities through these practices
3) to reveal common challenges and barriers
4) to identify effective strategies and resources for this emergent group of mothers in the labor force.

Specifically, I investigate the following research questions:

What are the particular social contexts and cultural frameworks that shape Asian American women’s practices and ideologies of mothering? What are the patterns of work-family arrangements in different Asian American households and how do they compare to other racial and ethnic groups? What do Asian American women’s work-family conflicts reveal about exclusion and inequality in contemporary U.S. workplaces and policies?