CATALOGUE Among the Garbage and the Flowers - Flipbook - Page 21
Jinjoon Lee’s visual installation Moanaia is based on the
research of Hohee Cho, who studies medical history at the
Faculty of History, University of Oxford. This art is an
extension of Jinjoon Lee’s previous work on ‘Liminal
Space’ that studies stairs, stages, and gardens. It delivers a
virtual experience of an aquarium. It also indirectly
projects the technological development of the
contemporary world along with the culture and
environment of Oceania, largely neglected in world
history, which is centered on the northern hemisphere.
Moanaia is a compound word made of moana, meaning
‘large ocean’ in Polynesian, and -ia from Oceania. Made of
small islands scattered across the South Pacific, the South
Pacific is a liminal area intersecting the 180th meridian.
This area, obscured on the Atlantic-centered map, is
difficult to travel to, although it takes up a massive space on
earth. Its well-preserved environment lends itself to such
paradoxical geographical remoteness. On the other hand,
this area has been experiencing wave upon wave of severe
illnesses since the age of empires, armed with technology,
driven by colonial expansion.
The video provides a strong immersive experience of the
real world and the virtual space through editing with visual
AI technology. Wandering human shadows, objectified
nature, and the history of Oceania represented by
individual statues is posed together to ask an existential
question on humanity’s utopia. Particularly, it questions
the peril of science, technology, and civilization to the
future environment of Oceania.
Whilst living next to the Greenwich Observatory in
London, the prime meridian, I wondered every night:
What is happening on the other side of the world, at the
180th parallel? Can the attitude of setting this place—
London—as the ‘beginning point’, the ‘standard’, possibly
Doesn’t the anthropocentric mentality of valuing science
and reason already objectify the peripheral and justify
Who lives in the South Pacific, on the other side of the
globe? And how do they live? Has our civilization grown
any closer to the ideal future that humanity has dreamt of?
And where in the world do the souls of the fish go? Are
they here, with us still?
Researcher’s note (Hohee Cho)
People of Oceania were historically vulnerable to
introduced epidemics. The earliest recorded epidemics in
Oceania are found from the late 18th century. Captain
Cook's visit to Tonga in 1773 and Spanish expedition to
Tahiti in 1774 left marks of epidemics. Vancouver's trip
introduced dysentery to Tahiti. This dysentery epidemic
later spread to Fiji in 1791. In Tonga, two influenza
epidemics occurred in 1773 and 1777 between Cook's
expedition. Australian aboriginal people suffered smallpox
epidemics in the 1780s. A terrible dysentery epidemic was
recorded in Fiji between 1802 and 1803. Dysentery killed
so many people in 1804 Hawaii that not all dead could be
buried. A large proportion of aboriginal people in Australia
were killed by smallpox between 1829 and 1831. Samoa
recorded influenza epidemics in 1830.
The Pacific islands suffered tremendous losses through
contact with Europeans. The advent of the Second World
War led to further violation of the lands and seas of
Oceania. This was a war fought between white Europeans
and mainland Asians, not in their lands, but on the Pacific
islands. Bombs were dropped and jungles were scorched.
The damage did not stop with the end of the Second
World War. During the Cold War, the Pacific islands were
subject to testing nuclear weapons by the American and
French governments. Under the ocean’s surface, more lives
have been lost since the 20th century. The damage extends
to the marine environment of the wider Pacific area. Coral
reefs, home to a quarter of the marine species, are killed by
the rise of ocean temperature. At the Great Barrier Reef,
mass bleaching took place in 1983, 1987, 1998, 2002,
2016, 2017 and again in 2020. Only skeletons can be found
in more than half of the Great Barrier Reef. The rise of
ocean temperature also created the blob, a mass of marine
heatwave in the Pacific Ocean since 2013. The blob caused
a sudden drop in plankton population that led to the deaths
of one million seabirds off the North American coast.
Accordingly, thousands of sea lions, whales and puffins
died due to disruption in the food chains. On the other
hand, millions of starfish died off for warmer temperature
and unidentified epidemic diseases. In Australia, 2018, ten
thousand native fishes died off resulting from pollution runoff from rivers.
These devastating changes, rarely seen or talked about
leave invisible scars on the Ocean. In this fictional
landscape, the souls of those lost can live on.