Commodity & Ideology Pt. II


An artist residency with participants from North Korea, China, and US / South Korea artists results in failure due to rising diplomatic uncertainty and tension. The artists are encouraged to take photographs for incusion into an exhibition at the Church Center for the United Nations in their absence.


Work in concert with the curator to design an exhibition and compendium website to convey the residency, grow the audience, and promote peace through cross-cultural understanding and dialog

background & content

Korea Art Forum had invited three North Korean Artists, one artist from China, and one artist from South Korea / United States to meet in New York City for a month-long residency program. Culminating in an exhibition at the United Nations Church Center, this would be the first time North Korean artists would have the opportunity to visit the United States.

Initially, the US and North Korean governments were responsive to the cross-cultural effort, and a visa interview was scheduled at the United States Embassy in Beijing. While in Beijing the North Korean artists were encouraged to tour and take photographs throughout the city. Over the course of a week tensions escalated between North Korea and the United States, the interview was canceled, and the North Korean artists were recalled to Pyongyang. Knowing now that the residency as intended would not take place, the two remaining Chinese and South Korean artists would take pictures as they continued their travels.

A collected set of over 5000 images would then be the basis for realizing Commodity and Ideology Pt. 2 at the United Nations Church Center and a compendium website at

project deliverables

Exhibition at the Church Center for the United Nations

Compendium website to further illustrate the core components of the project

Catalog highlighting presentation

Work with stakeholders, users, and content as a starting point to work the problem

Understand how we can bring together the mission of Korea Art Forum, the photographs, and the audience to develop the expected deliverables and user experience

exhibition design & planning

x5 Posters, 37 x 56.5” in. each
1. From the 5000 + images, 250 photographs from each artist are selected at random and placed in a grid to compose a poster. The dimensions of each poster are scaled to the width of individual wall tiles at the United Nations Church Center.
x1 Combination Poster, 37 x 56.5 in.
2. A sixth poster is a combination of 50 photos from each artist selected and placed at random
x5 Printed Photographs, 16 x 20 in.
3. Opposite each artist poster on the far wall are individual photographs selected by the artists themselves
x Printed Takeaways, 2.26 x 3.7 in.
4. As a takeaway, each of the five individual photographs are scaled down to the size as appears in the grid posters. The opposite side of these takeaways contain additional exhibition information

compendium website --> research & requirements

Using the exhibition as a springboard, design an online experience to introduce users to the components and backstory of Commodity & Idology 2.

User Research was gathered largely in situ during exhibition related events

Research Takeaways

  • There is a great interest and curiousity on the culture and society in North Korea
  • Many feel that they have limited ability to effect any constuctive change due to the diplomatic impasse
  • Efforts to promote avenues of cultural & regional dialog are appreciated
  • Resources to help understand put into context the artistic and cultural differences of art in the region are limited

    User Goals & Requirements

      our high-level goal is to give users a sense of the curatorial purpose behind this exhibition. Users will be able to explore the photo collection and share components of the project with others.

      • Be able to explore the elements of the exhibition
      • Provide users with deeper curatorial insight
      • Allow users to dive into artist bios and external links
      • Give users the ability to select and share facets of the project


    low-fidelity wireframes

    user flow

    functional prototype

    current build offline for usablility testing & pending feedback

    built using HTML/CSS/JS, & semantic-ui

    exhibition catalog
    144 pp.

    As an extension of the curatorial remarks, the presentation was restructured into a flip-book format. The left-hand pages present a chronological scroll of images and notes taken in Beijing alongside the North Korean artists. The right-hand pages scroll randomly through selected photographs from all five artists.

    exhibition photos

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