Subliminal Suicide

사람의 머리카락보다 미세한 [mise-munji]

Media Studies Project, Royal College of Art, 2019
Tutor : Ifor Duncan

Particulate matter ­­

Toxic Haze

Fine Particulate matter

Fine Dust

Ultrafine Dust


These are the words that we often encounter in South Korean daily news. Particulate matter, called 미세먼지 (mise munji), has been a very serious matterin South Korea for the past few years and around the world.

Particulate Matter (PM) is a microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the air composed of ion elements, Carbon Compounds and Metal elements. According to the report of the World Atmospheric Annual Report by US Institute of Health and Environmental Affairs, Korea’s annual average of ultrafine dust (PM2.5) has increased in 2015 becoming seventh worst air pollution worldwide.

Particulate matter is systematized by picometer, also shortened as PM.

Human hair is around 50 to 70 picometer which is around 0.005mm-0.007mm when converted to familiar unit. Dust particles are PM10, 5-7times smaller than human hair, which is an inhalable dust built around dust, pollen, mold and etc. Then there’s PM2.5 which is the fine particles. They can be deposited in deeper lung and stored up to a week. Ultra fine particles are PM0.1 which can be passed into our circulatory system causing general health issues such as, headache and dizziness, skin disease, eye disease which eventually leads to rhinitis, asthma, sinusitis, pneumonia, vascular disease and etc.

We can track the air quality through Air Visual website or simply on daily weather pages to prevent from outdoor activities. It is highly recommended to wear fine dust filter masks for bad days. We are trying to avoid the toxic haze and from the outcome it will bring.

PM is caused by industrial facilities that drift on the prevailing winds across the Yellow Sea from China, power plants and emissions from vehicles. The particles are tangled in the moisture of the air causing smog, blocking view of the landscape or city scape as seen in the photo above. Exhaust from car, bus and all types of vehicles effect the analysis of the particulate matter and worsen the influence.

Shortly after creating the photo collage of everyday sky, noticed that each photo was taken inside vehicle. Even though there are campaigns and news suggesting us to reduce the use, and stay in safe, we are unconsciously making the same mistakes over and over again.

With the research of the particulate matter comparing to the human hair, I installed 1:1 scaled photo projected installation. Human hair as a threshold to particulate matter, I filled the space with a fine thread representing the dust particles. With the collection of Seoul sky photographs being projected onto a three-dimensional space, it built the interior of a car, to communicate the seriousness and the cause of the problem we are constantly creating. I perceived that many people in Seoul and around the world, including myself, are not so much aware of the emergency of the catastrophe, and that this installation could alert people to consider about this issue more seriously.

Therefore, I can tell that this installation is strong message for all of us who are scared of illness, disease and death, but taking no action to prevent.


Image source: Namu wiki/ Particulate Matter (Atmospheric satellite image on the day of the January 14, 2019 ultra-fine dust emergency reduction measure)

Image Source :Screen shot from the youtube chanel explaning the real time situation in South Korea

Image source: Bliss Airpage describing the effects of the toxic haze to human body