Commonwealth and Council

Familial Technologies

Jennifer Moon


Family is often the first institution we encounter: through it, we learn to give and receive love—conditioning how we will transact affection in every other intimate and institutional relationship. Family is also often the site of formative trauma, which similarly will manifest in how we treat ourselves and others for the rest of our lives. In both scenarios, we become institutional subjects, shaped by forces and circumstances largely beyond our choosing. The structure of the nuclear family is encoded throughout all other U.S. institutions, while the state, in turn, pervades the family. Familial Technologies is a collaboration between Jennifer Moon and her family—her mother Wan Hee, father Kyung Ho, and older brother Stefan. Taking this show as a prompt for familial transformation, the Moons have attended weekly family therapy for the past seven months, facilitated by psychologist Kris Yi. As therapy continues over the course of the show, new video from the sessions (without sound) is added each week, projected onto a wall amidst a series of diagrams, through one of two openings on a large entangled black hole sculpture. Another possible reality, consisting of a virtual world game and relics from family art therapy, appears across the other opening.

Moon uses chaos theory to diagram the relationship between family and state as a self-promulgating dynamic system—revealing its underlying dependence on initial "seed values" and describing the feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, and fractals that emerge. GIFs of fractals demonstrate scalable self-similarity: zooming in on the fractal only presents the same form, repeated over and over in a similar pattern, making it difficult if not impossible to deduce scale. Moon draws a clear parallel between fractal repetition and the reiterative action of trauma. How does one escape the feedback loop? Perhaps by thinking of identities and emotions as technologies. Emotions, the products of intra-acting [1] identities, exhibit properties similar to a double pendulum—another system governed by chaotic behavior. Moon subjects emotions to a version of the double-slit experiment (used to demonstrate that light and matter can show characteristics of both particles and waves, and the probabilistic—and queer—nature of quantum mechanics), and repurposes celestial navigation tools to both plot the emotional patterns that keep us locked into a 5% understanding of the universe—knowable, binary, hierarchical, and capitalized—and formulate new ways to navigate feelings, memory, and trauma, beyond the 5% [2].

Avakin Life, a virtual world game, offers another apparatus for exploration. Moon’s introduction to Avakin Life came when she and her current partner Dan/Dani courted there for a month before becoming intimate in person. Here, Moon uses it to expand upon the explorations of trauma, love, intimacy, and family dynamics conducted in the “real life” family therapy sessions. Through avatars and virtual world intra-actions, the Moon family enters the platform each week to refigure their relationships in an alternate reality, experimenting with identity and emotions and discovering different modes of intimacy. Each member of the family has a dedicated wall in the exhibition, displaying their Avakin Life avatars as player cards, and “vision boards” holding relics from art therapy sessions. A monitor plays back their ongoing weekly Avakin Life sessions.

When our real and imaginary lives coincide, we get double vision. This can lead to confusion, but it also gives us more to see. A black hole, like dark matter, dark energy, and quantum physics, is unknowable and unobservable—it points toward realities beyond the 5%. We need not fear this abundant darkness; we may opt to enter it.

Laub and Jennifer Moon: ✨Mr. Snuggles FOREVER✨ (2018) makes a second appearance in the front room of the gallery. This magic-infused installation, initially exhibited in the stairwell of the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, celebrates the life, death, and afterlife of Mr. Snuggles, Moon’s beloved canine familial. A selection of the original pictorial tapestries lines the walls while Mr. Snuggles’ bones take flight on wings of mouth-blown glass. Taxidermied and transformed into a fanny pack, Mr. Snuggles lies curled up, awaiting your snuggles.

Thank you to Christopher Yin and John Yoon for their generous support of ✨Mr. Snuggles FOREVER✨.

Jennifer Moon (she/they; b. 1973, Lafayette, Indiana) is a Los Angeles based artist, writer, adventurer, and revolutionary, with the appropriate qualifying degrees. Within realities of the impossible, the unknown, and the unimaginable, Moon is an android-humanoid from the quantum realm, committed to understanding human emotions and creating alternative outcomes of art and life. Drawing from personal experience, blending queer life, science, self-help, pop culture, and fantasy, Moon presents possible futures and ways of being, beyond the 5% universe. Moon recently held exhibitions at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, and the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles. She has had solo exhibitions at Equitable Vitrines, Los Angeles; Transmission Gallery, Glasgow; China Art Objects, Los Angeles; Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles; and Tunnel, New York. Moon’s work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, Artforum, DIS Magazine, and Daily Serving. Moon is the recipient of the CCF Fellowship for Visual Artists, the KAFA Award, and the Mohn Public Recognition Award for their work in Made in L.A. 2014 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. This is Moon’s third solo exhibition with Commonwealth and Council.

Laub (b. 1986, Waynesboro, VA) is an interdisciplinary artist who works across glass, ceramics, wood, textiles, sound, and drawing. His practice often considers his personal life, making objects, sensations, and worlds that speak to the difficulties and merits of human connection, self-care, and learning. By approaching tangible materials in creative ways, he materializes the fleeting and transitional nature of emotion and being, and makes visible the human necessity to process, connect, and care for one another. Laub's work has recently been exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Visitor Welcome Center, Armory Center for the Arts, and Commonwealth and Council, and has been featured in Artforum, the Los Angeles Times, and Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. He holds an MFA in Glass from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in Craft Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. 


[1] Intra-action is a neologism offered by feminist physicist Karen Barad as part of her theory of agential realism, which acknowledges our reality as co-constitutive—emerging from the entanglement of bodies, material-discursive practices, and apparatuses. Interactions assume that individuals, objects, and phenomena preexist their entanglements.

[2] “The 5%” refers to our 5% universe. 95% of the known universe/multiverse is made up of unknowable and unobservable substances and forces—so-called dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter and dark energy, combined with the unobservable queer behavior of quantum particles—which make up all the observable matter in the universe—point to an understanding that we live in a very limited 5% perception of “all that is.”