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  • Date
    08 NOVEMBER 2023
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    The Cyberpunk World of Yūn Mago Is Captivating Fusions of Future and Craftsmanship

    Welcome to the futuristic dimension of Yūn Mago! Yūn Mago is a Filipina content creator and multimedia artist based in the United States. Her initial approach was related to film and cinematography transforming stories into visual and immersive dimensions. If you've encountered the captivating fusion of cosplay and craftsmanship in the form of cyber-punk-inspired mecha headphones and headsets, you owe a debt of gratitude to this Filipino-American multimedia artist. 

    Yūn Mago has shifted her focus towards creating wearable sculptures, particularly in the realm of cyberpunk aesthetics and has managed to infuse her own unique expression into this futuristic and nostalgically inspired art form. Outside of school, she learned to make crude electronics from her late grandfather, who had been an engineer for the military. Her grandfather would often be asked to repair the neighbours’ electronics in exchange for other goods or food. This sense of community is something that had been lost on Yūn while living in the States and something she has come to appreciate more and more every day. She thinks the resourcefulness of her grandfather in repairing these machines combined with the inherent resourcefulness ingrained in her education in the Philippines is something she carries with her as she continues in her design work. This experience drives her to foster a community where knowledge of art, wisdom, and creativity can flourish.

    She is eager to collaborate with more artists and creatives to further her project ŪNIT. Those include, but are not limited to musical artists and filmmakers. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting visuals of Yūn Mago. Let her magic transport you to a world where individuality is celebrated, and where the power of future can heal and empower.

    Can you tell us about your journey into the world of immersive fashion and graphic design? What initially sparked your interest in these fields?

    My initial field of study was cinematography and film. Growing up, I was heavily sheltered and turned to learning about life outside of my home through various TV shows and movies. I was attracted to studying film through its capacity to convey meaningful messages that transcend language barriers. As I delved deeper into my studies at university, I began to explore interdisciplinary practices. Here, I discovered that crafting tangible creations offered a unique facet to achieve catharsis with my creative vision. Wearable sculptures provided something that I could appreciate outside of the screen; something I could carry with me in real life. Though, I'm grateful for my education in cinema and image design as they aid in documenting my current wearable sculptures through a more holistic sense.

    How would you describe your design aesthetic and the overall vision behind your creativity as a multimedia artist and content creator?

    A large part of my design approach can be attributed to utilizing the resources available to me at hand and I constantly seek innovative ways to minimize waste throughout my process. I believe that we already have the materials necessary to create; it is merely up to us to find new perspectives as to how we utilize these materials.

    Can you elaborate on the inspiration behind your visual and immersive pieces?How do you approach the process of designing these pieces?

    Throughout my artistic journey, my primary goal has always been to weave a narrative. With ŪNIT, my inspiration is deeply rooted in my personal journey, encompassing the echoes of the past, the essence of the present, and the hopes of my future. When I begin the contemplation period before designing a piece, I often reread my old journals and look at photos of myself as a child, however painful those memories might be.

    There has always been a dream to make my inner child happy.

    Each piece has been a reminder to my present self that despite the hardships of my childhood, something of profound worth has blossomed. I'd like to unearth the traumatic experiences and the glimmers of joy, to resonate with the stories of others and to reach emotional catharsis.

    Future and immersive techniques are becoming increasingly important in the fashion and design industry. How challenging is it for you to incorporate these values into your design process?

    I'm frequently asked whether 3D design is integrated into my creative process; as of now, it isn't. My most recent encounter with 3D design goes back to my schooling in Grade 6... though I do fondly recollect the joy I felt from its intricate challenges.

    When I reflect upon my process, a revelation I’ve come across is that ŪNIT is inherently more analogue than I had initially perceived, despite its futuristic themes. I firmly believe that the true essence of immersion from my project lies not in the technology or sensory experiences involved, but in the community that has grown around it.

    What role does collaboration play in your work? Have you collaborated with other creatives, and if so, how has that influenced your creative output?

    Unfortunately, one of the later sentiments I’ve come to internalize surrounding art school has been its ability to facilitate networking among artists. I was not only paying tuition to learn new techniques, but to also form lasting friendships with my future “coworkers”. It’s something I deeply regret not taking advantage of while I was still studying.

    Due to my introvertedness, I was often too shy to seek out collaborations for my own projects in school. It was only after leaving and working as a studio manager under a cinematographer and installation artist did I come to realize the importance of reaching out to others. I had taken work in an artist’s loft which housed photographers, seamstresses, laser cutting designers, and plenty of other disciples of art. It was my manager that urged me to make connections.

    I think beautiful things often emerge when we embrace the interplay between our unique experiences and those of others. I try to approach every collaboration with photographers and other designers in this way; to create new shared narratives that harmonize our honed skills and cherished memories.

    Being a Filipina multidisciplinary artist based in the United States, how does your background culture and environment influence your designs? Are there any specific elements of your roots that inspire you?

    Last year, I had the chance to visit my family in the Philippines after not seeing them for 4 years. It was jarring to revisit my childhood home and the old school where I first began to take interest in robotics. But, it refreshed my memory. The Philippines, in contrast to the thriving technology hubs of its neighboring Asian nations, has yet to establish itself as a similar focal point of technological innovation; a majority of the lessons we learned during these STEM classes were taken directly from the American curriculum. The resources we were provided in school were not as updated as those I had encountered when I studied robotics in the States. Nevertheless, these lessons were invaluable to growing my foundation in STEM.

    Outside of school, I learned to make crude electronics from my late grandfather, who had been an engineer for the military. My grandfather would often be asked to repair our neighbours’ electronics in exchange for other goods or food. This sense of community is something that had been lost on me while living in the States and something I’ve come to appreciate more and more every day.

    I think the resourcefulness of my grandfather in repairing these machines combined with the inherent resourcefulness ingrained in my education in the Philippines is something I carry with me as I continue in my design work. My grandfather’s legacy continues to guide and shape my creative journey. Just as he had been an integral part of a community that shared knowledge and craftsmanship, I aspire to nurture this tradition within my own realm of my project. This experience drives me to foster a community where knowledge of art, wisdom, and creativity can flourish.

    What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a creative, and how have you overcome them?

    I consider myself to be a very solitary person, not just in my creative process. This has often led to several significant challenges that have tested yet ultimately shaped my artistic journey.

    Building a connection with other artists has always proven to be a daunting task for me, especially when I tend to find comfort in solitude. Overcoming this has required me to deliberately break free from my creative “cocoon” and reach out to others. But, being able to share ideas and experiences with like-minded artists has only enriched my creative process. I think the joy I’ve garnered from this has outweighed the anxieties of rejection or failure.

    Effectively conveying ŪNIT’s themes with little misintepration has been an ongoing challenge, too... I hope to be able to hone my communication skills by engaging in thoughtful conversations with my audience (one of the reasons why I’m so grateful to meet my supporters through conventions!), sharing the stories behind my pieces, and using various media like film and photography to provide context. It is through these efforts that I aim to help my supporters grasp the intended themes and emotions behind my works.

    In an era where trends on the internet can be ephemeral, creating art with a lasting impact is a common obstacle for creatives. I hope to address this by focusing on timeless themes and portraying the finite narrative of my upbringing, rather than following trends. I’d like to stay true to myself, even if who I am does not align with my audience’s expectations. Creating tangible sculptures has also afforded my art a sense of permanence beyond the transient nature of the internet.

    How do you think digital design can lead to a positive impact on humans and what advice would you give to future creatives?

    I believe that as design becomes more accessible on digital platforms, it can lead to a greater sense of connection between humans. More stories can be heard, more people can be seen. In terms of incorporating digital design, it can be used as a tool to merely further the understanding of our capabilities. Similar to how prosthetics serve as a vital aid for individuals with disabilities, digital design can be viewed as an extension of the possibilities that are already within our minds. It cannot replace us as humans but enables our visions to be executed effectively.

    Are there any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon?

    Definitely! After having taken an indefinite hiatus from my project, I’m eager to collaborate with more artists and creatives to further ŪNIT. Those include, but are not limited to musical artists and filmmakers.

    A letter to your future self. What would you write?

    I hope I make it to that point in my life, firstly. “Please look back on me with kindness and practice gratitude for what has been. To future YŪN, always remember to reach earnestly into the earth, for it is your roots that have anchored you and enabled your growth up to this very moment! You cannot shed the most human parts of yourself.”

    Interview by @mirawanderlust

    Images courtesy of @yunmago