Technologies: Flash, metal structure, Samsung Internet refrigerators, sound system
Keywords: cinema, concrete poetry, installation, narrative, remix
In 1999, Young-hae Chang, a Korean artist with a Ph.D. in aesthetics from the University of Paris, and Marc Voge, an American poet based in Seoul, participated in a Net Art workshop organized by Multimedia Art Asia Pacific, in Brisbane, Australia. They focused on Flash, a powerful Web animation tool that can take years to master. By the second day, they had learned two of this tool's basic features: how to make text appear on the screen and how to set an animation to music. Like Nam June Paik discovering video, a form that would define his artistic practice, Chang and Voge had found their medium. Under the name YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, they produced a series of fast-paced text movies in which words set to jazz appear in rapid succession in the web browser window, filling the screen. The texts offer dramatic stories?written by Chang and Voge in several languages?of sex, violence, alienation, and the insignificance of human life. Rather than emphasizing sophisticated uses of new technologies at the sacrifice of strong writing, Chang and Voge present texts that are engaging and effective, written in a convincing voice.
BUST DOWN THE DOORS! (2000) tells the tale of a midnight raid on a home by unidentified armed aggressors: "They bust open the door while you sleep, rush into your home, enter your bedroom, drag you out of bed, push you in your underwear out into the street..." The point of view begins in the second person, then shifts to first and third person, offering various perspectives on the narrative.
In 2004, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES produced BUST DOWN THE DOOR AGAIN! GATES 0F HELL-VICTORIA VERSION, a remix in which the original text appears in red, superimposed over a photograph of their work as it was displayed on nine Internet refrigerators for an exhibition in the Rodin Gallery at the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. The artists "thought that an Internet refrigerator would be an unusual way of presenting Net Art. Advertisers would have us believe that the Internet refrigerator puts the housewife at the cutting-edge of modern, hi-tech life. We titled our piece THE GATES OF HELL because, on the contrary, we feel that their refrigerator helps keep women in the kitchen."
Most New Media art employs interactivity to engage us as participants in the work. YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES eschews interaction, but the result is hardly a passive experience. By accelerating the pace at which the text appears to a rate just within the threshold of human cognition, the artists coax us into a state of rapt concentration. BUST DOWN THE DOORS! is remarkable for its ability to produce a strong, visceral impact with limited means.
YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES' work is closely related to both concrete poetry and experimental cinema. A connection to film history is explicitly signaled by the artists' consistent use of a title screen that reads "YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES PRESENTS," as well as a numerical countdown that is similar to those that preceded early movies.