Lisboa 20 Arte Contemporanea launches next Thursday, May 24th, LX 2.0 Project’s new comission: Manhã dos Mongolóides (Morning of the Mongoloids) by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.
For LX 2.0 (http://www.lisboa20.pt/lx20), Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries created the Portuguese version of Morning of the Mongoloids, the laughable, yet tragic (and extremely ironic) story of a white men that wakes up after a night of “drunken partying” to find himself no longer who he used to be. Without any motive or underlying logic, the man wakes up and gradually realizes he is Korean. He looks Korean, he speaks Korean and he lives in Seoul, when just the night before he was a white man living in a western country. The piece is a delightful insight on the prejudiced views towards Asian cultures and specially, Korean culture. Not only are we faced with the main character’s stereotypes of Asian people, as he gradually comes to terms with the improbable change, we, westerners, are confronted with our own biased views of the rest of the world. It is us, not “china men” who are being ironically portrayed. It is a mirror-like device and it is returning us our own p!
rejudiced image of ourselves.
Almost ten years ago, in 1999, in a net art workshop in Brisbane, Australia, Young-Hae Chang and Marc Voge, a Korean artist and an American poet, were learning how to work with Flash. Instead of fully mastering the digital tool, they concentrated in two of its basic operations, making text show up in the screen and setting an animation to music. These two features, which they came to master after a couple of days, would define Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ artistic practice in the years to come.
Reacting against interactivity as a distinctive feature of new media art, and internet art in particular (the duo has openly stated their dislike for interactivity, comparing interactive art to a Skinner box, but without the reward given after the completion of the desired task), this Seoul-based duo has created fast paced Flash movies combining text and jazz music, drawing inspiration from concrete poetry and experimental film, and through which they have narrated stories in languages such as Korean, English, Spanish, German, Japanese or Portuguese.
Their net art projects (if you are willing to compromise enough to call them that) are stripped of everything usually associated with the field: first of all, no interactivity whatsoever, no hidden buttons, no hipertextual aesthetics, the narrative is as linear and closed as a traditional novel; no graphics, no colours (black rules with a few exceptions of blue and red), no photos, no gadgets at all. It is a textual aesthetic that imposes itself through a web browser window and in which viewers are immersed in strong stories that everyone understands and can relate to.