hometown Seoul, Korea (Young-hae Chang); Ann Arbor, Michigan (Marc Voge)
favorite beatle Yoko Ono
favorite late-night snack They are trying not to eat after dinner.
favorite word in the english language “the”/“duh” (one and the same, depending on one’s native language)
Q Tell me a bit about your writing process. Does the music inspire your writing or does the writing inspire your music choice? Does your creative process involve a division of labor?
A It works both ways; sometimes the music comes first, sometimes the language does. It happens in bits and pieces. We don’t have to worry about the labor. We are a corporation. We don’t have time for that. We are the managers. We are the type of managers that believe in delegating responsibilities.
Q Could you talk a bit about your typeface, specifically its origin and aesthetic significance?
A We are trying to communicate arbitrariness. It was an arbitrary decision. But it’s true that it’s quite pretty. And Monaco is also a very nice name. Monaco. It’s a principality. All our work is set in Monaco. It’s a wonderful place to be set.
Q As an English student I tend to approach poetry through close reading, something the pace and viewing process of your poetry doesn’t allow for. Is this intentional? Would your work lose its integrity if reproduced as a text, likely for the purpose of textual analysis?
A That’s a really good question. [Close reading] seems similar to the traditional French way of learning. For centuries the French used to read Greek and Latin and translate it into French. It was their method for getting as close as they could to the thinker. We’re kind of the opposite of that. The experience of our work is an effort to get beyond the superficial. You could go to the Yale Art Gallery and look at the works in a cursory way — just look. Or you could go with a professor and really engage. The same goes for streaming media. You make of it what you want. We get a lot of people saying it’s coming too fast. Very thoughtful people. They ask us to slow it down. But we want you to make that effort. We just present. It’s up to you to decide.
Q Do you enjoy being welcomed into the academic fold by schools like Yale and Columbia? Do you feel it trivializes your work, or establishes its value and autonomy?
A You know, we were talking about that at lunch. We want to be loved. It’s a pretty basic thing. It’s like being part of two very opposing societies, like being inside the door of a secret society at a place like Yale, and inside the Playboy mansion. In the creative world, you are not necessarily who you think you are — and all the more so once you’re dead. We live in a period where you can instantaneously relay people’s lives around the world. The nature of the instantaneous is more important than the reason for that person or his ideas being broadcast. We take the same attitude towards ourselves. We consider ourselves dead.
Q Is there a difference in the art you create for institutions such as the Tate Modern rather than that which you make public domain? How does your audience play into your artistic process?
A Yes. Creating art for places like the Tate is more demanding. They invite you to make a comment on something they are interested in, but which you may not be. We ignore the art world and what it means, even though we are part of it. We write about the assignment handed to us for institutions. Usually you write about things you know about, but the art world is this crazy place that believes artists can create in a nutshell what other people think really hard about. We take that to the extreme. We tried to get away form the art world, from Paris (we could never live and create in New York). Computers are part of a daily life: Why would you want to do that with an art gallery in mind? It would change our creation. The only way for the Net art experience to be satisfying is for it to be up there with TV. At the start of our career, no one wanted to hear that. The Internet was referred to as the “Information Super Highway.” That’s a term you no longer hear for a reason. All we could think was “no.” The only way you could get people to use the Internet was to make it fun.
Q Where, if at all, do you find a community of contemporaries? Are there other working artists or poets that affect your work?
A We just did our first commercial art show. We consider ourselves serious artists, and yet we never considered that our art was a commodity. If you’re creative it might be a better idea not to be in New York City, immersed in that commodified art world. But if they are accepting people like us, why wouldn’t you love that? We love everybody and everything.
The big polemic around our work initially was that it wasn’t interactive. Very serious curators didn’t want to incorporate into this digital canon of artists because it wasn’t interactive. We didn’t respond to the discussion of interactivity going on around us. We just cultivated our own garden. Interactivity is boring — well, not boring, but unfulfilling. But honestly, we just didn’t know how to do interactivity. But our methods have been validated since — by you. Look at YouTube. Hit and play, hit and play. We wanted to give you a full-screen experience with little or no download time. We resolved that issue (which we consider to be of paramount importance) using just a 56k modem. 20 seconds seems to be the psychological threshold. If you had to wait any longer, you would click away. The only way we could do that was to eliminate images. Young-hae disagreed, but she’s just the CEO. You’re the most entertained by what is the easiest. Our goal was just to work together and for us to avoid the trauma of the art world.