Paul Groot 1 Jan 2002

Click, Bang

Art is a shock

Interactivity was the most dangerous sign of the last decade.


Hello - Image taken from .

Under the banner of egalitarianism, an idea of two-way control was introduced that has fortunately lost a lot of its influence with the waning of Internet hype. Interactivity, or the emancipation of the mouse, met its nemesis in RSI.

Interactivity is an abomination that has so far met with very little resistance from the art world. One exception to this rule is the strong stance of Young-hae Chang and Marc Voge on the site of their YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. This is first and foremost a typographical site. Happily, it is not concerned with typography merely as such, nor with typography in the service of some higher ideal. The medium itself is the message, but with none of the hard-sell, theoretical moonshine that always seems to have to accompany this kind of talk. Here we have at least been liberated from the bourgeoisie ambiance of Microsoft and Apple typography, from the cool console typography of Unix, from the prison-house of the PDF acrobatics of Adobe, and from the hermetic atmosphere of the new e-book standard.

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES deliver their message - for it is a site with a message - in perfectly clear and precise typefaces and formats, so that form and content go hand in hand. Chang and Voge may work with Macromedia's world-standard Flash, but they use it to produce quite different layouts for each of their texts. Where one design might express the poetry of the contents, another might be the bearer of postmodern premonitions in an almost revolutionary style of sloganeering. They can be poetic or strictly prosaic, or as jazzy as revolutionary punk. They have an aversion to 'interactivity'; as far as they're concerned, it's just a nuisance. Click, bang. Chang and Voge scorn the crassness of the interactive milieu, which they see as a place where you can be rewarded for conditioned behaviour, like a rat in Skinner's box. But, art isn't a reward, it's a shock, or something approaching it. Something we would call beauty.

This is precisely why YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES merits attention. There is, of course, a plethora of conflicting opinion about the Internet, but you rarely hear voices courageous enough to broach the subject of real art on the Net. If you're an old-fashioned aesthete, you usually put your work on the Net in the form of a little shrine. If you're a conventional visual artist, you use the Net to display reproductions of your original works. And if you're an Internet artist, you find yourself making excessive use of Flash, that amazingly popular Internet program. YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES uses Flash too, and some may think that's a pity, but with their reservations about interactivity, they're a voice crying out in the wilderness. Anyone with any claim to artistic sensitivity should take note of their cry of distress, or their artistic program.