The Art of Sleep: Kinetic Typography and Speed

We’ve already had quite a few posts on Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, ranging from a comparison with punk aesthetics to an assertion that YHCHI could be viewed as neo-Beat.  Both of these touch on what I was most fascinated by in DAK0TA: the speed of the text, moving so fast that the viewer can hardly keep a fast enough reading pace.  As punk, the speed recall’s the movements fast-tempo music; as Beat, it recalls Kerouac’s spontaneous prose (or even, I would argue, some of Ginsberg’s more rambling poetry).  However you look at, the speed of the words in DAK0TA, set to their quick jazz rhythm, seems to overtake the piece.  We are not as concerned with content, because the text moves so quickly that we may not even be able to comprehend it all, and are left instead with vague, peripheral impressions.

So how might kinetic typography use a different kind of rhythm, a different pace?  What might this difference in speed do to the way I approach the works of YHCHI?  These questions brought me to another work by YHCHI — THE ART 0F SLEEP, a piece commissioned by the Tate Gallery.

The premise is this: the narrator cannot sleep, and while wondering why, takes us through a long (18 minutes or so) thought-monologue on the nature of art.   Is art futile?  Can art solve world problems?  Can everything be art?  The narrator answers with a resounding: “ART IS EVERYTHING.” THE ART 0F SLEEP contrasts well with DAK0TA; in comparison, the former is downright ponderous and meditative.  It goes by slowly enough that the viewer has enough time to read it fully at a comfortable pace, and sometimes slow enough that there are small (very small, I’m talking seconds; this isn’t painfully slow) moments to begin to reflect on the statements. There is a sprinkling of restlessness — appropriate to an insomniac narrator — primarily conveyed through the speed of the text flashing by.  Near the end of the piece, the narrator lists begins to list off, alphabetically, everything that could be considered art, and there is an increase in speed here too. The slower pace still plays with a sense of spontaneity and seems primarily meant to reflect the rambling kind of syntax that feels natural for an interior monologue.


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