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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Korean artist uses Web as her canvas

By Burt Lum

My one chance to go to South Korea last year came and went. This was before SARS, before "Enduring Freedom" and before the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The times have changed over this brief period. It seems so much safer to stay at home and watch events unfold on television. But where's the fun in that?

Unfortunately, my chance to go has passed and I kick myself for the missed opportunity. I get the feeling both Koreas are going to remain in the news.

One site stirring up the imagination is Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries at www.yhchang.com.

Chang is an artist living and working in Seoul, South Korea. She's gaining fame through her collaborative work on the Web using Shockwave Flash, minimalist graphics and jazz as the backdrop to her thought pieces. There are quite a few to choose from. The style consists of rapid-fire text streaming across your browser window in various sizes and animation effects. It can be mesmerizing and irritating at the same time. The supporting jazz track provides punch to strengthen the delivery.

Standout segments include "Samsung," "Dakota" and "Nippon," but the showcase and most timely is "Operation Nukorea."

You can experience the scrolling display at www.yhchang.com/OPERATION_NUKOREA.html. It's an apocalyptic view of events on the Korean Peninsula, dark, frightening, fatalistic and thankfully only hypothetical.

Chang has stripped the Web down to its bare essentials and successfully delivered a sobering message. As minimalist as it might seem, her use of text fonts, animation, music and design are cutting edge.

In an interview in the Iowa Review, Chang says one of her influences was "Andy Warhol, who, more than the Chinese government ever could, succeeded with his Mao portraits in putting a certain face on China."

I find the Asian perspective one that we don't get enough of. Imagine a place like South Korea, where broadband and wireless are as common as microwave ovens. South Korea's messages and trends could very well be the harbingers of things to come. ;-)

Burt Lum is a click away at burt@brouhaha.net.