Individual Work

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES is an artists’ duo consisting of Marc Voge and Young-hae Chang who creates web art in Seoul, South Korea. They use Adobe Flash to create animations that are composed of jazz music and texts that shift along with the rhythm of the music. Their works often deal with contemporary daily lives with an ironic tone and content.

AOMORI AMORI is a seven minute long poem, which was created in 2006. It is one of their works that contains two stories: case No.0384 and case No.0176. These are stories about the incidents between couples that reveal their misunderstanding one another by the work expressing both persons’ thoughts. The word “Aomori” in the title is the name of a prefecture in northern Japan where it is very cold in winter. The stories are about one couple that visited Aomori on their holiday and another couple that wants to separate.

Compared to YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’ other works that are often in black and white, AOMORI AMORI has distinguished colors. “Aomori(青森)” consists of two kanji characters that mean “blue(青)” and “forest(森),” (Figure 1) and there are blue and black texts in this work. These colors express the coldness of Aomori too. Amori means “love” in Italian, which implies that these are stories about love in Aomori, Japan.

Looking at navigations in the work, there are no buttons or options that allow readers to control the stories' progress once they start. Therefore, readers are forced to follow the automatic progress of the stories even as the screen is filled with letters that shift in high speed. Each text comes and goes away so quickly that readers have to concentrate on reading in order to understand the story.

The mixed usage of Japanese and English is unique in AOMORI AMORI. For example, the creators use the numbers to count with the mixture of English and Japanese, and they apply many foreign origin words too (Figure 5). Music and texts affect the reading as well. For example, the music in the first story is continuous. It makes readers feel stressed because they cannot catch the whole story one time. Furthermore, the music might be one of the reasons that readers feel hastened and that the reading pace is very high.

In the second story, the tone of the music changes in a highlight scene to make readers pay attention. Focusing on the texts, all the pages are divided horizontally into two: Japanese is above and English is below. While English texts appear at once, each Japanese letter shows up separately. For instance, conjunctions “それで(then)” and “なぁ(hey/come on)、” (Figure 2) help readers who understand Japanese to understand the content, as they are easy to read and facilitate understanding the connections between sentences, but the words do not really affect the stories. However, the creators put an emphasis on them by putting each of them alone in one screen, which makes readers remember the previous story and imagine the following story with eagerness and perhaps nervousness in some degree. The conjunctions such as “then”, “and”, and “but” are also emphasized by showing up letter by letter. However, the Japanese word arrangements are often in disorder. For instance, Figure 3 shows Kanji letters “一週間” which means “一(one)” and “週間(week)” as they appear in AOMORI AMORI. According to the stylistic of Japanese, however, these words should be ordered as in Figure 4, which is the correct way of writing Japanese.

English seems like it is a subtitle in AOMORI AMORI, since it appears below the foregrounded Japanese characters. Usually, subtitles are put on the bottom of the screen, and the size of letters is small. In this work, English is below Japanese. Furthermore, there is a line that divides the screen. English appears below this line, making it look like a subtitling. It implies that there is a hierarchy between English and Japanese. The hierarchy can give the reader the impression that this work was created in Japanese first, and only after was translated to English.

The main language in this work is Japanese so that it influences readers differently depending on their linguistic ability: people who can understand both languages and people who can only understand one of the languages. The people who can understand both languages can consider the nuances of the story because the English text and Japanese text have different tones. If people cannot understand both languages, they have no choice which language to read. Therefore, their impression of the work differs depending on what language they can understand. The readers who understand Japanese can sense ironic expressions in this work because of words or nuances that are used. On the contrary, people who read this work in English get a different impression. The texts in English are descriptive; on the other hand, the Japanese text contains more emotional words than the English one. People’s ability to read the work in its two languages therefore affects the impression and interpretation of the work.

This entry was drafted by students in Maria Engberg's Language Studies II course, part of the Bachelor of Science program Digital Culture and Communication at Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden) during the spring of 2012.