Medium
Web-based video, black and white, and sound (stereo)
Dimensions
Duration: 18min, 30sec
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artists 2018
Reference
T15753

Summary

THE ART OF SLEEP 2006 is an online artwork, a web-based animation in black and white with sound that lasts eighteen and a half minutes. The animation consists of capitalised black text on a white background set to the rhythm of jazz music, a soundtrack which was composed by the artists using software programmes such as GarageBand and Logic Pro. The animation intentionally cannot be paused or toggled through, thereby denying the viewer control and distinguishing the work from many other contemporaneous works of net art which are typically characterised by interactivity and dependence upon viewers’ active participation. THE ART OF SLEEP was originally commissioned to coincide with the frieze art fair in London in 2006 for presentation on Tate’s Intermedia Art micro site – an extension of the main Tate website which was actively updated between 2008 and 2010 and contains an archive of net art projects from 2000 onwards. The project was dedicated to art that not only ‘engages the use of new media, sound and performance’ but addresses ‘art that comments on the social and political implications of new technology and practices that challenge traditional ideas of the art object; including work that is process-driven, participatory or interactive’ (Tate Intermedia Art, ‘About’, http://www2.tate.org.uk/intermediaart/about/, accessed March 2018).

In this work, the artists employ the font Monaco which is a monospaced, san-serif typeface created by the graphic designers Susan Kare and Kris Holmes; it appeared early on in Apple Mac computer operating systems. The letter ‘o’ is replaced with a numerical ‘0’ (distinguished by the diagonal bar through it) at every instance within the animation, thus creating an association with computing binary code. Using this visually neutral yet distinctive style, the text has a semi-narrative and poetic approach, describing an anonymous individual’s attempt to sleep and their being disturbed by both a neighbour’s dog and ruminations about the meaning of art, the art world and its machinations. The theorist and historian of net art, Mark Tribe, has written about the subject of the work:

The mainstream art world is, in fact, the subject of THE ART OF SLEEP. Commissioned to coincide with frieze, the hottest art fair at a particularly market-driven moment, THE ART OF SLEEP features an insomniac narrator who ridicules the art world as ‘fancy-pants, smart-aleck, self-anointed so-and-sos’ and compares art to ‘the business of religion: it’s pretty persuasion. It’s hocus pocus. It’s a conspiracy.’ … the narrative shifts ‘from metaphor to materiality’ and in the process, becomes unhinged. In our narrator’s words, it ‘leaves the bakery’. Art no longer resembles the dog, ‘it is the dog … art is everything. Not, art can be anything. A fart is art! I kid you not! It’s Marcel Duchamp all over again! It’s Air de Paris! See?’ What are we to make of this?
(Mark Tribe, ‘An Ornithology of Net Art’, Intermedia Art, 2006, http://www2.tate.org.uk/intermediaart/entry15274.shtm, accessed 1 March 2018.)

YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES is a Seoul-based artistic collective formed in 1999 and consisting of the Korean artist Young-Hae Chang and the American artist Marc Voge. They are known for their distinctive web-based artworks that deploy a signature style of monochromatic text synchronised to appear in time to self-scored, jazzy soundtracks, as seen in THE ART OF SLEEP.

Also in Tate’s collection is a companion piece to this work, THE ART OF SILENCE 2006 (Tate T15754), in which the text takes the form of an interview between the artists and Jemima Rellie, Tate’s former Head of Digital Programmes, who worked with the artists on the commission.

Further reading
Thom Swiss, ‘Distance, Homelessness, Anonymity and Insignificance: An Interview with YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’, The Iowa Review Web, 15 December 2002, http://thestudio.uiowa.edu/tirw/TIRW_Archive/tirweb/feature/younghae/interview.html, accessed 1 March 2018.
Mark Tribe, ‘An Ornithology of Net Art’, Intermedia Art, 2006, http://www2.tate.org.uk/intermediaart/entry15274.shtm, accessed 1 March 2018.
Ahyoung Yoo, ‘The Problems of Digital Utopia: YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES on the Web’, 1 April 2015, https://aaa.org.hk/en/ideas/ideas/the-problems-of-digital-utopia-young-hae-chang-heavy-industries-on-the-web, accessed 1 March 2018.

Katy Wan and Patricia Falcao
March 2018

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