this past summer, nico and i had the privilege of visiting walter de maria’s lightning field, a land art sculpture built in 1977 on 1 mile x 1 km of new mexican desert. we were scheduled to spend a night in the cabin on site and for days leading up to it, we couldn’t stop thinking about who our four other bunkmates would be. we automatically assumed we’d be stuck with some snooty art collectors; overly-academic art historians; or wealthy japanese tourists. luckily, we happened to spend a memorable 24 hours with two other young, creative couples that both happened to be on roadtrips on their way to weddings, working on art projects along the way–just like us!!! it was strangely coincidental how much we had in common and how well our personalities meshed.
chi-wei & taylor were one of the couples. their connection to each other and companionship was evident off the bat- they work well together and play well together. they had accidentally arrived a day early to the meeting point, so they just bummed around the area, making the best of an honest mistake. they got us hooked on radiolab, particularly the episodes time and oops!, which have very obviously influenced their work. together they run a design studio in brooklyn aptly named cw&t, designing and creating buildings, jewelry, bicycle accessories, websites and software. recent endeavors include a foray in the heavily populated world of apps with nounnoun, an app that randomly generates compound nouns from a group of 6000 random nouns- the odds of getting the same word twice is 1 in 36 million! grass lets you run your fingers through virtual grass- so zen. and the ambitious and awesome audioprom, is a mobile beat sequencer and live performance app that lets you make all kinds of music on your ipad.
what i enjoy most about their work is its simplicity. from taylor’s 1-pixel computers to chi-wei’s numberless timekeepers, concepts are broken down into parts and parts further into elements, and those elements are explored until- aha! something new is born. or maybe it’s not new, but certainly makes you look at it in a different way.
mucho gracias to chi-wei and taylor for fitting these questions into their busy busy lifestyles. hope to see you both at the next overnight land-art excursion!! or sooner
Name: Che-Wei Wang
Name: Taylor Levy
Where are you right now?
CW: At home, Brooklyn. Eating pasta for breakfast.
T: Treviso, Italy. I’m researching, designing and prototyping a new installation about computer clocks. I am trying to show the relationship between time and computing by making the slowest and most simple possible computers.
What do you do?
CW: We make stuff. Hardware, small, like bike parts and big, like architecture. Art, like timepieces, stuff only I find useful. We also make stuff in software, small, like web portfolios, and big, like big screen interactive installations.
T: I build machines-like installations and design objects. I take things that seem complicated and try to remake them in a way that is more simple. Maybe not practical, but hopefully help people understand the world in a new way.
Where are you going?
CW: As soon as I finish eating pasta for breakfast, I’m heading to a client’s shop to show some of the jewelry design generating software we’re writing.
T: To the plotter hopefully soon because I need to finish and print this drawing. Then in a few days back to Brooklyn to hang with Che-Wei (he’s my partner and awesome).
What will you be doing when you get there?
CW: Chat about how we’re going to take over the world with this fancy jewelry that only super rich people can afford. Then figure out how to write some custom jewelry design software.
T: I’m remaking a sculpture that I did for my thesis so that it is safe for children. Then I’ll play Che-Wei in ping-pong.
How did you decide to go in this direction?
CW: Oh right. You mean direction in life! mmmm….. I just want to keep making stuff. Stuff that I’m probably the only person that thinks the it’s useful or any good. That’s the basic premise under which we founded the studio, and that’s how we hope to keep things going. Or wait, was it where are you going, literally, but in the not-so-near future? We’ll, the next move is maybe somewhere out in New Mexico, Maine, Marfa, or maybe we’ll just stay in New York.
T: Decisions are hard. I try to avoid making them and just keep stomping forward.
Do you have any expectations?
CW: I want to be happy with everything what we make and have fun while we’re at it wherever we are. Probably sounds generic, but I think that’s a decent goal and not such a crazy expectation.
T: To do my best always. And if I’m not doing my best figure out why and change it.
Are you excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled?
CW: Mostly excited. Nervous when there’s pressure to get things done. Terrified of rejection. Thrilled about getting older and wiser, hopefully.
T: Mostly excited. Sometimes I get nervous about being able to keep doing this and also be able to eat. Not terrified. Thrilled!
What are you looking forward to?
CW: Looking forward to making bigger things. I miss designing buildings. Stuff that has permanence and scale. If we move west, a few hundred acres of empty land sounds like a great project.
T: Waking up early and going to studio. Going grocery shopping with Che-Wei and cooking dinner. Lunch specials at Ash-Box. Brooklyn eat club on Sundays at Sony’s house.
What are you scared of?
CW: Not much.
T: Not sleeping not on purpose.
What happens if it doesn’t work out?
CW: Start over again? Not sure. I don’t think we have a choice. I think it just has to work out.
T: I’ll become a professional ping-pong player.
What is the worst thing that could happen?
CW: Our studio explodes with everyone and everything in it. We recently found out that there was a huge explosion in our space back in 2001.
T: Not being able to go grocery shopping with Che-Wei. And more generally to not be able to do good things with good people.
What is the best thing that could happen?
CW: Today? Someone decides to be our patron, buys all our work, calls us up, and tells us to make more.
T: Getting invited on a trip into outer-space. That would be the best thing ever.
Did you ever think you’d be where you are now?
CW: Maybe. It’s been vaguely part of my day-dreaming since I was 18.
T: I’m not in the places where I never thought I would be. But I’ve always had a hard time imagining where I would be. I used to want to be a ski racer.
Have you ever felt like this before?
T: Yesterday…except today I am older and wiser.
What are you leaving behind?
T: Nothing. I didn’t pack enough warm clothes when I came here. So I’m taking home a new pair of jeans (5euro levi 501s from a market!!!) and 2 long sleeved shirts.
What are you taking with you?
CW: To the desert island? Japanese curry and Taiwanese crunchy guavas with magic powder sauce.
T: Other than fall clothes… drawings & prototypes of a new piece AND a friend here gave me a pinhole camera photograph of a solar eclipse that he made when he was 16. It is 4 exposures printed in a grid of 16 as positives and negatives.
What will you miss?
CW: Fresh squeezed juices
ARE YOU READY?
CW: Hell yes!
T: Hell yes.