Invisible Cities Project – Q&A with Taeyoon Choi


Taeyoon Choi is a new media and performance artist living in New York City. He earned his B.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004 and a M.S. at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in 2007. His work has been shown internationally, he received the Arts Council Korea ‘Young Artist Award’ in 2007 and was a fellow and artist-in-residence at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in New York in 2008.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Taeyoon Choi and I make art projects and facilitate workshops. I grew up in South Korea and the United States, and I studied fine art and new media. I have been living in New York City for past four years and I like to walk around, find a nice place in the city to read and make drawings.

How do you use notebooks in your work… do you have a favorite notebooks style?

I use notebooks a lot. I usually carry one small one and one larger one. The larger one has been replaced by a laptop in past few years.

I like keeping old notebooks on my bookshelf and revisit them after few years. I often leave blank spaces in and between pages. It’s fun to answer the questions I had over few years ago and I realize I keep coming back to the similar ideas and problems. Sometimes I find an answer to a current question in an old notebook. I also scan notebooks to make graphics with computer software.

What is the Invisible Cities project about?

Italo Calvino’s novel ‘Invisible Cities’ has been an inspiration for me to think about cities and memory. I like how it is nostalgic and fantastic and at the same time critical about the nature of cities and the power. I think it is a good example of narrative approach to the cities.

I think of the Invisible Cities project as an experimental publication about urbanism. I like to study about urban spaces in relation to social movement and media technology. When I was writing Masters Thesis, I decided to write a very long academic research paper about public space and art. It ended up being more than 100 pages but no one was going to read it. A few years later I published a book of drawings and poetry called ‘Urban Programming 101: Stage Directions’; with an art publisher ‘Mediabus’ in South Korea. It was nice to give the book to friends and to see them travel to different art book fairs. But I realized a paper bound book may not be the best medium for my ideas. I’ve been fascinated by free PDFs circulating of academic text and also other digital technology that is becoming substitutes for the print medium. The Invisible Cities project is a play with possibility of online publishing; through downloadable documents, animations and participatory instructions.

How can people participate in Invisible Cities?

Over the next three months, the Invisible Cities webpage will feature series of 55 drawings and videos, of which five are collaborations with other artists. I am interested in using the novel’s structure to explore ideas around cities, however, the content will not be a visual interpretation of the novel. A few collaborations will happen with my artist friends such as LNY I am looking to work with artists I haven’t met through this project. We are creating a #drawyourcity hashtag for people to share their vision of invisible cities.

In collaboration with Moleskine and Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, where I was a fellow and artist-in-residence, we were able to make a limited edition sketchbook that will be perfect for the participants to make their own invisible cities.