Guru, jester, televangelist, publisher, skater, probably future Starchitect. Right now, Seb Choe is hard at work on a new projection space, suspended in midair in the Kailua Kona rainforest. Today, they’re releasing a brand-new ambient mix entitled “1004”—ten minutes of trance plucks, a Rihanna children’s choir, and a “leaked duet” with Charli XCX.
Who is Seb Choe?
I am a designer from Washington State currently living in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. I produce music as Broken Spear, direct inclusive design-research with Joel Sanders Architect in NYC, and recently began working for MTV on a queer reality TV show.
Music, ceramics, design, architecture, filmmaking… you work creatively across a mind-blowing array of media. Do you have a favorite? Or are you a true, dedicated multi-hyphenate?
I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I have deep respect for people who are masters of their craft, but I’m suspicious of the market pressure on young people to compete with each other and defend our specific brand/expertise. More than the Original Auteur, my close friends and I pay closer attention to the Mime, Jester and Guru, characters that unashamedly use duplication, parody, distortion and a big bag of tricks up their sleeves to investigate or comment on the world.
Working between mediums allows me to see how different skills can aggregate and project a focused idea to different audiences. Down the road, I hope this positions me to orchestrate more ambitious, interdisciplinary projects (films, happenings, research, community spaces.) As far as a favorite medium goes, I’m partial to arranging music! Falling into a trance, channeling that energy and the pleasant shock of listening back to the alien result.
Coming from a background in architecture, do you feel especially aware of your surroundings? How has your recent change-of-scene from NYC to Hawaii manifested in your work?
The architecture department at Columbia encouraged a critical reading of space that sometimes feels like a curse. I’ve been overwhelmed doing basic things like going to the supermarket, thoughts whizzing about the geopolitics of the cooling system or the surveilled worker circulation paths. In school I was more interested in prisons, amusement parks and data centers than architectural masterpieces. So my lens for observing the built environment is more cybernetic than formal.The noise of New York (which can be inspiring and information-rich!) coupled with my tendency to overcommit, became unsustainable last year. Hawaii’s biodiversity is magic and the air smells so good. Life here is charged with the wounds of colonialism, fresher in memory and in daily life than in New York. I’ve tried to be mindful of this, working with wood in the solitude of the rainforest or throwing clay at a local studio that has been a welcoming community. Even my digital process here feels slower, earthier – my computer screen is literally floating in a lush rainforest canopy as I type this (my desk is by a large window.)
What album are you playing on repeat these days?
I’ve been studying Body Party’s mix from Pop 50, a queer rave a group of us threw last year in New York. A slept-on release of euphoric hyper-pop club edits of the future.
In a promo video for Rina Sawayama’s newest single, you talk about the challenges of growing up as a genderqueer Korean-American. Do you tend to foreground your identity in your own art?
The Rina promo was the first time I’ve spoken publicly about my identity - I tend to crouch in the shade of my work which addresses QPOC issues more stealthily, as in On Being Read, a queer print anthology published by Shelf Shelf, or more practically, as in Stalled!, a project reimagining architectural standards of sex-segregated restrooms.
In terms of foregrounding my identity, I’m recently become very enthusiastic about cosplaying as the motivational speaker, entrepreneurial demagogue or televangelist. I’m optimistic about the slippages that can happen when I inhabit these spokespeople who are typically white cis men pushing a predictable (but clever!) agenda.
What have you been working on lately?
Earlier in 2019, I released my second LP as Broken Spear, a collection of music and videos released by eclectic electronic label Business Casual. I also recently published Freak Truth, a book compiling four years of 35mm photos and conversations with five artists. I’m currently constructing a suspended platform in the rainforest to serve as a projection space, green screen-set and remote sleeping quarters.
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Edit: FIRST EDITION SOLD OUT!! . 📒 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐊 𝐓𝐑𝐔𝐓𝐇 is out now!! The book includes 138 full-color pages of 35mm photos captured between 2014-2018 + conversations with 5 inspiring photographers about their practices. $35 / link in bio (shiny nu website!) . INTERVIEWS @shelanty / UFOs, Archives, Drop Shadows @angalisfield / Trans Cultural Production, Politics of Display @carolinehunterwallis / Annotation Education, Community-Building @benchoe / Skate Photography, 3D Photos, Clout @shriyasamavai / Genderqueer Portraits, Offline Practice, Self-Care
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🌐𝐓𝐑𝐔𝐓𝐇 𝐏𝐈𝐄𝐂𝐄𝐒 now streaming everywhere!! Cassette tape for sale on 𝙱𝚄𝚂𝙸𝙽𝙴𝚂𝚂 𝙲𝙰𝚂𝚄𝙰𝙻 ~ L-I-B (◕‿◕✿) 🌐 making these tracks&vids has been v transformative.. channeling two years of imagination and varied inspo (futurepop, anime, tv scores, gaze, commercials) into a polished collection for u.. if u listen to anything of mine pls let it be this!! 🌐 ty Galen (@genderlessgenderfulgirl ) for summoning visual fantasies into reality with your rendering spells. ty Sahil (@sahil_ansari ) for casting a gloss onto a chaotic assemblage of sounds. ty Business Casual for turning digital ephemera into a physical object and sharing with yr lovely audience of electro vapor-heads. 🌐 EPIC FEATURES @sluurp.me @trillmah @alyssagengos Julius Metal @perlahaneyjardine . GENIUS VOCALS @tough_crybaby SINDY @rodeomcclain @sasha.stomberg . ETERNAL THANKS @luiscollado_ @sunspeaker_ @cu_records
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❕Rendering detail from 𝐃𝐀𝐓𝐀𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐊𝐒, an urban planning proposal to Oslo City Council to strong-arm data center developers into housing public amenities in their facilities. Pictured here is the lounge area of a media library, occupying the shell of an obsolete parking garage (exploiting Oslo’s car ban) and heated by server racks located in the building’s lower level. ❕ 2016 with Gizem Karagoz, Joud Al-Shdaifat, Isabel Michaelides. Studio Critic: Karen Fairbanks
all images courtesy of SEB CHOE
interview ADINA GLICKSTEIN
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