November 2007 Archives
I thought I would end my short series of posts on the Tobi Wong fake-out with the perspective of the man who successfully fooled much of the audience at the Core77 panel last Friday. Rama Chorpash (aka "Tobias Wong") graciously answered my questions via email, clearing up a few of the mysteries surrounding this spectacular design switcheroo.
An update on yesterday's post about the "Tobias Wong" hoax at last Friday's Core77 panel:
This morning Allan Chochinov of Core77 responded to my voice-mail from yesterday and told me what he knew about the switch. One of the organizers of Friday's event, Chochinov was informed of Wong's plans only a few days before. As he explained, it was planned that the fake Wong would unmask at some point during the panel discussion. It's still unclear why this "reveal" never occurred. Chochinov said, "I'm of two minds on this. I know that the plan was to do the reveal, but it seemed that Ze [moderator Ze Frank], Rama, and Tobias decided to go the distance. I think it would have been spectacular for the Q&A to have culminated with the reveal, but I also respect their decision to take it all the way." Chochinov convincingly argued for the art value of the hoax, saying, "Tobias Wong was adamant that this was no 'prank' or 'stunt'--it was something that he undertook with great seriousness and rigor."
The New York design world was the victim of a conceptual-art prank at "Design, Wit, and the Creative Act," last Friday's Core77 event held at the Art Directors Club in Manhattan. Never content to be conventional, designer Tobias Wong, scheduled to speak at the event, was nowhere to be found onstage. In his place, there was an impostor who in no way resembled the artist but mounted the podium and spoke with surprising authority about Wong's work, personal history, and mission. Moderator Ze Frank and the other panelists--Cornell professor Kelly Dobson, Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz, and design historian Steven Heller--treated the knockoff as though he were the genuine article...whether through cluelessness or complicity, I can't say.