"Tobias Wong" Unmasked
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."
Much of the credit for the project's seriousness should go to Rama Chorpash, the man who had the difficult job of credibly portraying Wong on Friday. Chorpash is a celebrated designer and teacher who serves as chair of the industrial design department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Of Chorpash's performance, Chochinov says, "He took it very seriously; there were lots of rehearsals. I thought he was both articulate and true to what Tobi would say."
Also, an email I received last night answered another one of my lingering questions. Wong's fellow panelists were, in fact, not informed of the switch ahead of time.