February 28th, 2017

 Chinese Feminist Group’s Social Media Account Suspended/中国女权组织“女权之声”微博账号被禁言

By: Didi Kirsten Tatlow        Source: New York Times              Date: 22/2/17



女权主义者周三表示,女权之声社交媒体账号遭禁声,可能与它发布的一篇有关美国计划在3月8日国际妇女节举行一场女性罢工活动的文章有关。这场活动名为“没有女性的一天”(A Day Without a Woman),正在由上月华盛顿女性大游行活动的组织者进行协调






“什么?”该组织的微信社交媒体账号上发布的一条信息显示。“令人费解的是,一条对国外妇女运动的报道怎么就违反了中国的法律法规?” Continue reading

MOOC “Discovering Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China”

1Last week saw the launch of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China, created by Zheng Bo at the City University of Hong Kong. I have written about Zheng’s work before, specifically ‘A Wall: Art and the online public sphere in China’ a showcase of socially engaged art which he first created back in 2014. Commissioned by The Space in collaboration with British Council China and Cass Sculpture Foundation, the project offered a reimagining of China’s Democracy Wall for the digital age. Zheng has significantly updated and expanded that original digital archive, which can now be found online at  seachina.net. In this post I would like to look briefly at both projects, assessing the impact of these digital learning tools and archives for the study of contemporary art.

The MOOC is a six week online course that runs from the 6th February to the 19th March, users anywhere in the world can access the course by registering online here. As Zheng outlines in the introduction to the course:

“This 6-week free online course serves as an introduction to Chinese socially engaged art. We produced it over the past eight months. We traveled to multiple cities (Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing …) and worked with a number of artists/ collectives (Xiong Wenyun, Xu Bing, Wang Jiuliang …). This course covers 16 socially engaged projects and a number of theoretical issues. It also contains excerpts of 12 artist interviews, and six 360-degree videos of the actual sites where the projects took place. The artworks address a wide range of social issues, ranging from ecology to equality.”


Xiong Wenyun’s ‘Moving Rainbow’ (1998-2001)

Each week’s lesson contains a selection of digital media which are designed to introduce key themes and social issues. These are grounded in specific case studies which do much to bring these issues to life while also highlighting the diversity of socially engaged practices within China. Week one, for example, contains a case study of Xiong Wenyun’s ‘Moving Rainbow’ (1998-2001) complete with a ten minute video of the project and a five minute interview with the artist. Xu Bing’s ‘Forest Project’ is also profiled, as is Wang Jiuliang’s ‘Beijing Besieged by Waste’ (2008-2010), which includes two videos accompanied by a 360 degree view of a landfill site. After these individual case studies have been reviewed, there is an 8 minute video in which Zheng discusses some of the common themes and issues which unite these socially engaged practices as well as looking at the evolution of artists’ responses to their changing social environment over the last twenty years. The lesson concludes with a discussion which asks participants to contemplate which of the profiled projects they find the most engaging and challenging. Continue reading

February 3rd, 2017

How WeChat Founder’s Obsession With QR Codes Reshapes Chinese Internet

By: Li Yuan             Source: Wall Street Journal    Date: 27/1/2017

A reminder of how  the messaging app is winning the market share at Alipay’s expense by stretching the potential of scanned codes. For a look at how these changes are affecting the art world, see my post on ‘The Art of the QR Code


The way Chinese smartphone users pay for lunch and browse the internet owes much to an obsession that the founder of messaging app WeChat has with quick-response, or QR, codes.

In China’s cutthroat mobile-internet competition, Tencent HoldingsLtd.’s WeChat gained ground partly by training its enormous user base to scan the low-tech, two-dimensional codes now used in virtually all WeChat in-store payments.

The square QR code, which stores data that can be read by the camera on a smartphone, has been used in various ways for years. In many countries, consumers can scan QR codes on vending machines to buy drinks and snacks. Social-networking apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp let users add each other by scanning QR codes.

Continue reading