Creative Responses to the Changing COVID-19 Crisis

A journal of my musings and creative responses to this rapidly evolving crisis.

June 6, 2020 | Protest II

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June 1, 2020 | PROTEST I

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May 31, 2020 | Connected loneliness

connected loneliness

May 29, 2020 | TEOTWAWKI

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Insecure, disrupted, upended, disoriented, deprived, restricted, groundless, afloat, overwhelmed, worried, furious, traumatic. That is, The End Of The World As We Know It.

May 12, 2020 | questions

Two honest questions to ask.

An Honest Question

An Honest Question

May 10, 2020 | Infected Instructions

Infected Instructions is an online archive where people share their creative responses to the changing crisis through instructional art following the legacy of Fluxus event scores in the 1960s. This are my contributions to the online exhibition. Visit www.infectedinstructions.org to read more.

May 9, 2020 | A poem written in isolation

A short poem I wrote to express how I feel right now, in the face of extended city lockdown and lengthy quarantine that millions of people in the New York City are going through. English translation is here.

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April 6, 2020 | Curating on online exhibition

IMMEMORY: On COVID-19 is live at www.covid-immemory.com. Excited to launch an online exhibition aimed at co-curating with the public meaningful pieces that reflect thoughtfully on this unprecedented crisis.

Many of the issues unmasked by the current COVID-19 outbreak will remain with us throughout the 21st century. To name one, it’s becoming clear that our failures to understand other people and cultures’ perspectives are exacerbating prejudice and leading to catastrophic decisions. As the current COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly and profoundly shaking up the world, art remains a vital force to document history and above all, to cultivate empathy across cultures and ideologies.

Extreme situations emphasize the good and bad of humanities. I’m developing an online exhibition, “On COVID-19: IMMEMORY”, a collection of born-digital creations, memos, ideas, media posts, and fragments of our everyday life responding directly to the COVID-19 outbreak. The project aims to facilitate sharing of what we are living through and how we feel in the midst of this unprecedented moment.

“IMMEMORY” in the sense that the current crisis produces many artifacts that quickly get forgotten, that narratives are changing rapidly, that our perceptions are constantly shifting.

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April 1, 2020 | High Fashion

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March 27, 2020 | Sketches

Infodemic, Isocialation, Cancelled Events.

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March 24, 2020 | Paintings

In response to the tragedies happening around the world.

March 21, 2020 | Digital Collage

I’ve been reading and reflecting a lot recently on the China-US relationship and its implications in this pandemic.

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March 16, 2020 | Trump’s Twitterverse

President Trump @realDonaldTrump is following 47 accounts on Twitter, a collection of family members, conservative pundits, administration officials and Trump-brand properties who collectively creating an obvious echo chamber.

When President Trump opens his own Twitter feed, he scrolls through something that offers a very different assessment about the pandemic and how the Trump administration is doing.

What do they say about the pandemic? How does President Trump’s social media bubble look like? To find it out, I created a Twitter account solely for the reason of following the exact same 47 accounts that President Trump are following.

In a nutshell, from the Trump’s perspective: 

Narrative #1:  I’m doing a great job

Narrative #2:  This is China’s fault 

Narrative #3:  Dems would be worse

Narrative #4:  The media (excluding Fox News) is fueling the panic

Narrative #5:  But there is no reason to panic because I’m doing a great job

Btw, Twitter @QuietTrump, password: quietdonaldtrump1You may login to this account too.

Feb 8, 2020 | In Memorial of Dr Li Wenliang

Live at this link is a piece of net art I created in memorial of COVID-19 whistleblower Dr Wenling Li.

The Backstory of Dr Li & COVID-19 at its early stage:

On 30 December 2019, Dr Li Wenliang posted in his medical school alumni group on the Chinese messaging app WeChat that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and were quarantined in his hospital in Wuhan. He sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection. Four days later he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. In the letter he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”. He was one of several medics targeted by police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak.

Dr Li later contracted the virus himself. He was hospitalized on January 12 and tested positive for the coronavirus on February 1. On February 7, a wave of anger and grief flooded Chinese social media site Weibo when news of Dr Li’s death broke. Many posted under the hashtag “Can you manage, do you understand?” – a reference to the letter Dr Li was told to sign where he was accused of disturbing “social order”. The top two trending hashtags on the website were “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang and apology” and “We want freedom of speech”. Both hashtags were quickly censored.

Google Searches

Google search entries, as direct output from my brain speaking to the internet, approximate my train of thoughts and feelings better than anything else. Creating and watching a silent movie in which the script is entirely made up of my own Google search entries of this year is an out-of-world experience. The trips I planned, companies I wanted to work for, persons I was interested in, my concerns, my dreams. At one moment I feel ashamed of some of my searches, the next moment they make me proud because of where they lead.

Following my instructions here you can create your own Google Searches movie.

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Update: The idea of this project has also been transformed into another form of art as part of the Infected Instructions group exhibit – instructional art in the legacy of Fluxus in the 60’s, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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FeedScanner

FeedScanner is a web browser extension that automatically scrolls down your Facebook news feed while scanning it. 

Conceptual Background

FeedScanner is a browser extension that champions “Less Scrolling, More Reading”. Once turned on, FeedScanner starts to automatically scroll down your Facebook news feed while scanning it. The FeedScanner help filter out all irrelevant ads and suggested posts by Facebook that contaminate your feed. The content you would care about – posts from friends, family and your trusted news sources – are transferred to a much cleaner interface which necessitates more focused reading.
 
FeedScanner eliminates all the distracting aspects of the Internet – multimedia, interactivity, hyperlinking, searchability, recommendations, and infinite scrolling, all of which are put out there by tech companies for the sake of “user friendliness” and “user engagement”. In reality, however, all these irrelevant features are competing for our attention and constantly disrupting us from paying sustained attention to what really matters.
 

The reading interface that accompanies FeedScanner liberates users from the outward train of passing stimuli in order to engage their attention more deeply with an inward flow of words, emotions, and ideas, an ability that many Internet users have been gradually losing due to long-time training of our brains to do more “efficient” reading on the Internet.

Less Scrolling, More Reading

Each time I land on my Facebook homepage, I immediately feel a low-level panic induced by a false sense of necessity to go through the news feed and a thousands things out there screaming for my attention. I keep scrolling down, quite mindlessly most of the time since my eyes can’t really focus on anything. Five minutes later, I decide to use some willpower to close the browser tab due to a burnout. It isn’t a rewarding experience, however, I can’t help but keep repeating the process every day. Perhaps just as the author of The Shallows puts it, “My brain wasn’t just drifting. It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the way the Net fed it”. On the Internet, I read a lot, but not really, anything.

What I gained from using FeedScanner was a much more serene flow of information. Its quiet, linear way of presenting the information was closer to an experience that I enjoyed since a child – reading a real book. This helped me engage more with the train of inward thoughts (which didn’t even exist without using FeedScanner) while reading the content that emerge on the pages. This forced me to focus my attention on what my friends said. This liberated me from the perpetual low-level pressure to separate attention-worthy news from unsolicited posts. This calmed me down.

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Installation view

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News Feed reading interface
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Ads Feed reading interface

 

The Loss of Childhood series

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有时我真想回到童年无忧的岁月 — 记忆中没有无聊的事,幻想也还没沦为贬义的活动。

Sometimes I am consumed with longing for being teleported back to my childhood, when there was not a boring thing in my memory, and no one associated derogatory remarks with having illusions. In a nostalgic mood I assembled a series of my photography and mixed media work centering around the theme of “Loss of Childhood” and created a dedicated webpage showcasing these work.

 

List of work in the series:

1/  The Loss of Childhood. Processing sketch2018
2/  The Last Bus. Mixed media painting2017
3/  Tempus. Processing sketch2018
4/  Combustion I. Photography, Photoshop2018
5/  Combustion II. Photography, Photoshop2018
6/  Pre-iPhone Days. Used electronics, photography2018 [featured by SFMOMA]
7/  Untitled I. Painted object, saran wrap, photography2018
8/  Untitled II. Painted object, mirror, photography2018
9/  Combustion (Sketch). Sharpie2018
10/  Decay (Self Portrait). Mixed media painting2017 [featured by SFMOMA]