Internet networking websites are systems created to provide us with a convenient platform to freely exchange information and connect with people around the world. The designed system allows users to customise their page to fit to their own preference. There are over 400 million Facebook users across the world making it an essential space for promotion, publishing and campaigning for professional, political and social purposes. It is an important part of modern day life.
The Chinese government has always clamped down on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. However, people in China have found their own way to work around these blocks in order to access otherwise unreachable sites. Responding to the barriers, users have struck back and created a new liberty.
Recently censorship by the Chinese government has become far stricter. This increasing complexity of the online world in China has lead to the shutting down of Google.cn and its offices in China. This recent activity makes our discussion both timely and necessary.
Liberation features four artists from China and UK. Liu Ding is not only one of the curators of this exhibition but will also be exhibiting his own work as an artist. He has created an installation which aims to open up discussion about the consequences of freedom of speech via the internet. ‘The anonymity of the Internet has made it easy for people to pronounce their thoughts but when fallen into the hands of someone with a vicious intent, it could become a deadly weapon’. Referring to personal experiences and general concerns about misuse of the internet, Liu Ding will use this work as a starting point to open up a discussion with the public.
Brendan Fan is an artist based in London. He will be using the publicity tool of Facebook and Flicker in order to create a series of actions that will be initiated through-out the exhibition period. The public will be invited to respond to them via the internet. Brendan is hoping to test the boundaries of on-line communication and provide us a chance to meditate about the way we receive information.
Yan Xing is an emerging Beijing based artist. Yan Xing’s work focuses on trying to challenge existing systems in our everyday lives. His works push the audience to question the difference between physical and mental participation in daily activities. As the internet world itself is something that often transcends physical interaction, his work is a poignant look into the changing way society deals with communicating outside the boundaries of physical constraint.
The fourth artist in the exhibition is Beijing based Lin Yilin whose work “is stamped by social stigma, but he does not assert to criticise society with his works”. The internet and it’s on-line social media is often used as a voyeuristic tool into others’ lives and whilst working mainly in performance and installation, Lin Yilin has been carrying out a live art activity to test society’s preconceptions about others. Similarly to Yan Xing’s presentation, he will be showing a series of photos and video in the exhibition space.
The discussion between the curators and artists is open for public viewing on a blog http://virtualcommunity.chinese-arts-centre.org/