Project NoCode is a (pseudo)anonymous artist collective that engages with topical issues pertaining to urban life under the COVID-19 pandemic “new normal” in China, including access to public spaces, (mis)applications of digital surveillance, the theatrical practice of social distancing, and the ostensible long reach of QR codes and its potential consequences.
expands the use of the widely adopted health code system into several more cultural values. The project deconstructs the information asymmetry between a user and the designer of an opaque system such as the health QR code. Users can scan the QR code and receive a rating on beauty, kindness, dedication, filial piety, and integrity.
By subjecting these values to computational evaluation, Social Binaries highlights the increasing influence of algorithmic control in everyday life.
2020 arrived, and I formed the habit of sweeping ponies.
No matter where I am, if I see ponies, I sweep ‘em.
After I started sweeping ponies,
I’ve got rid of my aches in the waist and in the legs.
Everything I eat tastes delicious, and my health improved.
I can now sweep fifty horses at a time without much effort.
The dark night gave me a black broom,
yet I use it to sweep ponies. Why do I always have a broom in my hand?
It is because I sweep ponies with profound emotion.
The ponies are great, and so am I.
Sweeping Ponies, 扫马 (sǎo mǎ) in Chinese, is a homophone of scanning QR code 扫码 (sǎo mǎ), an essential component of life in urban China, especially with its advanced e-pay system.
While the compulsory application of the health code during COVID-19 further consolidates sǎo mǎ as a daily routine, the technological ethical issues around it - how our data has been collected and used, by whom, and under what terms - have often stayed beyond people’s concern or even acknowledgment. By “sweeping ponies” in the streets of Shanghai, we aim to trigger among our audience a second thought about this action and what it really means.
Security Guard BA0056
A projected virtual security guard that reads your temperature and appreciates your cooperation, and occasionally kills time on his phone. With this mechanical, absent-minded guard, (just like the ones you might encounter in real life), we investigate the theatrical nature of temperature-taking as a measurement in the COVID monitoring system.
A Film That Never Begins
but only plays various film company logos in loops. On May 14, 2020, a screening was held outside the demolished Shanxi Theatre, 470 North Shanxi Road, Zhabei District, Shanghai. It was was 111 days since the shutdown of all movie theaters in mainland China due to COVID-19; In the 66 days to come, theaters would remain closed.
Being a metonymy for the unending long wait for a normal life during the pandemic, A Film That Never Begins also coincidentally parallels the infertile Chinese cinema under the government’s draconian cultural censorship.
A short distance calling system to foster better in-person conversation under strict social distance in public spaces.
2020, Console.log, West Bund Art Center, Shanghai.
Project NoCode is archived in the independent publication: Things Will Work Out Tomorrow©StepBackForward.art