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Guerrillas in Flatland: Unite! Digital Voyagers 

25/03/2021 — 27/06/2021

curators: Wu Yue, He Jingfei

Artists: Cao Shu, Chen Tianzhuo, Ge Yulu, He Shouyi, Huang Anlan, Xia Cheng’an, Yang Chuan’er, Ye Funa, Zhao Bang, Zhang Xiaotao, Zhang Xinyi, Zuo Pula

"As a reponse to the special COVID-19 situation, the “Emerging Curators Project 2O2Online” (ECP 2O2Online), initiated by the Power Station of Art last year, has decided to embrace a major innovation – the edition will not host physical offline sessions, and instead, shift to never-seen-before exhibition experiences exclusive to the online world and encourage curators, artists and programmers to work together for inspiring cross-disciplinary creative endeavors."

   -- Power Station of Art, Shanghai (PSA)

"Guerillas in Flatland" is an online intervention of showcasing young Chinese new media artists' work on the internet. As the co-curator, I led a team of 2 web developers, 5 designers, 12 artists with a $50k budget, negotiated with tech companies including TikTok, Tencent, WeChat, and Alibaba for collaborations, and realized the first virtual exhibition for PSA, China’s largest public contemporary art museum. 


The exhibit is a network of interconnected websites where we duplicate existing web and social media interfaces, embed artists' work into popup ads, navbars, buttons, preview thumbnails, chat boxes, and other interactive components that are native to the web. Every artist's work situates in a unique website that's individually built. Each website contains hyperlink portals camouflaged as buttons or clickable elements, which lead to other websites that house other digital artwork.

Screen recording compilation of artworks in the exhibition 

Hyperlinks, interlinked


The exhibition is a network of interconnected websites and people.


Each artwork in the exhibition is showcased on its own custom website, individually built and thoughtfully curated to fit its context. Artworks are cleverly interlinked using one ubiquitous website feature: the hyperlink. The journey from one piece of art to another is concealed in a hyperlink portals camouflaged as buttons or clickable elements, which lead to other websites that house other digital artwork.

Every player in the Internet ecosystem is also interconnected, forming a united front that we call the or the "voyagers." The exhibition employs Mao's "Mass Line" strategy, aiming to engage the mass, or the "voyagers" - internet users who stumble upon the art project unknowingly. By doing so, we challenge the typical behaviors people exhibit when browsing websites. Through innovative design twists on standard practices like hyperlinks and scrolling, we aim to surprise the visitors to this online exhibition.

Demo of the interlinked websites that house individual artworks in the exhibition.

Artwork Spotlights 

Screen recording from the 'Flatland Guerrillas' exhibition webpage showcasing artworks by Ge and Cao.

Original artwork formation:

GE Yulu, Watching the Watchers, 2016, Social intervention

CAO Shu, Sisyphus, 2017, 3D Rendered Moving Image Installation

Artist Ge Yulu wanders through the city, seeking out surveillance cameras in public spaces and making eye contact with them until the person monitoring from behind the camera reveals themselves. This performance art piece has been exhibited in art galleries in the form of photography. The curator acquired the surveillance footage from the artist and recreated a now-defunct surveillance live-stream platform called "Water Drop Live." On this faux website, the piece is played alongside other fabricated surveillance clips, allowing users to step into the shoes of the artist during his art project. As they are stared by the artist in the footage, the audience experiences a reversed surveillance relationship.

After users watch these surveillance videos for a continuous two minutes, the website suddenly pops up many small, floating window. The images in the pop-up come from the dreamscape of artist Cao Shu. Without any narrative, the 25 images repeatedly flash back. They float scattered across the page, much like pop-up ads vying for the user's attention without any real purpose. If one tries to click the "X" in the top right corner of the screen, they are only met with a piece description and cannot close the pop-up. This satirizes the tactics many websites use to unscrupulously increase ad clicks for profit.

艺术家葛宇路在城市里游荡,搜索公共空间中的监控镜头,并与其对视,直到探头背后的监控者出现为止。这件行为艺术作品已经在美术馆以摄影的形式展出,而策展人向艺术家获取当时监控拍下的素材,并复刻了现在已经关闭的监控视频直播平台水滴直播的网站,将作品在这个假网站中和其他假的监控素材一起播放,让用户代入监控者视角,在被艺术家盯牢的过程中,体验一段被倒转的监控关系。 当用户观看这些监控视频的时候持续两分钟之后,网站会突然跳出弹窗。弹窗中的图像是来自艺术家曹澍梦境中的影像,没有叙事,25帧画面反复闪回。它们四散漂浮在页面里,如同弹窗小广告不断争夺着用户的注意力,却没有任何实际目的。如果试图点击画面右上角的X,只能收获一段作品介绍,却无法关闭浮窗,这也是讽刺许多网站为获利而不择手段增加广告点击量的做法。

Screen recording from the 'Flatland Guerrillas' exhibition webpage showcasing artworks by He.

Original artwork formation:

HE Shouyi, From There to Here, 2020, 3D model

To commemorate his deceased father, artist He Shouyi collected tidbits old photos of the moments when his parents met and fell in love. Through 3D scanning, he transformed these flat photographs into a massive structure constructed from memories, named "Home." We've embedded this artwork within a real estate listing website. Scattered around the artwork, details such as property listings, post dates, and appraisal prices are filled with He Shouyi's treasured memories and nostalgia for these priceless moments. The artwork itself represents the transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, and the real estate website also bridges the online and offline realms.



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