Unerasable Characters II

Title: Unerasable Characters II / 刪不了的符號 II
Year of production: 2020

RUN the program here

:: Description ::

The project explores the politics of erasure and the temporality of voices within the context of digital authoritarianism. It presents the sheer scale of unheard voices by technically examining and culturally reflecting the endlessness, and its wider consequences, of censorship that is implemented through technological platforms and infrastructure.

作品探討刪除的政治性及在數碼威權主義下各種聲音存在的時間性。作品不間斷及有規模性地呈現刪除及被刪除的聲音,並透過技術性檢驗及文化上的反思去讓 觀眾思考審查制度在不同的科技平台及架構下所帶來的影響。

The project collects unheard voices in the form of censored/erased (permission denied) text, including emojis, symbols, English and Chinese characters, which is based on one of the biggest social media platform in China called Weibo. A daily scraping script is used to fetch those text via Weiboscope, a data collection and visualization project, developed by Dr. Fu King Wa from Hong Kong University, in which the system has been regularly sampling timelines of a set of selected Chinese microbloggers who have more than 1,000 followers or whose posts are frequently censored.

Consisting of a custom-software (written in Python and p5.js) that scrapes the erased “tweets” from Weiboscope on a daily basis, the project presents the archives in a grid format. Each tweet is deconstructed into a character-by-character display that occupies a flashing unit for a limited period. The duration of each ‘tweet’ is computed from the actual visible time on Weibo, and the visualwill transform from a busy canvas to an empty one with all the text is fully disappeared. The program will then fetch a new set of archives and the cycle will repeat endlessly. It takes an average of 4 hours per cycle to empty the screen. (see the project development here on Github)

:: Video Documentation ::

:: Exhibition Record(s) ::

  • 2021 (Forthcoming), 26th ifva awards, Pao Galleries, Hong Kong Arts Centre.

:: Acknowledgements ::

Fu King Wa, Hong Kong University, Weiboscope