Unerasable Images

Title: Unerasable Images

Year of production: 2018

Medium: ver1: Video Documentary (3mins50seconds, higher resolution – 1920 × 1080); ver2: Installation with a vintage carousel slide projector

:: Description ::

The project, Unerasable Images, is a collection of my screenshots that was taken over a year in 2017 from Google search engine with the Chinese characters “六四” as the image keyword search. The keyword is equivalent to the numerical values of 6 and 4, refers to the student-led Tiananmen Square Protest of 1989, around the date of June Fourth, in Beijing, China. The collected screenshots are reappropriated to erase all the resulted images as negative white space except the colored Lego Tank Man.

Within the context of Chinese Internet, censorship is implemented in social media and search engines, yet some of the content are not immediately censored but take sometime to be disappeared. Therefore, the censored content may leak out to somewhere. I am particularly interested in a specific image that had been successfully uploaded in 2013 on a famous Chinese web portal. The image was a Lego recreation of the famous scene with the “Tank Man” blocking the way of the tanks. Although it was censored and erased on all online platforms subsequently in China, this image, after four years, is still searchable and it occasionally appears on the first few rows of Google image search.

The project aims to create a temporal and empty networked space where the thumbnail image(s) move within the hidden infrastructural grid and beyond the screenshot’s frame, examining the geopolitics of data circulation, internet censorship, the materiality of image (re)production through complex entanglement of human and nonhuman parameters.

:: Video Documentation ::

* it is more a demo here and the web quality is significantly reduced. Higher resolution version will be available upon request.

:: Exhibition Record(s) ::

  • 2019 (forthcoming), Galleri Image, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 2018, The Photographer’s gallery, London, UK

:: Reference ::
Chinese Netizens Defiantly Remember Tiananmen Square
free weibo.com
Tiananmen Square online searches censored by Chinese authorities

:: Acknowledgement ::

* Polly Poon, Magda Tyżlik-Carve