MP4 - 696 MB

DROUGHT SPA is the multimedia project of Oakland-based artists alex cruse and Kevin CK Lo. Their performances, videos, and installations combine text, stochastic synthesis, and computer vision, among other modes, to examine subjectivities within networked life. They have performed nationally and abroad.

(2018 / 5 min. 20 sec.)

This piece could never adequately capture the complexities of the separate-but-related projects of China’s intensified surveillance systems and its embryonic social credit system, but that was never really the goal. Guanxi, 350-950 investigates the phenomenological experience of the surveilled subject — particularly when surveillance and social credit become yoked to financial incentives. We are also interested in the tensions between exploitation, voyeurism, and story-telling: what is the ethical valence of a CCTV feed when repurposed as art?

Our work often responds to optics and visualization techniques of (and as) state terror. Making humans informatically legible — the “requirement of transparency,” to use Édouard Glissant’s phrase — is bound up in ideas of hierarchy, judgement, and control.

The spatialized gaze produces asymmetric power relations; here we think specifically of China’s Uyghur Muslim community, which faces intensified monitoring and attendant repression. We attempted to avoid the traps much Western journalism falls into, wherein the situation in China is described as exceptional, rather than as a logical “next phase” in the globalized project of state surveillance.

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