Hui Ye’s Forecast project explores the intersection of technology and identity in evoking a sense of intimacy. Returning to China after a twelve-year absence, she realized that life in China today consists of permanently switching between the digital and physical worlds. The two have become a single reality in everyday life in China.
“The WeChat app and its abundant interaction with QR-Codes is perhaps the most central personification of the crossover between real and virtual worlds. On WeChat, QR-codes function like business or calling cards. To be linked to some-one’s accounts, all one needs to do is scan their QR-Code. Even mobile payments are made using WeChat; instead of cashiers, you find a QR-Code at the checkout counter. All these transactions are done without banknotes or coins.”
For Quick Code Service, the aim of Ye’s artistic experiment is to overcome the distinction between the real and virtual by constructing her identity entirely through her WeChat account’s QR-Code. In the absence of artist’s physical body, her friends in China will be asked to “carry” her WeChat QR-Code throughout their daily routines and share it with people they meet. The code will be under-stood as Ye’s virtual existence. Virtual communication with her friends on WeChat will take place through live chats and sharing images and video, allowing her to stay updated on their daily activities almost in real time. At the same time, Ye will follow their paths from her location in Vienna while she attempts to reconstruct their “reality” as it is communicated to her through WeChat. These processes will be documented as material for a fictional video documentary that Ye will create for Forecast.
The video artist’s Forecast proposal links with her 2016 work Romance, in which she explored the unnerving physical closeness of “wedding streets” with a range of services for weddings, “love motels” to be rented by the hour and frequented by young people with no private sphere at home, and Christian churches. Here, too, she looked at how the intimate has been collapsed and made artificial, rendering our hopes and memories invisible.
Hui Ye is a video and sound artist based in Austria and China. Learn more about her work at yehui.org.
Image: Hui Ye