Miao Ying, Net Art, and Cultural Hybridity

At The Mediated Image, Oxford University’s Ros Holmes extensively examines the work of Chinese Internet artist Miao Ying, which touches on urbanization, social media, Chinese manufacturing and globalized consumerism (with a particular focus on Apple products), and Internet censorship:

Fascinated by this constantly fluctuating stream of inaccessible terms, “Miao decided to devote her university graduation project to compiling a complete list of censored terms by searching for every entry in the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary 现代汉语词典—word by word—on google.cn.” Initiating what another commentator has referred to as: “the DIY version of Jason Q. Ng’s work documenting blocked words on the popular Chinese social network Sina Weibo.” Miao’s graduation piece represented an extremely laborious, time consuming and meditative exercise- the strenuous need to document, word by word, the constantly shifting boundaries of online speech. The work could be read as a commentary on the human labour required by the government to monitor and patrol the internet, what at first appears as a futile exercise in state control therefore testifies to a deeper reflection on the ideological control of language and the limits of online expression.

[…] Exploding the notion that the Chinternet and the ’emancipated’ global internet exist as a set of binary oppositions, characterised by the dichotomies of avant-garde artist versus the state and repression versus emancipation, a much exercised stereotype in writings on contemporary Chinese , Miao’s work highlights that the internet in China is rich with humour, subversive strategies for evading and often playful critiques on the predominantly inane and banal content which the GFW actually ends up restricting. Her works illustrate that in many ways China’s internet is in fact fertile ground for creative expression and a humourous and playful outlet for critical discussion that blends satire with popular cultural and social commentary. [Source]

For more examples of “subversive strategies for evading censorship,” see CDT’s Grass Mud Horse Lexicon.