TRACING DATA: What you Read is Not What we Write

Supported Projects
Hong Kong

│ reading as writing │ writing as reading

The impact of computation on both aesthetic expression and aesthetic criticism has been widely felt. Not only artists but also critics are using digital technologies to analyze works of art and literature. Many scholars in the so-called digital humanities, for instance, use the computer to “mine” individual texts, or large collections of texts, for patterns that are not obvious on the surface. Cinema scholars and experimental artists have also used the computer to re-examine existing films, presenting familiar content in unfamiliar ways. The computer has made possible not only new ways of making art and literature (writing) but also new ways of reading (understanding and analyzing it) it.

In the works presented in WMC_e5, reading is also writing, and vice versa. The crucial question for us is: How do computational technologies change what we call reading? The idea of reading is to be understood broadly, to include any act of engaging critically and creatively with a text. We understand reading so that it applies to language in a broad sense, including visual, sonic, and cinematic language. What can the act of reading become in a digital context? For instance, how can we read a film, photograph, or literary work through methods of computational analysis? How can we use those methods to read works of visual and literary art in ways that were not previously possible? The topic of reading is closely connected to the question of surveillance. We live in a society where privacy is continually under threat, not only due to government monitoring of activity, but also to the widespread collection, analysis, and exchange of consumer data by companies like Google, Amazon, or facebook. Techniques of data mining and data analysis play a crucial part in surveillance activities. Data needs to be “read” so as to be rendered useful. Surveillance can therefore be understood as a form of computationally mediated reading. In this way, new forms of reading acquire huge social and political significance. Moreover, many artists use techniques that originated in, or were inspired by, surveillance applications.

About Writing Machine Collective 

WMC is a Hong Kong-based media art collective with a research-based orientation and theoretically engaged in new media issues. WMC favours flexible organization. We choose to focus on gathering local artists while creating conversations with guest artists from overseas. Lectures, workshops and student laboratories are always part of our program as strategic arms to develop quality audience and committed artist-researchers for the future. 

Participating Artists

James Coupe, YoHa (Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokooji), Daniel C. Howe & John Cayley, Ip Yuk-yiu 葉旭耀, Mike King, Linda Lai 黎肖嫻, Jess Lau 劉清華, Hector Rodriguez 羅海德, Audrey Samson, Zoie So 蘇慧怡, Winnie Soon 孫詠怡, Justin Wong 黃照達

Execution Team

Project Manager: Lei Yuen Hung 李宛虹, Orlean Lai 黎蘊賢
Program Director: Hector Rodriguez 羅海德
Technical Director: Justin Wong 黃照達, William Wong
Project Director/ Editor: Linda Lai 黎肖嫻
Project Support: Nuria Krämer, Connecting Spaces Hong Kong – Zurich

Presented by: The Writing Machine Collective
Venue Sponsored by: Connecting Space Hong Kong
Supported by: Hong Kong Arts Development Council