The Banquet at West Lake

2021. 2-screen video, 5’19”, sound. 

Supervisor / Betreuer*in: Jörg Heiser

In The Banquet at West Lake, I borrowed the artistic language of what I call ‘Cyber-Cubism’ from its originator — Computer Vision. Supported by a data scientist, I ran an open-source object-detection system called YOLO (You Only Look Once) on a found footage from the Chinese governmental news-outlet CCTV (China Central Television), then extracted the resulted colourful rectangles and the attaching keywords from the concrete context. A rectangle is a flamboyant display of a successful observation made by AI, and a keyword is an established fact to this observation, with no room for negotiation or opportunity for complaint.

In the world constructed by data, people and everything else are only concepts composed of data. Their identity can be determined only after they are conformed to the data workers’ summarisation of the digital world. Computer Vision only sees what is considered important by its developers, so when a rectangular shape appears on an image, it actually shows the visual affirmation of a utilizable piece of information. This utilitarian approach of handling information makes clear that the rectangle is a political metaphor, of which the power is activated every time a rectangular shape flickers on the screen.

liurenshan, born in Luoyang, China. Currently lives and works in Berlin and Shanghai.