China AI, in conjunction with Big Data and Deep Data companies, is developing the ultimate achievement in algorithmic surveillance: “citizens score” (1). A simple QR code shared by the Chinese big whales of the Internet and the CCP may give them access to the entire commercial and social profile of any Chinese inhabitant. Are you a good citizen? Are you some unhappy love seeker? Well, the Chinese Communist Party and Alibaba, or WeChat (from Tencent) for that matter, know you better.
Welcome to brave world news developing in prosperous China. From a distance, like the one Hui Ye (living in Austria for more than a decade) keeps from the Main Land, it looks terrible. But she’s curious. She wants to understand the real mutation that technology is inducing in her homeland. As it seems to be an extreme one, it can only be a social experiment. As it takes place through computing systems, digital technologies, social networking, Artificial Intelligence, and image retrieve orders (like the QR code, that gives you instantaneous user portraits), it is not a surprise that it appeals to artists. In particular, if she is morally concerned with how technology is used both for good and bad things.
Hui Ye, a digital native from Canton, is above all a new-media artist. Her work spans from film and video to installations, sound performances and music composition (2).
“Lip Sync” (2017), as most of Hui’s experimental art, is methodological deconstructivist: “objects in (the) mirror are closer than they appear”, or is it? What we see, what we listen to, what we read, might be this or that, for its content, context, and form. Space and time are social constructions, and they change with location.
Hui Ye. Lip Sync (2014)
single-channel video installation (HD video with sound, 3’25”, loop)
While reading text fragments in Chinese and German, a camera captured Hui Ye lips movements. Moscow based artists, Ana Kovrigina and Serge Prokofiev provided audio recordings of these silent videos in which they attempt to speak synchronously to the lip movements in languages they are familiar with, like Russian or English.
By following the same concept, both Russian artists have created a silent video of their lip movements while speaking. In turn, these portraits have been overdubbed by Hui Ye via synchronous speaking in Chinese and German.
The original meaning of each original speech remains unknown for all three artists.
Due to a precise concept of exchanging and reinterpreting sound and images in the act of speaking, lip-synch examines and deconstructs the fundamental function of language. While removing the original auditive/linguistic information, the “spoken” images have become a visual notation for performances in which words become a senseless audiovisual expression.