Iteration and First Idea

Tutorial suggestions:

  • The thing you see will change if the perspective changed.
  • You have no idea if there’s anyone or anything behind the CCTV.
  • Central-gazed from the government and distributed-gazed from other users about virtual identities.
  • A machine can shoot from many angels which is more flexible.
  • Human vs machine gaze, Visual gaze vs data gaze.
  • Show a more specific preference about the question, the aspect of social contact or political
  • network gazed and virtual identity
  • more than being gazed by machine or human, but by ‘digital ghosts’

Iterating ideas:

Receiver Not Found

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 18.14.46.pngHow the anonymity and pseudonymity of virtual identity help one escape double gaze from the government and other users?

He proved how in the not-so-distant future of life online, we will willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire.

Everyone is being gazed from both sides online.

The government side is a bit like a Panopticon. You don’t know if you are being watched but you need to be careful and be responsible for your own words and deeds.


Everything you post online will be seen and judged by your followers, even strangers. For this, you need a new screen name that no one knows you to say something that you actually want to say. This kind of gaze pressure.


Your followers and strangers may don’t know all your screen names but the government is monitoring you.


In this case, you don’t know if you are monitoring by people or machines.


How to find a balance in the central supervision of the government and the surrounding gaze from different netizens?

People are willing to pay privacy in exchange for the feeling of being connected with others. This feeling is so strong that we need to constantly confirm that we are being needed by our peers. People don’t mind being watched by others while they are watching others. But once it exceeds a certain degree, people are willing to cut everything off and start again. And it’s easy online because the internet is always pseudonymous.

It’s a confounding and eerie sensation to feel social while alone, thronged with invisible entities whose presence is felt yet who appear wholly absent. The entities are our 21st-century ghosts.

We call to one another in the darkness of the internet, reuniting with hosts of friend and followers, but the act is all theatre.


Rather than define true oneself and how ’s one’s identity looks like, I want to find a way to balance all of them and think about how to represent this conflict.

digital: two-screen videos

physical: gashapon machine and each gashapon represent a different identity/stage. Connect the gashapon machine with Arduino

poster: c4d, water, old tv, mirror, metaphor, vaporwave



We live in public – documentary

Life on the Screen – book (Turkle questions how we define life and simulated life.)

Alone together – ebook – project – human Alexa (The relationship that emerges falls in the ambiguous space between human-machine and human-human.) – project

Surveillance and Gaze

img003副本.jpgmind map

Surveillance (political/technological)

Surveillance is the monitoring of behaviour, activities, or other changing information for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting people.

Surveillance is used by governments for intelligence gathering, prevention of crime, the protection of a process, person, group or object, or the investigation of crime.

Surveillance can be viewed as a violation of privacy, and as such is often opposed by various civil liberties groups and activists.


Gaze (philosophical/psychosocial)

The gaze describes the act of seeing and the act of being seen.

Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) developed the concept of the gaze to illustrate the dynamics of socio-political power relations and the social dynamics of society’s mechanisms of discipline.

In Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, the gaze is the anxious state of mind that comes with the self-awareness that one can be seen and looked at. The psychological effect upon the person subjected to the gaze is a loss of autonomy upon becoming aware that he or she is a visible object. Lacan extrapolated that the gaze and the effects of the gaze might be produced by an inanimate object (monitor/CCTV?), and thus a person’s awareness of any object can induce the self-awareness of also being an object in the material world of reality. The philosophic and psychologic importance of the gaze is in the meeting of the face and the gaze because only there do people exist for one another.


It is difficult to describe, but I think I am more interested in the gaze, which provides a more philosophical and societal perspective way to discuss issues such as human subjectivity and discipline principle. In other words, rather than talking about the relationship between technology and something, I would like to use technological tools to discuss a cross-discipline subject. Technology is a means to me.


I came up with some questions.

Hell is other people or Heaven is other people?

Two of my friends give the opposite answer to the same situation (watched by people). A feels nervous but B enjoys the feeling of being looked at.

B: I seem to like those very formalistic things and things that are expressed under the lights. For example, I like dancing. Not only the dance itself but also a lot of people watching me under the spotlight. Once these spotlights are taken away and when I found nobody cares my life, I feel like that I have nothing particular interested.

Hell is other people.

The quote comes at the close of the play No Exit (Huis Clos, in French) which Sartre wrote in 1943. No Exit depicts the arrival of three characters – Garcin, Estelle, and Inez – in hell – which happens to be a drawing room. As the characters struggle to understand what sin has led them to hell, and what their punishment may be, they quickly gather that there is no torturer. No executioner. No flames to burn their souls eternally. It’s just the three of them, trapped in a deadlock. The other characters in the room are the punishment, as it were. The full version of the quote highlights this illustration of Sartre’s existentialist philosophy.

For Sartre, shame is the original feeling brought on by the realization of the existence of others. Sartre uses the example of looking through a keyhole, an act that – according to Sartre – induces a thrill because of the thought that someone might realize that I – the peeper – am looking through the keyhole. In that moment, one sees oneself as other people would see the me: as an object. Shame, in other words, is the shame of oneself in the gaze of the other. It is the crushing realization that I am little more to others than the physical manifestation of my body in their sight. And here intervenes the online code of the game: I am as the number called in bingo, I may not be recalled once I have been pulled out and seen by everyone.

What’s the difference between gazed by artificial eyes and by people?

design museum的仿生机器手臂

What can an environment with potential eyes at any time give birth to?



Which one makes you more uncomfortable, being gazed by a group of people or a group of machines?

This is the question I asked my friends. Most of them say they would rather be stared by machines because

  1. eye contact makes people nervous
  2. eye contact can convey information
  3. social distance

Overall, stared by people is more uncomfortable (both physically and mentally), but stared by machine is more dangerous.

Also, I talked to Jon Wozencroft who is a senior tutor in RCA Visual Communication during my interview. He introduced me with a very interesting brief and inspired me a lot. The veil in the wedding represents youth and purity, but Muslim women use the veil as being a barrier between the individual wearing it and the person she is trying to communicate with. If we think our screen as a ‘modern veil’, how to design a screen that symbolised something and protects us from being monitored at the same time?

keywords: virtual identity / reflection



  • Panopticon

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The Panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all the inmates’ cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times. Thus, they are effectively compelled to regulate their own behaviour.

In Étant donnés there is nothing that is fixed to the canvas, wood or wall. It is only the onlooker who can ‘fix’ the picture (or the painting). Therefore, the work has no sense or meaning without the onlooker. The picture (or the painting) only exists in the mind of the onlooker. Since there is no common or set image fixed anywhere, there cannot be any common interpretation.

Étant donnés can thus be seen as an extreme alternative to the self-absorbed abstract painting. The abstract painting had turned its back on the onlooker and blocked its own traditional function as a medium, and thus cut itself off from its own onlooker’s insight or interpretation.

keyword: peeping


The performance consisted of the interaction between two policemen mounted on horseback and museum visitors who happened to be on the Turbine Hall bridge. The officers were members of London’s Metropolitan Police and they exercised crowd control techniques on the accidental assembly, corralling people, splitting them into smaller groups and so on.

  • Dragonfly Eyes


Created entirely from hundreds of hours of downloadable Chinese surveillance footage. Xu Bing’s innovative editing together of footage found online and Hanno Yoshihiro’s score, which ranges across sentimental Chinese pop and foreboding electro, is an attempt to illuminate the relationship between the people being watched and the machines doing the watching. In this way, the film’s concern is the texture of the present: how the spaces we inhabit and have come to know are increasingly framed by the gaze of others, both human and computer.


5c6185251f61bf7ba7df3b11ac6972c9.jpgGashapon Machine

Uncertainty and randomicity of virtual identity.

Reading List:

The punitive society by Michel Foucault

Everyone IID student needs to read Foucault. Everyone who cares about human being needs to read Foucault.

Babbling Corpse by Grafton Tanner

People in the 21st century will be accustomed to a state of “anonymous, no entity, but it seems to be a living thing around us” in a social networking environment.


Initial ideas and development

Some random things I am interested in:

  • The relationship between forest and people’s consciousness
  • Optical kinetic art
  • Unconscious surveillance
  • Weight of data (last project) next step: gravitational interaction
  • Surveillance mechanism

How online surveillance is brought into people’s attention?

ideasssss.jpgbrainstorming on the class


The audience walks into a dark room and is told to monitor a group of people by video. The video is pre-recorded, though. A CCTV in the room will record the body gesture and facial expression of the audience. He/She thinks he/she is tracking people, but he/she is actually be tracked. When he/she walk out of the room and is told the real purpose of this work, and look back the photos/videos recorded by CCTV. It’s kind of discuss the relationship between the tracker and being tracked.


A physical device (includes a mini printer and a type-in screen) which you can connect to your personal account to which analysed and spits out a long list that contains all your information. Temporarily don’t consider the technical issues and digital context, it could be an installation or a sculpture.

‘BDO (Big Dumb Object)’, which is ‘any mysterious object (usually of extraterrestrial or unknown origin and immense power) in a story which generates an intense sense of wonder by its mere existence.’ People seem to be easily attracted to huge things. The principle of computers and artificial intelligence, etc nowadays are also unknown to most ordinary people. A conflict concept between the commonplace and ‘black box’ can be built to reflect the ordinary in the future.


Relevant reading on concerned areas

Some keywords that I want to try in this project.

Narrative / Storytelling

‘The Animalization of Otaku Culture’ by Azuma Hiroki

The Era of Ideals/Modernity formed a structure in which a single grand narrative/ideal controlled the diverse small narratives throughout the world. Consequently, cultural criticism and social criticism consisted in analyzing grand narratives as reflected within the various small narratives (works of art and literature). In the postmodern, however, grand narratives have collapsed. What is emerging in their place is a new model that might be called “grand database.”

The modern world formed a tree structure. At least that is how people imagined it. The postmodern world no longer has grand narratives, however. Depending on what parts of the world are inputted, people may grasp any number of small world-images. Put another way, there has been a transformation from a neurotic worldview to an MPD (multiple personality disorder) worldviews.

a878513bc672a8310584fc52798eb320_hd.jpgThe world-image of the contemporary age: the tree model.

The collapse of the cold war structure and the advent of the Internet most clearly symbolize the shift from “narrative to database”. The Internet is but one vast database in which appears any number of worlds that differ depending on input. Until 1989, the world was organized by ideology, but now the image of the “net” as the matrix for cultural diversity is becoming dominant. This tendency is unlikely to change, even under the influence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

1c9c306fcdbdcca9422c0ca65d321e93_hd.jpgThe world-image of the postmodern age: the database model.

(In this context, “postmodern” is not used in the sense of “contemporary”, but merely as a name for a specific period in history. What we discuss about here is not a period of time, but characteristics of the times that existed after modern age, which is the reason that ‘postmodern age’ shows up after ‘contemporary age’)

Postmodernism is generally defined by an attitude of scepticism, irony, or rejection toward the meta-narratives and ideologies of modernism, often calling into question various assumptions of Enlightenment rationality.


How to fully reflect a certain part of the big environment on the basis of ensuring the clarity of the small narrative? (maybe this small narrative need to be narrow down)

HTML Content


The word ‘Internet’ is a contraction of interconnected network. The architecture of the network reflects the post-modern two-layer structure. When we think about the surface of the network, that is, the web page displayed on the screen, we must first consider the nature of HTML. When we read a book, we will read the printed texts first, and then trace back the meaning. That is, this is a process from “visible things” back to “invisible things.” But we can see all the texts and images on the webpage, as well as in developer tools. We can see how the entire page is edited. We can also easily know the image size and font size by viewing source codes.

Things that are invisible in certain circumstances can be seen after changing to an environment. This nature is not limited to the Internet but is a common phenomenon in the world of computers. We are now accustomed to using a graphical interactive interface (the screen of a computer desktop) to start the operation of the computer with the application. But the foundation of the computer is actually a series of procedures for writing numbers and words. Further, it is based on a binary system. When we “look at” the desktop to operate the computer, there should be a program and a binary number of invisible information.

How to ensure that invisible things also have clear structures?

b49646d861359ad8aa42e120dd4f8c08_hd.jpgThree manifestations of data. 

The information displayed in the upper right corner is connected to the “ontology” mostly. If the content is interpreted by a text editor, it becomes text, an image by Adobe Illustrator. Such a structure fully reflects the post-modern social image. In the postmodern age, the deeper layers of the world are conceived as a database, and the marks on the surface are considered to be interpretations (combinations). Similarly, we imagine that the deeper layers of the file in this example are invisible information, and the three windows displayed on the screen just show the way to explain. In this imaginary world, instead of setting A, B, C, D as the hierarchical relationship of the tree diagram, it is more appropriate to treat all of A, B, C, and D as the same information.

There is an idiom in Chinese called ‘ 海天一色 ‘, the translation into English means ‘the sea and the sky merged into one’. “The two most expansive things in the world with similar colours, intersecting together in the farthest horizon. Under the representation, the facts are much larger than you can see. As long as you find the horizon, you can see those things under the same colour.


Mimesis / Semiotics

In ancient Greece, mimesis was an idea that governed the creation of works of art, in particular, with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty, truth, and the good. Plato contrasted mimesis, or imitation, with diegesis, or narrative. After Plato, the meaning of mimesis eventually shifted toward a specifically literary function in ancient Greek society, and its use has changed and been reinterpreted many times since.

Plato told of Socrates’ metaphor of the three beds: one bed exists as an idea made by God (the Platonic ideal, or form); one is made by the carpenter, in imitation of God’s idea; one is made by the artist in imitation of the carpenter’s.

Painters or poets, though they may paint or describe a carpenter, or any other maker of things, know nothing of the carpenter’s (the craftsman’s) art, and though the better painters or poets they are, the more faithfully their works of art will resemble the reality of the carpenter making a bed, nonetheless the imitators will still not attain the truth (of God’s creation)


The work One and Three Chairs can be seen to highlight the relationship between language, picture and referent. It problematizes relations between object, visual and verbal references (denotations) plus semantic fields of the term chosen for the verbal reference.

The objective object of the chair (physical object) can be reproduced as an “illusion” (photograph of the chair) by photography or painting, but the “illusion” of the chair, whether it is a physical chair or a piece of art reproduced by art, leads to a The final concept – the chair of the concept (the definition of the text on the chair).




Exhibition Reviews

Please read them with Google Translate.


Home Future | Design Museum | 05/01/2019


Modern Couples | Barbican Centre | 23/12/2018


Jaume Plensa | Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain | 08/12/2018


London Nights | London Museum | 09/11/2018



Test and Improvement

After the user test, I improved my prototype. I thought it is a simple website and people can understand it without reading instructions. But I was wrong. I asked ten people to use it and only for of them did it. So I wrote some captions at the beginning of the page to make sure it’s easy to understand and use. Another issue I found is about my coding. When the user select blocks from the picture, sometime they are beyond the scope of the picture. When this happens, the number on the navigation bar will turn red. It is a signal that asks users to reselect this parameter.Screen Shot 2019-01-23 at 21.29.13.png

Screen Shot 2019-01-23 at 21.29.21.pngScreen Shot 2019-01-23 at 21.31.37.png


It is hard to define this project as pure design project nor artwork since it didn’t have a clear target user community. Someone treats it as an online game that they would love to share it with their friends. Some people think it‘s more like an experimental tool which can explore the importance of different parts of the different pictures. I personally define it as a participatory project that people can develop their own thinking and a new relationship can be created through the process of playing it together.


I was thinking how to show the process of compression visually for almost two weeks and came up nothing. I was freak out at that time and suddenly I realised that my topic is the weight of data and pixel. so I let compression fuck off.

I went back to my topic and think about the pixel. as I mentioned before compression use Sorting algorithm to calculate which pixel carry more important value and throw way those less important ones.

We could say the purpose of compression is to transfer faster and save storage space. so even if some colour data lost, people still recognise the picture, just as same as throw way pixel.




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I threw away a ‘face’. It doesn’t affect you recognise the original image. the following question would be what if we throw away more and larger pixels?


Wooden Mirror, Daniel Rozin, 1999

The 4 mechanical mirrors are made of various materials but share the same behaviour and interaction; any person standing in front of one of these pieces is instantly reflected on its surface. The mechanical mirrors all have video cameras, motors and computers on board and produce a soothing sound as the viewer interacts with them. It Combined computerised reflection with a meditation on the nature of the pixel.



An ‘online tester’ that allowed the user to upload an image and take away some squares from the original image and convert to a new image, like a thumbnail.

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I made a short animation to show the process and I’ll show it later, hopefully.

Another prototype I made with p5js that sequentially reads the colour of every pixel of the image and displays this colour to fill the window.


Further possibilities

Ship of Theseus

In the metaphysics of identity, the ship of Theseus — or Theseus’s paradox — is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether a ship—standing for an object in general—that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.

Does data has identity?

If so, how can people feel their identity?