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Danger of Technology

陈溪 Cecilia Chan 2017-07-06 13:28

Recently, the introduction to the exhibition “Like Me” at BANK Gallery in Shanghai has seized the spotlight, for which these prophetic lines from a Star Trek script from 1967 seemed to precisely depict what we are going through now: “They found it’s a trap, like a narcotic, because when dreams become more important than reality, you will give up travelling, building, creating... you just sit, living and reliving other lives left behind in the thought record.” 


This exhibition has put forward a discussion on the collision between the virtual world and the real world in the presence of science and technology. That’s exactly the question that has long been hovering in the mind of Lin Ke, the artist at the centre of this exhibition. Nowadays, with rapid development of virtual reality and indispensable electronic devices embedded in daily life, social media glutted with narcissism and fragmented information flooding into everything... this dystopic future seems inevitable. This exhibition is the outcome of the artist’s endeavor to interpret humanity’s primary role in such an uncertain digital era- people “reshape” their images through the Internet to project an online image made by themselves, and we who are immersed in such virtual images have been gradually failing to put ourselves in perspective. In the exhibition, Lin deliberately obscures the boundaries between the virtual and real world to imply the trap “people of the future technological era” are stepping in. 



Poetic Accidents 

“I think an accident is indeed something poetic.” Lin regards the process of hand controlling the moving path of a mouse as a kind of “dance”. In his video works, Lin’s hand holding the mouse often moves in time to the rhythm according to a certain background music and he calls it “dance of the cursor”. Therefore, such a “dance” in Photoshop will manipulate how the image changes; and in the browser, it will open different contents of the image, so he names it “surfing-the-Internet series”. 


“My works are like drawing sketches of our day-to-day life, I’m just using a computer to create them, simulating a realistic scene and transferring them into data.” Apparently, those previous trainings on his eyes and hands in various classical art courses enable him to manipulate his “dance of the cursor” more neatly and he compares his working state to theatrical performances. “I once heard that people in theaters would rehearse scenes in their own home or studio. They did it just in secret, without an audience. Sometimes it may be recorded, and sometimes may not; they just play it to have fun, lasting only three to five minutes.” Lin found it also applied to him, new possibilities came with advance of works, more like a kind of improvisation. 

Live files 

However, Lin’s works are not limited to themselves but more of reflection beyond the works. 

At first glance, those “computer desktop” images and files and videos with different names scattered on the exhibition wall are stunning, however, if the viewers simply regard them as aesthetic images in a traditional way, then they may end up far from the intention of Lin’s works. Instead, the seemingly nontechnical way of these works exactly stresses the logical relevance and clues between them, which are the most important focus points worth pondering. These relevant thoughts of contemporary issues, such as the real and the virtual, the artificial and the natural, have far exceeded the significance of the works in the exhibition. 


“I feel a bit like The Matrix, where science fiction is closely linked with reality and there exists something reasonable.” According to Lin, the inspiration for these works originally came as a random thought he had in 2010; associating computer files with living being where every file is “birthed”, named, and moves through a life path determined by the path of a mouse against a changing series of desktop backgrounds. At the same time, setting up infinite files inside can also extend the file: “For example, when downloading a software or something else, if there exists the soul, then it may come as a set of downloaded software.” 

About Lin Ke 


Born in Wenzhou in 1984, Lin Ke majored in New-media Art from the China Academy of Art and currently lives in Beijing. He is also an original member of the art association Double Fly Art Center. Since 2010, Lin Ke has turned his attention to the behavioral science of the computer by making himself the experiment object. Working with his laptop as his studio, Lin extracts materials for creative works from computer software and the Internet. 

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