A Subversive Message in Hong Kong Goes Up in LightsPosted: May 19, 2016
The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through.
BEIJING — Jason Lam reports: For more than a minute on Tuesday night, nine-digit numbers were displayed across the facade of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Center. Towering above Victoria Harbor, the glowing white digits blinked against the night sky: 979,012,493… 979,012,492… 979,012,491…
“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest.”
The seemingly innocuous numbers contained a subversive statement. The animation is a countdown of the seconds until when the “one country, two systems” framework — a guarantee that Hong Kong, a former British colony, would keep its civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 — is set to expire.
“Most of the animations shown on the I.C.C. are ad-like, meaningless videos. We wanted to show something relevant to the social situation of Hong Kong.”
The artists planned the display to coincide with a three-day visit to Hong Kong by Zhang Dejiang, a member of China’s governing Politburo Standing Committee, which began on Tuesday. Mr. Zhang is the highest-ranking official from mainland China to visit Hong Kong since the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.
The city has gone to great lengths to contain protests during Mr. Zhang’s visit, but pro-democracy messages have slipped through. At least seven members of the League of Social Democrats party were arrested on Tuesday in connection with at least two banners appearing in public — one on a hillside, the other along the route taken by Mr. Zhang’s motorcade — reading “I Want Genuine Universal Suffrage” and “End Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship.”
“Due to the high level of security, there’s almost no channel for the Hong Kong people to voice and protest,” Mr. Wong said.
It remained to be seen how the local authorities would react to such a message, however subtle, being shown on the city’s tallest building.
Mr. Wong said he and Mr. Lam had been able to get the countdown project approved by submitting it as part of a longer, mostly apolitical, digital animation. That nine-minute work, titled “Our 60-Second Friendship Begins Now,” was commissioned…(read more)
Source: The New York Times