A digital artist has hidden the names, ages and jail terms of convicted Hong Kong protesters in a SOGO mall video billboard installation dominating the city’s shopping district.
Art Innovation Gallery displayed No Rioters, by Patrick Amadon, on a 70 x 20 metre LED screen in Causeway Bay as part of a 2023 Art Week installation entitled The Sound of Pixels.
The Los Angles-based artist told HKFP that he believed momentary flashes of pro-protest graffiti, and the details of detained protesters, would go unnoticed after he was invited to submit the work. The red and black, glitchy video installation – which includes a panning surveillance camera – is one of several works displayed on the side of SOGO department store.
The name of Amadon’s work appeared to refer to one of the 2019 pro-democracy movement’s five demands. During the months-long unrest, demonstrators called on authorities to drop their characterisation of protesters as “rioters.” Those convicted of rioting may face up to a decade behind bars.
‘Glitch in the matrix’
Amadon told HKFP that he wanted to express solidarity with Hongkongers, who were “doomed to fail against the resources of the government, yet so many protest[ed] and fought back anyway.”
“Don’t want the sacrifices, principles and people who participated to be forgotten. The world has moved onto art this week. Think this is a good opportunity to remind everyone of what Hong Kong has become and the tragedy so many are ignoring,” he said, adding that the flashes of computer code represented protesters as a “glitch in the government matrix.”
When asked if he had legal concerns, Amadon said: “I am not in Hong Long right now. No real concern for me thankfully.”
In response to HKFP’s enquiries, Art Innovation Gallery said that “each artist is free to interpret each message as he pleases, and can deal with issues of any type as long as they are made in the artistic field.”
Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.”
Over 10,200 people were arrested in connection with the unrest.
The Sound of Pixels launched last Friday and runs until Thursday.
HKFP has reached out to SOGO for comment.
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