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.

"No Rioters" art work
“No Rioters” dominates Causeway Bay in Hong Kong during 2023 Art Week. Photo: Patrick Amadon, via Twitter.

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.

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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.”

Patrick Amadon bill board
Photo: Patrick Amadon.

“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.”

Patrick Amadon bill board
“No Rioters” dominates Causeway Bay in Hong Kong during 2023 Art Week. Photo: Patrick Amadon, via Twitter.

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.”

Patrick Amadon bill board
Photo: Patrick Amadon.

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.

cordon arrested protest march five demands 1 July 2020 causeway bay
Police in Causeway Bay on July 1, 2020. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

The Sound of Pixels launched last Friday and runs until Thursday.

HKFP has reached out to SOGO for comment.

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Tom founded Hong Kong Free Press in 2015 and is the editor-in-chief. In addition to editing, he is responsible for managing the newsroom and company - including fundraising, recruitment and overseeing HKFP's web presence and ethical guidelines.

He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He previously led an NGO advocating for domestic worker rights, and has contributed to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and others.