Moving Images, Moving People

Film is a form of mechanically reproduced art for creating shared experiences, and the arrival of digital technology has further standardized the delivery and screening of outdoor films globally. Yet, in China today, as mobile cinema has once again become a popular means for the government, big corporations, and even NGOs to cultivate new political subjects, consumers, and citizens, the event of outdoor screening itself remains highly unique, improvised, and in motion. Like consumer societies everywhere, the contemporary Chinese visual economy has actually made audience experiences more diverse and fragmented. In short, is mobile cinema still capable of moving people and organizing society like it once did? If so, in what terms?

The work presented here is part of a multi-year collaborative project with Tina Chen and Thomas Lahusen, and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The first public exhibition took place in May 2019 in Toronto as a Featured Exhibition in the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. In addition to showing the diversity of people and places in a fast changing nation, the multimedia exhibition, which involves lightboxes, video installations, photographs, as well as archival footages and historical artifacts, also invites viewers to meditate on the increasingly complex global media environment that is equally plagued by commercials, misinformation, and media spectacleA photo-essay book is also forthcoming.