人—人—人 is a reproduction of the censored interview 发哨子的人 / The Whistle-giver. The original interview was published on March 9th, 2020, on the social media channels of 人物 / People, a Chinese magazine. 发哨子的人 / The Whistle-giver detailed a Wuhan E.R. director’s attempt to sound the alarm at the initial discovery of COVID-19, as well as the authority’s inaction, downplay, and coverup of the viral situation. Soon after the censorship of this text, Chinese netizens engaged in a game of relay by re-producing and disseminating distinct variations of the interview. Encoded in braille, morse code, recorded reading, QR code, invented scripts, emojis, PDFs, video in the style of Star War’s opening crawl, hundreds of different versions have been made and shared. This is a collective effort to combat internet censorship and to keep this important interview in circulation. To read an English version of the interview, please click here.
This contribution’s title 人—人—人 highlights the Chinese character for people (人, Pinyin: RÉN) as a tribute to the contributors of this relay as well as the people of Wuhan. The connected characters suggest the collaborative spirit of this movement. My process involved manually fragmenting 970 distinct Chinese characters from the original interview into individual strokes in Illustrator. Then in Processing, these strokes were used to reconstruct images of the people during COVID-19 in Wuhan. These images were sourced from the original interview, Chinese as well as international news media, and screenshots from relevant videos. 人—人—人 has several components: a booklet / poster containing these reconstructed images and the original interview, as well as an image-centric website (ren-ren-ren.net). The website contains a downloadable PDF of the booklet accompanied by binding instructions using the slot-and-tab technique. Visitors are encouraged to print and assemble their own booklet at home as a way to support this movement while physically preserving this important document.
王强 / Qiang Wang (e-mail)