Archive's Note

Archive's Note:

how do you archive a space?

//

how do you archive a part of the Chinese internet?

//

are those even different questions? 

//

maybe they appear to be because we are entrenched in a habit - thinking about space as something physical, thinking about the internet as something not part of “real life.” 

//

according to the latest reports about marketing, “in China there is no difference between online and offline.” They call this phenomenon an omni-channel, “the shopping experience integrated throughout all mobiles devices and the physical retailer shop”

//

so how do you archive basement6 - a not for profit art collective where questions such as “what is internet art,” “can we DM God” & “what is cringe theory” are raised? How do you archive an omni-channel , an institution that equally relies on the availability of a physical space as well as access to itsWeChat account, and put it into an even larger offline/online space? 

//

we can’t talk about archiving basement6’s work without talking about the experience of navigating the Chinese internet. It is naive to assume that Chinese online existence is the same as Western online existence because of phenomena such as the Great Fire Wall, the politics of WeChat and Tencent (its parent corporation), the history of the internet and computers in China (most people first experienced the Web through their phones and not desktops likes in the West), government censorship and users’ own self-censorship.  

As @MichelleProksell has discussed in her work, it is quite easy to exist within the Chinese internet - there’s amazing creativity and humor. The problem is trying to get out of it.

// 

Archiving basement6’s work means trying to get one aspect of the Chinese internet out of itself. 

//

Because most people in China, unlike the West, first experienced the web through mobile phones rather than desktops, using the Chinese internet means relying on one super mega app that has it all - WeChat. One can text friends, video call family, lifestream events, pay bills, split a check, hook up, hail a cab, send a location, etc…all in one app. 

 

Not to mention navigate the web.

//

basement6 heavily relies on WeChat - it is the main way it communicates with an audience, it is the main way artists and volunteers communicate with one another and it is also a medium where many exhibits have solely taken place (if you are going to use this archive please download WeChat on your phone, follow basement6’s account and take a look at the WeChat archive which contains Wang Yiquan’s 12 Acts Exhibit & Zhang Yehcng’s Paint in Equity). 

//

After working with WeChat’s backend and receiving advice from someone who’s thoroughly familiar with its regulations (@Kobe), I can say, for sure, that archiving basement6’s work must also address thedifficulty and almost impossibility of trying to extract anything out of WeChat. One cannot link outside sources to a WeChat page, nor can one export any content outside of it. Thus, the following pages you see here have been manually extracted (aka going through each post, copy pasting the text & screenshotting the individual pictures). @Kobe calls this technique - “the manual.”

//

acknowledging this impossibility echoesthe larger phenomena that @Proksell has previously pointed out - the Chinese internet is a self-sufficient, closed system that enables users to easily exist within, but despises any attempts at exiting out. 

//

The online is attached to the offline.

//

This inability to simply export all the WeChat files, to easily drag and drop an image to my desktop, makes the Chinese internet very much a physical reality. 

It is an experience that is determined by geography. 

//

As someone accustomed to the “deluxe internet” (the internet from the west, the internet “without censorship”), I am used to doing whatever i want with my internet. I can drag and drop any picture i want. So when I first tried to do this and failed, i felt (to put it mildly) frustrated. 

//

In the book Programmed Visions, Wendy Chun describes software as a mediation that gives the user an illusion of sovereignty. They can control time, change display, distort sound, do anything they want, without thinking about the ways in which their actions are mapped into data corporations use for profit.  Software (or more specifically internet browsers) train subjects to think of themselves as sovereigns - master in control of any situation. However my experience with WeChat would force me to refine Chun’s statement: internet browsers (software) in the West give the subject an illusion of sovereignty. Meanwhile, software (WeChat) in China very openly reminds the user who is in control. What are the implications of that? 

//

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

//

As the WeChat expert @kobe would say - “you gotta prove yourself to daddy Tencent” 

//

this archive is provisional

this archive is a simplification

this archive is basement6

this archive is shanghai 

this archive is the offline moments

this archive is the online moments

this archive is not provisional

this archive is not not a simplification

this archive is not basement6 

this archive is not shanghai 

basement6 is an archive of shanghai 

basement6 is (not) internet art

basement6 relies on (alternate) reality

//

enjoy the shows

// 

best served with little expectations and no assumptions as to what an archive should be & look like

 

josue 

 

josue hails from honduras but global forces have temporarily moved him to the U.S. based in new york, josue studies comparative literature at columbia university. with spanish & chinese as his languages of study, he's currently exploring all things media. internet, networks, technology and how they affect understandings of the body, memory, nation and race are some topics that percolate on his mind. he dabbles in coding, photoshop & nonfiction collage-writing, as well as archival & curatorial work