a cyber-habitat of

Jingtian Zong


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BEACON OF SIGNS (2021)


#community-engaged art, #installation, #public signs






Beacon of Signs (2021), created with artist collective MorrowAgent, investigates public signage culture and the ambivalent boundary between control and social awareness. The beacon, composed of 98 public signs printed on transparent film sheets, is lightened up from its center and projects images onto the surroundings. It was exhibited at Free-Down Space 闲下来合作社, a community-based creative space at Xianxia Neighbourhood, Shanghai. in September 2021.

The project grew out of a mutual interest in public signs, which are overwhelmingly numerous in urban China, often embodying distinctive appearance of Chinese characteristics, rhythmic post-socialist slogans, and funny English translations. Public signs construct an essential layer of the urban infrastructure that we have become too familiar with to pay extensive attention to. They are efficient, instantaneous instructions and, simultaneously, an instrument of discipline. They are the most minor reinforcement of rules, and the slightest indications of “who set the rules.”

The beacon invites our local community to ponder: Why do we have so many signs in our neighborhood? For whom? Will those consequences and penalties they imply be enforced? If not, what makes us follow them? While the audience watches the beacon, it casts cells of shadows on the audience as if it’s also watching them.

Beacon of Signs was also exhibited in the Hefei Museum of Contemporary Art, located at the Hechai 1972 Art Center, a center tranformed from the old Hefei Prison.

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