The mouse factory outside my window releases its workers from their night shift. The background noise raises a notch as I realise that workers were reclaiming their space and enjoying their existence.

I follow the light and catch workers burning fake money to their ancesters in a small purpose-built shrine. I’m told that this only is allowed because the factory business is privately owned, as opposed to being nationalised.

Perhaps the degree of risk required in such as large-scale business makes one more – spiritual about his/her winnings and losings. Maybe this is a profoundly traditional and non-communist practice of Southern China.

In the darkness behind the factory, movement of all directions rustle around. A younger crowd of workers get on their skates to whizz through the quiet street in ghostly herds. This is their time, to speed through spaces where they are forced to sit all day. Vehicles occasionally light up the surrounding and for a fleeting moment I realise how busy the surroundings really are. Daydream is a luxury I cannot afford here.

The night is where office romance blossom into passionate walks. In fact, living in factories stationed in the out-skirts of the city allows many younger adults access to a freedom they would not receive at home. For the lovers, the night is still young, this is a date without a curfew.

The security team watches the coming and going of his colleagues, jealously trying to catch up with the gossip. The team of dogs nap only to wake for occasional suspicious characters. I spent a whole week bribing the dogs after hearing that two other visitors were bitten this year. A rabies hospital experience is certainly not on my agenda.

By 12 mid night the wonderers and their stories are reabsorbed back into industrial blocks. Chattering friends return to their factory dormitory units, preparing to start their working day once again at the crack of dawn.

Written by Lisa Ma

Lisa Ma socializes activism. Combining ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa creates platforms of engagement from surprising insights and processes that deeply resonate with the global technological community. The emergence of clicktivism – to protest at the click of a mouse – is trivializing activism. Lisa argues that although activism doesn’t necessarily benefit from technology, we need to evolve how activism contributes to technological societies. To illustrate this, she designs dilemmas and creates social events that are perceived as activism but function as services.

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