I had a laugh or cry moment when I was shown an extraordinary interpretation of the term “painted landscape” within my favourite tourist attraction, Yunnan. A village decided to spray paint a barren strip-mine green. The noxious gases from the “verdant forest” were bit of a tip-off… [Image: 绿漆刷山”确属“国内最先进经验courtesy of 我是会武功的猫]. Yunnan residents abandons their agricultural way of life to host the profitable tourist industry. They do it well. It’s restored ‘authenticity’ is both eerie and charming. It makes me want to tell the critics to to take a break and sink into the infectious clichés. It’s nice. In fact Yunnan’s pleasantness had melted many a tightly wound and much more knowledgeable sociologist. It’s undeniably picturesque. Like a set in a theatre, all constructed experiences are completely targeted to short-cut specific functions. Red polyester lanterns in Lijiang increased with the introduction of larger CMOS sensors for nighttime photography, catering for holiday photographers busy uploading onto social networks. The same pattern applies to the framework of satellite photography in the assessment of environmental progress. Locals tell me that the village was hoping to receive bonuses promoting reforestation and sustainable progress. Many people even speculated that the next level of anti-detection would be to use army camouflage in order to cope with close-range image capture, where villages could export “greening nets” to surrounding neighbours.

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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