Beijing Spirit

Interactive Video Installation
Inside Out Art Museum, Beijing, China

bicycle, computer, voltage generator, video projection
color HD video, 16:9, with sound

above is five minutes of documentation and footage
from the installation at the Inside Out Art Museum


installation view
Inside Out Art Museum, Beijing, China


video stills


The massive change in Beijing is mirrored through the metaphor of the bicycle and the BMW.  The bicycle has given way to the overflow of cars, taxis and traffic and the BMW is an immediately recognizable signifier to a Chinese audience of the new China, with a desire for upward mobility and status. (There is even a store in the malls of Beijing called “BMW Lifestyle”, selling clothing and other goods with the BMW logo, see below.)

The bicycle in the gallery powers the video projection.  Once pedaling, the backseat view through the windshield of a BMW is projected in front of the bicycle rider. When the pedaling speeds up or slows down, the video does the same.  The rider watches as the large car struggles to fit down the little streets filled with pedestrians, the BMW lifestyle clashing with traditional Beijing. The faster the pedaling, the faster the BMW races toward dead ends in little alleys. 

The title, Beijing Spirit, references a well-known advertising campaign in Beijing in which the public submitted words they believed described Beijing today.  The chosen tagline is “Patriotism, Innovation, Inclusiveness, Virtue”, which can be found on billboards all over Beijing and her subways.  The still image at the beginning of the video above is one of these billboards.


BMW Lifestyle store inside of a Beijing shopping mall, photo Lana Z Caplan




see earlier work in this series
Welcome to Suzhou


Special thanks to Fred Wolflink, Dana Moser, Claire Hu, Ian Deleon