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<nettime-ann> SHANZHAI ARCHEOLOGY - Panel at Goldsmiths



PANEL: 6-9PM, MAY 15TH, 2018, 

Electronic devices possess their own trajectory. The production of digital technologies, from raw materials to information machines, take place in various places and cycles around the planet. On their back, the “Made in China” tag stands as a crucial piece of a mostly unwritten story. 

During the last decades, the region of the Pearl River Delta in Southern China has been home to the largest production and assembling of technologies that has ever taken place in the history of mankind. At its forefront, the city of Shenzhen has become a new global center for technology, with many of the biggest tech companies in the world today. 

The legendary speed of Shenzhen’s urban and industrial development has led to the appearance of entirely new technological phenomena with all their drawbacks, from the confidential development of weird shanzhai (1) phones to the biggest shipment of Foxconn products all over the world. This discussion panel will be an occasion to look back at the many sides of this critical zone. 

The introductory lecture will present an overview of the historical transformation of Shenzhen, from the post-cultural revolution political reforms in China to the latest generations of tech startups. Clément Renaud will discuss and speculate on the global implications and outreach of this site on the future of technology.

The Disnovation working group will introduce the Shanzhai Archeology research, including a sectional history of Shanzhai culture (a specific Chinese version of the copy culture), together with a collection of smartphones of unique appearance and features made in Shenzhen. 

Finally, Liam Young will show an animated skyline of the near future which exaggerates the contemporary Chinese phenomena of Taobao Villages and imagines a hyper dense urban region built entirely around the economies of the internet shopping giant.


DISNOVATION.ORG (Nicolas Maigret & Maria Roszkowska) [FR/PL], artists and curators

Clément Renaud [FR], researcher, artist and writer 

An Xiao Mina [US], artist, designer, writer and technologist

Featuring Taobao Village by Liam Young [UK], film director and speculative architect

Moderator: Irini Mirena Papadimitriou [GR], curator and producer

This panel is part of Shanzhai Archeology (1), an ongoing art and research project by DISNOVATION.ORG

Currently on view at Watermans

(1) Shanzhai (山寨) refers to counterfeit consumer goods, including imitation, parody and trademark infringing brands or electronics.

With the support of Helen Pritchard and the Computing Department of Goldsmiths, University of London, Design Trust - Hong Kong, CNC - Dicréam, and Watermans.


DISNOVATION.ORG [INT] ( is a working group based in Paris, initiated by Nicolas Maigret and Maria Roszkowska. At the crossroads between contemporary art, research and hacking, the collective develops situations of disturbance, speculation, and debate, challenging the dominant ideology of technological innovation and stimulating the emergence of alternative narratives. They recently edited The Pirate Book, an anthology on media piracy. Their work has been presented internationally at venues such as the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, transmediale, FILE and the Chaos Communication Congress.    

Clément Renaud [FR] ( is a French researcher, artist and writer specialized in innovation in China, social network analysis and data visualization. After living in China for several years, he is now based in France. His work evolves from the practice of fine arts, social sciences and creative coding. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, he has founded several international initiatives related to urban, visual and digital cultures. He holds a doctorate in Management of Information Systems from Telecom ParisTech.                                                                                    

An Xiao Mina [USA] ( is an American artist, designer, writer and technologist. In her research and practice, she explores the intersection of networked, creative communities and civic life. Calling memes the "street art of the internet", she looks at the growing role of internet culture and humor in addressing social and political issues in countries like China, Uganda and the United States. Her writing and commentary have appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, Wired and others, and she has lectured at conferences such as the Personal Democracy Forum, the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium and Creative Mornings.

Liam Young [UK] ( is a speculative architect who operates in the spaces between design, fiction and futures. He is cofounder of "Tomorrow's Thoughts Today", an urban futures think tank, exploring the local and global implications of new technologies, and "Unknown Fields", a nomadic research studio that travels on expeditions to chronicle these emerging conditions as they occur on the ground. He has taught internationally at the Architectural Association, Princeton University and now runs an MA in Fiction and Entertainment at SciArc. Young's narrative approach sits between documentary and fiction, as he focuses on projects that aim to reveal the invisible connections and systems that make the modern world work.

Irini Papadimitriou [GR] is a curator, producer and cultural manager, working at the forefront of digital culture in the UK and internationally. She is currently Head of New Media Arts Development at Watermans, an arts organisation supporting artists working with technology, where she is curating the exhibition programme and an annual Digital Performance festival. She is also Digital Programmes Manager at the V&A responsible for the annual Digital Design Weekend festival and Digital Futures. Irini is a currently an Art & Design Associate with Mozilla and a co-founder of Maker Assembly, a critical gathering about maker culture: its meaning, politics, history and future.                                                                   
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