’Screen Green’ from the Beijing Image Building Series.
The building pits in Beijing are hidden from sight by giant billboards, most of them filled with advertising. In particular the new subway stations built to be completed in 2008 are obscured from street view by hundreds of meters of prints depicting full-colour pictures of lush parks and greens. On top of this the impression of depth is enhanced by preceding the printed screen by a strip of real trees and bushes. Around the corner of Tianmen square, one of the most photographed spots in Beijing, the ministry of public security also utilises a green screen. A small strip of green backed up by huge billboards with pictures of the same trees obscure whats behind with an enjoyable illusion.
In 2007 we were in a artist-in-residency in Beijing right next door to the studio of Ai WeiWei. We were interested in how Beijing was gearing up for the Olympics of 2008 and gathered impressions of a city trying to look its best. This phase of ‘under construction’ gave us the ability to circumvent the impression that was intended, and enabled us to see behind the scenes of city-scale image building. This resulted in a series of business-cards, the exchange of which is a modern Chinese ritual we found. Also the parallel meaning of introducing and asking for business is a apt metaphor for Beijing working on its Olympic appearance.