Oct 8 2019
Smoke & lasers lend the HK mvmt a cyberpunk aesthetic. But we must dig deeper beneath the stylish surface to appreciate HKers’ struggles - to see that we’re a ppl fighting to be seen as human.
HK has long been an inspo for cyberpunk - our city of metal & glass towering over a chaos of light & history makes for a stunning backdrop; clouds of tg pushes that aesthetic further. You can almost taste the acid rain or hear the whirring of activity deep in the undercity.
The HK govt seem happy to lean in on cyberpunk tropes. HKPF, geared & armed to the teeth, hv shown they’re above the law. Our art depicts them fully masked, w/ all traces of humanity drained. Lam too, is seen as a robot, her eyes dead, soulless - she’s part of the Machine.
In our cyberpunk society, fear of state surveillance is real. ‘Smart’ lampposts & CCTVs that track us hv become targets for HKers; cash is used as much as possible. Chats are encrypted, IDs kept secret, & we live under masks. Bcos we know - they are watching.
HK looks like it’s become a dystopia. So many pics show teargas & fires filling our strts. They show a city living in fear. They show a ppl so geared up & enhanced to adapt to their new world they no longer seem human. Just more characters in yet another cyberpunk fiction.
But to see HK thru the cyberpunk lens is too easy, as it allows one to become numb to the realities of HKers’ fight. When a ppl & their city are seen as exotic & surreal, so do their pain & hurt become. It’s easy to dismiss their ideals, bcos … do androids even dream?
We dream, and we resist in this dystopian world. Technology is the govt’s weapon, but it’s ours too. We’ve apps to guide us through the fog, channels to help us find a ride home. Our phones allow us to organise & communicate. Our computers allow us to tell you our stories.
We dream, and we resist w/ LASERS. HKPF arrested a HKer for buying laser pens in Aug claiming they’re weapons. From then on, trolling HKers have made lasers part of protests. We shine ‘em at police stns, at pizzas… Not very effective, nothing’s caught fire so far, alas.
But it tells you sth: We dream, and we resist w/ joy & hope. It’s getting increasingly hard to be happy nowadays as a HKer. But lasers (& sometimes lightsabers!) in hand, we become kids again. In our art, u see us smile with our ‘weapons’, eager to light up the darkness.
Bcos we dream, and we resist w/ our humanity. Our art shows HKers still overflowing w/ feelings and emotions - we cry, we worry, we care, we love. As much as these revolting times and brutal govt try to dehumanise HKers, we know who we are.
We are all dreamers, and we resist w/ our community. No lonely character walking the streets dense w/ smoke & darkness - we stand together, shout together, laugh together, hurt together, dream together. HK is not a cyberpunk dystopia bcos we refuse it to let it become one.
Bonus pictures - all from TG/Twitter/Instagram (search #FreetoberHK or #Freetoberhk2019). Most of these came to me w/ no attribution ☹ Will try to track down where I can, otherwise, creators, if you see your work here @ me I’ll tag and credit 🤓