Sunday, December 30, 2007

happy 2008!

we sent out this card and some people asked if i was holding a snake. uh, i wouldn't hold a snake let alone put it near my face. so, no. it's not a snake.

been working on an architecture design project in beijing. Gutted this apartment, moved walls and put in a whole new stairwell. we're about halfway through.

and this was christmas eve dinner:

a massive feast with good friends. what better way to spend the holidays?

all the best to everyone. happy new year.
more updates to come.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The Contractor show at Yugong Yishan last Wednesday was a blast. The lead singer of the band RandomK(e), who took the stage after us said, "I have seen lots of bands in my lifetime. I have never seen anything like that." We took it as a compliment.

photos to be uploaded soon.

In the meantime, WE GOT MERCH!
Official Contractor t-shirts are NOW ON SALE!

here is the back of the shirt, modeled by the lovely and talented Wang Wei

and the front of the shirt which is blank except for a logo on the lower left corner.

As someone else put it, "very wearable."

for a MERE 50RMB (that's less that $7 for you poor Americans) you can have a LIMITED EDITION, CONTRACTOR DESIGNED, HIGH QUALITY t-shirt.
Sizes: baby-t, S, M, L, XL

if you live overseas, you have to pay shipping, but we'll send 'em anywhere in the world! we only printed 100 and over a quarter of our stock has ALREADY BEEN SOLD! This is HOT! Get 'em while supplies last!

email us for details:

Friday, November 02, 2007


RandomK(e) and The Contractors
Redefining the definition of "Show"

Together at last! RandomK(e) and The Contractors offer you an evening of post-rock, performance art rock, and something else, we're not sure what.

Wednesday, Nov 14, 2007 9pm
Yugong Yishan
West courtyard, former site of Duan Qirui Government 6404 2711
Beijing, China

RandomK(e) draws on disparate influences to produce original music that ranges from soundscapes and noise exploration to space rock, deep dub and even conventional pop structures. Founded in late 2004, the group continues to chart new musical territory and will record its debut album for the SubJam label in 2007.
RandomK(e)吸收了完全不同的音乐影响,去创造从音景、噪音探索到太空摇滚、deep dub,甚至包括常规的流行结构的原创性音乐。他们组建于2004年,持续地致力于绘制全新 的音乐图景。2007年他们将为Sub

Richard Todd:吉他、唱, Guitar, Vocals
Adam Pillsbury:贝司, Bass
Jon Campbell:鼓, Drums
Jackson Garland:Loops、效果、大贝司、唱, Loops and Effects, Upright Bass, Vocals
The Contractors is a Beijing based conceptual art band comprised of artists/writers/curators/construction workers. The group has organized interventions in printed magazines, art fairs and performance festivals, performed in nightclubs and have a hand in the fabrication of high-rise skyscrapers and highway overpasses. They accept most bribes.
“包工头乐队”是一个发起于北京艺术组合,小组成员包括观念艺术家,作家,艺术策划人以及建筑工人。小组的作品主要以干预的方式出现在媒体杂志,艺术博览会和艺术节当中。作品也包括一些这个城市当中的高楼与高架桥。他们还非常乐于接受您所给予的回扣。 (BLOCKED IN CHINA!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


there is a ritualistic team building exercise in korea called "MT" (membership training) where everyone from a school department or company gets together for an overnight trip to the countryside. usually, they all pile into a vehicle, drive to a pension by the seashore or in mountains, unload themselves into a big room and then eat and drink copious amounts of food and alcohol in order to "get to know one another". apparently artists too need their MT, and thus a few days ago the crew at ssamzie traipsed off to the seashore at gwanghua do, south of inchon airport, for 2 days of bonding.

we were all dutifully in denial about the threat of a typhoon that was blowing in from japan. packed swimsuits and towels and headed out on to the highway.


after about an hour we arrived at a suburban-looking duplex that looked out onto a coastline. surprisingly enough, the sun was shining.


went for a short walk and found a military post armed with fake soldiers

sloshed around barefoot in a mud flat collecting clams and waiting for the tide to come in


eventually the tide did come in and we went for an amazing AMAZING swim as the sun was setting, ate lots of barbecue, and tried to learn a korean card game called 'stop go' (or something like that) that was so complicated that i fell asleep playing it. but the cards are really beautiful

was roused awake to play a game of pictionary at 2am, stayed up until 4am, woke up to kitchen shenanigans and a pile of kimchi the size of your head. and yes, they ate it all.

drove around in a storm, drank convenience store coffee under an awning, and ended up at the gwanghwa museum of history where they had some interesting diorama displays

and met a marine corps unit as we were leaving the museum

so there you go. MT, korean style.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

open studios

so we survived. the open studios was on monday and there were simultaneous openings in the gallery downstairs and at a nearby gallery called Loop. good move on the part of the organizers. another good move on the organizers was to have one of the artists make fried chicken as part of his performance in the gallery. free food is always a good draw. a surprisingly large amount of people showed up, considering it was monday evening. lots of people came by and had a look around the studio, but not too many people made it to the roof to see my installation there (7 flights up!), but here is a link to some photos of "No Hands":

and some early photos of an urban gardening/makeshift fountain project installed inside my studio. will upload photos from the exhibited work soon. i have had the fountain running now non-stop for 2 days. having the sound of running water in the studio completely changes the working environment. i'm so relaxed...

however, the last and most successful thing we did that day was to throw a massive party on the ssamzie rooftop:

pictured l to r: me, michael, sunkuan, and younghui. i know that was 3 days ago, but today is the first day i've been able to spend the day in bed recovering. literally. it's now nearly 8pm and i should probably go get some food.

so as soon as i finished typing that last sentence, i walked outside my door and my neighbor michael was making an amazing grilled salmon and spinach sandwich in crusty french bread. he also had a bottle of nice Australian wine hand carried from his home country. it was amazing. we sat out on the steps of ssamzie devouring it. this was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

open studios

just a brief announcement:

Open Studio
Michael YUEN (Australia) Studio 402
Rania Ho (USA/China) Studio 401

10 September 2007
Michael Yuen:
Rania Ho:

Open studio: 2-8pm
5-129 Changjeon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea(121-190)

Two new work-in-progress pieces by media and sound installation artist
Michael Yuen.

Michael is an Australian artist and curator based in Adelaide. His
artistic practice centres around interactive installation traversing
many artforms. Formally trained as a composer, Michael’s
installation-based works use a combination of abstract sound, images,
and experimental interactive technologies, in order to create artworks
grounded in perceptual experience. Since 2003, he has been exhibiting
regularly, facilitating masterclasses and workshops, guest lecturing at
universities, curating new media exhibitions and serving on various
boards. Most recently his work Swarm was shown at the Australian Centre
for the Moving Image in a joint exhibition with the Hayward Gallery. He
has been the artistic director of Project 3 (2006 Adelaide Festival) and
served on the Inter-Arts board for the Australia Council of the Arts

This is an Asialink project supported by Arts South Australia and the
Australia-Korea Foundation

A Few Useless Machines: An exploration of mechanical mash-ups in the digital age
Works-in-progress by Rania Ho

Rania Ho’s work has been exhibited at the most recent Guangzhou Triennial, Shanghai’s Duolun Museum of Modern Art; Beijing’s Long March Space; California’s Headlands Center for the Arts; Ewha Media Art Performance (EMAP); Inter-Society for Electronic Arts (ISEA); and SIGGRAPH. Her work has received Honorable Mention awards at the Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria and ArtFuture Festival in Taiwan. A former Interval Research Fellow and visiting scholar at Microsoft Research Asia’s Center for Interaction Design in Beijing, she currently is a visiting lecturer at the Graduate School of Culture Technology at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). She received her master’s degree in interactive media art from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and her B.A. in Theater Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently lives and works in Asia.

Monday, September 03, 2007

progress report

working on a couple pieces here in my studio at ssamzie space. the first is a (so far untitled) fountain made of found styrofoam structures. I'm attempting to grow sprouts on them. kind of a large scale chia pet.




this is a photo of an early experiment with the sprouts:

the other is an elaborate contraption to hum bottles, which is entitled "No Hands." Sitting on the bike seat activates a fan blower which is positioned to blow over the tops of beer bottles and make them hum. the bottles will be placed around in a circle so that peddling the bike creates a song.



there's going to be an open studio on sept 10, from 2-8pm. if you're in seoul, drop by. There is a show opening in the gallery as well.

Monday, August 27, 2007


it's been ages since posting. just want to update with photos from what i've been doing...

ate at a noodle shop in seoul that served all-you-can-eat peanut butter on toast to accompany your kimchi ramen:

discovered that they sell hypodermic needles in the art supply store:

started growing sprouts in fishnet stockings:

went to an electronic music performance where this trumpeter made sounds that sounded like the electronic noise artists around him:

drank dongdong ju at some "rustic" restaurant that went so far as to make their bathroom look like an outhouse:

accidentally wandered into an empty shopping mall:

went to check out the grounds of the Total Museum with Taeyoon, and met the curator, Nathalie Boseul Shin:

created the newest haute-couture for korean salary man fashion:
hot fashion photog specializing in salary man haute-couture, michael yuen, in the background working his visual magic.

went to exotic locations:

now, i'm back in seoul. prepping for open studios on the 10th. it's going to be insane as usual. oh well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cephalopod Redux

Ah the Octopoda. I had another run in with this delightful life form at a restaurant in seoul. My first experience was here. In this second experience, we went to a restaurant that was famous for this octopus dish. I only believe this because there were photos of the owner's numerous tv appearances over the years all over the walls. So we sit down with rami, my korean translator, and michael, one of the other artists in residency at ssamzie. rami mentions something about seafood and michael and i nod. Out comes a large flat pan that is piled high with vegetables, glass noodles and red sauce. You can't eat anything without red sauce in korea, so i suppose it's kind of redundant to mention it. The waitress stirs around the veggies a while and cuts the glass noodles into small bits. It all seems pretty standard fare when suddenly from behind her another waitress reaches into a bowl and WHOMP! She slams down onto the frying surface two whole live octopi. They are squirming and writhing around. We watch them flail and listen to them fry. It's shocking. we are speechless. The waitress pushes the octopi around on the fryer and buries them in the cooking vegetables, but the undulating cabbage shreds only emphasizes the fact that they are still alive under there. After a while she picks up the cephalopod with tongs in one hand and kitchen sheers in the other. The tentacles are cascading down like a chandelier and with a few quick snips octopus is decimated into a hundred little bits. it's over. we ate it. I think michael was a little too shell shocked to really enjoy it, but it tasted pretty good. I forced myself to eat as much as i possibly could. had to justify it dying for us.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


can i just take a brief moment to draw your attention to this fascinating video of inmates at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Cebu, Philippines as they do michael jackson's thriller.

this is crazy nutty. the fact that they are prisoners just makes it all that much more insane. watching it is like witnessing a pile of post-modern theory implode in on itself and go up in flames. there's also a version of them dancing to queen's radio gaga as well as sister act. i don't know who came up with this idea, but this is some serious "out of the box" thinking.

Monday, July 16, 2007

U Sexy Pig

Exhibit A: on the left is the window of a bbq joint in Seoul called "Sexy Pig". We chose to eat there based on the name alone and were not disappointed. We ate nice fatty pork, some very tasty beef, a crab soup, great side dishes and spicy salads among the post-industrial surroundings of a wall of cinder blocks and a nearby empty lot (or at least that's how i remember it). I have finally uploaded a few more images of Ssamzie Space which include pics of the exterior of the Ssamzie building and my neighbor Michael Yuen, who is a very cool sound/installation artist from Adelaide. Some more pics of seoul feature shots of a bizarre mega mall that was open late at night, but had only a few stalls selling clothes - the rest of the place was empty. Also some images of a gaming center where people were playing this taiko drum game as well as a first-person shooter with an "uzi" (in light of the virginia tech shootings, it was kinda creepy). Everyone in the place was in couples. I saw a girly-girl look at an air-hockey puck and paddle as if they were from another planet. Maybe to her, they were.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

ppt ppower ppresentation

The Contractors performance at Borderline just got a nice mention in the Asian Art Archive July Newsletter. scroll down to the bottom of the page. Thanks Megan for putting in a good word for us. Karaoke! for all our friends!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

kimchi me

just arrived in seoul for a 3 month residency at ssamzie space. The art center is located in a section of town called hongdae- just down the street from the Honggik art school. lots of cafes, clubs, boutiques around - standard fare for "arty cultural industries" areas. anyway, it's still a nice area to wander around on foot. cafes are really cute, and i found a place that would sell me REAL ground coffee beans. WAH! what is it with koreans and instant coffee?

The plan is that I will be attempting to make a useless machine during my stay here. we'll see how it goes. Will be scouring 2nd hand shops and other industrial sources for materials. progress reports will be posted regularly to this site.

the photo above is an underpass that i walked through last week in daejeon, korea. this is what the future looks like. You didn't know?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wrap Up

So The Contractors went on at about midnight, fans screaming, shuffled inside because the police arrived (it was too noisy) had some technical difficulties, got a REALLY HEAVY amp dropped on my big toe 2 SECONDS before we were about to go on stage (my big toe is purple now), and dropped my prop cigarette ash on the not so prop computer that was running our PPT (powerpoint for you people still in the 20th century - jeez, who are you?). But hey, we survived. it seemed to go over ok. However, even after we had finished screening the video and going through all the very animated PPT ANTICS apparently some people in the audience were still confused and were asking when we were going to start singing. HUH? We have the video that we screened, nay PREMIERED, for your viewing pleasure as well as photos taken by a fine gentleman called Frank Yu.

thanks to all who braved the rain and came out to support us. a good time was had by all. video of the actual performance will be uploaded at some point in the near future.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

shameless self promotion

The Contractors got a mention on the Virtual China blog. The GFW of China is blocking the site, but the above link is anonymoused for those of us on the inside. thanks lyn!

again, for those who weren't listening the first time it was mentioned, we're playing the Borderline festival. More details arrived today! Friday 29 June, 10pm. 50RMB entrance. We'll be outdoors in the mobile lab. if we're lucky, it won't rain. brace yourself for some HOT ppt action.

see you there.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hit Me! Yeow!

For those in Beijing on the evening of Friday, June 29, we have a special treat for you...

THE CONTRACTORS will be performing LIVE at the 2007 Borderline Festival sometime between 9-10pm.

2 Kolegas Bar 两个好朋友酒吧
Inside the Drive-in Movie Theater, Liangma Qiao Road n. 21 (North side of Dong Feng Road, 300m west of Dong Feng Qiao)
地址: 汽车电影院内 - 亮马桥路 21 号 (东风桥西300米路北,汽车电影院内)
Tel: 0086-10-81964820

For those NOT in beijing, we have a small token for you. Video of THE CONTRACTORS Art Fair Tour.

Fun for all.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


i just did a 5-day fast. i've never done this before. crazy. went up to a cabin in a little village outside the city. no food, no internet for 5 days. the local villagers probably thought i had totally lost it, but they were politely curious. discovered it was more a mental test than anything else. it's bizarre to counter one's natural instinct for survival by just deciding not to eat. the first day my friend Wei was up there with me and i watched her eat meals. that was kind of weird, but strangely empowering. for the next few days i just stayed in the cabin reading, doing yoga, and taking naps. blew through everything i brought to read and made sketches for future projects. also tried to write some songs. wacky experience. i wasn't as loopy as i thought i would be. i'd probably do it again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

the monks-n-us

holy crap! I'm in Tibet!
a very quick trip, but totally overwhelming. lots of stuff to process. will have to write a separate entry about this when i can articulate it better. was much more adept at dealing with the altitude than i thought i would be. only a headache the first night and then a regular intake of motrin did the trick. pictures are slowly being uploaded to the flickr site.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

flight time

back in beijing. the trip to the UK was fab. manchester was very inspiring. Renny and Richard were amazing hosts and very good cooks. never decline one their invitations. trust me.

this trip has got me thinking about a lot of things, but one thing is the idea of living like a tourist in one's own home. i'm going to try and keep up the flickr stream now that i'm back in beijing. try to take more photos and maintain that sense of freshness of coming a new place as long as possible. in essence, try to experience beijing as if i didn't live here and see things with "new" eyes. will see how long this lasts. my hunch is that it will last until i get into a shouting match with a taxi driver- which hasn't happened yet, so keep your fingers crossed.

it will also help that i'm going to tibet for a week. however, i missed my flight this morning due to an overturned truck on the airport expressway, and ok, maybe i left a liiiittle late. but the driver said, "wow, this kind of traffic you only see once a month." once a month? i couldn't tell if that was a lot or a little, but i think if there is a truck overturning on this short stretch of highway once a month, that would appear to be a serious issue. it also means i should probably leave a liiiittle earlier tomorrow morning.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

you kay?

been in england for about 10 days now.

spent a few days in london bumming around with wang wei who is doing a residency at gasworks. he's part of a group show called Slash Fiction that opens in the gasworks gallery April 4th.

then we went up to liverpool to help install wang wei's work in the "The Real Thing," an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art with a bizarre name. eighteen artists all together. if this is the real thing, then what was the other stuff? fake things? evidently, as my friend Pauline Yao is curating forged realities at U-Space in Beijing. the "fake show" opens in a few weeks on april 14.

now currently spending time in manchester with renny o'shea and richard gregory of quarantine. wang wei comes up here in a few days and we'll be exploring the city, meeting people and trying to see if we can maybe make something. seems like there are lots of possibilities- at first glance it seems that manchester could be about as wacky as beijing.

Monday, February 19, 2007


happy year of the porky pig!
looking forward to all the good things it's supposed to bring.
hope it lives up to the hype.

Friday, January 26, 2007


pics from our most recent project: designing and remodeling a friend's courtyard home in Beijing. things are going well. amazing what can be accomplished in two months. We're on the last week and pushing to get everything finished before all the workers go home for Chinese new year. wacky and fun.