Issue #33 July 2020

Gaze Against the Machine: Counter-visuality and hyperreal strategies in the Hong Kong protests

The shifting shape of dissent

Hide in the present, seeking a future

Going stir-crazy in a Smart City

The live-map precedes the territory

Watching the watchmen: from targeting to spectacle

The new face of protest


From the wounded eye which became a rallying symbol to the laser pens used to blind the city’s surveillance infrastructure, the protesters have remained acutely vigilant to both Beijing’s open designs on their home, and the local administration’s tacit forms of control. It remains clear that they will not lose their much-valued freedoms without a fight. On the streets and in the global media, the protesters’ most effective tactic has been their profoundly postmodern awareness that real events no longer take place solely in the real. Through digital tools such as, and Animal Crossing, we see that China’s heavy-handed approach to Hong Kong will invariably fail to stifle this tech-savvy new generation. The CCP’s struggle to stay one step ahead of technological change — clearest in the so-called ‘Great Firewall’ — indicates the extent to which China’s rulers know the power of simulation, yet this censorial vision of cyber sovereignty remains blind to the litany of new opportunities that the internet affords for subversion, parody and play. Whatever restrictions are imposed in the coming years, events thus far suggest that as Beijing turns its gaze towards Hong Kong and its citizens, the fledgling superpower will be startled to find that many will, like water, gaze right back.

George Harry James is a English Literature MA graduate (University of Sheffield). He is working in communications. He researches and writes at the intersection of technology, surveillance, security, immunity. A reluctant Spurs fan, and a keen electro listener.

Works Cited


July 2020


Gaze Against the Machine: Counter-visuality and hyperreal strategies in the Hong Kong protests

by George Harry James

Micro-Totalitarianism and the Search for a ‘Knowledge of the Whole’

by Alex Gooch

Sovereign Disregard: On Bataille’s Accursed Share

by Timothy Lavenz

America v. Cartesianism: William James’ Philosophy in the Poetry of Stevens and Frost

by Roy Carrillo