03 October 2018

Internet Universality Beyond Words

Internet Universality Beyond Words Watch!

Internet Universality Beyond Words features a handful of videos and installations commenting on internet freedom in Thailand. The mini exhibition opened on 28th September at Thailand Creative and Design Center’s new Bangkok premises, the converted Grand Postal Building, and runs until 14th October. (TCDC moved from its smaller Emporium location last year.)

The centrepiece is Watch!, a dramatic paper sculpture by Wee Viraporn. From a distance, it’s a pixelated representation of Prayut Chan-o-cha’s eyes, implying that the Prime Minister is monitoring Thai citizens online. On closer inspection, each pixel is a cube featuring pictures of Thai military and junta controversies, such as the GT200 corruption scandal and the cover of Time’s 2nd July issue (a Prayut interview that the magazine’s distributors withheld from Thailand).

The most interesting work is much less conspicuous: a video playing on an iPhone. This short film, by Tewprai Bualoi, is a montage of online memes taken from cartoons and news clips, and even its title is a meme: Friendship Ended with Mudasir Now Salman Is My Best Friend (มิตรภาพสิ้นสุดกับ Mudasir ตอนนี้ Salman คือเพื่อนที่ดีที่สุดของฉัน).

Tewprai’s film uses codes and metaphors that refer to the 6th October 1976 massacre. A photo of director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, the Red Bull logo, and the Scout emblem refer respectively to Nawaphon, the Red Gaurs, and the Village Scouts (the three militia groups that instigated the violence). It also includes a clip from The Simpsons (broadcast on 1st December 1996) of Bart hitting Homer with a chair, in reference to Neal Ulevich’s photograph of a man preparing to attack a corpse in the same way. There are also split-second shots of the gate in Nakhon Pathom from which two pro-democracy activists were hanged.