Now You Can Be Just Like the Chinese Government! Ai Weiwei Launches a Studio Webcam

What do Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei have in common? They both have live video feeds into their studios, but where Hirst’s is yet another exercise in cultivated narcissism, Ai’s newly-launched “WeiWei Cam” is a political commentary on surveillance in China and a wry joke at his own expense.

The WeiWei Cam shows four different views into the artist’s studio, including office, desk, bedroom and courtyard angles. Ai’s Twitter feed is displayed at the bottom right providing a live narration for the studio goings on. Nothing much is happening at the moment — Ai is just perched at his desk, hand on the mouse.

Internet fans aren’t the only ones watching Ai, however. Following the artist’s arrest last year, he has been under constant surveillance by the Chinese government, the target of vans of policemen and a battalion of cameras. The Kafka-esque watchers have been commemorated in works like the marble sculpture “Surveillance Camera.” Ai is now volunteering to be the subject of his own self-imposed surveillance, an ironic act that also has a tinge of sadness to it. [WeiWei Cam]

— Kyle Chayka