As a net art trope, the desktop GIF is an obvious reflexive gesture: a portrait of the artist as an array of tabbed browsing, or a portrait of the artist as their in medias res studio softwares. But in Miao Ying’s “LAN Love Poem.gif” series, the artist is seemingly absent from the desktop: it’s the typical Chinese local area network user encounter with a blocked website, imbued with an unsettling sentimentalism via kitschy Baido-found translated Chinese internet poetry. The overwrought feelings dominate, and true to its literary mode, ultimately access a greater truth—the artist’s own love-hate relationship with China’s Great Firewall.
“Censorship is like a nasty boyfriend/girlfriend you cannot tame,” divulges Ling in a recent interview with Rhizome’s Iona Whittaker. “It’s even worst than that; it’s actually more like developing Stockholm syndrome—a traumatic bonding. This kind of love takes place in an isolated environment where the hostage-taker—who makes the rules—becomes so powerful that you gradually fall in love with them.”