urban flesh and bones: huaqiangbei

On Saturday April 27, Handshake 302 led fifteen curious guests on a full-day discovery of Huaqiangbei from perspective of the historic Shangbu Industrial Park. The organization of the tour emphasized the intimate stories behind the emergence of Huaqiangbei as a global landmark. After all, Huaqiangbei did not emerge as fully formed nexus in a global network of technological innovation, but rather formed in the ongoing evolution of Shenzhen’s cultural geography. Continue reading

thoughts on “of a piece”

My thoughts on “of a piece”. Like Zhang Kaiqin’s thoughts, this essay was originally published in Chinese and was written for our WeChat public forum.

最近在东湖的深圳美术馆举办的名为“温度”艺术展上,“握手302”策展团队受邀创作和展出了一个作品“还没定”。这个作品是以“握手302”一贯的创作策略,用社交的方式请所有愿意参与的朋友共同完成创作,我们用带来的废弃旧衣物,配以东门布料城清货的辅料与饰品,用手工编织缝制出心仪的布艺。这一次我们策展团队唯一给出的限制原则就是,不能碰工作台上还未制成的半成品,但对在墙壁上展示的已制成品,任何人任何时候都可以拿下来再加工。这听起来很像是“自由软件”的“开放源代码”的挪用。但是当有人这么问我们时,我们的回答通常是“不,这个作品不是你想的那样,也不是我想的那样。它还没定呢!” /For its recent invitational exhibition, ThermoMatter, the Shenzhen Art Museum commissioned Handshake 302 create the freeform quilt Of A Piece. Its fabrication incorporated Handshake 302’s commitment to bringing as many people as possible into the creative proccess. We used discarded clothing, accessories and trimmings from the Dongmen Fabric Market, and simple sewing tools to make individual “patches” for the quilt. The rules of engagement were simple: don’t touch a patch that is on the table, but any other patch, piece of clothing, and accessory could be picked up and used in a new patch, or could be sewn together to create larger sections. In a sense, the project was an exercise in “repurposing open access materials” or “fashion making”. However, when asked what the project was about, we simply answered, “That’s still up for grabs!” Continue reading

Jack Ma: World War III is coming, but in a good way

Thinking about hi-tech and Shenzhen? Well, actually Alibaba isn’t based in Shenzhen, but that said, the idea of setting up platforms to enable exchange and small-scale business is a very Shenzhen strategy of development. Indeed, according to David Li, this strategy distinguishes the Huaqiangbei model of shanzhai maker-ship from the Silicon valley model of R&D. Full article, here.

Ethics Asylum

Image Credit: CNBC

World War III is coming, but it will be a good thing, according to one of Asia’s richest men.

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA), said Tuesday that the Internet and its various platforms will usher in a wave of global conflict. It will not, however, pit countries against each other, but instead will see the likes of China and the U.S. teaming up to defeat societal ills.

“The third world war is going to happen, and this war is not between nations,” Ma said during a speech hosted by the Economic Club of New York. “In this war we work together against the disease, the poverty, the climate change-and I believe this is our future.”

Ma said working to incite such a conflict is his life’s passion, and Alibaba’s mission of globalizing e-commerce can help.

“It’s not about the…

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sfsz: chimerica’s creative axis

Shenzhen is gearing up for the Maker Faire, and clearly there’s a bit more than hype in the mix. Seems all sorts of folks are interested in connecting to larger markets via “the Silicon Valley of hardware” — Shenzhen. Of note du jour: the Hax Accelerator Program:

How It Works: Selected teams relocate to our offices in Shenzhen, China for 111 days, where they’ll finalize prototypes and learn to scale their businesses with the help of our awesome full-time staff and extensive mentor network.

Each week, you’ll meet with advisors who will offer feedback on your team’s evolving strategy and prototypes, as well as provide valuable insight about how to scale a company in terms of manufacturing, supply chain management and distribution.

The final 2 weeks of the program will be spent refining your pitch, in preparation for our demo day showcase and launch event in San Francisco. Then it’s time to get some press, meet with investors, and (optionally) kick off a killer crowdfunding campaign!

handshake with the future: shenzhen’s maker plus culture

The world has glommed on to Shenzhen’s Maker culture, but what is often left undetected is just how Maker Plus the city actually is. Yesterday afternoon at Handshake 302, we held the opening for projects by interior design students from the Guangdong Xin’an Polytechnic College. During the opening, the conversation about their work focused on bridging the distance between design and implementation. A key thought came from Lei Sheng, Handshake 302’s master craftsman (seriously, he can make anything): in an information age, information isn’t the most important element for creativity. Instead, the knowledge of making things with our hands–craftsmanship–is the key to a successful design career.

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When I first saw the above advertisement for DJI, one of the world’s leading producers of drones, I balked. It seemed to me to be a picture that celebrated spying on the private and unaccessible mansions of the all-too-rich. So, given the unreliability of my American gut reactions in China, I asked the young women standing next to me, “What do you see in that advertisement?” She responded, “a pretty landscape.” I was like, “What about the dock? The big mansion? The coastline that resembles Newport’s?” She looked at the advert again, nodded, and then tentatively added, “We see things differently because of cultural difference.” Continue reading

geek experiences of shenzhen’s creative ecology

Dangerous Prototypes has blogged about their experiences in Shenzhen, including introductions to foreign hackers, their work with (now nationally renown) Seeed Studios, and geek tours. Worth browsing.

Innovation and Cockroach Parts In Shenzhen, China

ongoing insights into Shenzhen’s creative ecology: and cockroach parts! who knew?

upgrading shenzhen’s new technologies

So, Huaqiangbei is the heart of Shenzhen’s maker culture. However, China Merchants Shekou has upped the production ante, establishing “net valley (网谷)”, a company slash investment strategy to produce and deploy the latest in digital gadgetry. Friday morning, we visited their showroom in order to learn about techno-possibilities and brainstorm events for the May cultural industries fair. The point of all this investment is to stimulate creativity (创新). And yet. I kept thinking how the form of contact–a tour and a meeting–made it all seem ordinary, despite the fact that we held our meeting in a room that went from being a library to a bird’s eye view of mountain tops. If my impressions of banal sci-fi seem familiar, it’s because much of this technology was first exhibited at the Shenzhen New Media Exhibition.

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