Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called ‘tofu-skin schools’ in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of ‘economic crimes’ (tax evasion).
Ai Weiwei’s father was Chinese poet Ai Qing, who was denounced during the Anti-Rightist Movement and in 1958 sent to a labor camp in Xinjiang with his wife, Gao Ying. Ai Weiwei was one year old at the time and lived in Shihezi for 16 years. In 1975 the family returned to Beijing. In 1978, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy and attended school with Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. In 1978, he was one of the founders of the early avant garde art group the ‘Stars,’ though the group disbanded in 1983. From 1981 to 1993, he lived in the United States, mostly in New York, creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects. He studied at Parsons School of Design and at the Art Students League of New York. At the same time, Ai became fascinated by blackjack card games and frequented Atlantic City casinos. He is still regarded in gambling circles as a top tier professional blackjack player.
The Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures was initially a humorous hoax from the interactive encyclopedia ‘Baidu Baike’ which became a popular and widespread Internet meme in China in early 2009. These hoaxes, ten in number, originated in response to increasingly pervasive and draconian online censorship in China, and have become an icon of citizens’ resistance to censorship. The meme initially began as a series of vandalized contributions to ‘Baidu Baike,’ through the creation of humorous articles describing a series of fictional creatures, each with names vaguely referring to Chinese profanities (utilizing homophones and characters using different tones). Eventually, images, videos (such as faux-documentaries) and even a song regarding aspects of the meme were released. It was thought that the Baidu hoaxes were written in response to recent strict enforcements of keyword filters in China, introduced in 2009, which attempted to eliminate all forms of profanity. The ‘Baidu Baike’ ‘articles’ initially began with ‘Four Mythical Creatures’ (‘Grass Mud Horse,’ ‘French-Croatian Squid,’ ‘Small Elegant Butterfly,’ and ‘Chrysanthemum Silkworms’), and were later extended to ten.
The memes became widely discussed on Chinese Internet forums, and most netizens concluded that the initial aim of the hoaxes were to satirize and ridicule the pointlessness of the new keyword filters. The meme is interpreted by most Chinese online as a form of direct protest rather than motiveless intentional disruption to ‘Baidu’ services. After the hoaxes were posted, news of the articles spread quickly online on joke websites, popular web portals and forums.
The Grass Mud Horse or Caoníma, is a Chinese Internet meme widely used as a form of symbolic defiance of the widespread Internet censorship in China. It is a play on the Mandarin language words which translate literally to, ‘fuck your mother,’ and is one of the so-called ’10 mythical creatures’ created in a hoax article on ‘Baidu Baike’ (a collaborative encyclopedia) in early 2009 whose names form obscene puns. It has become an Internet chat forum cult phenomenon in China, and has garnered world-wide press attention, with videos, cartoons and merchandise of the animal, which supposedly resembles the alpaca, having appeared. Because the Grass Mud Horse is said to be the dominant species which lives within the Mahler Gobi Desert, the region is also called the ‘Grass Mud Horse Gobi Desert,’ which is close in pronunciation of a Chinese expression meaning ‘fuck your mother’s cunt.’ The animal is characterized as ‘lively, intelligent and tenacious.’ However, their existence is said to be threatened by ‘river crabs’ which are invading their habitat. The river crab symbolizes official censorship. Its pronunciation resembles the word for ‘harmony,’ in reference to the ‘harmonious society’ which the Chinese leadership professes to aspire to, and which Chinese internet censors use to justify internet censorship. The term ‘crab’ itself is rural slang, meaning ‘a bully who uses power through force,’ and the river crab has become a symbol of crude censorship backed with the threat of force. The river crab is often depicted wearing three wristwatches, since ‘wears three watches’sounds similar to an expression of the ideology of the ‘Three Represents,’ an interpretation of communism promoted by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.
Official ‘cleanup’ of the internet, which threatens the Caonima, has led Chinese internet users to create other ‘Mud Horse’ variants, such as the ‘Rolling Mud Horse’ and ‘Working Mud Horse,’ which are also puns for ‘fuck your mother.’ The ‘China Digital Times’ sees Caonima as the ‘de facto mascot of netizens in China fighting for free expression, inspiring poetry, photos and videos, artwork, lines of clothing, and more.’ It is an illustration of the ‘resistance discourse’ of Chinese internet users with ‘increasingly dynamic and sometimes surprising presence of an alternative political discourse: images, frames, metaphors and narratives that have been generated from Internet memes [that] undermine the values and ideology that reproduce compliance with the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian regime, and, as such, force an opening for free expression and civil society in China.’
Very erotic very violent is a Chinese internet meme that originated from a news report on China Central Television’s flagship ‘Xinwen Lianbo’ program (a daily news show) allegedly quoting a schoolgirl describing a web page. On the Chinese Internet, this incident was widely parodied and weakened the credibility of the state broadcaster’s newscasts. This Chinese phrase follows the form of ‘very good very mighty,’ a snowclone (cliché template) for Internet slang popularized earlier that year.
In late 2007, ‘Xinwen Lianbo’ aired a report about the wide and easy availability of explicit content on the internet. The report appealed to juristic institutions and those seeking legislation in order to purify the internet environment. In the report, a young student described a pop-up advertisement she saw as being ‘very erotic, [and] very violent.’ After the airing of the report, internet users began to ridicule and parody the quote and question the program’s credibility, believing that it would be unlikely for a person of that age to find a web page to be both erotic and violent at the same time.
A language game (also called secret language or ludling or argot) is a system of manipulating spoken words to render them incomprehensible to the untrained ear. Language games are used primarily by groups attempting to conceal their conversations from others. Some common examples are Pig Latin, which is used all over the globe; the Gibberish family, prevalent in the United States and Sweden; and Verlan, spoken in France. Each of these language games involves a usually simple standard transformation to speech, thus encoding it. The languages can be easily mentally encoded and decoded by a skilled speaker at the rate of normal speech, while those who either don’t know the key or aren’t practiced in rapid speech are left hearing nothing but gibberish.
Verlan [veyr-lahn] is a French argot (secret language) featuring inversion of syllables in a word, and is common in slang and youth language. It rests on a long French tradition of transposing syllables of individual words to create slang words. The name verlan is an example: it is derived from inverting the syllables in ‘l’envers’ [lan-ver](‘the inverse’). Different rules apply for one-syllable words, and words with more than one syllable may be verlanized in more than one way. For example, ‘cigarette’ may yield ‘garetsi’ or ‘retsiga.’
Valspeak is a common name for an American sociolect (social dialect), originally of the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, in particular Valley girls. This stereotype, which originated in the 1970s, became an international fad for a certain period.
Many phrases and elements of Valleyspeak, along with surfer slang and skateboarding slang, are stable elements of the California English dialect lexicon, and in some cases wider American English (such as the use of ‘like’ as a hedge, a mitigating device used to lessen the impact of an utterance).
The high rising terminal (HRT), also known as uptalk, upspeak, rising inflection, or high rising intonation, is a feature of some accents of English where statements have a rising intonation pattern in the final syllable or syllables of the utterance.
The origins of HRT remain uncertain. Geographically, anecdotal evidence places the conception of the American English variety on the West Coast – anywhere from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. Others have suggested it originated in New Zealand, and it is unclear whether the American English varieties and the Oceanic varieties had any influence on each other regarding the spread of HRT.
Valley Girl is a stereotype leveled at a socio-economic and ethnic class of American women who can be described as colloquial English-speaking and materialistic. Valspeak is also a form of this trait, based on an exaggerated version of ’80s California English.
The term originally referred to the ever increasing number of semi-affluent and affluent middle-class and upper-middle class girls living in the bedroom community neighborhoods of San Fernando Valley. Due to the Valley’s proximity to the Hollywood media machine, the demographic group which the term stereotyped garnered large exposure to the rest of the world.
Vagina dentata is Latin for ‘toothed vagina.’ Various cultures have folk tales about women with toothed vaginas, frequently told as cautionary tales warning of the dangers of sex with strange women and to discourage the act of rape. Jung disciple Erich Neumann relays one such myth in which ‘a fish inhabits the vagina of the Terrible Mother; the hero is the man who overcomes the Terrible Mother, breaks the teeth out of her vagina, and so makes her into a woman.’ The legend also appears in the mythology of the Chaco and Guiana tribes. In some versions, the hero leaves one tooth. An Ainu language (of Japan and Russia) tale containing this element was published as ‘The Island of Women’ by Basil Hall Chamberlain, where it was described as a well known Japanese tale by E. B. Tylor. In his book, ‘The Wimp Factor,’ Stephen J. Ducat expresses the view that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished. The grain of truth in these stories is that dermoid cysts, which can occur anywhere in the body, often contain teeth. Although there are no documented sightings, it is theoretically possible for a tooth-containing dermoid cyst to develop in a woman’s vagina.
A vacuum bed is a device sometimes used in BDSM (bondage, domination, sadomasochism) play. A person is placed in a latex envelope spanned by a frame and a suction pump or floor vacuum removes most of the air in the envelope. The frame is often a simple rectangle of pierced PVC pipes, joined by PVC joints. There are several ways that the vacuum bed can be designed to facilitate breathing. The most common is a tube running from outside of the vacuum bed into the person’s mouth. A second option is a reinforced hole that is positioned so that the mouth protrudes. A third option is a reinforced gasket through which one forces the entire head. Incorporating a related fetish, some vacuum beds use a gas mask to facilitate respiration.
The vacuum bed is both a bondage and sensation device. The user is unable to move significantly (although some wiggling is possible), and is unable to speak or see, depending on the breathing hole used. In addition, though, the sensation of the vacuum bed itself, as well as any other play (stroking, percussion, vibrations) are quite pleasurable, and some are much more intense than what would be experienced without the vacuum bed. The vacuum bed must be used with the aid of another person, as the user cannot control the vacuum itself, nor escape the vacuum bed unaided.
Inkie is a London based painter and street artist, originally from Bristol. He is cited as being part of Bristol’s graffiti heritage, along with Banksy, 3D and Nick Walker. Inkie began working as part of Crime Incorporated Crew (CIC) in 1983, along with Felix and Joe Braun. He was one of many arrested in 1989 during ‘Operation Anderson,’ the UK’s largest ever graffiti bust. He arranged 1998’s ‘Walls On Fire’ event with Banksy, on the site of the future At-Bristol center.
He has subsequently worked in the video game industry, including some time as head of creative design at Sega, where his work featured in ‘Jet Set Radio.’ Inkie was one artist present to do live painting at the launch of Banksy’s book ‘Bristol: Home Sweet Home.’ Inkie has likened the time spent training as a graffiti artist to that of classical musicians.
BS 2000 is the name of a musical side project of Beastie Boys’ Adam ‘Adrock’ Horovitz and Amery ‘AWOL’ Smith also with tracks featuring Janay North. In 1997, BS 2000 released their vinyl-only self-titled debut. BS 2000 later released a limited-edition vinyl/CD, ‘Buddy,’ in 2000 and ‘Simply Mortified’ on vinyl and CD in 2001. Their song ‘The Scrappy’ was featured on the American and European versions of the Xbox video game, ‘Jet Set Radio Future.’
Jet Set Radio Future (often abbreviated JSRF) is a video game developed by Smilebit and the sequel to ‘Jet Set Radio’ (also known as ‘Jet Grind Radio’). It was published by Sega in 2002 in the United States, near the beginning of the Xbox’s lifespan. Similar to the original, it depicts a future Tokyo where freedom of expression is outlawed. The user plays a character in the GG’s, a gang of in-line skating graffiti artists who skate around Tokyo covering up rival gangs’ graffiti, knocking over Rokkaku police, and dancing to the eclectic soundtrack. The game uses a cel-shaded style of animation, and has been widely acclaimed for its unique music style, detailed art, and gameplay. The soundtrack introduces artists that are either foreign, not found mainstream, or work under gaming licenses such as Guitar Vader, BS 2000 (the side project of Adrock of the Beastie Boys), Hideki Naganuma, Scapegoat Wax, The Latch Brothers (including Mike D of the Beastie Boys, Richard Jacques, Chris ‘Wag’ Wagner and Kenny Tick Salcido), Cibo Matto, and The Prunes.
In futuristic Tokyo, a group of teenage skaters (Groups collectively referred to as Rudies) called the GGs vie for control of the many districts of Tokyo against many rival groups. A mega corporate enterprise (the Rokkaku Group) has taken over the many districts of the city and their leader is now the mayor of Tokyo. It is oppressing the people, taking away freedom of speech and expression, and is forcing other gang members to give up their territory using the corrupt police force of Tokyo. The game has several references to aggressive inline skating. Players can grind through rails and skate backwards. When a player is skating fast, they can come to a quick stop by performing an advanced inline-skating move called the powerslide. Several characters also appear to have removed the middle two wheels from their skates, a slight modification usually done to make grinding easier.
Jet Set Radio (‘Jet Grind Radio’ in North America) is a video game for the Dreamcast, developed by Smilebit and published by Sega in 2000. Its sequel, ‘Jet Set Radio Future’ was released 2 years later for the Xbox after Sega became a software-based company. The game is known for spearheading the use of cel-shaded graphics in video games. When it was marketed in 1999 it generated a prodigious amount of press attention due to its use of the then revolutionary rendering technique, cel-shading. Now commonplace in game design, cel-shading allows for a ‘cartoon-like’ appearance of 3D rendered objects. The graffiti featured in the game was the work of Banksy collaborator Inkie, who was Sega’s head of creative design at the time. The upbeat soundtrack includes an eclectic array of original and licensed songs combining the musical genres of J-pop, Hip-hop, funk, Electronic dance music, Rock (Guitar Vader, Reps), Acid Jazz, Trip hop, and even (in the North American version) metal.
The game is introduced by Professor K, the DJ of a pirate radio station based in Tokyo-to, who explains the basics of life in Tokyo-to for a ‘rudie,’ the term he uses to refer to young people who roam the streets spraying and skating, as a means of self expression. The player starts out as Beat, a 17-year-old rudie who ran away from home like many other Japanese rudies. Beat was first shunned from gang to gang over and over again until he decided to start his own gang. Beat is the leader and founder of the GG’s, short for ‘Graffitti Gang/Gangsters.’ The initial stage is set in a Shibuya bus station, in which the player has to ‘tag’ various parts of the bus station, as well as spray over existing tags, so as to gain the area as part of their territory. While tagging these places, the player is pursued by policemen and their leader, Captain Onishima. The police, the S.W.A.T team, and Goji Rokkaku’s Golden Rhinos are yet another obstacle to avoid while defeating rival gangs. Also, Professor K narrates specific parts of the game via his eponymous pirate radio station called ‘Jet Set Radio.’