The island of HK is defined by towering skyscrapers of economic efficiency, yet what I found most fascinating lay below on the streets and alleyways, manual traditions that today seems inefficient. In a landscape marked by progress and advancement existed remnants of activities from an older world: the pushing of carts uphill, the sweeping of streets with bamboo brooms, the collecting of discarded cardboard in the markets. It was these sorts of daily, repetitive and manual activities that truly fascinated me. Not only because of their tactile and meditative qualities, but also because they remind me of drawing as a manual and menial craft, an analogue activity far removed from the shiny world of coding and robotics soon to overtake the developed world. It is against this backdrop of an imminent A.I. ascendency that these menial tasks suddenly feel like living artefacts, meditative pockets of stillness that refused to be swept away.
I am interested in the value of simple and menial forms of labour in the context of a developed society soon to be dominated by A.I and robotic technologies. As an artist who renders images using manual analogue modes of mark-making, I find a strong affinity between drawing as a repetitive “manual” and “menial” task with the sorts of activities taken by these street workers. Both activities are tactile, tedious and hand-performed actions contributing towards a larger meaning, whether it be for one’s livelihood or the production of an intentional cultural product such as art.