It shouldn't come as a shock that Ai Weiwei is an artistic genius.
After all, that's essentially why he was thrown in prison by Chinese authorities last year.
But his latest project is a truly shining example of his prowess.
Turning the concept of surveillance on its head, the acclaimed Chinese dissident has set up four live webcams in his home. (You can see them here at weiweicam.com.)
The Chinese authorities may watch his every move, but that is an act that loses its potency once his every move is broadcast to the whole wide world. Brilliant.
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It was one year ago today that Ai Weiwei disappeared into police custody amid a crackdown on dissidents throughout China. He was released in June 2011, but was put under 24-hour police surveillance and told he can't leave Beijing for a year.
One of the cameras is positioned over the artist's bed and, since it's the currently the middle of the night over in Beijing, I can tell you that Ai Weiwei is sleeping very soundly despite his trials and tribulations. His sheets are white, and he keeps slippers by the bed. The 54-year-old also seems to prefer, or at least not be averse to, sleeping on his back.
Ai Weiwei explained his reasoning behind the project to AFP, which originally reported the story"
In my life, there is so much surveillance and monitoring — my phone, my computer ... Our office has been searched, I have been searched, every day I am being followed, there are surveillance cameras in front of my house. So I was wondering, why don't I put some [cameras] in there so people can see all my activities. I can do that and I hope the other party [authorities] can also show some transparency
Back in April 2011, it was initially unclear what the charges against Ai Weiwei were when he was detained, though he was charged with tax evasion upon his release.
Last week, Chinese authorities upheld the ruling that Ai Weiwei's company, Fake Cultural Development Ltd, owes the government more than $2 million.
His year-long probation is set to end on June 22. If it does, and his cameras remain, we'll be able to see for ourselves how Ai Weiwei reacts to the news.
Update: It is now 3:44 in the am, and Ai Weiwei is no longer in his bed. It is unclear if nature has called.
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