Transdisciplinary Research on Creative Industries in Beijing (CIB)

Mobile Research Laboratory, Beijing
28 May – 31 July, 2007
Coordinators: Ned Rossiter, Bert de Muynck, Mónica Carriço
contact: ned [at] nedrossiter [dot] org

mailing list:

This project brings international and Chinese academics together with urban research organisations, artists, curators, media producers and policy-makers in order to undertake transdisciplinary research on Beijing’s creative industries. Through collaborative practices of self-organization, one of the primary aims is to create a ‘counter-mapping’ of creative industries in Beijing. Unlike the usual mapping documents on the creative industries, which are typically derived from compilations of statistics on economic growth in the sector, this project will produce an alternative map of the creative industries in terms of the following vectors of research:

• migrant networks and service labour
• network ecologies of creative waste
• informational geographies vs. creative clusters
• centrality of real-estate speculation for creative economies
• import cultures & export innovations in architecture and urban design
• artist villages and market engineering

trans-CIB will consist of seminars, workshops and fieldwork organized around these six vectors. The research project is open to all who wish to participate in discussions, media practice, and a collaborative anthropology of Beijing’s creative industries.

Topic 1: Counter-Cartographies & Mapping Creative Industries

28 May, 4.30-7pm
Dongcheng 100007
Dongsi Shisi Tiao 93 A lou 4 ceng

Ned Rossiter, media theorist
Els Silvrants, Theatre in Motion at beiLAB, Beijing
Brian Holmes, cultural critic, Paris
Jiang Jun, Urban China

Topic 2: Methodologies of Practice for Counter-Mapping

MOCA Beijing, Songzhuang Art Village 19 June – 4-7pm
Guan-Guang Yuan, 500 Daxingzhuang Cun, Songzhuang Zhen, Tongzhou
District, Beijing 1011134

Associate Professor Shujen Wang, Director of Media Studies, Emerson
College and Research Associate, Fairbank Center for East Asian
Research, Harvard University
Danny Butt, Suma Media Consulting, Aotearoa-New Zealand
Shveta Sarda, Coordinator of Cybermohalla projects, Sarai, Delhi

Borderline Festival, Beijing, 22 June - 1 July
For Borderline Festival, trans-CIB will contribute the following two research platforms and speakers:

Topic 3: Cultural, Economic and Urban Geographies of Beijing’s Creative Industries
25 June, 5-8pm

Beijing Film Academy
International School
4# Xi Tu Cheng Road
Haidian District

Shaun Chang, New Media researcher, Tsinghua University, Beijing
Danny Butt, Suma Media Consulting, Aotearoa-New Zealand
Shveta Sarda, Coordinator of Cybermohalla projects, Sarai, Delhi
Adrian Blackwell, Artist, Architect & Urban Designer, University of Toronto, B.A.S.E. (Beijing Architecture Studio Enterprise)

Chair: Ned Rossiter

Topic 4: Network Ecologies, Counter-Anthropologies, Aesthetic Regimes
29 June, 5-8pm

Drive-in Movie Theatre park by 2kolegas bar (Inside Drive-in Movie Theater)
Liangma Qiao Road n. 21
(North side of Dong Feng Road, 300m west of Dong Feng Qiao)
Tel: 0086-10-81964820

Associate Professor Brett Neilson, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney
Dr Soenke Zehle, Transcultural Anglophone Studies, University of Saarland
Dirk Eschenbacher, Ogilvy regional creative director for Asia Pacific

Chair: Ned Rossiter

Topic 5: Cartographic Methodologies for Urban Research
Thursday July 19, 7.30-9.30pm

MAD - an architectural design studio
东城区北新桥板桥南巷7号西3楼,中国北京 100007
3rd floor west tower, no.7 Banqiao Nanxiang, Beixinqiao, Beijing, China 100007
电话/tel:+86 10 64026632, 64031080

Beijing's immense urban explosion in the past decade has raised several issues about the type of city being created. Within urbanism, discussions flip between the past and present, hutongs and highrises, ringroads and Olympic venues, real-estate speculation, the peripheral urban condition and gated communities. Taking the creative clusters as a point of cartographic departure and urban analysis, we are interested in developing a method that opens new lines of inquiry for urban research.

Focussing on urban and architectural perspectives and the problematic of transdisciplinary method, this meeting seeks to broaden the horizon of debate beyond discussions about 'playgrounds' for international design fantasies and capital accumulation.

This announcement is also a call for participation. Please do post your questions and remarks on this list and we will bring them into the discussion. We will also publish fragments of postings in the Orgnets/Urban China magazine collaboration.

Binke Lenhardt and Hao Dong, crossboundaries architects

crossboundaries architects is a young, Berlin and Beijing based team of German and Chinese architects aimed at linking the professional and design experience of western architects and consultants to the challenging possibilities of the prospering Chinese economy as well as to millennia of Chinese cultural heritage and the lively, multifaceted Chinese culture. Our goal is to develop high-quality solutions, derived from Chinese culture and architectural needs, based on western know-how and experience.

Matthew Hu, Friends of Old Beijing

Friends of Old Beijing is a nine-month volunteer program jointly launched by CHP and That's Beijing magazine. The primary purpose of this program is to understand and monitor the present conditions of the old city through participants' regular walks among the hutongs. Our findings will be published on the CHP website, reported in That’s Beijing, distributed to the Chinese media, and summarized in a final report to the Office of the Mayor of Beijing Municipality and relevant departments by next June. We will also help to develop heritage trails based on walking routes, with maps and information pamphlets describing the local history and special points of interest in each of our chosen heritage conservation districts.

Interview, 'City Scene: Five Questions for ... He Shuzhong and Matthew Hu', That's Beijing, November, 2006.

Erik Amir, MAD Project Architect
MAD – Beijing 2050

The Tiananmen Square we see today does not have a long history. All the changes it witnessed in the past few decades reflect the evolution of the nation’s spirit. By 2050, a mature and democratic China will emerge, and spaces for massive political gatherings and troop processions like the Red Square may no longer be necessary. The transportation could no longer rely on the ground traffic system; it may utilize an above-ground or underground system due to changes in transportation. What will Tiananmen Square be like when it is deprived of its political and transportation functions? The ground might turn into a garden or park, and cultural facilities could be placed underground to connect to a transportation network. A national theatre is hidden inside a 'landscape mountain', diffusing its forms in what is now Zhongnanhai, the nearby Communist Party compound. In 2050, Tiananmen Square is an urban space filled with life and the biggest green area in the centre of Beijing.

Jonathan Watts, 'Why Tiananmen Square could Go from Red to Green', Guardian, May 4, 2007.

Chair: Bert de Muynck

Topic 6: Info-Geographies Workshop & Open Forum
Sunday July 22, 2007, 3-7pm

Urban China
One Way Street Library
Yuan Ming Yuan East Road, 100084 Haidian District, Beijing

圆明园店地址:北京市海淀区中关村北路 圆明园东
电话:+86 (0)10 6257 0357 传真:+86 (0)10 6257 0357 邮编:

1. workshop on info-mapping and with Luka Frelih
- bring your laptop computers in order to participate in openstreetmap

2. excursion through Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Gardens) with Jiang Jun in search of what remains of the 1990s artist village

3. open forum on Urban Cartographies, Real-Estate Bubbles, and the Creative Industries

Luka Frelih, Frida V, artist & info-mapping, Ljubljana
Jiang Jun, Urban China
Zou Huan, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University

Topic 7: Informational Geographies vs. Creative Clusters
Sunday 29 July, 2-5pm

Xinzhai (Building), Room 304
Department of Chinese Language & Literature
Tsinghua University

Direction from the Northwest Gate of Tsinghua:
After entering the gate, turn left and walk toward the East, and pass the football ground on the right. The 'Xin zhai' building is a 3-storey redbrick building on the left side (North side) - look for the two orange-coloured public phones at the front which are unique to XinZhai.

See the campus map for further details.

This final event presents research undertaken on the mapping of open wireless internet connections in Beijing. The premise of this research vector was to register the ways in which the the GPS coordinates of open wireless connections constitute a counter-mapping of the cluster model of creative industries (see the 'maps' link for examples of the latter).

Luka Frelih, Frida V, artist & info-mapping, Ljubljana
You Mi, independent filmmaker, Beijing
Ni Weifeng, new media researcher, Beijing

Chair: Ned Rossiter

Frida V. in Beijing and OpenStreetMap's First Leaps in Beijing

By Luka Frelih

About Frida V

Frida V. is a rugged and comfortable bicycle equipped for efficient, safe and enjoyable exploration and mapping of public urban spaces. The optimized-for-bike interface enables easy creation of location-tagged media, automated mapping of open wireless networks and opportunistic synchronisation with a server on the Internet.

The current version of the Frida V. system is based on a consumer available wireless router running Linux and the Arduino micro-controller system. Custom firmwares have been developed for both, integrating them into a seamless interactive device.

Technical requirements:

• needs access to power and open (no password) wireless
• location should be accessible to bicycles to enter from and leave to the street

The project was initiated as a collaboration between Ljudmila and the _V2 Society in 2004. It has since been in development as an open source hardware solution, producing two versions of the system. Among the cities explored so far are Rotterdam, Ljubljana, New York City, Maribor, München, Zagreb, Bergen, San Francisco, Manchester and Beijing. Besides being a tool for individual exploration and mapping of the digital communication landscape, it has also been well received for grass-roots mapping of cities like the community-developed OpenStreetMap project.

Frida's control panel 2006 (cc-by-sa) Luka Frelih

Frida illustration 2004 (cc-by-sa) Ciril Horjak

Frida V. in Beijing
In 2007 Frida was invited to take part in the OrgNets project on counter-mapping the creative industries in Beijing. The new system based on a usb router was used. Aside from some failing batteries and overexposure on the camera it was all working pretty well.

The experience was unforgettable. Riding one of the ‘nine million’ bicycles trough Beijing was eye-opening not just for me, but it seems for all who rode along – hong lai wai, Chinese co-researchers and local Beijingers. We went exploring the huge city grid and countless contrasts lurking inside its cellular structures. On the leather seat of the bike, we glided with, against or across the swaying sea of taxis, tried uncommon paths and serendipitous detours.

The overpowering engagement with the city left little spare attention for the blips of open wireless we stumbled upon on the way. The group ride, where everyone took along cameras (later edited by missumi into a movie), is definitely a model to be used again. Looking at recorded pictures, videos and mapping tracks I can access the buzz and smells of Beijing again. Hopefully some of them shine trough these pages to you too.

I am glad that I was not harassed or arrested for either GPS logging or operating my makeshift electronic device on these travels, as some people have recently been. I even got my bicycle lock back from the land of lost baggage. Lucky, I guess.

The GPS tracks collected with Frida are orange, tracks in OSM are cyan and under them is the OSM map data in this screen capture of the JOSM map editor.

Frida tracks, OSM data, Beijing 2008 (cc-by-sa) Luka Frelih, Frida V. and OpenStreetMap contributors

Beijing, summer 2007, from a bicycle point of view. All 2007 (cc-by-sa) Frida V.

Frida V., Hou Hai lake in google earth
Frida V., bikes, google earth
Frida V., hutong, google earth
Frida V., Beijing grid, google earth

Georeferenced images from Frida V. viewed in Google Earth

All 2008 (cc-by-sa) Luka Frelih, Frida V. and OpenStreetMap contributors and (c) Google et al.

OpenStreetMap's First Leaps in Beijing
The OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative map of the whole world. The data and maps made by the contributors are shared under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. This means anyone is free to print or use them as a base for original mapping without payment, as long as credit is given and the right to reuse is left open.

When I visited last year, the OSM had barely sketched the outlines of Beijing. I hope our two-week effort gave it a bit of a push and publicity in some right circles. In any case, looking at it now it seems to be in excellent shape. The map is growing, free and unauthorized. This huge city will take a lot of work from many people, so this writing intends to document the first steps you will have to take to start contributing.

Sign up with the project:

• Get an account for yourself at
• Set your home location appropriately. lat: 39.9 lon: 116.4
• Get an account for yourself with the wiki (optional)

This easy-to-use flash editor can be accessed from the main OSM map pages anytime by clicking on the edit tab above the map. You have to be logged in to the website to actually use it.

It is very easy to draw linear features like streets, roads and railways, or area features like lakes with it, tracing over the satellite imagery supplied. You will need local knowledge of the area to correctly assign street names and split ways where the name changes. But as these can be added by someone anytime after the initial drawing, feel free to trace the shapes even if you do not know the names.

The more capable editor, JOSM, is a Java application that can be installed on your computer. It works on all platforms. Besides drawing ways over GPS traces, JOSM also supports adding and tagging single points (nodes), needed for marking landmarks or linking to geolocated media. Don't let the look scare you, this is a powerful and versatile mapping tool, developed and optimized by and for the thousands of OSM mappers worldwide. Unfortunately, its site is blocked by the Great Firewall of China. There is a working mirror in the UK: Larted JOSM mirror where you can download it from.

Images - OpenStreetMaps of Beijing
OpenStreetMap - no. 1
OpenStreetMap - no. 2
OpenStreetMap - no. 3
Editing the OSM with Potlatch

All 2008 (cc-by-sa) OpenStreetMap contributors

Luka Frelih is an artist working with computers and networks, a computer programmer, free software hacker and web designer. He is a core member of Ljudmila – Ljubljana Digital Media Lab since its founding in 1994.

Funding and Participating Institutions and Organizations

Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland
Theatre in Motion at beiLAB, Beijing
Borderline Festival/Dashanzi
Urban China Magazine, Beijing
Beijing Film Academy
MAD - an architectural design studio
Department of Chinese Language & Literature, Tsinghua University