Bad Code is a new media art exhibition that examines the cohabitation of human and machine in a post-internet age. The exhibition takes the concept of “bad code” as its starting point to discuss the various possibilities posed by this idea that strides between practical tool and mutating virus.
Set against the backdrop of big data and artificial intelligence, Bad Code questions the relationship between human beings and code in an age where machinery and algorithms are omnipresent. The usually docile codes start strange games under the programming of artists, folding, duplicating, looping, and self-referencing. Some bad codes document reality with a surreal madness, others endlessly repeat one single encounter between the artist and the world. This exhibition also believes that bad codes are not just virtual goblins that hide behind screens, but rather a phantom that has long penetrated our “reality.” The twisted attachments that are exclusive to our post-internet age fill the spaces like code smells.
Bad Code is not another paranoia-driven fantasy of a digital dystopia. Rather, Bad Code looks at its surrounding world with a detachment that comes close to indifference, and ponders on the new rules that this world provides. Eventually, Bad Code poses a question to all artists and viewers: what is the form of art or language that can hack into this world’s neural center like a virus in a computer?
导言 / Prelude
If all that language aspired to was efficiency and accuracy, then unifying the world’s languages should not be a hard task at all. Yet the language-gamers who invented new words or toyed with rhetorics and rhyming, not only did not kill their language, but instead invented literature and poetry.
If coding is the most practical language in the current world, then bad codes are stirring poems.
Bad codes belong to programmers.
We are used to badgering developers for updates when our softwares break down, and then helplessly hugging our frozen devices when they automatically update. User experience is entirely at the mercy of machines, but it is only the programmer who can see bad codes.
Unlike programmers, artists do not need to burden themselves with user experience. Rather, they used the logic of bad codes to create a new set of laws, and in doing so, flipped the black boxes inside-out, to show us the coming breakdown.
We have been spoiled by good codes for far too long, so that we are oblivious to the darkness without first having a system breakdown.
“Truth is conditional.”
Maybe a universal principle really does not exist. Bad codes are lousy at distinguishing which informations are general, and which are local. These codes are more prone to lead to system breakdowns for not considering special circumstances, or kill themselves trying to process infinitely looped calculations.
But it is precisely codes like this that showed us the real world is not a sterilized laboratory, but rather an uncontrollable and messy organism.

In coding, sometimes bad codes are just bad personal habits, like forgetting to add semicolons
Sometimes it’s a dispute, like whether brackets (
need a line break

Human beings have a tendency to break even rules that they themselves set up. In our process of self-mechanizing, we will always find some part of ourselves that refuse mechanization. These parts that deserved to be labeled as “ERROR”, just happen to be the most human of us in a cyborg-populated world.
Along these lines, if we view institutions as programs, then the data that they are incompatible with or cannot process, then become a form of resistance.
Weiyi Li, Perfect Route, 2016, virtual reality
aaajiao, 404, 2017, interactive installation, ink, sponge roller, dimensions variable
Tianyuan Miao, Genie in the Text Editor, 2017, webpage, dimensions variable
苗天元,《Genie in the Text Editor》,2017,网页,尺寸可变

Yang Wang and Zhenzhen QiThingThingThing, 2018, computer Software, dimension variable, duration infinite.
Huiqi He, The Outsider, 2017, digital color video, 6:32 min
何卉奇,《局外人》,2017,彩色数码视频,6:32 分钟
Hanwen ZhangA Real Fake Artist, 2018, archival inkjet prints, dimensions variable.
This exhibition was presented as part of the Shanghai Power Station of Art 2018 Emerging Curators Project.
Exhibition documentation by Zeppra.

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