Red Mansion 2015 Beijing Residency : 3


The bunches of cables which adorn most posts here have pretty much replaced the tree for me as the wonder I look up to see as I walk. They are reassuringly ubiquitous. The tangles of the multiple junctions, the coils of cables waiting to be connected to the next new building, and the stray dangling disconnected escapees are completely fascinating. For me they have become a metaphor for my time here in Beijing. They are completely vulnerable to a passing tall vehicle, to the whims of a strong wind, and to theft, yet they are repeatedly installed this way, left unmolested, and they work. Things do function.
There is a consistency to the adhocism here which is really inspiring. Older cables are employed to keep the new coils tidyish and ready for use. They are used to tie loops together as they span from one pole to the other. Connections seem to be left exposed to actually make future alterations simpler.
Why not use bits of old cables which you have to hand to tie things?
Why not save time and tape by leaving things exposed?
Why not leave a loose end dangling, incase you want to connect another wire later?
This alteration in my assumptions about approaches to work has been clumsy. Health and safety issues aside, the consistency to what appears chaotic to me must mean it’s not chaos. This is normal and usual.

As a first time traveller beyond the comfort of the western world, I’m almost disappointed in myself that I didn’t expect the unexpected a bit more. Friends predicted the culture shock, but it still surprised me, as it came in quietly but insistently. Not really shocking at all, until it had fully arrived.

The way I work has had to be adjusted, not just my engagement with the wider social media. Researching facts and details for applications and proposals for future work from here requires planning and patience. It requires me to set aside serious amounts of time. This can really only be a good thing, demanding a focus which is frustrating when compared to the way I work at home, often juggling several tasks at once, slotting them around each other in the usual rush to get through the day. Here, even the act of walking on the subway is slowed to a normal pace- with crowds this big, how could you really move much faster anyway, so why rush?

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