Shu Lea Cheang
3x3x6 - 10 cases 10 data

Reflecting upon the transformation of surveillance techniques since the panopticon to include contemporary 3-D facial recognition, AI, and the Internet, Shu Lea Cheang’s 3x3x6 – 10 cases 10 data restages the rooms of the Palazzo delle Prigioni—a Venetian prison from the sixteenth century in operation until 1922—as a high-tech surveillance space. Taking as its starting point the story of libertine writer Giacomo Casanova, imprisoned in the Prigioni in 1755, Cheang has conducted in-depth studies on ten historical and contemporary cases of subjects incarcerated because of gender or sexual dissent, including the Marquis de Sade and Michel Foucault, as well as contemporary cases from Taiwan and South Africa. Their fictionalized portraits become part of the exhibition’s system; the title of which refers to today’s standardized architecture of industrial imprisonment: a 3 x 3 square-metre cell constantly monitored by 6 cameras. Involving legal documents, fake news, historical reports, myths and fantasies, as well as the data retrieved from 3-D surveillance cameras and the images uploaded by visitors, the work constructs a collective counter-history of sexuality—where trans-punk-science fiction, queer, and anti-colonial imaginations provide visual and critical frameworks to think through the histories of subjection and resistance—and activates a critical proliferation of poetic and political actions for digital times. A contribution to the digital avant-garde, Cheang’s 3x3x6 equally challenges the aesthetics of Internet global capitalism and the gender, sexual, and race norms that hold up its hidden infrastructure.

Shu Lea Cheang’s practice combines artistic concerns with social issues, and is highly acclaimed as a leading figure in post-porn feminist art, becoming a crucial player that resonates with present-day subjects of queerness and trans discourse. She has worked in a variety of mediums—film, video, installation, web spaces—and her output is as varied as cyberspace itself. Cheang is considered a pioneer in media art, with work encompassing film, performance, net art, and public art. In her work she seeks to expose and disrupt the social, geographical, and political restrictions placed around issues of gender and sexual expression. Cheang draws on science-fiction narratives, but infuses them with her own visual and creative sensibilities, creating a genre of queer cinema that she terms eco-cybernoia (Fresh Kill, 1994), soft cyberpunk (IKU, 2000) and scifi-cypherpunk (Fluidø, 2017).