WeChat subway exhibitions seek to enrich people’s commute in Beijing

By Bi Mengying Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/12 15:48:39

Beijing's Line 10 subway is one of the busiest lines in the city, carrying over 1 million passengers on daily basis. Now, six cars on the line are carrying a bit more: a special exhibition of art for passengers to enjoy.

The ongoing exhibition set to end on May 19 presents artwork from 14 official accounts and programs on social media platform WeChat, including CBS, the major US broadcasting network that recently arrived to the platform.

With more than 110 trains traveling Line 10 each day and no fixed schedule, it is not easy to catch the exhibition. To share information about the mobile exhibition, the organizers have established a WeChat group for enthusiastic art lovers. People who are lucky enough to find themselves on the same train as the exhibition, can let others know what station they are at so others who are interested in it can catch it later down the line. The group quickly expanded to nearly 500 members after it was established, the upper limit for a group on WeChat.

Quality content

WeChat, the multifaceted messaging app, is everywhere in the daily lives of Chinese people. Aside from allowing users to chat with friends and make mobile payments, the app also allows people to follow various official accounts or mini-programs, which can provide content such as articles, photos, podcasts and videos. This content on WeChat are many people's source for entertainment during their commute.

The organizer of the exhibition, Qingmang, a media and entertainment company, selected the accounts and mini-programs for the exhibition to ensure diverse content such as news, cooking, film reviews and technology. Fifteen local artists were invited to present their take on the content from these accounts and programs by decorating the subway with illustrations and posters. 

To celebrate the official release of Star Trek: Discovery in China later this month, CBS recently launched a WeChat program and joined the exhibition with a Discovery-themed subway car.

A cinema-themed display is dedicated to an official account on WeChat called DeepFocus. The account publishes in-depth reviews on domestic and international films, aiming to introducing great films across the world to their readers.

"The subway car is decorated like a movie theater. The floor of the car is the carpet of a theater, while there are posters and illustrations of audiences, movie stars and famous directors. The ceiling, meanwhile, is decorated with quotes from the film reviews published on the account.

"We put the quotes up on the ceiling, because we are trying to make a connection to novelist Maugham's words, 'If you look on the ground in search of a sixpence, you don't look up, and so miss the moon.' In that sense, we are encouraging people to look up at the moon," introduced Zhou Mengting, Qingmang's marketing partner.

Fragmented reading

The fast pace of life, long commutes and the development of new media and technology have contributed to the phenomenon of fragmented reading in China, particularly among urbanites.

A total of 432 million Chinese netizens read digital publications in 2018, according to a report released in April by the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association. The report also pointed out that users aged 25-50, most of whom are working professionals, tend to read during the morning rush hour from 7 am to 9 am.

Reaching the people

"How can we help quality content reach more people? We think about this question every day. Since everyone seems to gaze at their phones while on the subway, that's why we decided to hold the exhibition there," said Zhou.

In addition to being one of the busiest lines in the city and carrying the most passengers per day, Line 10, a loop line, also passes through diverse areas.

"The stations the underground train passes by enable the exhibition to reach all kinds of social groups. It goes to Sanlitun, where many people care about fashion; it stops at the CBD (central business district) in Beijing, where people work at multinational companies; it also passes by Zhongguancun, where tech companies gather. Moreover, there are universities and colleges. So the passengers on Line 10 are from different age groups too," said Zhou.

Taking action

While "quality content" is one theme of the exhibition, "action" is the other.  Promoting quality to more people with the hope that people will be inspired and transform this inspiration into action is the ultimate goal of the exhibition, according to Zhou.

 "You won't die, if you don't read quality content. Maybe nothing will change if you read one or two pieces. But I do believe that these small actions will slowly plant a seed. Then over time, one day you may be motivated or inspired and turn that into action. We hope this exhibition can make a small difference in the lives of people who are caught up in a busy life," Zhou said.

Posted in: ART

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