Photos by Tommy Kohlbrugge, Marcel de Buck, and Jing He
Live streaming dominates social media in China. By 2016, there were more than 200 social media platforms for live streaming, and its growth has made it an essential marketing tool for e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Taobao. Live streamers have been key figures in establishing consumer trust in products they can only see on screen. But they have also changed the rules and protocols of product advertising due to their self-branding, accessibility to fans, affordable lifestyles, and personal business strategies. Viewers expect live streamers to be live for hours every day, respond immediately to their comments and requests, and maintain a delicate balance between authenticity, niche appeal, and commercial work necessary to sustain their career.
Erbi Chen (陈有病) is a live streaming host with almost 2 million followers across 8 digital platforms. During the design week, the exhibition becomes her workplace as she live streams to her predominantly Chinese fanbase. Qiong Ye Chuan Zi (琼页川子) works for a fashion company. During her live stream videos she tries on 40 to 50 different outfits, interacting with customers for approximately four hours. Viewers can encounter Erbi and Qiong in two ways: they can watch them on digital screens both inside the exhibition and from far away, or they can observe their work as a filmed and staged performance—in a larger context of digital labour and trade and in relation to design and media.
Collaboration with Erbi Chen (陈有病), Qianyi Chen (陈倩仪), Qiong Ye Chuan Zi (琼页川子）
Graphic design: Jhen Chen, Studio Long Wu
Read an interview with Jing He on Live Streamers as User Advocates Link
Alibaba Group, “Brands Bet Big on Livestream Commerce in China,” YouTube, April 12, 2019. Link
Alibaba Group, “How to Livestream to Chinese Consumers,” YouTube, March 4, 2020. Link
BBC Trending, “Lele Tao: China's 'online goddess' on $450k a year,” YouTube, August 22, 2017. Link
Dan Graham, “Present Continuous Past(s),” 1974. Link
Jing He holds a Master degree from Design Academy Eindhoven, a Bachelor degree from Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and a Bachelor degree from Central Academy of Fine Art (China). Her works are included in Chicago Art Institute and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.