Add Oil Machine 打氣機

An online exhibition about the Hong Kong Umbrella movement (2014) and the revolutionary potential of language and collective enunciation


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions


Contributing Institutions

Centre A


Melissa Lee, Aaron Levy


Artists Sampson Wong (黃宇軒), Jason Lam (林志輝), and friends: Candy Chu, Kitty Ho, Chris Cheung Hon Him, Jeff Wong, Kwan Kai Yin, Karen Shing.

Jessica Sze, and James Maurelle and Patrick Ammerman at Slought.

Process initiated


Opens to public



Central Government Offices 政府總部
2 Tim Mei Ave
Hong Kong

On the web


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Add Oil Machine 打氣機," an online exhibition about the Hong Kong Umbrella movement (2014) and the revolutionary potential of language and collective enunciation. Organized by Slought in collaboration with the Add Oil Team, this virtual exhibition seeks to spread awareness about the power of individual and collective assemblage and the formation of community and solidarity through art. In commemoration of the final days of protests one year earlier, the project will launch on December 10, 2015 both online and at Centre A in Vancouver, Canada, where it will take the form of an outdoor projection and installation. It thus raises questions about archivization and historicization, and how institutions record and display protest movements and cultural resistance.

The title of the exhibition is derived from "Stand By You: Add Oil Machine 並肩上: 打氣機" a spontaneous four-month project by artists Sampson Wong (黃宇軒), Jason Lam (林志輝) and friends that strategically projected political writing on key government buildings in Hong Kong. Together with over 100,000 other protestors, they sought to protest recent electoral reforms by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China and campaign for universal suffrage. Their projection system operated at the intersection of public culture, activism, and urbanism, and re-visualized the symbolic authority of civic sites. Mimicking the dominant tendency to wrap buildings in advertising, they projected more than 40,000 short messages of local support and international solidarity, catalyzing a vast protest site under intense global attention.

In response to the protester's demands, the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party strengthened its control of media and educational institutions and escalated its harassment of students, scholars and protesters, quietly subduing oppositional voices and language through administrative and bureaucratic protocols. "Stand By You: Add Oil Machine 並肩上: 打氣機" can be understood as a linguistic form of resistance to this power and process. In Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975), philosophers Gille Deleuze and Félix Guattari introduce the term "minor literature" to describe the relationship between language and power, and the possibility of subversive forms of enunciation that contest domination. Recognizing the way in which the political domains co-opts both individual and societal consciousness, they recognize the potential of language and literature to express and imagine other possibilities. Minor literature builds upon the relationship between the individual and their political immediacy, and encourages new forms of solidarity and collective enunciation.

To what degree can the concept of minor literature be translated across languages, cultures, and places? "Stand By You: Add Oil Machine 並肩上: 打氣機" provides us with an opportunity to explore its applicability to the language of protest, and in particular protest in minor Chinese languages. A majority of the messages of solidarity were written in t廣東話 Cantonese, the primary language in Hong Kong yet one that is secondary to 普通話 Mandarin, the standardized Chinese dialect spoken in Mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore. Cantonese people are often compelled to explain themselves in Mandarin to be understood in Mainland China and other parts of Asia, such that using Cantonese in everyday life is an affirmation of one's minoritarian cultural identity and sense of community. This project thus invites us to interrogate the politics of and relationship between Cantonese and Mandarin. Here political messages in Cantonese, a minor language, are being projected onto governmental sites of power whose association with Mandarin and Mainland China is precisely what is being contested.

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"Our project was conceived in the first hours of 2nd July 2014 as we looked at the protest broadcasted through various live-streaming platforms. We then envisioned a project that would provide emotional support to thousands of protesters for a single long day in October that year. Eventually, it became a mobile projection-trolley system that lasted from September-December 2014 and channeled more than 40,000 messages of solidarity onto the facade of the Central Government Offices of Hong Kong - a vast protest site under intense global attention.

The project had an endogenous effect: it gave us a sense of orientation in the protests and an appropriate and meaningful role. We felt like we were contributing to the future of Hong Kong, which seemed to be unwritten.

The project was called 'add oil machine' by the Hong Kong public as we sought to contemplate alternative ways to 'add oil' to a political movement through new media and various global participatory mechanisms. In Cantonese, 'add oil' means 'stay strong' and from childhood we all learn to tell each other to 'add oil' and to 'add oil' for each others. It is our hope that this emancipatory episode will 'add oil' to the civic life of our city and global society more generally."

-- Sampson Wong, Jason Lam



香港民眾稱我們的計劃為「打氣機」。計劃的目標,正正是用新媒體和各種跨國參與的機制,以另類方式為一場政治運動打氣。計劃英文名稱的「add oil」直譯自廣東話「加油」,是我們自小就學懂與別人互相打氣的鼓勵說話。我們希望這幕突破界限的插曲能夠為我城,以至國際社會的公民生活打氣。」

-- 黃宇軒,林志輝

"The political domain has contaminated every statement. But above all else, because collective or national consciousness is "often inactive in external life and always in the process of break-down," literature finds itself positively charged with the role and function of collective, and even revolutionary, enunciation.

It is literature that produces an active solidarity in spite of skepticism; and if the writer is in the margins or completely outside his or her fragile community, this situation allows the writer all the more the possibility to express another possible community and to forge the means for another consciousness and another sensibility..."

-- Deleuze & Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, 1985