Light show sums up anxiety of the people

A light show is seen on the facade of Hong Kong's tallest building, International Commerce Centre, on May 19 featuring a countdown of seconds remaining until July 1, 2047, when the "one country, two systems" framework is due to expire.
A light show is seen on the facade of Hong Kong's tallest building, International Commerce Centre, on May 19 featuring a countdown of seconds remaining until July 1, 2047, when the "one country, two systems" framework is due to expire.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • For more than a minute on Tuesday, nine-digit numbers were displayed across the facade of Hong Kong's tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Centre.

Towering above Victoria Harbour, the glowing white digits blinked against the night sky: 979,012,493... 979,012,492... 979,012,491...

The seemingly innocuous numbers contained a subversive statement. The animation is a countdown of the seconds to when the "one country, two systems" framework - a guarantee that Hong Kong would keep its civil liberties and a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 - is set to expire.

"We hope to deliver this work to illustrate the biggest anxiety of the Hong Kong people," said Mr Sampson Wong, who created the animation with artist Jason Lam. They planned the display to coincide with Chinese leader Zhang Dejiang's three-day visit to Hong Kong.

Mr Wong said he and Mr Lam got the countdown project approved by submitting it as part of a longer, mostly apolitical, digital animation.

The work is scheduled to be shown until June 22. But Mr Wong said he feared it would be cancelled once its meaning became widely known.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2016, with the headline 'Light show sums up anxiety of the people'. Print Edition | Subscribe