Jolie ZHOU&JIN Qiaoer: 3……2…1

Frequent bodily movements within urban space bring about spatial transformations and make certain objects simultaneously serve as mediums for conveying and obstructing human emotions. When suppressed emotions reach a critical point, detachment and violence begin to manifest in the space.

3……2…1, he murmured.


The man glanced at his watch ten times within a minute. Not a digital one, but a quartz. Every second mattered; precision was imperative.

Damn, almost going to miss the flight.

The gentleman in front struggled to load the boarding pass QR code on his phone. The staff at the boarding gate wore a forced smile.

“Sir, would you like to connect to the airport WiFi?”

The fallacy of technology lies in the assumption that inventors and users share a subconscious belief that everyone operates on the same cognitive level when using a particular technology. Then, we stumble upon our separate differences and adjust psychologically to deal with the gap between the expectations and reality. Zero expectation makes a better life. “Let go of unrealistic ideals of the perfect human,” he murmured.

Whoosh… swoosh swoosh. The staff pulled up the guardrail behind him.

He briskly entered the transparent corridor. When he reached the cabin door, sunlight pierced into his eyes through the glass of the control room. The injured pupils couldn’t contract. He let it sting, a quasi-masochistic act to relieve the anxiety of waiting.

Pure white light. In the blink of an eye, the flight attendant with a professional smile appeared in front of him.

“Sir, would you like today’s newspaper?” The flight attendant asked softly. 

“…” Ignoring the smiling face, he took a copy. Intellectuality in the subconscious was at play.

He glanced at it with indifference, then rolled it up and tucked it into the miscellaneous bag behind the seat.

The wait for takeoff always felt long, as if all the anxiety just now went in vain. Bored out of his mind, he began to scrutinize everything in front of him.


Through the small window covered with fingerprints, he saw the city glowing unusually. But not knowing why.

When getting off the plane, he carefully observed the expressions of each passenger. No one seemed as dissatisfied as he was. Who cared about this unnecessary clip? It seemed natural for it to be there. Yet, it disturbed him.

He finally left the airport. He wandered in the streets, observing everything that looked familiar yet strangely surreal. He looked down at his hands, and the blood vessels in his arms were hidden in the cold light. Looking up, he saw countless beams of light refracting between the glass, the light cold and bluish. Except for the absence of warm direct sunlight. Shops, residences, schools, companies, government offices… all facilities were made of glass.

In the distance,

bang … bang … bang …

A continuous sound.

He traced the sound to its origin and came across one glass wall after another with broken traces. Despite the safety glass being as solid as a stone wall, any vandal’s furious assault would leave behind no improper debris but only the emotional contours. 

But he didn’t understand why there were so many damaged glass facades in the city. He pondered, looking up and around. The sky was surprisingly clear. There were no surveillance cameras here. Not a single one. After all, such transparency and brightness had long buried the darkness.

Perhaps creating cracks was the last outlet for the residents in this city. All kinds of cracks had become the city’s skin.

Eventually, he halted before a distinct crack. Through it, he observed the superimposition of his face, the cityscape behind him, and the serene, inviting hotel lobby visible through the glass. Running his fingers over the fractured yet smooth surface, he fixated on the red sofa inside. It was from such a close gaze that the glass gradually seemed dissolved. In that moment, the distinction between himself and the world on the other side of the glass silently faded away, leaving the boundaries indistinguishable.

Rays of reflected light start to intersect and overlap. Anxiously, he shifted his pupils, finding nothing but white. All white.
The familiar stinging sensation hindered his movements. Instinctively, he raised his hands to shield himself from the white light, but his skin slowly turned transparent, exposing blood vessels and bones.
Nowhere to hide.


The morning sunlight poured through the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating every corner of the studio. Startled, he awoke at his desk, shook off the daze, and realized he still held a pencil in his hand. The architectural blueprints in front of him were countless stacks of *. 

He rose from his seat and cast a quick look at a reference book with a newspaper cover on the desk.

*Note: The Necker cube is an optical illusion that was first published as a rhomboid in 1832 by Swiss crystallographer Louis Albert Necker. This image consists of 12 lines, depicting a cube with an isometric perspective. Regardless of their distance, parallel lines of equal length are drawn as equal-length lines in the image. There is no information about the three-dimensional aspect in the drawing.


肘力 Jolie ZHOU

was born in 1994 in Guangzhou, China. Her concerns mainly lie in how everyday life landscapes influence the human mind. Her practice involves experimental mediums of photography, as well as experimental writing centred on multispecies perception and consciousness. She is now studying in the postgraduate program at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.

Translated by Min Pan

This text is a collaborative work by Jolie Zhou and Jin Qiaoer. The Concept and design of the user guide come from a currently unnamed ongoing project of Jin Qiaoer; the writing concept and photography are from an ongoing project temporarily titled Pass by Me, Penetrate Me, Destroy Me by Jolie Zhou.