Evil Words by Miao Ying

Miao Ying is an artist based in New York and Shanghai. She is among the first generation of Chinese contemporary artists who grew up with the internet, Chinese economic reform and the one-child policy. She is known for her projects and writings that juxtapose Western technology and ideologies with contemporary China, and for coping with her Stockholm Syndrome in relation to Authoritarianism. Her works inhabit multiple forms; including websites, machine learning softwares, VR, installations, paintings, etc. Her solo exhibitions include ArtBasel Pioneers, (2021); M+ Museum, Hong Kong (2018); New Museum, New York (2016); Chinese Pavilion, Venice Biennale (2015). Her work has been featured in international groups shows at Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2020); 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2018); MoMA PS1, New York (2017); UCCA, Beijing (2017); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, (2016); amongst others. She was recipient of the Porsche Young Chinese Artist of the year (2018- 2019).


Evil Words is based upon an 1869-page Mandarin dictionary that has been manually annotated to indicate 2,000 search terms that were censored in China by American tech company Google in 2007. To make the list, Miao took on the labor-intensive task of searching every word on google.cn, for 10 hours a day over three months. Miao Ying has named the NFT project Evil Words (2021) after Google's former motto 'don't be evil'. Subsequently, Google ultimately left China in 2010, leading other platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and many other sites to be inaccessible. Google has kept its office in China and has been trying to come back to the Chinese market, in 2018 Google plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, code-named Dragonfly.


Miao Ying states that China has a higher level of technology. The rapid movement and quick changes of words in Miao's NFTs reflect the constant expansion and dissemination of information. However, to Miao, how information is administered has become more sophisticated and insidious within China. The words on Miao's list are sometimes predictable terms related to politics or religion. Other times they are surprising words that have been flagged temporarily for indiscernible reasons. This is the first time ever that the artist has revealed the listed words that were censored by Google.