Be Water by Hong Kongers

Hong Kong protesters

Dedicated to the Hong Kong protesters by Eric Siu & Joel Kwong


Since the summer of 2019, a tremendous political movement has been happening in Hong Kong. Digital technology plays a key role in the whole movement, and the use of technology is creative, innovative, and pervasive. Digital community functions range from front-line support and crowdsourcing campaigns to protest art, social media (fact-checking and reporting), online petitions, political education, and so on. Protesters use multiple platforms including live-streaming, forums and apps, e-commerce, websites, music, and whatever else seems appropriate in the moment. The philosophy behind this is “Be Water,” a saying of martial arts star Bruce Lee, which means to be shapeless, formless, and able to adapt to any situation.

Democracy is recognized as a fundamental value and a basic human right throughout most of the world. However, it must be constantly monitored and safeguarded. The protest movement in Hong Kong shows how the “Be Water” strategy allied to digital technology can be a powerful means for citizens to resist attacks on their democratic rights and freedoms. From crowdfunding to global digital activism, Hong Kong protesters were able to alert the world to their struggle. Digital technologies also helped protesters to decentralize power and enabled all individuals to protect and strengthen democracy together. As the saying goes, water doesn’t stay still—while technology and science are deemed to be inhumane and cold, they possess hidden potential to flow into new areas of human experience and transform into different states with water-like vitality and capacity. Through this submission, we hope to bring Hong Kongers to the center of art, technology and society, and to provoke a much-needed dialogue about how digital culture shapes our practice of civic responsibility—now and in the future.


All Hong Kong protesters involved in the struggle to safeguard democracy.
Foto: Photo lok1126, Designed by Eric Siu

Hong Kong protesters. Since the latest pro-democracy movement erupted in 2019, Hong Kong protesters have been following a strategy called “Be Water.” With this philosophy, Hong Kongers have recollected the scattered pieces of hope from the Umbrella Movement in 2014 to imagine a new form of protest. Among their many innovations, Hong Kongers have pursued leaderless organization and digital activism, which have captured the world’s attention. To continue their movement, Hong Kongers hope to widen global solidarity and let the “Be Water” current flow to the worlds of art and technology. Eric Siu is a media artist born and raised in Hong Kong. Joel Kwong is a media art curator raised and currently based in Hong Kong.