Pandemic Crimes ScapeGoat Hunter
Media: Interactive Game with Multimedia Database
Funded by Alberta University of the Arts Research Scholarship in Partnership with Illingworth Kerr Gallery
Pandemic Crimes Scapegoat Hunter is an interactive game that confronts the escalated Anti-Asian sentiments and Xenophobia surfaced during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It provides an interactive way for the viewer to look through a database of memes, tweets, Youtube comments, videos, and other media documenting Pandemic incidents of racism, biased generalization, and hostile othering of East Asian societies and cultural heritage.
The viewer can play the hunting game by clicking their mouse over a gun, targeting a deer in sight, and shooting. As they are playing, the screen is bombarded with Asian-hating messages and images related to COVID-19. These include: culture shaming YouTube comments, Twitter or Instagram images expressing disgust and aggression toward East Asian cultures and cultural identities, testimonies of Chinese, Korean, Japanese victims who suffered verbal or physical abuse, public speeches of politicians condemning China and Chinese customs, and real-life video footage of physical and verbal attacks on East Asian immigrants all over the world.
The game integrates the Anti-Asian sentiments of COVID-19 to the practice of seeking, pursuing and killing an innocent animal. This juxtaposition poses Pandemic episodes of racial hostility as a form of “Hunting”. The project interprets the racist reactions of global societies as socio-political scapegoating, where East Asian people groups are blamed and attacked for the social, economic, and urban conditions faced by the majority.
The project is dedicated to collecting and archiving of racist and xenophobic content in web platforms, social media, and in the news throughout the COVID19 period. Informed by the history of war crimes, it coins these cases as "Pandemic Crimes".
History of war crimes have taught us that during times of societal instability, violent acts of hate are at liberty to be conducted. Only documentation of the offences which survive the period of chaos holds the offenders accountable and bring them to trial. Without documentation, there could be no proof that the crime itself ever happened, and the violent history suffered by victims are easily forgotten from society’s collective memory.
By coining Pandemic Crime after “war crime”, I am proposing that the global crisis of COVID-19 has presented a similar situation of chaos and instability which allowed for the conducts of xenophobic scapegoating and racist animosity. I am further advocating that documentation of these cases will serve as evidence for our post-pandemic society to critically re-examine its behaviour, and correct its outlook on/treatment of East Asian minorities.