Librarians-in-Residence: Acquisitions


Ye Funa

Recent acquisitions highlight - July

In July, our Librarian-in-Residence, Ye Funa, has selected a series of newly acquired books and zines that speak to her impetus in pursuing DIY practice as a way to transform our daily and creative lives.

Lo-Fi's low fidelity points to both technology and the physical body. It involves using low-cost yet sufficiently suitable technology for DIY undertakings. The handmade process itself imparts uncertainty to the object, setting it apart from industrially produced goods. This creates a direct connection between the object 'It' and the maker 'Yourself,' preserving the rhythm of bodily vibrations, stripped of polished intermediaries.

The low stance of Lo-Fi and DIY shares a common grassroots position and viewpoint, allowing for more practical attitudes and methodologies against the dominant technological environments and media contexts. This grassroots approach also serves as an alternative to mediating interpersonal relationships, stripping away intermediary technology to prioritise physical bodies—for instance, eschewing express delivery services in favour of volunteer human couriers, who personally deliver ordered books to customers, facilitating a slow and direct human connection – that brings the focus back to the labour of the workers themself, and its associated ethics and rights.

Zine Making Booklet, Grrrl Zine Fair, 2023. Image courtesy of Asymmetry

1. DIY Tools, Approaches, and Lives:

Zine Making Booklet

The Map is Not the Territory: Echoes from 1960s(《地图不是疆域》)

A practical handbook to kickstart one’s zine-making journey, Zine Making Booklet is an adorable booklet from Grrrl Zine Fair, a collective founded in 2015 that is dedicated to feminist self-publishing. Inspired by the 90s Riot Grrrl culture, this 12-page booklet includes a short history of zines, instructions on making one’s own paper, folding a mini zine, and binding a zine.

The Map is Not the Territory: Echoes from 1960s is one of the zines produced during a 'Back to the Whole Earth Catalogue' workshop run by Icosa Magazine in 2021. Participants printed excerpts from Stewart Brand's famed counterculture magazine, to understand how his zine work inspired and guided the creation of hippie life and community in 70's America, and then set out to discuss tools and approaches to solving today's problems. ARC Zine Series, 2021. Image courtesy of Asymmetry

2. Creative work, technology and machines

Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing, ARC zines #001(《追踪修订》)

Future Looms’, in Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture, ARC zines #002 (《未来在望》)

About Weaving, ARC zines #004(《关于编织》)

Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing describes how people can manage their relationship with machines and use them for creative work such as writing; the convenience of computer machines makes the actions of copying/cutting-and-pasting part and parcel of the act of 'writing'. The preface of Track Changes has been translated into Chinese by ARC zines.

‘Future Looms’ is a chapter in Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture, by Sadie Plant. This chapter, also translated into Chinese by ARC zines, describes the pioneering coding work of Ada Lovelace, and the relationship between women, weaving, technology and machines.

About Weaving, translated and published by, is another text that addresses the question of whether weaving, in which women artists are involved, is a form of artistic creation or workshop labour.

The Real Guide for Street Sleepers: How to Use Space, Pheasant Tail Theatre, 2015. Image courtesy of Display Distribute

3. DIY: Scene and Space

The Real Guide for Street Sleepers: How to Use Space (《真的露宿者空间使用指南书》)

The Arcade Machine: User Manual (《拱廊机器使用说明书》)

Scene Report: Taipei Chapter (《场景报告:台北篇》)

How can we DIY space? The ethos of DIY goes beyond the making of objects; it prompts us to rethink urban spaces, marginalised and cultural scenes, and how we structure relationships. Here are a few examples ranging from the theoretical to reality: the comic book series How to Use Space is a semi-fictional story of how a group of homeless people in a Shanghai park get along and set up a community fridge; The Arcade Machine, a capitalist feng shui book that analyses the relationship between department stores like Lafayette Paris, arcade streets, universal expositions and our consumer lives; Scene Report: Taipei Chapter is a reportage of the punks in Taipei who invited friends from all over Asia to gather and DIY a festival of their own in 2017.

The Manual for Domestic Robot: Keana-35® (Hong Kong), 2019. Image courtesy of Limestone Bookshop

4. Workers, Labour and Activism

A Better Life for the Workers (《工人美好生活百科》) by Jen Liu

Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era by Julia Bryan-Wilson

The Manual for Domestic Robot: Keana-35® (Hong Kong)(《家用機械人香蘭35®(香港)說明書》)

I appreciate how art intersects with labour and activism, especially within the diverse historical contexts of Asia and North America. These books reveal the complex and evolving nature of work and creativity, emphasising the importance of understanding these dynamics in both historical and futuristic contexts.

A Better Life for the Workers, redesigned by Jen Liu, started as a manual by the non-governmental organisation Worker Empowerment for Shenzhen factory workers. This two-volume guide explores the psychological, political, and legal aspects of industrial labour in China. I like how it highlights the unique labour experiences in Asia, and all proceeds of the publication go to supporting Worker Empowerment.

Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era by Julia Bryan-Wilson shows how American artists of the 1960s and 1970s, like Carl Andre and Lucy Lippard, redefined art labour amidst political upheaval in the 1960s. Their work intertwined with activism, challenging norms and influencing future generations.

The Manual for Domestic Robot Keana-35® (Hong Kong), based on Tse Pak-chai's sci-fi novel Mercy Buddha, envisions a 2035 Hong Kong with domestic robots as a replacement for the live-in domestic workers in the city who are often female migrant workers from the Philippines and Indonesia. The futuristic and thought-provoking manual critically examines how labour and the female body are affected by technology.