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The CAPTCHA Project, 2014. Handmade reproductions of CAPTCHA codes, 35 oil paintings. Installation. X:300cm; Y:200cm overall

The CAPTCHA Project aims to highlight the undefined boundaries between humans and machines, originals and copies. The project started as a reflection on immaterial labour and artistic practice in a neoliberal network society and takes the form of a series of paintings created by Chinese painters from the village of Dafen. Despite the fact that their work consists of a mechanical reproduction of preexisting images for the Western market, Dafen painters consider themselves artists and value their work. I signed an agreement with them, splitting the costs and profits of this project in half and sent them screenshots of CAPTCHA codes, which they transformed into precise oil reproductions.

CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) codes aim to obstruct criminals and companies whose goal is to use online services en masse, using bots and automated processes. They are easy for humans to decipher, but impossible for bots. However, it is possible to replace bots with human workers in poor countries, who manually solve thousands of tests every day. These people are required to perform a mechanic type of work that a bot is unable to perform. CAPTCHA was invented partially to distinguish humans from machines, but its effect is the partial transformation of other humans into machines. At the same time, artistic production is shifting. In 2004, Dafen Oil Paintings Village, with its 5000 artists mainly involved in creating accurate reproductions of Western masterpieces for the Western market, was officially declared a “Chinese Cultural Industry Model Base.”


  • Japan Media Arts Festival in Asuka Kashihara, Migrans, Nara, Japan. (2019)
  • ISEA2016 Hong Kong 香港, 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, Cultural R>evolution, Hong Kong. (2016)
  • 29th Stuttgarter Filmwinter – Festival of Expanded Media, Shape Shifters, curated by Wand 5, Stuttgart, Germany. (2015)
  • 12th Media Art Biennale (BAM), curated by Akihiro Kubota, Museo Nacional Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile. (2015)
  • 18th Japan Media Arts Festival, curated by Uematsu Yuka, Satow Morihiro, Okabe Aomi, Takatani Shiro, Miwa Masahiro National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan. (2015)

This project was made possible thanks to Shenzen Dafen and Deco Co., LTD and DafenVillageOnline.



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Official Catalogue
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p.62, 2014. (jap-eng)



“Allons Enfant 5”
Interview by Andrea Bruciati, 2014. (ita)



The Japan Times
“18th Japan Media Arts Festival”
2015. (jap)


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[SOURCE (ita) | SOURCE (eng) | ARCHIVED]


Catálogo 12 Bienal de Artes mediale

“Hablar en Lenguas”
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in Bio Art (ed. by Camilla Latini, Maurice Xu and Xiadi Sun). Published by the Parkview Museum Beijing – Singapore, 2023. (chi-eng)