Assignment#1: Self-Tracking Project Review

Xiran Yang
28 01 2018

Assignment 1:Blog Post: Quant Self Project Review

My review on 3 self-projects that I found interesting.

1. Zou Yi -北京,一目了然(literal translation: Beijing, to see is to know), Official English Title: BeijingAirNow

*There are also 2013&2014 versions.

Beijing, as one of China’s biggest cities, is known for its great culture and intriguing landscape. However, it is also known for its serious air problem. Starting from 2013, 55-year-old Beijinger Zhou Yi used his phone camera to capture the sky out of his window everyday for three years, which resulted in the project “BeijingAirNow”.

Zou Started this project for several reasons. As a local Beijinger, he was indeed seriously impacted by the bad air there; in addition, he also found the air indexes given the US embassy in Beijing and local government were different. The Beijing government often criticized the index given by the US embassy as “inaccurate”. As a way to express his complaints towards smog as well as a way to showcase the truth, Zou started his journey of tracking the air in Beijing everyday by taking a picture out of his window.

After posing these photos on social media, this photo series went viral on the Internet. It ended up at least having two very positive and significant results—It stimulated the government to take action in improving air quality and also educated the general public about how serious air pollution could be.

I personally really like this project. I think it is very powerful that I almost consider it as a great example of activism. One picture of smog could be nothing, but thousands of them can create a strong slogan. I think  this project is a great example of how individuals are able to bring positive impacts to society from smalls details in our daily life.


Source for project: Matt Sheehan, See 3 Years’ Worth Of Air Pollution Drift Across The Beijing Sky

Source for graphic:Matt Sheehan, See 3 Years’ Worth Of Air Pollution Drift Across The Beijing Sky

1. Beijing and Sydney, 12 years and 100 days.Xiao

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Xiaoba and Dola have been best friends for over 12 years. They each went to Beijing and Sydney for college. During a video call one time, Xiaoba complained to Dola about how bad the air was in Bejing and asked her to send a picture of the sky of Sydney, and this started this photo project.

Everyday this two girls set up a theme and each took a picture at their cities. They put two pictures together and wrote down a small note each day. They started it just for fun but ended up having a 100-day series of photo.

As they confessed in their Weibo(social network), this project helped them not only to sustain their friendship, but also encouraged them to observe and embrace their daily lives much better. They also felt that they have become more positive through the progress. Their project, as I remembered was quite a hit in 2015 when they released all photos. Many people admitted that the two girls also inspired them to embrace their lives and people around them.

I really like this project because  I feel like human need to communicate with each other frequently in order to maintain certain relationships and the photography project is a really interesting way of people communicating with each other when they are not together.

Source for project&photos: Fan Xiaoba’s Weibo Post

3. On Kawara: Self-Observation

This project is composed of On Kawara’s self-tracking of daily activities and incidents for nearly 12 years from 1968-1979. The project is a series of three smaller parts: I Got Up, I Went and I Met.  In these three smaller projects, Kawara send postcards to his friends everyday when he woke up(I Got Up), marked his daily routine on a map(I Went) and kept a record of people he met each day (I Met).

I think the interesting point of this series of projects is that self-tracking information, in other words, personal history can also become a public one. I said that because when Kawara was tracking his daily events, he was also incorporating stories that the change of places and the change of different people others involved, thus personal experience becomes something that is collective and of greater meaning.

Source for project&photos:


One thought on “Assignment#1: Self-Tracking Project Review”

  1. Really love this collection of projects and the way you explain the human / communication connection in each self-tracking initiative. Building community around personal data and allowing that effort to inspire interaction and intervention is really the point of the course :).


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