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Hutong Whispers

Onomatopee 155

The verb ‘to launder’ refers to the act of legitimising illegally obtained money to wash away its questionable traces. In contrast, the idiom ‘to air out dirty laundry’ is analogous to disclosing secrets publicly. The first speaks of erasure, removal, suppression, censorship, while the latter speaks of revealing, talking, leaking, publishing.

With Hutong Whispers, Amy Suo Wu invites us to enter a space filled with steganographic messages that are hidden ‘between the sheets’. Steganography is a form of secret writing that disguises hidden information within the public realm. The purpose of this obsolete, low-tech and analogue technique is to subvert digital surveillance, bypass censorship and offer insight into the struggles of minorities and other marginalised cultures.
Hutong Whispersco-opts three elements that are omnipresent in the Chinese urban landscape, namely bed sheets, Shanzhai fashion (a Chinese phenomenon that features nonsense English), and QR codes.
The audience is actively invited to discover and uncover the sensitive and suppressed knowledge that is hidden within these laundry lines. Altogether, the exhibition is designed to eventually be placed back into its original context: the traditional residential alleys of Beijing or ‘hutongs’. The presentation includes earlier work by Amy Suo Wu such as Thunderclap (2017) and The Choice of a Translator (2018) as well as related projects and references submitted by Clara Balaguer (Hardworking Goodlooking), Dušan Barok (Monoskop), Kelly Doley, Jessie Yingying Gong, Linda Zeb Hang, Elaine W. Ho, Janez Janša (Aksioma Institute), Woodstone Kugelblitz, Javier Lloret, Silvio Lorusso, Nadine Stijns and Nathalie Wuerth.


Amy Suo Wu (1985) is an artist, designer and researcher whose practice explores how to amplify, preserve and (re)activate obscured histories in critical and playful ways. She holds a Masters in Media Design and Communication from Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam and is currently a tutor in Experimental Publishing at Piet Zwart Institute and Cultural Diversity at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.



Onomatopee 155, Amy Suo Wu, 2018

A Cookbook of Invisible Writing

€ 20

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‘A Cookbook of Invisible Writing’, written and designed by Amy Wu, is an introduction to analog steganography, a type of secret writing that is hidden in plain sight. It is an invisible ink colouring book, recipe book, puzzle book and artistic research book. This book also serves as a starter pack to run workshops for those who are interested in alternative forms of communication. A Cookbook of Invisible Writing provides a wide variety of invisible ink recipes and other communication techniques that may be used to subvert surveillance, bypass censorship and make visible the struggles of minorities and other marginalised cultures. Additionally, it aims to inspire communities to develop their own new poetic and playful forms of communication as a way of nurturing social bonds.

In the tradition of esoteric manuals published on secret writing, this cookbook also channels the spirit of everyday access and the easy distribution and sharing of practical knowledge. Following Della Porta’s 1558 popular science book Natural Magic, one of the first major publications that detailed simple but diverse recipes of invisible inks for public consumption, this Cookbook aims to bring this obscure field to a wider audience. The publication includes a critical essay about the history of surveillance through a feminist and postcolonial lens. In the last Chapter is the artistic practice of the author and her body of work that aims to resuscitate analog techniques in light of surveilled and censored contexts.


Written, designed and illustrated by Amy Suo Wu.
Edited by Clementine Edwards.
Realised in collaboration with the research center of Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam.

spiral bound in flaps
170 x 240 MM / 6.69 x 9.44 inches (portrait)
Amy Wu
Amy Wu
Release date
Spiral bound with flaps
120 grs. EOS 2.0 (inside) 400 grs. Starline Creamback (cover)
4 x 32 pag's 1/1 (128 pag's), 2 x 32 pag's 4/4 (64 pag's), 1 x 32 pag's 5/1 (32 pag's) (fluor PMS 809)
Coers & Roest, Arnhem (NL)
Almendra, Bodoni Ornaments, Bradley Hand, Cornucopia of Ornaments, Ford Short Hand, Helvetica, Tired of Courier, Morse, Sayoye, Tagettes, Times New Roman, Webdings, Xiparos
Image specs
100 full color images, 28 black/white
wire-o bound
more specs