This essay explores a critical dialogue between methods and conceptions of cultural techniques—the second wave of media archaeology—and a case in contemporary Chinese documentary. I examine filmmaker Mao Chenyu, who is also an organic farmer, a critical thinker and writer, and a film exhibitor. Mao provides an intriguing case of how ethnography, ecology, and cosmology intertwine; how media art can take the form of media activism by redefining its boundaries and exhibition space; and how media art can be rethought by replacing its usual focus on media as object with a focus on media as space, community, and social process. By engaging Mao's film practice and critical writings, I test the promise and limits of cultural techniques to reopen the question of culture and public sphere without privileging the a priori of technical operations as the programmability of society.

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