I tried out…Beijing HackerLab!

Every Saturday since about one month or so now, is organized the HackerLab in the Art Gallery Yuanfen Flow in Beijing Art District, 798.

798, located in the North East of Beijing,  is a one of the favourite tourists and local visit area. What was once an industrial area for weapons factories is now an area for art lovers, full of free galleries of modern Chinese art : sculptures, photography, painting…

Yuanfen in Chinese means ‘Destiny’. And the Yuanfen flow, unlike other galleries around do not expose traditional arts, it focus on New media. Wang Tao (aka Will), who was hosting the hackerlab last Saturday, they are interested in any project crossing Art, Technology and Business. And they host the hackerlabs to find new interesting projects.

I arrived at noon and I was the first one 🙂

The place is great, you first enter an large open space with blue light representing a flow – in the background you can hear water sound(see pictures below), in the back there is a small area for video projection and next to it, a large black table for the hackers (see pictures below). 8 people could seat I would say. More in the back is another table and a kitchen and upstair the owner private gym with a sculpture of a mongolian warrior and a remix of a classic Italian painting (see pictures below). It is a very interesting place with a lot of space, very good for creativity.

Will Tao is a sweet and passionate engineer, always curious to learn about your projects, your ideas… He creates a very warm atmosphere – which is needed because the place is a bit cold. He also can speak fluent Norwegian -that he studied only in 6 months. Everyone speak tones of languages here in Beijing….

In the all afternoon, 7 people joined or passed by (including me and Olof):

  • Kevin, who I knew from iWeekend and was working on ZhaoShir (previously ChinaFood).
  • Julius who – funny story! – by choosing his Chinese name in Taiwan, got surprised to hear from one of his colleagues that in the mainland it sounds like ‘prostitution makes sense!” (?????????–>?????????). He is coding a mobile app to search Chinese characters meanings from pictures. This is a VERY useful app in China, anyone learning Chinese will be crazy about it!! I was surprised to hear that there is open source project for the technology of Character recognition! The Difficulties of this project Julius said is: make the picture clear enought o be usable, make the dictionary data nicely display to make the app as easy and user friendly as possible. Soon to be realease on apple store!!


  • Will also showed me the project he is working on with Stephen Balaban, another iWeekend participant. It is called Arcology and is incubated in the Yuanfen flow. It is a website make to tailor-made internet experience to each user needs. In the idea is sounds a bit similar to hunch, but in the realization it is totally different. I am curious to see how it will evolve!


  • I also had a great chat with Irwin, a French architect doing digital art reacting to music!! I heard about it at TedxBeijing, when Wang Hailei -also incubated in Yuanfen Flow – talk about how he was coding artwork. Irwin then told me that they are the only 2 persons doing it in Beijing, but it is quite big in US and Europe. Basically how it work is, they code something to make the computer program generate for example blue cubes according to an equation. But they add serendipity into the code. So that everytime the program runs, the result produced is different! He showed me a picture of a lamp he created by this method and explained that if the shop seller wanted to sell another model of the lamp, it would never completely be the same. Pretty cool, huh? What Irwin is most doing if I understood well is making program that reacts according to sounds. Really great stuff!!

Note: there was also Coding for Fun (Linus users group) this Saturday so there are usually more people!

All in all, Hackerlab is great to meet new entrepreneurs, everybody is willing to share what they are working on, everybody is asking what you are working on. Cool atmosphere, nothing to pay…and you can enjoy the art around!

Every Saturday Time: 11am – Late

Yuanfen New Media Art Gallery,
7 Stars East Street,
798 Art Zone, Chaoyang District,
Beijing, China (100015)

Nearest subway station: Sanyuanqiao Station(Line 10)

Nearest public bus station: Wangyefen Station


About Carole (code name 烤肉)

I work in tech since 2008, moved from Reunion island to Paris, Beijing, San Francisco and ended up in Berlin in 2014.
This entry was posted in China, Tech, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I tried out…Beijing HackerLab!

  1. chuckthepm says:

    Dude! I checked them out last month, quiet an interesting place indeed. BTW, Posterous is blocked in China, better switch platforms if you want more ppl here to access yo site

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey man, long time not seen! Hope to see you around at Hackerlab some day, I might go quite regularly~ For Posterous you r right, but i am just soooo lazy and I really appreciate the easiness to send post with pic by email…..

  3. Kevin says:

    Hey carole, my name is not calvin 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Kevin, this is fixed!

  5. Kevin says:

    thanks Carole

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