Mr Democracy

A written constitution for the UK (made in China)

  • Welcome to Mr Democracy, the story of a British artist who set off to get a written constitution for the UK made.
    Understanding the changing balance of power in the world, and with a nod to Britain’s ‘democratic’ ventures across the world, he chose to get it written in China, and ship it back to the UK.
    Read more under 'about' and in the many blog entries.

Clap your hands say ‘constitution’

Posted by mrdemocracy on 30,07,2008

After several days of looking online, we had an idea at the wholesale market. We found one doll that featured a sound control – you know, clap and it crys or sings or something. If they all had this, they could all respond to the same clap, or something louder, and all speak simultaneously, which would be a great improvement on what I thought I could get.

We have also been looking for voice chip manufacturers this week. Tom suggested we seperate out the process, it could be faster. Normally you would buy the toy from one supplier, and they would be responsible for the whole thing. We had been having difficulty getting toy manufacturers to agree to change the voice chip – 1000 is a small order, and the work involved for them to sell 1000 is almost the same as selling 50 000.

We called several chip companies. The third one we called said they had just received two calls from other companies with exactly the same inquiry as ours, which suggests they were supplying the others, so we decided to pay them a visit. A metro and bus ride later and we were on a dusty roadside, still waiting to meet someone from the factory after 5 phonecalls. It was frustrating, the no-maps thing was wasting so much time again. I say again, two days before I had managed to stop the taxi driver as he took a wrong turning on the 10 minute journey between Tom’s studio and the hotel. As we were approaching a main junction, I was reading the (mainly Chinese) map thinking to myself, ‘here its either a right turn or straight on’, so when we took a left, I tugged on his shoulder and pointed in the other direction, showing him the map. I don’t think it was dishonesty, just relying on an unreliable sense of direction.

We met with 4 people from the office in the end, and were suprised by their patience. It wasn’t a big order, and they spent 4 hours talking to us, which makes me think it wasn’t the ‘forth biggest chip company in China’, as they’d said. We explained what we wanted to do, and they said the linking up of several, or in fact all, of the toys to the mains would be possible. We didn’t mention that we were artists, or at least we weren’t meant to, on advice from Tom and Jim (from the British Council). They had suggested that Chinese business men don’t have the sympathy for ‘culture’ that you can often get if you say you are an artist in the west. Even so, in the west this only works at a low level, everyone else needs to know they’ll make decent money out of you. Unfortunately Sarah wasn’t too up on this line, and had already said we were ‘from the Art Academy’. She back peddled quite well, explaining that we were design students in a joint venture, producing something for a trade fair (an exhibition) in Liverpool. I don’t know if they beleived us, but I think they were interested to have a customer from Europe.


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