Innovative former livestreamer assembles striking pieces of electronic art

A disassembled watch and a diamond ring created by Lin Xi for a client to commemorate an emotional milestone. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Lin Xi, a 26-year-old entrepreneur engaged in the art of electronic disassembly has proven with her experience that no effort is wasted.

Lin’s work consists of tearing up used electronics, such as phones, tablets, game consoles and computers, then presenting the components in an artistic way.

“After being reassembled, the once dust-laden objects will become exhibits that remind owners of their childhood experience, a time of hard work, or a deep-rooted memory,” she says.

Lin gained her popularity on the short-video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

In 2020, she posted two videos showcasing an iPhone 4 and a Play-Station Portable (PSP) console that she had taken apart.

Thanks to his videos, many people have realized, for the first time, that idle, yet classic electronics can be framed as art.

People were also drawn to the smiling girl, who wore an apron, a pair of rimless glasses and talked to them throughout the process.

“Both videos quickly received over 10,000 likes and nearly 200 orders poured in, most of which were for iPhone 4 and PSP teardown artwork,” Lin recalls.

Electronic disassembly is a complex job that requires both a delicate touch and an aesthetic sensibility.

Lin has to check the condition of the items she receives, and she communicates with her customers to find out the stories behind each one and the type of presentation they prefer.

Next comes disassembly. “It’s like performing surgery on digital products, with different types of screwdrivers and tweezers,” Lin says.

The components, after being carefully cleaned, will be laid out on a sheet of white paper in the desired order.

The final step is to use graphics software to draw and print a baseplate based on this layout and affix the components to it.

It took Lin about six months to fulfill the first batch of orders, but as she continued to post new videos, the orders kept coming in.

At the end of 2020, she had to hire helpers and open a business in Weifang, Shandong province, to seize the opportunity.

Today, his company, which has more than 10 employees, has an annual turnover of over 3 million yuan ($446,500).

However, it was not luck that brought Lin his current success.

She first tried her hand at live broadcasting in 2017 as a performer singing popular songs on Douyin. At the time, she was a senior student at Beijing Foreign Studies University majoring in Turkish and international journalism.

Being talkative with a natural demeanor in front of the camera, she quickly attracted more than 400,000 followers, earning more than 1,000 yuan a day from digital gifts and rewards. Most of the other students at the time only earned 150 yuan a day from their part-time jobs.

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