Nomadic Department of the Interior


The Nomadic Department of the Interior (NDOI) is a research collective that seeks to address, in films, websites, and publications, the conflicting interests between stewardship of lands & extraction of material and cultural resources. Our research investigates technological systems against the backdrop of geological, ecological and human history.

Our members are currently based in mainland China and Taiwan.


Our current project is about the western Chinese province of Guizhou. This is part of a larger, long-term body of work about the collision of technology and rural places.

Tencent Data Tunnel, 2019

Tencent dug these tunnels through a mountain in Guizhou to house a data center. At the time the picture was taken, the data center was not yet in operation. In the background, a large construction site by Huawei can be seen.

Limestone, 2019

Detail of mountain site near the Tencent tunnels.

Eye of Sky, 2019

The FAST the world’s largest filled-aperture radio telescope. Its construction in the southern part of Guizhou was completed in January 2020. More than 9000 people were relocated to create a radio-quiet area within a 5 km radius of the telescope.

Mountain range near FAST, Guizhou, 2019

Construction site of Huawei University, Guiyang, Guizhou, 2019

Detail of a rendering of Huawei University photographed at the construction site, Guiyang, Guizhou, 2019

Advertisement at Guiyang Airport, 2019

Advertisement for a Guizhou brand of Baijiu in the Guiyang airport that includes an unconnected reference to 5G networks.


Ann Chen is an artist and filmmaker working in sound, video, image and text. Her present research interests include ecology, land sovereignty, sociology of science and technology. She received her BA in College of Letters with honors from Wesleyan University and an MPS from ITP at New York University (NYU). She was a fellow at the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Program and a fellow in the Collaborative Productions Program at UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art. Additional fellowships and affiliations include Public Lab, University of Alberta’s English and Film Studies Department and Rebuild Foundation. She has written for Logic Magazine, National Geographic Voices and Recess Art. She taught in the Interactive Media Arts (IMA) department at NYU Shanghai.

Born and raised in Germany, Leon Eckert studied Design at Goldsmiths University and graduated from ITP at NYU. He contributed to and, and did research and development for artists Trevor Paglen and Adam Harvey. He is currently an instructor of Interactive Media Arts (IMA) at NYU Shanghai teaching net-art and critical data courses.

Yutong Lin graduated from IMA at NYU Shanghai. As a Nakhi from Yunnan, China, she is an activist for indigenous visibility and equality through ethnographic imaging and writing practices. Her graduation thesis explores how social media colonialism reforms the landscape and tourism infrastructure in her hometown.

Yufeng Zhao studied Interactive Media Arts (IMA) and Computer Science at NYU Shanghai. He is interested in the ubiquitous technological invasion of ways of living. At NYU Shanghai, he contributed to a long-term research project on volumetric telepresence and currently works as an associate fellow of IMA.