contemporary art Contemporary Chinese Art Lily & Honglei new media art New Media Art

Concept Proposal for AR Intervention at Venice Biennale 2011: Crystal Coffin – Virtual China Pavilion

The Crystal Coffin – Virtual China Pavilion

Work Concept by Lily & Honglei

Mobile Phone Augmented Reality Visualization by John Craig Freeman

View Second Version here

Download Layar Crystal Coffin

Locations: Venice Biennial Giardini Concourse, Piazza San Marco
Description: The augmentation is inspired by the crystal coffin displayed in Mausoleum of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Square since 1977, a year after Mao’s death. In the twenty first century, while China has been transforming itself into a modern society in many ways and gaining more influences economically and politically around the globe, Mao’s crystal coffin, the immortal-looking shell, remains exist as a symbol of authoritarian ruling system. During spring 2011, a crackdown on dissent – including detaining many intellectuals and members of religious group – followed by distinct signs of revival of Maoist policies, has left people baffled about the future direction of  China. We therefore use Crystal Coffin of Mao as main body of the virtual China Pavilion topped with a tower and roof with ancient Chinese looking,  as regulated by Ministry of Construction of China: architectural ‘designs must reflect traditional Chinese building styles’.

Crystal Coffin at Giardini Concourse (simulation)
Crystal Coffin at Piazza San Marco (simulation)
Crystal Coffin at Piazza San Marco (simulation)

Th crystal coffin at Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, Tiananmen Square Beijing:

Venice Biennial 2011 AR Intervention by
Cyber Artist Group manifest.AR

The international cyberartist group Manifest.AR wishes to inform the general public, the President and the Curator of the 54th edition of the Venice Biennial that we are extending the Giardini with an extra pavilion. We will construct this new pavilion using Augmented Reality (AR) architecture and will show a selection of AR artworks from renowned artists working in this contemporary medium and new spatial realm.


As “one of the world’s most important forums for the dissemination and ‘illumination’ about the current developments in international art” the 54th Biennial of Venice could not justify its reputation without an uninvited Augmented Reality infiltration. In order to “challenge the conventions through which contemporary art is viewed” we will construct the virtual AR pavilion directly amongst the 30-odd buildings of the lucky few within the Giardini. In accordance with the “ILLUMInations” theme and Bice Curiger’s 5 questions our uninvited participation will not be bound by nation-state borders, by physical boundaries or by conventional art world structures. The AR pavilion at the 54th Biennial reflects on a rapidly expanding and developing new realm of Augmented Reality Art that radically crosses dimensional, physical and hierarchical boundaries. We demonstrated the fundamental impact of this new art form in 2010 when founding members Sander Veenhof and Mark Skwarek staged the exhibition “We AR in MoMA”, creating an Augmented Reality space within the walls of the iconic MoMA New York – without permission of the institution. Our new virtual Biennial pavilion inside the Giardini will “draw attention to the importance of such developments in a globalised world.” [read original]


Augmented Reality is the art of overlaying virtual content on top of physical reality. The increased availability of free Augmented Reality viewers on mobile phones has brought this technology out of the lab and created a participatory form of mass media. A globally augmented sphere has arisen as a result of the now massive worldwide presence of people capable of accessing one shared virtual space through their mobile devices. Whereas traditional Virtual Reality (VR) created a world of its own, timeless and indifferent to its context, AR is intrinsically tied to its local physical environment. Uniting the strengths, features and possibilities of both the physical sphere and the virtual sphere, AR provides artists with an unparalleled and extensive universe of possibilities with infinite degrees of freedom. AR enables the creation of artworks and concepts that could not have been realised with just physical or just virtual means.


The GPS-based placement of a virtual AR pavilion into the Giardini is itself a manifestation of the power of Augmented Reality. The pavilion is primarily however a platform to showcase a selection of AR artworks that incorporate archetypical AR constructs to either achieve new sculptural forms or reflect on the radically changed equilibrium between venue, artwork, artist, audience and curator. And be warned: virtual walls are insubstantial walls – the artworks may leak into surrounding pavilions or into Venice itself.


We hereby cordially invite Venice Biennial visitors to come and experience the AR Art Pavilion in the Giardini, beginning on the official preview days June 1st, 2nd and 3rd 2011 and continuing for the duration of the Biennial.

Please visit this site for updated information on how to access and where to find the AR Art Pavilion – and any artworks that may leak outside.

By Manifest.AR members Tamiko Thiel , Sander Veenhof , Mark Skwarek

25 January 2011

Help support the Manifest.AR Venice Biennial 2011 Intervention – buy the t-shirts!

Manifest.AR Venice Biennale 2011 AR' QR code spreadshirt

By Lily Honglei

Lily Honglei, artist collaborate from Beijing, is currently base in United States. Their creative projects integrate digital imaging technologies, such as Augmented Realty, Virtual Reality and digital animation, with traditional art mediums to comment on current global societies as well as the relationship between Asian cultural heritages and globalization. Their projects received awards and grants from Creative Capital, New York Foundation of Arts Fellowship and Fiscal Sponsorship, New York States Council on the Arts, Queens Art Council, among others.

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