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Screenshot of virtual environment Shadow Play, Chapter IV. The Maze: No Exit (work-in-progress).  © 2005-2016 LILY & HONGLEI ART STUDIO

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Screenshot of virtual environment Shadow Play, Chapter I, II & III (work-in-progress).          © 2005-2016 LILY & HONGLEI ART STUDIO

For more info about Shadow Play project, visit website http://lilyhonglei.com/shadowplay2

Lily & Honglei Art Studio continues presenting their new project “Shadow Play” by launching the next solo exhibition at Wilfrid Israel Museum of Asian Art & Studies.

Although remains in-progress, the artist collective has been invited to exhibit their new project at several art venues around the globe since 2015, including Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning in New York, SOMART in San Francisco, Gwangju Media Art Festival in South Korea, and Wilfrid Israel Museum in Israel. The exhibits include a dozen of large prints, and a slideshow compiled of seventy screenshots of “Shadow Play” virtual reality.

Special thanks to Dr. Anat Turbowicz, museum director,  and Shir Yamaguchi, museum curator, for making this exhibition possible. Find more from museum website http://www.wilfrid.org.il/en/?p=578

Lily & Honglei, shadow play, asian art, chinese art, shadow puppetry

Curatorial Statement
By Dr. Shoshan Brosh-Vaitz and Shir Meller-Yamaguchi. Editing by He Li

“Chinese shadow puppet theater probably began in the 6th century during the Tang dynasty as a means of disseminating religious and historical narratives, often with highlighting the value of justice and morality. Over the years, the design of the dyed leather shadow puppets became increasingly complex; delicate cutting and coloring as well as an impressive repertoire of characters and set decorations came to be developed. Due to the dramatic ideological, technological, and cultural change that took place in China during the 20th century, this art form has waned in popularity and almost become a thing of the past. The medium has been preserved primarily through the work of collectors such as Richard Hardiman, whose collection is presented in the exhibition.

“Folk art, however, is deeply rooted in cultural consciousness and has the power to revive itself when it becomes relevant to its time again. In Shadow Play by New York-based Chinese art collective Lily and Honglei, the shadow puppets reappear in a new guise within a seemingly naïve set. Originally created on a virtual reality platform, the work was adapted for screening as a slideshow presentation for the exhibition. Using the magical imagery of the traditional shadow puppets, the artists present critical commentary on the social ills shadowing over China.

Lily & Honglei, Asian Art, Chinese contemporary artist, Chinese shadow puppetry

Image by Lily & Honglei Art Studio © 2016

“Shadow Play reflects on the radical transformations experienced by China over the past thirty years through a tragic story of a rural family. The story embodies a deplorable trend that has been taking place all over China: villages and rural neighborhoods are being razed, and people who object to it are being murdered by interested parties. Children are being abducted while migrant workers are being relocated from small villages to filthy, overcrowded underground dwellings in large cities, all the while pollution abounds and public security breaks down. Basic values such as life, freedom, and dignity are being trampled in broad daylight. Lily and Honglei sketch this grim reality as a surrealistic narrative, in which mesmerizing beauty and horror are placed side by side. Green sunlight and an enchanted moonlight of yellowish-red color become obfuscated by the shadowy predicaments of reality.

“Scenes from the traditional shadow puppet theater are presented alongside scenes from its contemporary counterpart to offer a perspective on the age-old conflict between man’s base, demonic portions-which are manifest in greed, violence and exploitation–and the beautiful, exalted facets of human existence, which dwells in harmony, cooperation, altruism, and dedication.”

For more info about “Shadow Play,” visit project website http://lilyhonglei.com/shadowplay2/about.html

 

Lily & Honglei, asian art, shadow play

Image by Lily & Honglei Art Studio

Essay by Serena Jara, Jamaica Flux 2016 Catalog:

“A smoggy window view looks outwards towards a bustling cityscape, where traffic, skyscrapers, and pedestrians disappear into the industrialized atmosphere. An inverted figure materializes from the haze, suspended midair. Free falling through dense smog, the body appears poised to crash on top of the urban sprawl, frozen in its ominous descent. Gray tones envelop the dystopian scene as well as the weightless industrial worker, who appears rendered in hand drawn lines, cut out and collaged into photographic space. Her final moments assume hauntingly mythological characteristics, telling one story of the suicides afflicting many migrant workers who build China’s expanding skylines.

“Lily and Honglei’s installation for Jamaica Flux, entitled, ‘Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China’ and exhibited on site at the Jamaica Center of Arts and Learning, studies the many layers of China’s expansion into modernity. Employing darkly dystopian allegories that reflect individualized struggles, the narrative of a village family displaced by mass land grabbing takes on the forms of virtual and augmented realities. The overarching storyline is comprised of both research and thirty years of lived experience. Presented in four chapters, the tale details the murder of the village chief at the hands of demolition crews, his son’s subsequent abduction, and his wife’s journey into the city to search for her lost child. Featuring a synthesis between traditional Chinese shadow play puppetry and advanced three dimensional rendering technologies, the project becomes an immersive fable told through equal parts symbolism and bleak reflections of reality.

“As the mother emerges from the subterranean city beneath Beijing, home to many rural migrant workers who build the expanding urban skyline above ground, she witnesses some of the most strikingly dark imagery visible in “Shadow Play.” Images of falling workers hover over her anonymously like ghosts, dangling from wires and steel beam ledges. Speaking at the 2015 Creative Capital Artist’s Retreat, Honglei explains that the visuals of descending migrant bodies ‘specifically reflects on the worker suicide cases at Foxconn factory, the electronics manufacturer behind popular products like iPads and iPhones.’ Despite their spirit-like, evaporating qualities, one cannot separate the disappearing figures from the “modernity” achieved by rapid urbanization of China. Lily and Honglei effectively bridge disconnect from both sides of one story into potent allegorical tensions, fitting vast complexity into small shadow puppet characters inhabiting a phone or tablet’s screen. Their imagery causes audiences to question the advancement of culture, embedded directly into the technologies which enable such costly ‘progressions’ to occur continuously.”

Lily & Honglei, Chinese shadow puppetry, contemporary art, Asian Art

Research presentation of Shadow Play at Jamaica Flux 2016, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, NY. Photography courtesy of Lily & Honglei

Lily & Honglei, Asian Art, Chinese shadow puppetry, Chinese contemporary art

Research exhibition at Jamaica Flux 2016, JCAL. Photography courtesy of Lily & Honglei

"Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China" is a 2014 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., 
 for its Turbulence.org website. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation.

Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China
by Lily & Honglei

Lily & Honglei, new media art, He Li, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Turblence commission

Screenshot of Shadow Play VR installation. Lily & Honglei © 2014

Lily & Honglei, new media art of China, He Li, Rose Goldsen Archieve of New Media Art, Turblence.org commission

Screenshot of Shadow Play VR installation. Lily & Honglei © 2014

http://turbulence.org/Works/shadowplay/

Over the past few decades China has been urbanizing at an astounding pace. In 2013, the People’s Republic unveiled its plan to relocate 260 million people from China’s countryside to one of 21 “mega regions” by 2020 (cbsnews.com). Such a significant shift will undoubtedly transform China’s national character, which has been predominantly agrarian for millennia. Shadow Play weaves three interfaces, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Physical Reality (PR), and combines the past and present – through time-honored imagery, paint, shadow play, and new media technologies – to immerse participants in the realities of contemporary China.

Lily & Honglei, Turbulence.org, new media art China, Rose Goldsen Archive of new media art, China urbanization

Shadow Play, Chapter I. The Land: Death of the Village Head (AR Screenshot)

Lily & Honglei, new media art, turbulence.org commission of net-art, China urbanization

Shadow Play, Chapter III. The Ruins: Lost Children

Lily & Honglei, He Li, new media art China, Rose Goldsen Archive of new media art

Shadow Play, Chapter IV. The Maze: No Exit (AR Screenshot)

Thanks to the great support from co-directors, Jo-Anne Green and Helen Thorington, Shadow Play also becomes part of Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Division of Rare and Special Collections at Cornell University, NY.

Invited by Dr. Alberto Guevara, the editor-in-chief of inTension journal of York University, virtual reality project Land of Illusion by Lily & Honglei Art Studio (currently with three active members, Xiying Yang, Honglei Li and He Li) will be published in the next issue of this academic journal.

http://www.yorku.ca/intent/issue7/

Lily & Honglei, new media art, Chinese contemporary artist, new media artist from China, new york artist Lily & Honglei

screenshot of ‘Land of Illusion: Monkey King at Heavenly Banquet’ virtual reality art project, by Lily & Honglei Art Studio

Lily & Honglei Art Studio, new media artist from China, He Li, contemporary Chinese art, Chinese new media artist, new york new media artist, new york artist, Lily & Honglei

screenshot of ‘Land of Illusion: Carousel of Sichuan Earthquake,’ virtual reality art project by Lily & Honglei Art Studio

http://www.yorku.ca/intent/cfw.html

Issues of the journal are theme-based, but space is provided in each issue for articles, reviews, and artwork that engage the core interests of InTensions: the theatricality of power, corporealities of structural violence, and sensory regimes.

InTensions is now accepting proposals for guest edited issues. Please contact Alberto Guevara or Elysée Nouvet.

Issue 7 ‘Fun and Games – Playing to the Limit’

Guest Editors:
Dr. David Harris Smith, McMaster University
Dr. Elysée Nouvet, McMaster University

To play is human. Play is a social act of often unclear boundaries. The delineation of playing as a special conditional form of doing or acting in the world relies upon registers of seriousness, authenticity, consequence and import, yet these registers are ultimately ambiguous. Play can materialize and relativize banal affective and social relations. Play can imagine, insist on the possibility of, or suppress, difference. Play may provoke shock or distraction, conceal or reveal intention. Play may be encouraged or denied, rewarded or punished, feared, disdained, addictive, fatal.

What becomes possible as a result of play in specific contexts? What socio-cultural relations are inscribed in the various sites of play? Are there limits to the social power of play, or limits to the social contexts in which playful acts may be asserted? Or is the very delineation of some actions as play itself a limit on imagination and transformation? To what extent do the connotative associations of theatre, sport, or childhood constitute a limit on what is considered play? What is the role of play in science, industry, politics, or war? What associations are can be traced between play and inductive, exploratory, or experimental knowledge generation?

Developmental theories situate play in the process of accommodating to reality, whereby the child first assimilates difficult and incongruous aspects of reality by revisiting them with familiar schema. For Baudrillard, the reproduction of the ‘real’ risks eclipsing its truth-value. These positions inscribe a vast territory populated by varying admixtures of representation and awe. Is play necessarily reactionary if it is absorbed into the normative and normalizing practices of (re)production and consumption (Debord)? When are play and playfulness critical distractions to organized protest? Alternatively, how might simulation and virtual worlds unleash important re-imaginings and re-mappings of the social (Deleuze)?  What are the unique potentialities of play when engaged as formative, preliminary, inconsequential, non-serious, speculative, or exploratory?

In this issue, we invite scholarly/artistic contributions that engage the relations between play, power, and social reproduction. We welcome theoretical explorations, as well as reflections, experiments, reports, or ethnographies on play and playfulness in its lived, historical, and cultural contexts.

View past issues of InTensions:

http://www.yorku.ca/intent/pastissues.html