Lily & Honglei Art Studio’s augmented reality artworks “Crystal Coffin” and “Dragon’s Pearl” on view at at both Longlake Festival & LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura, Switzerland, Opening June 24, 2016.

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Lily & Honglei: Crystal Coffin-Virtual China Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennial


by SIMONA LODI, Art Director Share Festival , Curator, Art Critic


The text analyzes the work of artists who use augmentation, information and immersion in specifc contexts—public orprivate spaces. Te aim of the analysis is to understand socio-cultural transformations in the felds of art and technologyin social space and what new forms of aggregation and participation have developed, providing an opportunity to refecton new concepts of democracy that are emerging in our global media age. Te question underlying the study is how doartists who use augmentation, information and immersion give new meaning to the concept of public space, changingthe proprietary boundaries of that space and concept of what it is to perceive reality.

Manifest.AR members John Craig Freeman and Sander Veenhof, with Simona Lodi from the Invisible Pavilion, at Venice Biennial 2011 Opening

Manifest.AR members John Craig Freeman and Sander Veenhof, with Simona Lodi from the Invisible Pavilion, at Venice Biennial 2011 Opening

Working on the Invisible Pavilion project for the 54th Venice Biennale, it so happened that we came across another group of artists working on much the same issue, so we decided to cooperate with them and launch ajoint attack on the Biennale from diferent fronts and perspectives. In June 2011, the cutting-edgeinternational cyberartist group Manifest.AR¹¹ issued a statement to the general public and to the presidentand director of the 54th Venice Biennale informing them that they had created additional pavilions in theGiardini concourse, built in the new medium of augmented reality, and that some of the works had leakedout into the public space of Saint Mark’s Square. Te artists Mark Skwarek, Sander Veenhof, Tamiko Tiel,Will Peppenheimer, John Craig Freeman, Lily and Hong Lei, Naoko Tosa and John Cleater all took partdirectly in the project.

Tamiko Thiel, with Simona Lodi and Gionatan Quintini from the Invisible Pavilion

Tamiko Thiel, with Simona Lodi and Gionatan Quintini from the Invisible Pavilion

As Tamiko Tiel explains:

“Augmented reality has redefned the meaning of ‘public space.’ As corporations privatize many public spaces and governments put the rest under surveillance, augmented reality artists take over the invisible but actual realm that overlays real space with multiple parallel universes. Augmented reality actualizes the metaverse in the real universe, merging the digital and the real into a single, common space. Augmented reality can conquer space but it is not indifferent to space. With my artworks you must negotiate real space in order to view the works. They are usually not single images or objects, but installations that surround you. In order to look at them you must move your body in space, looking up, down and twisting around.12” In Shades of Absence: Outside Inside, Tamiko Tiel inserted into the closed curatorial space of the Giardini concourse in Venice the silhouetted fgures of artists who have been threatened with arrest or physical violence. Regardless of whether they are outsiders or insiders to the Art System, known internationally or only within small circles, their work has excluded these artists from the safety of protected space.

More info:

Read the entire article here.

Commissioned by New Radio and Performing Arts Inc., new media art project Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China is complete in May 2014 and soon to be launched via

Designed and produced by Lily & Honglei Art Studio, a New York-based collective with three artists, Xiying Yang, Honglei Li and He Li, ‘Urbanization of China’ is a multimedia project comprised several phases. Following the first phase ‘Shadow Play,’ more work will be unveiled over next 2-3 years period, with funding from varied channels.

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Commissioned by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.

Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China

Over the past few decades, China has been undergoing urbanization at an astounding pace. In 2013, the newly inaugurated national leadership raised the process to a new gear when it unveiled its plan of converting 70 percent of the population to a city-oriented lifestyle by 2025. Such a significant change would undoubtedly transform the character of a country that has been largely agrarian throughout its millennia of history. One may wonder how, and to what extent, the landscape, culture, and daily being of the nation’s people may be altered. As artists, we are compelled to explore and reflect upon the various phases of this historic undertaking. Through fieldwork in China, we collect the ingredients necessary for a multimedia production that combines traditional artistic expressions with emerging technologies. The project make use of innovative means of expression such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) to visualize the metamorphosis that results from the urbanization process. With an outlook to the future through digital technologies, a retrospective into the past through time-honored imagery, and a reflection of the present through immersion in the realities of the modern China, we seek to present the unfolding of a monumental development to the conscience of a worldwide audience.  (2014 © Lily & Honglei Art Studio)


visualization of “Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China”
© 2014 Lily & Honglei Art Studio

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

Click to access ISEA2011Uncontainable-Manifest.AR_.pdf

by Senior editor & artistic director Lanfranco Aceti, editor & curator Özden Şahin, associate editor Andrea Ackerman

Uncontainable – ISEA2011 Istanbul: Some Thoughts After The Fact

When talking about ISEA2011 Istanbul one of the things I believe will remain as a legacy of the symposium is its magnitude. ISEA2011 was the most attended to date with almost 1500 attendees, the last count we had was of 1489, and it had over 100 artists – the ones we could account for – who participated and engaged with the city in multiple ways, authorized and non.

Manifest.AR is an international artists group working with emergent forms of mobile augmented reality as interventionist public art, using this new art medium to transform public space and challenge institutional structures. Geolocating 3D computer graphic artworks at selected sites, they respond to and overlay the physical locations with new meanings, pushing the boundaries between the real and the virtual.

Collectively and individually, Manifest.AR members exhibit and intervene around the world. After their pathbreaking intervention at MoMA NY in 2010 they set their sights on the Venice Biennial, creating the artworks that are mirrored in the Kasa Gallery exhibition „Not There“ during the ISEA Istanbul Festival. Participating artists are: Tamiko Thiel, John Craig Freeman, Lily and Honglei, Will Pappenheimer, Naoko Tosa, Mark Skwarek, Sander Veenhof, John Cleater.

Title: Moon

Artists: Lily & Honglei Art Studio (Xiying Yang, Honglei Li, He Li)

Year of production: 2015

Duration: 8’00”

Medium: Chinese ink painting on rice paper, video

A video excerpt is viewable at

Moon (synopsis)

In the video Moon, the lunar phases are looked upon through a poetic lens. In Far Eastern culture, such phases symbolize the elusiveness of fate as well as both the separation and reunion of loved ones. By setting original ink painting works in motion, Moon presents a natural phenomenon in a manner that unveils an introspective human world – an approach is profoundly inspired by traditional Chinese poetry and art. A reflection upon humanity, conflict, loss, and hope is drawn through space and time as a dreamscape of inner emotions merged with the natural world. The film is comprised of a series of Chinese ink paintings on rice paper and could be projected on a variety of different surfaces such as a solid wall or a still pond of water. Both indoors and outdoors environments are fit within the scale of this project. (2016 © Lily & Honglei Art Studio. All rights reserved. )

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Moon still 1, Chinese ink painting on rice paper, 24x36in. by Lily & Honglei. 2012


A Flowery Moonlit Night on a Spring River (by Zhang Ruoxu, Tang Dynasty in China)

(Translation source:

‘In spring the river rises as high as the sea,
And with the river’s rise the moon up-rises bright.
She follows the rolling waves for ten thousand li,
And where the river flows, there overflows her light.

‘The river winds around the fragrant islet where
The blooming flowers in her light all look like snow.
You cannot tell her beams from hoar frost in the air,
Nor from white sand upon Farewell Beach below.

‘No dust has stained the water blending with the skies;
A lonely wheel-like moon shines brilliant far and wide.
Who by the riverside first saw the moon arise?
When did the moon first see a man by riverside?

new media art, video art, ink painting by Lily & Honglei, Lily & Honglei Art Studio, He Li, new media art in China, Chinese new media artist, Lily & Honglei Art Studio, contemporary art, He Li

Moon still 2, Chinese ink painting on rice paper, 24x36in, by Lily & Honglei, 2012.

‘Ah, generations have come and past away;
From year to year the moon looks alike, old and new.
We do not know tonight for whom she sheds her ray,
But hear the river say to its water adieu

‘Away, away is sailing a single cloud white;
On Farewell Beach pine away maples green.
Where is the wanderer sailing his boat tonight?
Who, pining away, on the moonlit rails would learn?

‘Alas! The moon is lingering over the tower;
It should have seen the dressing table of the fair.
She rolls the curtain up and light comes in her bower;
She washes but can’t wash away the moonbeams there.

Lily & Honglei Art Studio, Chinese new media artist, new media artist New York, He Li, contemporary Chinese art

Still of “Moon,” Chinese ink painting on rice paper, video. Lily & Honglei Art Studio. 2012-13

He Li, contemporary art, Chinese new media artist, video art, Lily & Honglei art studio

‘She sees the moon, but her beloved is out of sight;
She’d follow it to shine on her beloved one’s face.
But message-bearing swans can’t fly out of moonlight,
Nor can letter-sending fish leap out of their place.

Last night he dreamed that falling flowers would not stay.
Alas! He can’t go home, although half spring has gone.
The running water bearing spring will pass away;
The moon declining over the pool will sink anon

The moon declining sinks into a heavy mist;
It’s a long way between southern rivers and eastern seas.
How many can go home by moonlight who are missed?
The sinking moon sheds yearning o’er riverside trees.’

Lily & Honglei Art Studio, new media art in China, contemporart Chinese artist, new media artist, He Li, video art

Lily & Honglei, Chinese contemporary artist, new media art in China, He Li, new media art new york, video art

Still of “Moon,” Chinese ink painting on rice paper, video. Lily & Honglei Art Studio. 2012-13




Since the years spent separately in Germany and China in the ’90s, we have been pondering on producing a contemporary piece based on Chinese poetry and ink painting traditions. Although many compositions were sketched around this idea, the complete piece had not been fully planned out until a discussion occurred in 2012 with curator Heng-Gil Han, who was then proposing a series of international exhibitions focusing on unification of Korea with his ambitious curatorial concept.  Fitting the exhibition theme, video piece ‘Moon,’ inspired by Chinese shanshu (mountain-and-river) paintings and poems such as A Flowery Moonlit Night on a Spring River by Zhang Ruoxu, and Shui diao ge touMoon by Su Dongpo, was finally materialized.

Oakland Gardens & Alley Pond in New York, where we stroll on  hilly forest paths discussing ‘Moon’-

Lily & Honglei Art Studio, He Li, video art

our daily walking route by Oakland Lake, where we discuss new work…



Lily & Honglei Art Studio

Alley Pond, outside the art studio in New York


Moon is commissioned by Korean Art Forum and will be presented at Common Ground exhibition in UK in 2014, curated by Heng-Gil Han.


Colour Out of Space is one of the UK’s leading festivals of international, experimental music and sound, and returns to Brighton for a sixth year with a huge, extended ten day programme of performances, events and screenings. The three day festival core will take place at The Old Market and feature over thirty performances from some of the most visionary sound artists  from around the world. Artists include Ilan Volkov, Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro), Azuma Reiko, Angela Sawyer, Dinosaurs With Horns, Maya Dunietz, Alessandro Bosetti, Joachim Nordwall, Luke Fowler and many more.

The COOS film programm explores the crossover of experimental sound into moving image – from the direct colour fields and sonic loops of Bruce McClure to the early sound as image experiments of Steina Vasulka, from the handpainted super 8mm’s and homebuilt electronics of Ian Helliwell to the dimestore psychodramas of George Kuchar.

Further details at

Open Colour / New Experiments in Film
Sallis Benney Theatre
Sunday 10th November / Midday – 2pm



by Lily & Honglei

Utilizing animation and traditional oil painting, Tripitaka is a silent short film (4-minute 27-second) reflecting on individual’s journey seeking enlightenment, as well as the issue of religious freedom in contemporary China.

Inspired by Chinese classic Journey to the West, a fictionalized account of the legendary pilgrimage of Buddhist monk Tripitaka and his three disciples-the Monkey King, Pigsy and Sandy-traveling to India to obtain sacred texts, the work metaphorically depicts ordeals of individuals journeying towards enlightenment. As Han Chinese themselves, artists Lily and Honglei deeply concern the religious repressions and ethnic hostility experienced by Tibetan people on a day-to-day basis; Tripitaka is created as a result. Meanwhile, the storyline of Tripitaka is intentionally designed to resonate biblical tales, insinuating the universality of religions.






Video stills of Tripitaka

For more details, please visit


Curated by DAW International

Exhibition Opening: Wednesday 8th May, 17:00

Exhibition Dates: 8th May to 19th May, 10:00 – 22:00


The project “Window Zoos & Views” was inspired by an image of a car driving down Singapore’s legendary Orchard Road. The windshield of the car was plastered with stickers of popular cartoon characters. By driving down the street, the car mixes the cartoon characters with the actual world and the cartoon characters augment the real world environment. The interior of the car was transformed by the stickers into a kind of a virtual space in which the passengers inside were able to exceed the bounds of physical reality.In keeping with the idea of the car and the experience it provides those inside it, a concept was developed to transform Orchard Road into a virtual exhibition space for pedestrians by creating an responsive smart phone application and overlaying the entire road with geo-tagged media common to game technologies and augmented reality systems. Like the car’s windshield, pedestrian’s mobile device screens become windows onto the virtual world that is emerging around us, expanding our notion of what constitutes public space and how art can be exhibited. Whether traveling by vehicle or by foot, artworks will augment the “stop and go” journey down the road adding to the hustle and bustle of the people and the glare and flash of window displays and neon signs. Utilizing this type of technology in an art context is a new proposition that explores all that we know and experience as the mix of the real and the hyper-real, calling into question the border between art and life itself.

Artists & Researcher
John Craig Freeman (USA)
Tamiko Thiel (USA/DEU)
Lily & Honglei (CHN)
Lalie S. Pascual(CHE)
Will Pappenheimer

List of Artworks → more

Participating Institutes
School of Digital Media and Infocomm Techology (SP) → more

Orchard Road, Clark Quay and other locations → more info

More info at

Artwork can be viewed on Yahoo! News Singapore here

Lily & Honglei’s video series ‘Fourth Cry of the Monkey’ will be included in ‘Locating the Sacred’ Festival curated by Asian American Art Alliance. New York Art Residency and Studio (NARS) Foundation Gallery will host the exhibition in September 2012.

Fourth Cry of the Monkey

Medium: Digital Animation, Oil painting, and Soundtrack
Duration: 24-minute
Year of Completion: 2008 – 2011

Artist Statement

Fourth Cry of the Monkey, originally, is the title of a Chinese opera written in the 16th century, meaning ‘grief and sorrow beyond expression.’ Its narrative structure and symbolic approach inspire Lily & Honglei to produce this animated film with four chapters reassembling popular Chinese folk tales about ordinary people’s spiritual journeys.

Still image of animated film ‘The Fourth Cry of the Monkey’

Chapter I. Three Gorges (三峡), reflects the world’s largest hydropower project, Three Gorges Dams’ social, cultural and environmental impacts. In the film, chilling cries of a monkey echo above mountain and river, as if bewailing the destiny of the soon-to-be submerged landscape. On a cliff, the naked ‘mad drummer,’ famous confucian scholar Mi Heng, is cursing those in power with drumming sound. In the last scene, Lady White Snake watches a town collapsing in the earthquake, and leaves. This chapter addresses loss of physical and spiritual homeland.

Still image of animated film ‘Butterfly Lovers’

Chapter II. Butterfly Lovers (梁祝), reinterprets one of the most popular love stories of China. Set in a contemporary setting, the lovers, dressed in traditional Chinese opera costume, roam Manhattan at night. The two protagonists repeat scenarios from the original story such as “Seeing off for Eighteen Miles” and “Meeting at the Balcony.” With dreamlike dislocation, the film depicts the characters’ isolation and vulnerability in their spiritual exile.

Still image of animated film ‘Peony Pavilion’

Chapter III. Peony Pavilion(牡丹亭), is inspired by a popular traditional Chinese opera visualizing the revival of soul. ‘The young maiden in the story, Du Liniang, falls in love with a scholar whom she’s only met once in a dream and dies longing for him. The scholar, Liu Mengmei, happens to be a real person and through sheer accident ends up staying in her town. Discovering Du’s self-portrait, Liu immediately admires her beauty. Eventually, Liu meets Du’s ghost, disinters her body, and she comes back to live,’ J. Lau summarizes the plot in ‘A Chinese Love Story from Beyond the Grave.’ In the animation, Lily & Honglei are interested in presenting the contrast between ancient spirit of the characters and the materialistic environment of the contemporary world. The soundtrack includes famous verses from the original play:
‘Where is the pleasant day and pretty night? Who can enjoy contentment and delight?’
‘As innocent as flowers, unaware of the time sweeping past like a river.’

Still image of animated film ‘Peacock Flies Southeast’

Chapter IV. Southeast Fly the Peacocks (孔雀东南飞), is the final chapter inspired by one of the most beloved Chinese traditional poems, that depicts a tragedy of a couple committing suicides for love and dignity against the power. Our reinterpretation intertwines imagery of the ancient story and 1989 Tiananmen Student Protest, highlighting everyday people’s spiritual struggles and persistence. The soundtrack is a popular children song in Communist China, with lyric glorifying the party’s leadership and praising it has brought Chinese people happy life, in strong contrast with the visual component.

Overall, the animated film unfolds ancient stories in a contemporary setting, and is intended to reveal everlasting meaning of beautiful Chinese folk tale.


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The Festival | 12-23 September 2012

“Locating the Sacred” is a twelve-day, twenty-event festival coordinated by the Asian American Arts Alliance (a4) that brings together artists and spaces in New York for creative explorations of the “sacred.” The festival showcases the diversity and talent of the Asian American community, which now constitutes more than 1 million people in New York (13 percent of the population) and is the most rapidly growing cultural group in the city. The artists will connect with space hosts—from museums to schools to churches—to create events together. The result of these collaborations will be presented for all New Yorkers to experience. The festival aims to promote artists as agents of change, demonstrating the power of art and culture to unleash imagination, break down barriers, and connect communities together for the greater good. At a time of great turmoil in the world—economic, political, and cultural—the festival provides opportunities to explore what remains sacred in our lives during turbulent times, how we might draw inspiration from each other, and how we can imagine moving forward as a society.

The model of the festival is simple. a4 will produce three pillar events: an opening, a closing, and a panel discussion series. For the other festival events, a4 will act as an umbrella, matching artists with space hosts in an attempt to generate creative collaborations across ethnic, religious, geographic and aesthetic boundaries. These events will benefit from the festivalʼs “stamp”, from underwriting for artist fees of up to $2,000 depending on the scope of the project, and from the exposure from the festival’s citywide PR and marketing campaign. The festival becomes the showcase of more than a dozen collaborations across the city, which we hope will continue long after the festival is over.

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