Lily & Honglei, Creative Capital, media art, Chinese new media artist

Lily & Honglei’s presentation at EMPAC theater, RPI campus in New York, 2015

Representing the art studio, Lily & Honglei presented on-going project “Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China” during a week long gathering of art professionals and Creative Capital grantees in both 2015 and 2013, who have received support from the organization for their projects in four categories: Moving Image, Visual Arts, Emerging Field and Performance Arts.

“We’re deeply moved by these artists’ courageous works that are pushing the boundaries, advocating for social justice, or promoting community wellbeing.” Lily and Honglei stated, “it was a great honor and wonderful opportunity to share our work with a group of exceptional artists. Through our project, we wanted to make a voice for those who cannot.”

Lily & Honglei, Creative Capital, media artist

Creative Capital 2015 presentations at EMPAC Theater, Rensselaer Polytech Institute, NY

A transcript of Lily & Honglei’s presentation:

Our project is called “Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China.” We are building the piece on both deep research and our 30-year life experience in China. The intention of this multimedia project is to visualize the urbanization process that has irreversibly changed the society, culture, and environment of the world’s most populous country.

Visually, the project is inspired by traditional Chinese shadow play, while technologically it’s decidedly forward-looking: first, we are developing digital animations for video installation in physical space; second, virtual reality sets the foundation for another facet of the piece- much of the project could be experienced through an immersive environment in cyperspace that anybody with Internet connection could access in real-time. A third segment of the piece will be developed using augmented reality technology on mobile devices. The three layers combine into a visual account of the complex process of urbanization, highlighting the tragic story of one Chinese rural family. The work is presented in four chapters:

The First Chapter shows the family of the village head leading a peaceful live in the countryside. It presents a landscape with traditional residences built in harmony with the natural environment. This chapter also depicts the violent confrontations between the villagers and a demolition team working for the local government and real estate developers. This type of clashes, often deadly, has become commonplace as a result of large-scale land-grabbing over the past two decades. At the end of this chapter, the village head is brutally crushed to death by the demolition team’s truck.

In Chapter 2, the village is demolished and most parts reduced to rubble. The rural landscape has been drastically transformed. The child of the village head is alone playing outside one night when a stranger in dark suit emerges and gives the child candy. Subsequently, the child is drugged and abducted. This chapter addresses the serious social problem of child abduction. It’s estimated that some 70,000 children are kidnapped in China every year, with many of them sold for adoption. The one-child policy, a fundamental strategy for China’s economic growth, has contributed to this problem.

Lily & Honglei, media art, new media art from china, creative capital award

In Chapter 3, the mother begins her journey looking for the missing child. She arrives the city’s train station along with countless migrant workers who are later struggling with their urban lives. Many of them have to live in the ‘underground city,’ which is an enormous network that comprises of tunnels, basements, even bomb shelters. This complex is located underneath the skyscrapers that they built with their own hands. The imagery of the falling workers is a metaphor for their fate. This specifically reflects on the worker suicide cases at the Foxconn factory, the electronics manufacturer behind popular products like the iPad and the iPhone.

In the last chapter, the mother continues to travel across the country in search of her child. Through her journey she observes the environmental degradation. Water and soil are severely polluted by industrial waste. Both rural and urban areas are shrouded in smog. All of such is caused by the mindless exploitation of the environment for the sake of fast economic growth. Meanwhile, the cultural heritage verges on extinction. Countless historic sites have submerged underwater as a result of gigantic engineering projects. The social environment remains as repressive as ever: the whole system can be compared to a maze without an exit, with people trapped within.

One day, the mother finds herself facing a heartbreaking sight: 5 homeless boys are found dead in a garbage container. They died from carbon monoxide poisoning after attempting to warm themselves by burning charcoal inside. In fact the five kids are among the 60 million Chinese children who left behind in the countryside when their parents set off as migrant workers.

We will also share a few clips of our previous work. Our proposed project “Shadow Play” will be completed around the summer of 2016. we are seeking some opportunities, particularly exhibition venues such as museums, galleries or art festivals. Also, we hope to develop collaborations with our fellow artists. This is our project. Thank you very much!


Visit Creative Capital blog for more info:

Lily & Honglei, Creative Capital 2015

and on Instagram:

 video art by Lily & Honglei, new media art China, new media artist

Butterfly Lovers, still image of video by Lily & Honglei.
Oil on paper. 2009

Video painting is a form of video art presented via projectors, LCD or other flat panel display and wall-mounted in the same manner as traditional paintings. [1]

Ambient video will emerge as a supremely pictorial form – relying on visual impact and the subtle manipulation of image, layer, flow, and transition. It sits in the visual background of our lives – always changing, but never too quickly. It does not conquer, it seduces. It rewards attention, but never commands it. Rather, its aim is to support whatever level of attention the viewer cares to bestow in the moment: a passing glance, a more intentional look, or a longer and deeper immersion within the dynamically changing experience of an ambient video world.” – Jim Bizzocchi (, an artist and Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.


Title: Flow. Chinese ink painting on rice paper. Still image of video ‘Moon,’ by Lily & Honglei. 2012-13

“my philosophy is that collectors should have a screen devoted to art in their home. It’s not about watching television—it’s about screen-based experiences that are art-related. And it comes down to cost and accessibility, right? You can buy a 46-inch screen today for $400, or you can buy a Mac Mini or a comparable PC that can run Quicktime movies, et cetera, for $500. A devoted system works great if you don’t have an enormous home but have several pieces of video art.

“Of course, this is dependent on the artist being okay with that—they may insist on their art being screened on a specific, single-purpose unit. But more often than not when you buy unframed video, as long as you’re playing it to the right specifications, it’s fine. So you, as a collector, can amass a large amount of work in a single location and experience many, many pieces as you wish. You can really have an incredible range of work within that devoted system. And you can frame it in beautiful ways, with wood frames made for the screen so they have more than a presence. Then you can have a central server to hold and maintain the art. There are so many different ways to do it.

“I’m a huge believer in promoting the integration of new media work into collections, especially in homes that have traditional displays. You buy it because you love it, and the fact that it’s active shouldn’t matter. I think the devoted screen in your home is just one avenue that will become more and more common, especially with art collectors. ” – Bitforms Gallery’s Steven Sacks [2]




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

Lily & Honglei’s new animated film The Peony Pavilion, and part of the ongoing project, The Garden Windows: April and May, will be showcased at the Painting Center, fall 2011. Their work is rooted in eastern aesthetic traditions, and conveys deep concerns for humanity in current China’s society.

From Jamaica to ChinaA New Evolution,

curated by Bryan McFarlane

September 6 – October 1, 2011

Opening Reception: September 8th. 2011

The Painting Center

547 West 27th Street, NY 10001

exhibition post card front

Exhibition Postcard Back

An collaborative Augmented Reality project based on our paintings may be included in this show too.

Animated short film ‘The Window – May’:

‘The Window – April’

New animated film inspired by traditional Chinese kunqu Opera, The Peony Pavilion will be premiered as well:

Peony Pavilion from lilyhonglei on Vimeo.

Videorover: Season I – Dec. 17 through May 27

Season I
Curated by Rachel Steinberg
Opening: Friday, December 17, 2010
7-9 PM
Press Preview 6 PM
910 Grand Street, Brooklyn NY 11211

NURTUREart is pleased to present its first ever video exhibition in the new project space: Videorover: Season I curated by Rachel Steinberg, featuring artists: Johannes DeYoung, Andy Cahill, Giana Marie Gambino, Hong-An Truong, Naomi Safran-Hon, Scott Kiernan, Victor Faccinto, Allen Calpe, Brittany Prater, Justin Mata, Yeon Jin Kim, and Lily & Honglei.
Season I of Videorover presents a group of artists who, despite the diversity of their work, are all concerned with the reality disconnect that is specific to four-dimensional media. These artists have each created an alternate dimension where life is filtered through a sieve of creative unconscious and realities are discarded and re-imagined. The videos are an amalgamation of the uncanny, the political and the everyday, presented to us in a variety of animation and editing styles. We see the world through a new set of eyes, a digital dream-scape of rewired sensibilities.

In the past decade, as equipment has become more available and youtube has given fame to any ordinary citizen of the Internet, the world of video has swelled exponentially. It has become an expanding universe where time and space are acknowledged as one entity. Throughout the advances in technology and sophistication of the medium, the compulsion has remained to record and recondition the everyday experience. To encourage and support up-and-coming artists working in this format, NURTUREart is launching a space dedicated solely to showcasing emerging video artists. This selection of videos will run continuously in the space adjacent to the main gallery through the rest of the 2010-2011 exhibition series.

Videorover is made possible by the generosity of the Liebovitz Foundation.

NURTUREart Non-Profit, Inc. is a 501(c)3 registered charitable organization founded in 1997 by George J. Robinson. NURTUREart is committed to nurturing emerging artists and curators through exposure, enrichment and opportunity. It is funded in part by the Leibovitz Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and all the generous supporters of our Annual Benefit. We appreciate their support.

Copyright (C) 2010 NURTUREart Non-Profit, Inc. All rights reserved.

Out new book ‘Fine Arts Film – Social Reflection in Multimedia Art’ is now available on – both paper back and Kindle edition:

Fine Art Film by Lily & Honglei

Honglei and Lily (Honglei Li, Xiying Yang) are two contemporary artists of our generation who represent the future direction of multimedia and mixed-realities arts for our time. Their first-hand experiences in Beijing for the greater part of their youthful years and later in New York City are inestimable, and bring a new vision to any society and institution which they engage. Lily & Honglei draw their generation¿s unique artistic expression informed by powerful eyewitness experiences resulting from ‘Tiananmen Incident’ to ‘September 11,’ a generation whose psyches are indelibly trapped in a struggle to make sense of a fractured world and a future, which will guarantee independent thinking. Lily & Honglei attempt to carve their personal path and journey for freedom of artistic and intellectual expressions. Their work asserts aspects of western fantasies that are revealed as ¿vacuous¿ when tested and that there is greater need than ever before for truthful understandings from both East and West as they enter into a newly profound global relationship.

– Bryan McFarlane

Printed Version:

Kindle Version:

CologneOFF V online video festival was officially Launched on 11/13/09.

Thanks to the project director, Wilfried Agricola de Cologne’s tremendous efforts, the online video environment looks exceptionally beautiful and accessible. Our project “Forbidden City” has been included in the International Program 2 –



Press Release

Today, on 13 November 2009, VideoChannel Cologne is happy to launch

CologneOFF V  – Taboo! Taboo?
5th Cologne Online Film Festival 2009

online starting together with its 2009 festival partners
MICROWAVE – New Media Arts Festival 2009 Hong Kong
13 Nov – 11 Dec 2009
FONLAD – Digital Art Festival Guarda/Portugal
14 November 2009 – 03 January 2009

Earlier this year, Microwave Hong Kong invited VideoChannel to prepare two
shows of video art for the 2009 festival, resulting two outstanding screening programs as a networked action
“Memory & Identity”  – a show which was in September 2009 featured on VideoChannel
contributed by VisualContainer Milan  and curated by Giorgio Fideli
celebrating the partnership between VideoChannel and Visual Container –
public screenings between 14 November until 24 November 2009 at I/O (Input/Output) Hong Komg
“Body and Soul – 15:15:15”  – a thematic presentation  – one of the very rare physical manifestations of
Agricola de Cologne (the encoded artist, chief curator of VideoChannel and director of CologneOFF)
and an original way to launch CologneOFF V in physical space
on 22 November 2009 at Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre Lecture Hall –
which was made possible through the generous support by Goethe Institute Hong Kong

For more info, please download the PDF –

The second partner of VideoChannel in 2009 is FONLAD – Digital Art Festival Guarda/Portugal
representing the framework for the 2nd  physical CologneOFF V manifestation
in the two days screenings on 24 amd 25 November 2009.

Read more about the festival partners on netMAXX – networked magazine

In December 2009, another CologneOFF manifestation is scheduled in Bristol/UK
and in February 2010 in India.

About Cologne OFF V

Founded in 2006 by VideoChannel in the framework of [NewArtMedia ProjectNetwork]:||cologne,
the experimental platform for art and new media,
CologneOFF is realising in 2009 its 5th festival edition under the topic of “Taboo”.

According to (wikipedia) “A taboo is a strong social prohibition or ban against words, objects, actions, or discussions considered undesirable or offensive to a group, culture, society, or community. Breaking a taboo, considered objectionable, abhorrent or unacceptable by the majority in a community by in engaging in activities or not adhering to local customs usually leads to severe penalties applied by rule of law. Other common reactions by persons breaking taboos result in embarrassment, shame and are commonly  considered by others as a sign of rudeness.”
In our Western socities “the taboo” changed its meaning profoundly and does actually not exist anymore as a dogma and an instrument of social and moral ruling, but it is replaced by a kind of individual “taboo” practiced by groups of mind-likes.  In this way, people can be confronted with different types of “taboos” depending on the needs of certain social groups.  The selected videos refer to this invidualization and take the artistic consequences in most different ways, whereby the digital technology  offers many solutions to the artists and the viewer. It is this variety, which makes the festival program so exciting and vivid. It  is up to the viewer to search and find his personal definition(s).

CologneOFF V consists of 5 program sections including
–>  50 shortfilms and videos in 3 international programs
–> a feature of 14 German art films/videos and
–> a selection of 14  One Minute Films made by the guest curator Ali Zaidi (London)
and contributed by MOTIROTI London

For more info about the festival and its films, please download the festival catalogue as PDF

CologneOFF V can be accessed via the festival site on
or directly via –


On occasion of  the CologneOFF V launch,
VideoChannel is releasing online “Feature II” of German Video Art
Including viideos by the German artists/directors participating in CologneOFF V.

After Feature I, presenting the outstanding Cologne based video artist Johanna Reich,
Feature II is offering the diversity of digital video of 15 artist/directors.
Feature III, the next following focus on German video art is planned to be released in
January 2010.

VideoChannel – video project environments

CologneOFF – Cologne Online Film Festival

MICROWAVE  – New Media Arts Festival Hong Kong

FONLAD – Digital Art Festival
media partner:
netMAXX – networked experience
Thanks to
Goethe Institute Hong Kong
FONLAD Coimbra/Portugal
Motiroti London/UK
VisualContainer Milan/Italy
powered by [NewMediaArtProjectNetwork]:||cologne
the experimental platform for art and new media from Cologne/Germany