Milky Way is a single-channel video produced by Lily & Honglei Art Studio from 2009 to 2010, now on view at Zhulong Gallery, Dallas. Following is a description of the work:

Milky Way

Artists: Honglei Li, Xiying Yang, He Li
Medium: Oil on Paper, video
Film Duration: 4’20”
Completion Year: 2009-2010

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Still image of ‘Milky Way,’ by Lily & Honglei Art Studio. On view at Zhulong Gallery, Dallas

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Still image of Milky Way, by Lily & Honglei Art Studio.

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Still image of Milky Way, by Lily & Honglei Art Studio.

An ancient folklore has become reality in present-day China.

The tale of the Weaving Maiden and the Buffalo Herder is known to practically every segment of the Chinese population. The narrative, which roots could be traced back thousands of years, revolves around a romance between the two namesake characters. The Weaving Maiden, a deity of the traditional Chinese pantheon, comes down to Earth and falls in love with the poor mortal Buffalo Herder. They marry in secret, transgressing against the boundary set between the human and the divine. When this serious offence is discovered by the Maiden’s mother, the chief goddess of Chinese folk religion, tragedy becomes inevitable. The mother calls her daughter back to the celestial realms, intending to undo the forbidden relationship. The Buffalo Herder, though, does not relinquish his love with such ease; he tries to reunite his family by sneaking into heaven with his two children. The plan is nonetheless foiled when the mother goddess draws a line in the sky, dividing the husband and the wife. The line becomes a river as deep waters gushes in and pushes through the heavenly nether.

Their love, though, finds a glimpse of respite when the mother decrees that they may reunite for one night each year. Only on the seventh night of the seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar were the mythical lovers allowed to seek each other’s company. Such a tragedy is crystallized in the saga of Chinese astrology: the constellation Altair represents the Buffalo Herder while Vega is likened to the weaving maiden. The Milky Way is the celestial river which separates them.

As fancifully heartbreaking as the story is, it is undoubtedly more tragic that the tale has become reality for rural families in contemporary China. The traditional lifestyle of the agrarian population has been destroyed by the economic development that has been taking place over the past few decades. In order to fulfill their basic needs of living, hundreds of millions of rural people have poured into cities as migrant workers. True to the folklore, families have been separated and have no means of reuniting except for a day or two each year during the traditional Spring Festival. Such separation has not only brought dread to families, but also the collapse of cultural morality that roots in the relationship between land and people.

The animated film Milky Way reimagines the story of the Weaving Maiden and Buffalo Herder to reflect the social reality of present-day China. Settings include the urban landscape of Shanghai, the fireworks ceremony at the Beijing Olympics Stadium, and the ruinous aftermath of the Sichuan Earthquake that was concurrent with the 2008 Olympic Games.

The short film Milky Way is composed of a series of original oil-paintings created by Lily & Honglei from 2009 to 2010.

©2008-2014 LILY & HONGLEI ART STUDIO. All Rights Reserved.


[Photograph below courtesy of Zhulong Gallery]

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Milky Way, video by Lily & Honglei. Zhulong Gallery. 2014

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Lily & Honglei’s video piece Milky Way at Satellite new media art exhibition, Zhulong Gallery. 2014

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Lily & Honglei’s video piece Milky Way, Zhulong gallery. 2014

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Painting of Milky Way, at Satellite new media art exhibition, Zhulong Gallery. 2014

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Milky Way, oil on paper, Zhulong Gallery

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Preview Reception of ‘Satellite’ inaugural exhibition presenting new media art. Zhulong Gallery, 2014.

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State-of-the-art facilities, Zhulong new media art gallery. 2014

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Preview night: new media art exhibition ‘Satellite’ at Zhulong Gallery.

Curator: Aja Martin

Curatorial Statement

Satellite, the inaugural exhibition at Zhulong Gallery, features New Media works by 11 contemporary artists. Satellite frames the primary focus of our technologically-driven gallery as a hub for receiving and transmitting art and ideas. Projecting information through time and space, the selections presented in Satellite indicate future solo exhibitions at Zhulong Gallery. The works and the exhibition interpret and respond to data, culture, travel and time. Some works present subject matter relating to the exploration of outer space, and others hint at the satellite and its functions in an abstract, yet tangible manner. Of course, many of the works help raise the inevitable question, “Whose technology is it?”

Artists Include:

Lily & Honglei, Art in America, Zhulong Gallery, new media art in China, Chinese new media artist

Satellite exhibition at Zhulong Gallery, Art in America, April issue 2014

For more info, visit

Also view the Preview Reception here

Concept & Visual Design: Lily & Honglei

3D modeling & Augmented Reality: John Craig Freeman

Collaborating with John Craig Freeman, Lily & Honglei’s new project Chinese Take Out will be premiered during ZERO1 Biennial Seeking Silicon Valley, in San Francisco CA, along with another AR work From Lewisburg, PA to Silicon Valley. 

With locations at the Presidio overlook of the Golden Gate; the Powell Street cable car turntable at Market Street; the Gates of San Francisco’s Chinatown at Bush Street and Grand Avenue; and the Caltrain Diridon Station in San Jose, “Chinese Take Out,” visualizes the gruesome reality that the Chinese government has been systematically harvesting organs from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners for profit.

“Chinese Take Out”, augmented reality public art, Presidio overlook, Golden Gate, San Francisco, 2012.

This inhuman practice was exposed in 2007 by David Matas and David Kilgour’s investigative report Bloody Harvest. However, this topic remains taboo among Chinese intellectuals, who fear persecution by the Party. While the country recently set new regulations prioritizing organ transplantation operation for domestic patients, foreign demand has driven the market initially and continuously. We therefore intent to arouse greater awareness within international community by visualizing the issue with art.

Chinese Take Out”, augmented reality public art, Powell Street Cable Car Turntable at Market Street, San Francisco, 2012.

Chinese Take Out”, augmented reality public art, Gates of San Francisco’s Chinatown at Bush Street and Grand Avenue, San Francisco, 2012

Chinese Take Out from lilyhonglei on Vimeo.

“Home”: New animated film as finalist at Terna 03 Prize for Contemporary Art
In China, recently, demolishing residential areas and relocating millions of people become everyday practices for economic development that lead to countless family tragedies. Depicting our personal experiences, Home, the short animated film composed with traditional Chinese cut-paper images, indicates the situation that both people’s property and feelings have been trampled as a result of the social transformation inducing bottomless desire for profit.
– Lily & Honglei, 2010
Terna03 Newsletter

Newsletter Premio Terna 03 n.11 – La rosa dei finalisti

Ecco i 90 finalisti della terza edizione del Premio Terna per l’Arte Contemporanea

È iniziato il count-down per i 90 artisti scelti che concorrono all’assegnazione del montepremi di circa 180mila euro a fine ottobre. In palio, oltre ai premi acquisto, tre artist residency in Italia e a Pechino. Tutte le opere finaliste saranno pubblicate nel catalogo del Premio, mentre solamente le 13 opere vincitrici saranno esposte in mostra al fianco degli artisti di fama che hanno condiviso e sostenuto il progetto.

Nella categoria Terawatt, ad invito, riservata agli artisti di fama, hanno partecipato: Carla Accardi, Mario Airò, Getulio Alviani, Stefano Arienti, Massimo Bartolini, Carlo Benvenuto, Maurizio Cannavacciuolo, Gianni Caravaggio, Fabrizio Corneli, Vittorio Corsini, Daniela De Lorenzo, Bruna Esposito, Carlo Guaita, Maria Lai, Sabrina Mezzaqui, Maurizio Mochetti, Liliana Moro, Hidetoshi Nagasawa, Maurizio Nannucci, Sara Rossi, Luigi Serafini, Ettore Spalletti, Gianluigi Toccafondo.

LA ROSA DEI FINALISTI :30 per ciascuna categoria

Categoria Connectivity Shanghai e Pechino: Ma Aizhou, Wu Chen, Ren HANG, Li Ji, Zheng Jing, He Junyi, Cai Longfei, Zhang Lu, Gang Ma, Han Ning, Zhenzhong Peng, Yao Peng, Zhang Qing, Yi Shan, Bo Wang, Cai Weidong, Zhou Xiongbo, Suo Xiu, Pang Xuan, Shen Yang, Xiying Honglei Yang Li, Liu Ye, Shen Yi, Liang Yin, Jia Youguang, Li Zan, Shan Zeng, Zhang Zhanlong, Chen Zhijie, Huang Zi Yi.

Categoria Megawatt, over 35: Elena Arzuffi, Roberto Baldazzini, Stefano Cagol, Silvia Camporesi, David Casini, Francesco Cervelli, Eleonora Chiari, Cristian Chironi, Sarah Ciracì, Mario Cresci, Massimo Cristaldi, Anna de Manincor, Ettore Favini, Diamante Faraldo, Nicoletta Freti, Sylvio Giardina, Deborah Ligorio, Marianna Masciolini, Paola Meoni, Giancarlo Norese, Svetlana Ostapovici, Luca Padroni, Elena Panarella Vimercati Sanseverino, Giuliana Pastori, Vincenzo Pennacchi, Luca Piovaccari, Riccardo Previdi, Ciriaca Ruggieri, Davide Tranchina, Enzo Umbaca.

Categoria Gigawatt, under 35: Elisabetta Alazraki, Silvia Argiolas, Davide Balliano, Orazio Battaglia, Gabriele Bonato, Alessandro Cannistrà, Daniela d’Arielli, Roberto de Paolis, Giluio Delvè, Marco Fedele di Catrano, Ilaria Ferretti, Luigi Galasso, Giuseppe Gonella, Svitlana Grebenyuk, Francesca Grilli, Vincenzo Grosso, Luca Lanzi, Francesco Levi, Franco Monari, Ilaria Morganti, Andrea Nacciariti, Caterina Nelli, Alessandra Odoni, Giuseppe Pietroniro, Gianni Politi, Giacomo Porfiri (Alterazioni Video), Andrea Sala, Alessandro Scarabello, Marinella Senatore, Elisabetta Tagliabue.

Il tema di questa terza edizione del Premio  –  ” + 150 Visione: Origine e Potere. Energia attraverso le Generazioni ” – ha celebrato la forza della visione, dell’intuizione, del pensiero creativo e costruttivo. La trasmissione di energia intesa come forza che attraversa le generazioni e la storia. E proprio dalla storia, Terna ha scelto un esempio di visione, quella dei nostri padri, di una generazione di italiani, quella del 1861 che ha intuito, originato e dato energia all’Unità d’Italia, il cui centocinquantesimo anniversario ricorrerà nel 2011.

I vincitori, 3 per ciascuna categoria, uno per i Terawatt, 2 per il premio speciale assegnato dal Comitato dei Musei, saranno annunciati alla fine di ottobre. A questi si aggiunge il vincitore del “Premio Online”, il più votato su tra il 12 e il 19 ottobre. Il primo premio della categoria Terawatt (100mila euro) sarà in parte devoluto all’iniziativa “Più energia al Museo” come contributo alla realizzazione di un progetto di valorizzazione museale in accordo con  AMACI, l’Associazione Musei Arte Contemporanea Italiani.

Vota il Premio Online 2010, fai vincere l’artista più amato dalla community

Fatti guidare dal tuo gusto o dalla trifase che traccia la popolarità di ogni artista sul sito e vota il tuo preferito attraverso la grande vetrina di Hai tempo fino al 19 ottobre, entro le ore 18.00, per decretare uno dei vincitori del PT03

Image name

Hai tempo fino al 19 ottobre, entro le ore 18.00, per decretare il Premio Online 2010. Il voto on the web è espressione della giuria popolare, della community online ma anche cartina di tornasole del gusto, partecipazione e sensibilità di un campione significativo. Potenzialmente,  infatti, tutte  le opere partecipanti al Premio hanno a disposizione una vasta audience a cui sottoporre la propria opera. Una platea di ben 10 mila iscritti alla newsletter, per non parlare dei visitatori occasionali e dei fan del PT attivi sui social network. La rete è, infatti, ancora uno dei grandi protagonisti del PT03 come testimoniano le oltre 85.000 voci già presenti in rete sui motori di ricerca come Google.

Fatti guidare dal tuo estro o più semplicemente dall’onda che traccia la popolarità di ogni artista sul sito e vota il tuo preferito, attraverso la grande vetrina di

Al Premio Online partecipano automaticamente gli oltre 3 mila iscritti in tutte le categorie. Al più cliccato del web, un premio-acquisto del valore di 4.000,00 euro e l’opportunità di esporre la propria opera nella mostra finale, a Roma, al fianco dei 23 artisti di fama che hanno condiviso e sostenuto il progetto, accanto ai Gigawatt, Megawatt, Terawatt del PT03 e ai premiati dal Comitato dei Musei.

I vincitori saranno annunciati alla fine di ottobre. Clicchi chi può!

View catalog via
Terna Prize 03: Vision: Origin and Power, Energy Through the Generations

Our new animation “Home” participates Premio Terna 03  in Italy. It’s now viewable at

Still of Home


Medium: Chinese cutpapter motifs, digital animation, soundtrack. Duration: 2 minutes 30 second. Year of Completion: 2010

Artist Statement

by Lily & Honglei

Home is an emotional depiction of transformation of lives.

The video begins with lively memory of our childhood. At that time, around Chinese New Year, family members would decorate their rooms with handmade cut-paper pieces in bright red, which seemed bring warmth to home in the harshest winter days in Beijing. “Magpies and Plume Blossoms” is one of the most typical motifs found on windows. The small building in Hutong (courtyard) style, Spring Festival pictures with painted door-gods, exquisite lantern, firecrackers, giggling chickens, and wind wheels – all of these recall happiness of simple live in the past. …The world changes so fast. Things we cherish only remain in memory. In the reality, the entire neighborhood of our home was demolished prior to Beijing Olympic Game. We captured the bleak landscape outside our window with a camera. It was another day around Chinese New Year.

In China’s, recently, demolishing residential areas and relocating millions of people become everyday practices for economic development that lead to countless family tragedies. Through telling our personal experiences, Home, the short animated film composed with traditional Chinese cut-paper images, indicates the situation that both people’s property and feelings have been trampled as a result of the social transformation inducing bottomless desire for profit.

China – Living in between Real and Unreal

By Xiaoying (Juliette) YUAN

Presentation for “Making the Reality Really Real”, the 11th Consciousness Reframed International Research Conference, Oct. 28 – Nov. 04, 2010, Trondheim, Norway


Seeking for Land of Illusion

Contemporaries of Cao Fei, Beijing media artists Lily & Honglei resurrected the culture and history of their motherland in Second Life’s virtual space, while re-constituting it in a contemporary context so as to comment on the social problems in contemporary China. Behind their interest in blurring between real and unreal, is their search of identity and culture. In Lily & Honglei’s “Land of Illusion – Reconstituting History and Culture in Online Virtual World” [Fig 3] diverse social issues in contemporary China are discussed through symbolized objects and characters: the “great fire wall” symbolizing the cultural barrier, the “underwater city” a virtual recreation of a real historical site near the Three Georges Dam, where the female character roaming around the “underwater city” is the ghost of Xishi, a famous beauty in folk tales.

Fig 3, Lily & Honglei, Paradise of the Assassins, Land of Illusion, screen shot by author

The artists are not only appealing for the conservation of Chinese cultural heritage as the soul of the country but are also concerned about more universal themes such as religion and freedom. In episode IV “Celebration!” [Fig 4], a work in memory of the student victims the Sichuan earthquake in 2008,  the year of the Olympic Games, a virtual Merry-go-around is built inside a Water Cube where the Games were held three months after the historic disaster. The entire episode is an ironic allusion of China’s official media blackout on the student death toll investigation during the period of the grandiose Olympic Games.

Fig 4, Lily & Honglei, Celebration!, Land of Illusion, screen shot by author

Continue reading here.

Our Internet project ‘Celebration!’ along with interview by Video Channel are featured by JavaMuseum’s 10th anniversary New Media Art Festival –

netart by Lily & Hong Lei (China)

Fireworks at 'Water Cube' - Beijing Olympic Celebration


Medium: Online 3D virtual world platform, Oil on paper, soundtrack

Video running time: 2 minutes. Size: varied. Completion year: 2009

The work is in memory of the student victims of Sichuan Earthquake in 2008, in context of that Investigation on the death toll of students has become a taboo in Chinese official media. Ironically, this virtual merry-go-around is built inside Water Cube, the swimming pool of Beijng Olympic Game held three months after the historic disaster. In the video document of the virtual environment constructed in online 3D world, the scene of collapsed schools in Sichuan is inundated by grandiose national celebration.

More Information, please go to

Watch Video/Machinima of “Celebration!”:

On Mar. 22nd, we gave a lecture about our new media artworks at Auditorium of O’Leary Library, UMass Lowell. This was part of Upgrade! Boston organized by We wanted to send our gratitudes to Jo-Anne Green and Helen Thorington for always generously supporting new media artists! Also many thanks to Jehanne-Marie Gavarini and Department of Art, UMass Lowell for sponsoring this event. More information, please read here.

Lily & Honglei: artist talk at Auditorium at O'Leary Library, UMass Lowell