Lily Honglei art studio

Lily Honglei, Virtual Reality Art, Asian cultural heritage, globalization, urbanization in China

2006-2013

LAND OF ILLUSIONS
- Reconstituting History and Culture in Online Virtual World

Utilizing digital 3D environment for online performance, Land of Illusion reconstitutes Chinese history and culture, collapses past, present, and future into an amalgamation reflecting on relevant issues in China. The work interweaves Chinese folkloric traditions and globalization, superimposes its glorious past and elements from its chaotic and contradictory present to compose a multi-layered tale about free thinking. From the Great Firewall to the Sunken City near Three Gorges Dam, from the silenced Chinese girl to Butterfly Dream of Zhuang Tzu, the work creates visual metaphors with unique video game aesthetics to comment on Chinese society and history.

Lily Honglei, virtual reality art,China, video game aesthetics, Asian culture and history, free thinking

 

Lily Honglei, virtual reality art,China, video game aesthetics, Asian culture and history, free thinking

Click images above to view larger version

Land of Illusion is consisted of following online performances and installations developed during 2006 to 2009:

I. Trace
- cultural reflections in cyber Chinese garden
Medium: Digital video, Online virtual world environment and performance, soundtrack.
Video Running Time: 7 minutes. Year of completion: 2006 - 2009. Size: varied.

Project collaborators: Daniel Shanks, Bill He Li, Lily Honglei

The video Trace is based on cyber Chinese garden environment haunted with ancient spirits. It visualizes Derrida’s notion, “The trace is not a presence but is rather the simulacrum of a presence that dislocates, displaces, and refers beyond itself.” In the beginning, Daiyu, the protagonist of Chinese classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber, is setting off from her room. Carrying her flower-hoe and basket, she intends to collect fallen petals and bury them in the garden on a late Spring day (figure 1). She wanders through the Peony Pavilion and West Tower, gazing on the petals drifting away on the stream (figure 2). In her deep meditation, three spirits emerge from the underwater zone: Ji Kang (figure 3) is playing Song of Guang Ling before being decapitated for offending officials; Mi Heng (figure 4) is beating the drum while cursing the Prime Minister and his aides; under the wall, Mengjiang Nu is morning his husband who died during construction of The Great Wall of Emperor Qin. Through the mental process of ‘lamenting, seeking, reflecting and expressing,’ Trace awenkens the spirit of these historic figures embodying free-thinking and expression throughout Chinese history. [View Video Excerpt]

 

Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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II. Hundred  Schools  of  Thought
- performing in virtual world
Medium: digital video, online virtual world application (Second Life), soundtrack.
Completion year: 2008-2009. Size: varied
Project collaborator: Daniel Shanks, Dr. Scott Grant, Victoria Bury (SL name), Bill He Li
, Lily Honglei

Utilizing online virtual world application, the work reflects Hundred Schools of Thought, the important cultural, social and political phenomenon occurring from Spring and Autumn to Warring States Period in ancient China. Our online performance stages how the scholars present their views freely, voice opposition or offer constructive proposal. The video highlights two legends of Hundred Schools of Thought (figure 5), including Han Fei Tzu’s theory of Power, visualized through confrontation between people and dragon, and Zhuang Tzu’s Butterfly Dream addressing the transformations of individual’s identities. Through video game aesthetics, dramatised interations between 'avatars' of ancient Chinese philosophers, the Online performance reflects upon comtemporary world - the girl wearing a stained mask (figure 6) recalls SARS, bird flu and censorship issues in today’s China, while the Butterfly Dream meditates on personal and cultural identities (figure 7) in the context of a global society. [...more]

Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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Lily Honglei, virtual reality art, freedom of expression, free thinkers in Chinese history, video game aesthetics, Chinese garden

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III. The  Sunken  City
- virtual  environment concerning cultural  heritage  losses at  Three  Gorges
Medium: Online 3D virtual world platform, soundtrack. Completion year: 2008. Size: varied
Project collaborator: Bill He Li

The Sunken City (figure 13, 14) virtual construction is a recreation of a real historic site near Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam contributing to cultural, social and environmental losses.

Sunken City_lilyhonglei

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The Sunken City_lilyhonglei

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IV. “Celebration!”
- virtual  installation reflecting 2008 Sichuan Earthquake and Beijing Olympic Game
Medium: Online 3D virtual world platform, soundtrack, Oil on paper.
Video running time: 2 minutes. Size: varied. Completion year: 2009.

The work is in memory of the student victims in 2008 Sichuan Earthquake as the investigation on the death toll of students has become a taboo in Chinese official media. Ironically, this virtual merry-go-around (figure 15) 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 (figure 16). [View Video Document]

Celebration!_lilyhonglei

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Celebration!_lilyhonglei

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V. Monument 08
- Lunar New Year Event
Medium: Online 3D virtual world platform, soundtrack,
Video running time: 5 minutes. Size: varied. Completion year: 2009.

On the Lunar New Year Eve in January 2009, we invited online community members to experience the interactive artifacts. The Cloud Ladder can be located in a giant Confucius’ Chariot on the Great Firewall around our virtual garden (figure 17). In the video, a few people almost successfully reach the top of the ladder. Flipping skillfully, a male character is ascending along the Ladder. Dropping halfway down to the sea in a sudden, he reached an unknown place with haunting images of crushed bodies (figure 18), crowds and petitioners gathering on square (figure 19). Both Cloud Ladder and Confucius Chariot symbolize Chinese intellectual’s political ambitions embodied by ‘knowing the impracticable nature of the time, and yet will be doing them.’ [View Video Document]

click to see larger images

08 xian zhang, Liu Xiaobo

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08 xian zhang, Liu Xiaobo

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08 xian zhang, Liu Xiaobo

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08 xian zhang, Liu Xiaobo

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08 xian zhang, Liu Xiaobo

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08 xian zhang, Liu Xiaobo

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VI. The Paradise of the Assassins
Medium: Online 3D virtual world platform, soundtrack. Video running time: 5 minutes. Size: varied. Completion year: 2008 - 2009.
Project collaborators: Daniel Shanks, Victoria Bury (SL name), Bill He Li, Lily Honglei

The work deploys video game tactics and virtual reality technology to create an opportunity that global audience can encounter history and heroism in Chinese folktales. Paradise of the Assassins (figure 23, 24) is designed for live performance at ImageRadio New Media Art Festival in Netherlands, 2008. It is a real time event during which audience in MAD emergent art center can experience the 3D environment and interact with our team members through virtual world interface. [View Video Document]

Paradise of the Assassins_lilyhonglei

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Paradise of the Assassins_lilyhonglei

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VII. Cyber Museum of Contemporary Art
- Land of Illusion as a multifunctional space
Medium: Digital video, online 3D virtual world platform, soundtrack. Video running time: 7 minutes. Size: varied. Completion year: 2009.
Project collaborators: DSL Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art

DSL Cyber MoCA is a collective effort of DSL Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art and artists Lily Honglei, who intend to develop highly interactive online exhibitions for contemporary art. Based on their “Land of Illusion” art project in Second Life, Lily Honglei designed DSL Cyber MoCA utilizing Online virtual world platform, digital multimedia presentations, and digtal communication technologies to materialize a new concept of virtual art museum in the early 21st century. For more information about Cyber MoCA, please click here



Video Documentation of Cyber MoCA


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Exhibitions & Publications

Since 2007, Land of Illusion has been presented at: Center for Advance Visual Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media in Boston, ImageRadio 2008 new media art festival in Netherlands, 2009 Boston Cyberart Festival, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center in New York, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell, FILE 2009 - Electronic Language International Festival in Sao Paulo, EVA 2010: Electronic Visualization and Arts Conference in London, Jamaica Flux '10 in New York, and Steinhardt School of Art at New York University, among others. The work is published by ASPECT: The Chronicle of New Media Art, volm.18 Export China, New Media Caucus journal, vol. 05 n. 01, Spring 2009 Foreignness and Translation in New Media in Chicago, Ars Hypermedia Spring Edition 2011 in Italy, DSL Cyber MoCA Catalog supported by DSL Collection of Chinese Contemporary Art in China, and Fine Arts Film: Social Reflections in Multimedia Art published in Germany, China – Living in between Real and Unreal by Xiaoying Yuan on China Sand - Art & Science Rearch in China, name a few. Land of Illusion project video documentation now is available for viewing on DVD launched at EVA 2010: Electronic Visualization & Arts, London.

 

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