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Artist: Lily & Honglei Art Studio
Medium: Chinese cut paper motifs, digital Animation and soundtrack
Video Duration: 5'37"
Music: Traditional Chinese guqin melody 'Guangling San'


Integrating the traditional Chinese paper cutting medium with digital animation techniques, Forbidden City evokes an air that is uniquely thought-provoking. The dynamics between the imagery and sentiments of the atmosphere call upon the audience to contemplate about the sociocultural position of the individual in contemporary China.

The scene is set in the interior of an antique tea-house near the Forbidden City in Beijing, where a cup of tea casts its mist into sun-lit space. A window serves as a major element both in the visual composition and in the poetic construction of the work; it is a metaphor of the boundary between one’s social surroundings and introspective world. The nearest panel is adorned with an inversed Prosperity (福) ideogram, a popular traditional Chinese decorative motif that calls for and celebrates golden times. This emblem of optimism, however, proves itself to be no more than a flimsy facade. As serene as the atmosphere appears to be, a less veneer and much grimmer layer of reality is revealed when the ideogram falls apart.

Towards the end of the film, the blood-red substance left from the calamitous vision becomes condensed into steam once again while the Prosperity motif is set back in place. An apparent tranquility reigns over the setting once more and the unnerving truth is removed from sight.

An ancient melody known as Guangling San by the great Chinese thinker and composer Ji Kang is heard throughout the course of the film.


Past Exhibitions/Screenings

- Moving Paper International Film Festival, Museum of Art and Design, New York. The work received People's Choice Award: http://movingpaper.madmuseum.org

- UMass Lowell Center for Arts and Ideas & UMass Lowell Art Department. Special Thanks to Jehanne-Marie Gavarini & Jo-Ann Green, Helen Thorington at New Radio & Performaing Arts, INC.

- Art Gallery Exhibition at SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles convention center: http://digitalartarchive.hosting.acm.org/forbidden-city/

- Boston Cyberarts Gallery (formerly Axiom Gallery for Experimental New Media Art)

- Forbidden City - Experimental New Media Art, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Art Gallery, MA (exhibition view below)

lily & honglei, media art, chinese artists, asian art


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