by Lily & Honglei Art Studio


Lily & Honglei Art Studio: Urbanization of ChinaIntegrating mobile phone augmented reality technology with traditional Chinese art and storytelling, the AR installation of 'Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China' portrays a society undergoing an unprecedented process of urbanization. The narrative of the 'Family of the Village Head' is based upon a series of real-life incidents that have taken place during this time of tumult; clashes over land eviction, kidnapping of children, suicides of migrant workers, and man-made environmental catastrophes are among them. Utilizing the capabilities of augmented reality technology, the audience may then experience the installation in real time and space through their mobile phones. The animated, classically-inspired shadow-puppet characters are superimposed upon photographs taken by the artists in the rural and urbanizing regions of China. Through phone cameras, two layers of imagery are merged; the foreground comes to life in a digital application atop the background of reality. It is this dynamic between the new and the traditional, between modern realities and the age-old human condition that embodies the implications of the work. A collection of screenshots from the piece is presented here.

How to Experience the AR installations in Real-Time: First, download and launch the AR browser application Layar on your iPhone/iPad or Android phone. Simply aim the device’s camera at the photographs, press phone screen to scan the images and obtain AR experience. To take a step farther, you may also capture the artworks with your mobile device's camera.

The Shadow Play AR is currently under development for a public presentation during Jamaica Flux 2016. The project receives grants from New Radio & Performing Arts INC, Queens Council on the Arts, Jamaica Cennter for Arts & learning, New York Foundation for the Art, and Creatival Capital.

"Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China" postcard design for Jamaica Flux 2016, by Lily & Honglei Art Studio

Mobile app reveals AR superimposed on the postcard image



Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China (Phase I)

Chapter I. The Land : Death of the Village Head
[click thumbnails for big images]

Family of the Village Head

'Protect us, Guan Gong!'

Fighting the Bulldozer

"I saw four demons hold him down..."

That winter, the village head died..

'Home's gone...'


Chapter II. The Ruins: Lost Children
[click thumbnails for big images]

Another winter day...

Sweet treat of the Dark Spirit

In a strange city...

the little wanderers...

... and the ill ones


Chapter III. The City: Into the Void
[click thumbnails for big images]

“At train station...looking for my kid...”

“Workers on their way...”


“Lost direction...”

“at McDonald's...”

“Constructions everywhere...”

“The police!”

Traffic Sign: “Slow Down!”

“From the top of TV tower...”


“gossips of Tea House...”

... ...


Chapter IV. The Maze: No Exit
[click thumbnails for big images]

The city is growing...

also destroying...

Old City


lily & honglei: urbanization of china

Royal Garden

Lotus Pond

Mountain and River

The Sky

“No exit...”