Lawrence Lek b. 1982
Sinofuturism (1839 - 2046 AD) (2016)
Sinofuturism is an invisible movement. A spectre already embedded into a trillion industrial products, a billion individuals, and a million veiled narratives. It is a movement, not based on individuals, but on multiple overlapping flows. Flows of populations, of products, and of processes. Because Sinofuturism has arisen without conscious intention or authorship, it is often mistaken for contemporary China. But it is not. It is a science fiction that already exists. Sinofuturism is a video essay combining elements of science fiction, documentary melodrama, social realism, and Chinese cosmologies, in order to critique the present-day dilemmas of China and the people of its diaspora.
With reference to Afrofuturism and Gulf Futurism, Sinofuturism presents a critical and playful approach to subverting cultural clichés. In Western media and Orientalist perceptions, China is exotic, strange, bizarre, kitsch, tacky, or cheap. In its domestic media, China portrayed as heroic, stable, historic, grand, and unified. Rather than counteract these skewed narratives, Sinofuturism proposes to push them much further. By embracing seven key stereotypes of Chinese society (Computing, Copying, Gaming, Studying, Addiction, Labour and Gambling), it shows how China's technological development can be seen as a form of Artificial Intelligence.
Lawrence Lek is an artist, filmmaker, and musician who unifies diverse practices—architecture, gaming, video, and fiction—into a continuously expanding cinematic universe. His works include the feature-length CGI filmAIDOL (2019), the video game Unreal Estate: The Royal Academy is Yours(2015), the video essay Sinofuturism (1839-2046 AD) (2016), the AI-coming-of-age story Geomancer (2017), and Nøtel, a simulation of a fully-automated luxury hotel in collaboration with Kode9 (ICA, London; Art Basel). As a musician, Lek composes soundtracks and conducts live audio-visual mixes of his works, often incorporating live playthroughs of his open-world games. His most recent release is Temple OST, the soundtrack to a site-specific installation at 180 The Strand, London.
Interlaced with conspiracy theories and speculative fiction, Lawrence Lek’s CGI films, installations, and open-world games explore the geopolitical impact of automation and simulation. His cinematic universe is populated with dreamers—intelligent satellites, freedom fighters, fading superstars—searching for autonomy in a future dominated by data. For this discussion about his work, Lek will integrate a live mix of excerpts from his recent films and video games, focusing on Geomancer (2017) and AIDOL (2019), his first feature-length film. These projects revolve around the ideas theorized in Sinofuturism (1839–2046 AD), Lek’s 2016 video essay about the parallels between Chinese industrialization and portrayals of artificial intelligence.
Lek is an artist, filmmaker, and musician working in the fields of virtual reality and simulation. He creates site-specific virtual worlds and speculative films using game software, 3-D animation, installation, and performance. Often rendering real places within fictional scenarios, his environments reflect the impact of the virtual on the politics of creativity.