How to photograph the portrait of a colony
3-channel video installation, 23’22’

One day between December 2008 and January 2009, I started to wear a long hair (12 years old). I made a haircut - getting a perm and straight bangs for the first time. On that day, I was very clear about the strange feeling: I am not me. This is a common idea. Some people think that the body is not theirs, or the soul is not. However my feeling was: I kidnapped Mei Xinyi, and I continued Mei Xinyi’s life. Mei Xinyi is another person spiritually and biologically.

Mei Xinyi is the IDENTITY of me. The IDENTITY is like a popsicle mold but changing shape continuously. It is arranged in advance by family, class, social status, etc., and changes in different conditions. What should we do is cast into a metal casing.

And then the INDIVIDUAL - the liquid before the ice stick solidified. We possess fluidity at first. In the process of solidification, we produce resistance and dissatisfaction, compromise and imitation.

Here, IDENTITY is like a continent. It is not a desert island, but a land with measurement standard and complex humanistic setting. INDIVIDUAL is not a pioneer, but colonists carrying the desire to modify and rectify.

This project demonstrates the complexity of IDENTITY. IDENTITY has standards and is changeable at the same time. I am trying to show this vague and contradictory trait of identity and to make a preliminary revelation on politics and human life.

At the same time, the project sought to explore the relationship between INDIVIDUAL and IDENTITY, to study the development, interdependence and mutual imitation of them and show how they present hostility and reconciliation in contradictory relationships. And thus I try to convey personal feelings - the hostility, envy and empathy from I-INDIVIDUAL to Mei Xinyi-IDENTITY, trying to understand the generation of this emotion.

I chose to publicize this very private feeling because the question arose during the research process: 
What are the strong emotions in our body, and where do our contradictions and resistances come from?
Are these emotions from ourselves?
Or is it due to the limitations of the surrounding rules and the environment (the influence of identity) that blurs the attribution of emotions?
Can we have the whole emotions, or always be under a system of sharing and borrowing?

I create the appearance of Mei Xinyi based on my inspiration of kidnapping it. I found photos of people who got missing between December 2008 and January 2009 on family-searching webs, using Face Average to create the face.

The first(right) screen is the retelling of the victims' self-reports in the legal television program. Like the colonies, they are the group whose identity is harmed and influenced. Their words belong to the colony(IDENTITY).

The second(left) screen is the scene where I dubbed for Barbie. The lines are based on the words of first screen, and the purpose is to conduct conversations between this two screens. Dubbing is a process of giving, like a colonizer(INDIVIDUAL).

The third screen(mid) is the scene where I have a conversation with Meixinyi I created. Our voices come from two other screens. Mei Xinyi's actions come from the motion capture data of me imitating the victims covered by mosaic.


complete version

please email meixinyi1997(at) to get the password and other info

*Thanks to
Sven Travis
Jie Wu
Yinan Zhang
Cong Yao
Zhe Qin(motion capture support)
Guodong Yu(3D animation support)
Mingkai Wang(FaceAverage support)
Ningxin Wu
Hexin Zhang
Shengchen Zhang