Tag Archives: china


Room 2 (2016) 66 x 110 cm

When your eyes have come to expect dazzlingly bright works of art, it’s a surprise when you find yourself staring so long at the color black.

These layers of black are not silent, but neither are they deafening.

Rather, it’s like a dialogue without words.




Wood Block 10.1 (2017) 90 x 120 cm
Wood Block 10.3 (2017) 90 x 120 cm

Born in Russia, raised in Ukraine, and currently based in Beijing, Alëna Olasyuk is the artist behind these achromatic works, all of which were created using traditional Chinese ink.

Using carved wood in lieu of standard canvases, Olasyuk’s Wood Blocks series is a work of patience and diligence. Anyone can touch the works, anyone can feel their imprint on their own body. Bodily impressions and visual perception overlap: the painting is no longer a painting, the wood is no longer wood. They encourage the viewer to interact with the work. It’s a dialogue between humans and art.

Alëna Olasyuk 在俄罗斯出生,在乌克兰长大,如今长居北京。我们所看到的黑,正是她用所钟情的中国墨水一笔笔画的。

这个系列叫做《Wood Blocks》(《木格》),Alëna 在已镂刻的木雕上耐心地描绘和涂色,最终形成了我们现在所见到的作品。每个人都可以触摸它,每个人也都能在自己身体上留下作品的印记。身体的感知和视觉的观感交叠,画不再是画,木也不再是木。它鼓励着观者与作品进行交互,这是人与作品的对话。

Wood Block 10.2 (2017) 90 x 120 cm

In traditional Chinese art, black and white symbolize the relationship between all things. They’re two extremes that achieve harmony in contrast and movement.

A closer look shows that Olasyuk’s works are more than simply blanketed in pure black ink. Viewed from the front, the entire frame appears to be engulfed in a murky obsidian, with only faint lines visible, but when the same work is observed from a different angle, threads of silver, glimmering colors, and a new world of texture emerge. Darkness reveals itself as light. These perspectives open up an entirely new reality, and as viewers contemplate them, the meaning of dualism becomes clear.

It’s a dialogue between the self and its inner essence. 


但其实细看,Alëna 作品中的黑也并不是全黑。直面画布的时候,你会看到条条延展开去的黑色细线;然而,换个角度,你会将看到一个充满着银丝、明亮的颜色和纹理的新世界。玄黑,转而显现为光明。这样的视角开启了全新的现实,使人们在理解这些作品的同时,体悟到了“二元论”。


Duality 1 (2016) 56 x 76 cm
Duality 2 (2016) 56 x 76 cm

But how to achieve balance in this dualistic world?

Olasyuk’s series Duality presents the idea of a natural balance. In fact, duality itself is part of balance. It’s part of the purpose and very notion of life. But if one doesn’t accept this dual nature, the natural balance can’t exist. Complexity and concision, chaos and balance, movement and stasis, transience and infinity – these are the subjects Olasyuk is eternally exploring in her works.

It’s the perpetual dialogue between humanity and the universe.


Alëna Olasyuk 的作品系列二元性代表了自然平衡的思想。其实,二元性本身就是平衡的一部分,是生活的目标和理念的一部分。但是如果不接受事物的两重性,这种平衡就不可能存在。复杂与简约、混沌与平衡、运动与静止、短暂与无限——这些是 Alëna 在她的作品中永恒探索的主题。


Duality 4 (2017) 75 x 105 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm
A painting from the Fear series (2016) 56 x 76 cm

Instagram: @olasyuk_a


Contributor: Chen Yuan

Instagram: @olasyuk_a


供稿人: Chen Yuan

Young & Restless



Today’s Chinese youth have veered away from the country’s conservative roots. They’re breaking through societal expectations in bold, fearless ways to pursue their passions and express themselves.

Our new series, US, spotlights this generation of newly minted freethinkers who are unafraid of questioning tradition and dated ideologies as they reshape the social and cultural fabric of modern China.



From left to right: Lao Wang, Yee Qi, and she who shall not be named / 从左到右: 老王,戚烨,不能说出名字的人

In the first installment of US, we meet up with Lao Wang, an illustrator and tattoo artist; Yee Qi, a member of the K-Note dance crew and the founder of independent fashion brand Yee Quadrant; and a visual artist who, due to personal reasons, we are unable to reveal on screen post factum (her face and voice have been disguised, but her commentary unchanged).

The three Shanghai-based creatives chat with us about what it means to be young in China, the role that music plays in their lives, and their perspectives on love in modern times.

在第一期的《在下》,我们找来插画家和纹身艺术老王、K-Note舞蹈队的成员和独立时尚品牌 Yee Quadrant 创始人戚烨,以及一位视觉艺术家,由于私人原因,不方便在屏幕前露脸(我们对她的面部和声音进行伪装处理,当然,她的评论会保留不变)。


Contributor & Photographer: David Yen
Videographers: Damien Louise, Cheok Lai

供稿人与图片摄影师: David Yen
视频摄影师: Damien Louise, Cheok Lai

Idiot Comics

Prior to meeting her, all I knew about the creator of Idiot Comics was that she was Chinese and went by the nickname Tou Yeye. Her illustrations have a goofy, off-the-wall humor, but in our conversation, she admits to depressive tendencies. “I’m often depressed and sometimes very goofy,” she says. “I like the writing of Yukio Mishima and Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, along with films of Roman Polanski.” These tastes are mirrored in her comics: cheerful but shot through with black and white lines, melancholy but saturated with color, never entirely choosing one side.

一个画漫画的女生叫头爷爷,这个名字大概是在采访之前我对《笨蛋漫画》作家唯一的了解。请她说说自己是个什么样的人,她回答“经常比较抑郁,有时候又很幽默。喜欢三岛由纪夫、涩泽龙彦的文字,也喜欢波兰斯基的电影。” 描述跟她的漫画不谋而合,快乐里保留黑白的线条,抑郁里永远有明亮的色彩,从不坚决地选任何一边。

"The philosophy of death."
"I want to kill someone."

When I was a freshman in college, I was extremely introverted and didn’t have many friends,” she recalls. “I read a lot of books by Osamu Dazai, who romanticized the idea of running away from home. Thinking it was a cool idea, I used all of my New Year’s red envelope money to travel to Tibet.”

Tou Yeye’s foray into creating comics began with the conclusion of this trip. She wanted a way to document her travels, as seen through her wild imagination. Her inaugural comic, Yi Chang, chronicles the entirety of her journey through Sichuan.

她的漫画创作始于自己的一段心路经历,“大一的时候曾经离家出走过一段时间,当时我很自闭,身边没什么朋友。天天看太宰治的书,觉得离家出走很酷,就拿着压岁钱独自去了四川藏区。” 之后她想把这次出走画成一个漫画,旅程中所有的细节加上天马行空的想象,就变成了头爷爷的第一个作品《一场》。

  • 左右滑动查看更多
    Swipe to read select works from Idiot Comics Vol. 1

Several characters make frequent appearances throughout Tou Yeye’s comics. The short-haired girl by the name of Weiwei represents the artist herself, the snarky bird is one of her real-life friends, and the rabbit and the dinosaur are friends she dreamed up. Throughout Idiot Comics, these characters can be seen cursing each other out, throwing poop at each other, or falling prey to spilled milk teas.

In a separate series, Nightmare Shop, Weiwei travels to a monochrome world. As she wanders through this colorless realm musing on the meaning of existence, the bird and rabbit can be randomly spotted embedded within the surreal landscapes.



After graduating from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts with a degree in printmaking, Tou Yeye left China to study for two years in France. During her time abroad, she became friends with a lot of comics artists, whose bohemian lives seemed ideal. Back in China, she found a very different creative environment. She wants to keep doing what she loves but has to spend most of her time every day on French translations to make ends meet. “I know so many other comics artists who are really impressive, but they all have other jobs, or they’re still in school,” she sighs. “Still I’ve seen that the overall creative atmosphere in China is getting better and better.”

Tou Yeye says she may soon quit freelancing and find a steady job drawing things she might not really love. But Idiot Comics will go on no matter what. It’s a project that gives her and others a few minutes to escape from reality, a moment to enjoy a simple happiness.



"Love is shit."

A limited number of Idiot Comics Vol. 1 is now available in the Neocha Shop.

《笨蛋漫画》Vol. 1 现于Neocha商店限量发售。

To pay via PayPal or international credit card, please check out through our Shopify. To pay with AliPay or WeChat, please visit our Weidian.


头爷爷的《笨蛋漫画》Vol. 1



"Thank you for checking out Idiot Comics. I hope you all turn into idiots! Volume two of Idiot Comics will be out soon. Follow my official WeChat account to learn more. I hate you all!"

Douban: ~/tianxiezuo


Contributor: Shou Xing

微博: @头爷爷


供稿人: Shou Xing

Fear & Loathing in Beijing



ROBBBB is a Chinese street artist who’s risen to acclaim in the world of contemporary art over recent years. Based in Beijing, the young artist is best known for the life-sized characters he wheat pastes on abandoned buildings and in half-demolished neighborhoods. His work satirizes the contradictions of our modern lives and the darker aspects of human nature. Anxiety, hostility, distress, and fear – topics that many people would rather turn a blind eye to – are common throughout his work.

来自中国的街头艺术家 ROBBBB ,近年来在当代艺术界享有盛誉。这位年轻的艺术家长居北京,他最出名的是在废弃的建筑和半拆除的小区里,画上和真人等大的人物形象。他作品中那种尖刻的幽默感讽刺了现代社会存在的矛盾,以及我们通常更愿意视而不见的人性黑暗面——焦虑、痛苦、敌意、软弱和恐惧。

Born in 1990, the young artist believes much of his art stems from his misunderstandings of society, or to be more precise, his subjective misinterpretations of an objective reality. But this a point of pride for ROBBBB – he sees misinterpretations as being channels through which art and creativity can manifest and thrive.

“As an example, everyone will interpret the messages and ideas conveyed by a good film differently depending on their own individual experiences,” ROBBBB says. “I feel like this is how the world is created, from endless misinterpretations and perspectives. The important thing is to express it.”

生于 1990 年的他,认为自己的大部分艺术源于对社会的误解,或者更确切地说,是对客观现实的主观误解。但这也是 ROBBBB 引以为傲的一点,他认为误解是艺术和创造力得以表现和发展的途径。


From a pot-bellied spiderman eating skewered spiders to clowns fighting over Chinese porcelain, the farfetched imagery ROBBBB incorporates into his work is ultimately a way for him to force viewers to contemplate on the absurdities of our everyday reality.

从那个大腹便便、吃着蜘蛛的蜘蛛侠,到为了青花瓷花瓶打斗的小丑们,ROBBBB 的作品将这些毫无瓜葛的形象融入其中,其实最终是为了迫使观众去思考日常现实的荒谬之处。



Contributor & Videographer: George Zhi Zhao



供稿人与视频摄影师: George Zhi Zhao

Darting Between Fiction & Reality

  • Book by Wo Shi Bai. Swipe to read.


“A fiction within a fiction.”

“Cuts between perspectives in time and space.”

“Just read through your comics, some of them are really deadpan and really funny, some of them I don’t quite get, some of them really hit you in the gut.”

“The author is 30? Hahaha.”

“The author’s got to be a woman…”

All these are messages and comments left by readers of the comics of Wo Shi Bai, whose pen name literally means “I Am White.” For his fans, these comments have just about become required reading. Sometimes they point out a detail in a comic you missed, sometimes they leave you marveling at the reader’s overactive imagination.

And sometimes Wo Shi Bai will write a few words in reply, such as: “Thanks for the messages. I notice most of the feedback comes from people who don’t understand the comics or don’t get the point. Honestly, I drew them to record boring everyday experiences, really ordinary stuff. The first part is about the book the main character’s reading, or related to his mental state.”

“作者 30 岁?哈哈哈~”



From Chuck & The Portal / 来自《查克与传送门》
From Chuck & The Portal / 来自《查克与传送门》

As a comic artist in the internet age, Wo Shi Bai has been in dialogue with these unseen critics from the start. You could even say that the very existence of these readers, both the ones who get it and the ones who don’t, is what gave Wo Shi Bai the chance to change his life and focus on his creative work. That’s jumbling the timeline, though: in reality, it was an assignment from Gummi Comics in early 2017 that led Wo Shi Bai to start drawing seriously. Yet as anyone who’s read his work knows, this kind of jumble is the precisely what makes his comics so engaging: they leap and dart across space and time. Comics have an expressiveness that gives him a great deal of creative freedom.

“After drawing a few comics,” he says, “I found that a lot of ideas I couldn’t express in a single image I could express easily in comic form.”


这样讲似乎有点时间逻辑混乱,其实是因为 2017 年初的一次来自于《软糖漫画》的约稿,才让我是白真正开始画起了漫画。但是如果你也看过他的那些漫画,你就会明白这样的混乱恰恰是他漫画里一个很有趣的特质。从一个空间跳跃到另一个空间,从一个时间穿越到另一个时间。漫画的这种表达方式,给了他很大的创作自由,“在画了一些漫画之后,我发现我有蛮多单幅画面传达不了的想法可以用漫画的形式顺畅表达。”

  • Swipe to read.

  • This is my last story for Gummi Comics.

  • When I was coming up with the story, I started getting a migraine.

  • It usually takes three to four hours before I feel better.

  • I’ll feel better with the lights off. I’ll just sit in the dark and wait for the headache to pass.

  • Not doing anything, I began to drift into the recesses of my memories.

  • In 1997, my mom went to Japan to work at a clothing factory there. Seeing her off at the airport was the first time I took a taxi.

  • I was in first grade at the time, and I got extremely carsick. I regretted going along to see her off. (If I’d known I wouldn’t have come…)

  • My dad had been in a hospital long-term, and for the next three years I lived with my grandparents, aunt, and uncle.

  • All I did the whole day was play with the kids living nearby.

  • We brewed concoctions with pills, dead insects, and leaves.

  • Stuck firecrackers in toads’ mouths.

  • There was a kid a few years younger than us, and we didn’t always include him.

  • To grab our attention, he’d pretend to poop or masturbate.

  • Most of the time in the summer I’d watch T.V. by myself at home.

  • Sometimes I’d climb out of the second-floor windows and get lost gazing up at the sky.

  • The rooftop panels were burning hot in the sun.

  • In the building across the way, I’d sometimes see a little girl.

  • We’d undress for each other.

  • My memory is hazy. Maybe it was just me who undressed.

  • At the time, landlines had just become commonplace.

  • But I was terrified of picking up the phone. I don’t know why. Whenever it rang, I’d throw a blanket over it to muffle the sound.

  • Or sometimes I’d quietly pick it up and listen for a bit before gently hanging up. (Hello? Hello? Hello? That’s weird, someone definitely picked up…)

  • One particularly boring afternoon, I went through every corner of our house.

  • In a bedside cabinet, I found a pile of five-mao coins. I exchanged them for a kind of popsicle called “Mr. Banana.”

  • I also dug up my aunt and uncle’s book that taught newly married couples how to maintain their relationship.

    I also flipped through my aunt and uncle’s

  • At the time, Hong Kong just transferred its sovereignty back to China. By the time Macau was handed back over, my mom moved back.

  • I used the allowance money she gave me to buy accessories for my Mini 4WD racer.

  • Not long after, this entire neighborhood where I grew up was demolished.

  • Revisiting the area, there are no traces of my childhood to be found.

  • I think the migraine is easing up.

  • I think I still remember the phone number from that old house. I wonder what would happen if I called it.

Wo Shi Bai was born in Shanghai’s Songjiang district, and in a comic titled Migraine, he talks about his childhood there. The main character, drawn simply as a boy with hair, represents the author himself. But in Song, another comic, the story he tells is fictional, and for that fiction, he created a character with nothing but eyes and a mouth. That’s right: no eyebrows, nose, ears, or hair.

“I only kept the eyes and mouth, and added a human outline, to have a minimal vehicle of expression. That’s how the blank little guy came about,” he says.

Readers often think this blank character – xiao bai ren (小白人) – is Wo Shi Bai, because their names are so similar.

“Some of my moods and states come through in that character,” he concedes, “So there’s a part of ‘myself’ inside. Really, every writer’s characters probably have something of themselves inside.”


很多时候,读者也会把小白人和我是白本人联系起来,因为他们的名字太像了。“通过 ta,我的一些状态和情绪具象化了,所以有一部分的‘我’在ta里面。实际上每个作者创作的人物都有一部分自己存在吧。”

  • Swipe to read.

Wo Shi Bai’s comics always alternate between these two figures. Maybe the one with the hair represents reality, while the blank one represents fiction, and only by combining both their stories can you come close to getting a complete picture of Wo Shi Bai. You start to see how much he enjoys this “back-and-forth” creative style – darting back and forth between fiction and reality. It’s like the series of illustrations he once drew called Chuck and the Portal. The feeling of being here one moment and flying somewhere else the next is what he likes best about his creative work. “When I’m at home drawing by myself, I feel like I’m on some remote island,” he says. It’s a solitary, quiet feeling, and I get lost in my thoughts and my creative work. Especially when it’s raining – then I feel even more cut off. The rain adds another barrier between you and the outside world.”

我是白的漫画总是在这样的 2 个主角里摇摆,有头发的那个或许代表的是现实,而那个小白人代表了虚构。而将这两个不同角色的漫画故事混合在一起看,似乎才能更为接近一个完整的“我是白”,你会发现其实他很享受这样的一种“穿行”式的创作方式,在现实和虚构里穿行。就像他曾经画过一套名叫《查克与传送门》插画作品一样,这种忽而在这里,忽而又飞到了那里的感觉,恰恰是他在创作时最享受的时刻。“一个人在家里画画的时候,我感到仿佛置身孤岛。这样孤独而平静的感受让我完全沉浸在思考和创作中。特别是下雨的时候,更加会觉得和外面隔绝。下雨把你和外面的世界又隔了一道屏障。”

  • Closet by Wo Shi Bai. Swipe to read.

  • When my grandmother was in my great grandmother’s body

  • My mother was already in my grandmother’s body.

  • And at the same time, I was already in my mother’s body.

  • But there’s no one inside my body because I’m a boy.

  • I didn’t quite understand how people were born into this world, so that was my theory.

  • The grown-ups told me that babies are born after you get married, but this didn’t feel like a satisfying answer.

  • Isn’t getting married just a bunch of people getting together to eat a meal?

  • How does eating food produce babies?

  • So the only explanation is that everyone already exists inside other people. I was quite happy with myself after coming up with this answer.

  • I thought about all of this inside a closet at my kindergarten.

  • Ten minutes ago, I talked in class, and my teacher put me in here as a timeout.

  • I didn’t feel like I was being punished. It felt fun.

  • Seeing all my peers outside, all well-behaved, and me not having to be part of it gave me inexplicable joy.

  • On my way home, I shared the baby theory with my mom. After hearing it, she laughed, and that’s when I knew something was off about my answer.

  • A few years later, an older kid in the neighborhood told me the truth of it all.

  • And much to my surprise, it turns out the answer was hidden in the curse words that we commonly used.

  • Since then, nothing has shocked me more.

In fall 2017, Wo Shi Bai held his first solo exhibition in Shanghai where he met his online fans for the first time. “Maybe because everyone there was a fan of my comics, I felt they all had a few similar traits: they were delicate, shy, and quiet,” he says. Yet they may have even more in common with the blank character in his art. Maybe they too go to work by themselves, come home by themselves, eat takeout by themselves, read by themselves. Maybe they have also a pet at home and a fantasy world inside their heads. And maybe in Wo Shi Bai’s comics they find a resonance with their lives that they’ve long been missing.

在 2017 年秋天,我是白在上海举行了他的一次个人展览,在这个展览上,也是他第一次和互联网上的粉丝见面。“可能是因为喜欢我的这些漫画的缘故,所以感觉大家身上都有一种相似的特征:细腻,害羞,还有安静”。不过,他们和漫画故事里的那个“小白人”,也许真的有不少的相似性,也许他们也是一个人上班,一个人下班,一个人住,一个人吃便当,一个人看书,然后家里也有个小宠物,在脑海里有一个幻想的世界,而我是白的这些漫画,让他们找到了那种久违的共鸣。

  • 158 Days by Wo Shi Bai. Swipe to read.

  • After every shower, I have to wipe the floor dry.

  • My bathroom has a slanted floor, so a lot of the water ends up not going down the drain.

  • The carpenter didn’t realize this until after he finished laying all the floor tiles.

  • He said: (Sorry about that).

  • It takes me five minutes to dry the floor every single day.

  • Over the course of a year, that adds up to 76 hours.

  • Over 50 years, that adds up to 158 days.

  • 158 days…

  • In Interstellar, there was a planet where the entire surface was covered in shallow water.

  • If I had to wipe water off the floor without any sleep or rest for 158 days straight, I’d imagine the scene would look something like that.

  • (Drip drip)

  • This is some kind of punishment.

  • It’s a sentence passed down to me by that carpenter.

  • To be precise, it’s the result of him mentally checking out for a moment.

  • Some stray thought that distracted him.

  • (A-choo!)

Weibo: ~/WoShiBai
Douban: ~/WoShiBai
WeChat: WoShiBai


Contributor: Dawen Ding

微博: ~/WoShiBai
豆瓣: ~/WoShiBai
微信: WoShiBai


供稿人: Dawen Ding

Reaching New Heights w/ Zhou Yusi

Based in Shenzhen, Zhou Yusi (or better known by his Instagram handle @ucchow) is a Chinese photographer who finds himself captivated by the rapid development of modern cities. His photography, comprised of awe-inspiring aerial perspectives and geometric structures, captures the chaotic beauty of China and surrounding regions. “I like cities where the new and the old clash together,” Zhou shares. “Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen are great examples of this.”


Zhou confesses that he didn’t plan on being a photographer in the beginning. Originally, he went to school to be a software developer, and at the time, he couldn’t even afford a proper DSLR. After graduating and buying his first real camera, he began shooting events and live performances, which, admittedly, weren’t especially creatively stimulating. However, as time went on, his interest in photography continued to grow.

The willingness to keep an open mind has been one of the most important factors in Zhou’s creative journey. Keeping an open mind has helped Zhou tremendously in not only his photography; it’s benefited him in nearly all aspects of life and has given him a refreshing perspective on his unconventional journey to success. “For regular people, they might look back and wish they could’ve seen the bigger picture beforehand or have a clear plan for the future. Not me though,” he tells us. “I revisited my university recently, and even though it’s been four or five years since I graduated and the world has changed so much, the school was the same as it ever was. It’s still out of touch with the real world, and in an environment like that, it’s easy to feel complacent and difficult to think outside of the box. If I had the chance [to give advice to my past self], I wouldn’t tell myself to change a thing.”



Following the purchase of his first drone, Zhou fell in love with taking photos from above. He says piloting a drone makes him feel like a “satellite, drifting idly above and watching the world beneath.” But with his drone, he does more than simply observe. Zhou likens the role of a drone photographer to that of a film director; much like a director, he has the control to frame specific scenes as he sees fit and present a narrative in line with his vision. While the drone is a great tool in his arsenal, what’s even more important than the tool is the creative output that can be achieved with it. It’s this understanding that motivates Zhou to continuously push himself and reach for new creative heights.


“For me, exploration means finding new perspectives, even in parts of the city I’m familiar with,” Zhou shares of his creative philosophies. “It’s not just about hitting rooftops and shooting the same things aimlessly. It’s about discovering the beauty of a street I might’ve pass by countless times before or seeing an apartment or office building in a new light. By presenting unique perspectives of these familiar places, I want people to go, ‘Wow! I can’t believe this is what my neighborhood looks like.'”


Zhou has now fully dedicated himself to both videography and photography but expresses a newfound preference in the former. “Photo editing is much faster. It can take only an hour or so. When it comes to video, it could take up to a day or much more. With the amount of time these two mediums take up, it’s hard to keep going if I wasn’t passionate. But the biggest difference between the two is that videos are much more elaborate. While you need to pay attention to many of the same things you have to watch out for in photography, you also need to consider the plot, storytelling cadence, transitions, sound design, and much more.”

Looking towards the future, Zhou expresses hopes of creating more travel-related video content. But regardless of medium, an earnest enthusiasm to share his adventures and showcase the beauty of our modern metropolises lives on in his work.


Instagram: @ucchow
Weibo: ~/UC大人


Contributor: Chen Yuan

Instagram: @ucchow
微博: ~/UC大人


供稿人: Chen Yuan

Valley of the Pandas

The early snow caught us off guard. It would have been romantic, comedic even, but for the full day of relentless rain before it.

Now the rain turned to ice. The dropping temperature bit through our soaked layers and skin, and freezing crystals tumbled their way down our necks. The others argued whether to go left or right in the immense undergrowth – for there was no path – and I quietly retreated into my own mental tomb of misery, stowing away my waterlogged and useless camera for good.



Zuǒ háishì yòu?” Left or right, they repeated, as if saying the same question once more would make the answer reveal itself out of the damp cold.

Zuǒ. That was the thin consensus, its logic hidden deep within the incomprehensible tones of rural Sichuanese dialect. They moved forward towards the left, one by one willingly entering back into the snow-laden bamboo. Its depths swallowed them each. I sighed, placed all my faith into this exercise of blind trust and tossed myself back into the barricade of mountain woods.

Misery had been what I expected, not getting lost.

We stopped again. More agitated Sichuanese. More brushing off snow from our bodies and packs. Someone close by shivered uncontrollably head to toe; another cut wet stalks of bamboo for kindling; another tried futilely to start a fire with damp tissue and matches. No fire, but my hands and feet burned. The painful beginning of frostbite had set. We were freezing, and the argument as to which way to go continued.





These were some of the most arduous moments during our three-day panda conservation patrol in the Hengduan Mountains of China. Our team of ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan entered the woods with the goal of checking infrared cameras that monitor pandas and other rare species like the musk deer and Himalayan takin. Next to that, we had to prevent their greatest threats: the warding off of would-be poachers and illegal logging of the state and provincial-owned forest for timber and expansion of arable land. The presence of officials from the local forestry department with us would give authority to our mission if we encountered any.


This patrol should have been routine, but our luck turned with the weather and a wrong turn almost cost us much more than merely a day of time. Our work turned from not only protecting the flora and fauna of the mountains to protecting our safe return home.

After the snow, we descended waterfalls, using live bamboo stalks to repel down cliffs as streams cascaded beside us. At night we made shelter in a dripping cave, once a hideout for poachers who used to hunt the forests seeking the same thing we now labored to protect. We made fire, chipping off wet wood from large, fallen trees and branches, finally using the dry interiors as kindling. The dim cave walls danced with warm, orange glow and the deluge outside which delayed our return home continued.



Pandas are one of the world’s most iconic, elusive species. Their remaining numbers in the wild are no more than a small town, less than 2000. Of this, the majority of them dwell in the Hengduan Mountains of China. And, more than anywhere else in the Hengduan, Pingwu County of Sichuan Province.

这种世界上最具代表性的和难以捉摸的动物之一,熊猫,它们野生的数量比小城镇的人口还少,只剩不到 2000 只。大部分的野生熊猫都生活在中国的横断山脉,其中,四川省平武县是横断山脉地区熊猫数量最多的地方。

Rangers of the patrol gather around to look at GPS coordinates of the locations of cameras placed in the mountains. Every month they go up in the mountains to check the infrared cameras, replace batteries, and install new ones in the forest where they think wildlife might be. / 巡逻者们聚集在一起查看山上红外线摄像机的 GPS 坐标。他们每个月都会上山对相机进行检查并更换电池,并在野生动物可能出没的地方安装上新相机。

Our team was a small collective of ethnic Tibetan villagers from the remote Pingwu County village of Guanba. Guanba isn’t on most maps. It lies hidden away in a precipitous mountain valley that winds its way along river and wood to snow-covered peaks around Jiuzhaigou. But this remote village is a foremost player in the rise of community conservation in China.

Young natives of Guanba who once served as migrant workers around China have been trickling back to this village for the last 10 years. They have returned not only to raise families in their place of birth, but also from a growing sense of environmental consciousness and responsibility to protect the land around their home. In the 70s poaching in the Hengduan Mountains was rampant, and one charismatic species’ pelt brought a particular amount of prestige and profit: the panda.


在过去的 10 年间,曾经进城务工的关坝年轻人纷纷回归。他们回来,不仅是要为了回到家乡组建家庭,更是出于他们日益强烈的环保意识和保护家园的责任感。70 年代,横断山脉的偷猎活动十分猖獗,其中一种动物的皮毛因为珍贵和高利润而成为了偷猎的目标,那就是熊猫。

Pandas in China were poached near the edge of extinction. Foreigners even came to hunt them, with the Roosevelt brothers proudly claiming the first successful panda hunt by Westerners in 1929. Finally, by the 1980s, the number of pandas remaining in the wild neared only 1000, and the national government made all poaching illegal. All the men from a neighboring village to Guanba were charged with illegal poaching and incarcerated. Fast forward to the present, and the national and local government is increasingly supporting environmental protection efforts, including the creation of a state-managed national park that will encompass almost all of the panda’s habitat.

It is under this background that the villagers of Guanba founded the region’s first community nature reserve in 2015. The reserve, while approved by the government, is solely managed by the local people, of whom the effort is led by the millennials who have come back from working remotely far across the country. While the area they protect behind their home village is only 40km wide, it is now home to four or five pandas, one of the highest densities for the species in all China.

However, hunters who create homemade guns and gunpowder still enter into these mountains, and while pandas are no longer hunted, rare takin and white-lipped deer are. These mountains, once a sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife, now lie silent. The forests still seem empty, and the rivers are devoid of fish. The recovery process has begun, but nature requires time.

在中国,大熊猫因为偷猎活动而几近濒危。不啻国内偷猎猖獗,甚至还有专门前来的外国人,在 1929 年,罗斯福兄弟(Roosevelt brothers)就曾自豪地声称他们是第一次成功狩猎大熊猫的外国人。到 20 世纪 80 年代,野生大熊猫的数量已减少到近 1000 只,中国政府下令将所有偷猎行为定为非法。关坝一个邻村里的所有男子都被控非法偷猎而被关押起来。


在这种背景下,关坝村民在 2015 年创办了当地第一个社区自然保护部。这个保护部虽然是由政府批准的,但其管理完全由当地居民负责,而其中的领头人则是一些曾远赴千里进城打工,现在回到家乡的千禧一代。他们负责的保护区在村庄背后,面积仅 40 平方千米,但现在却是四五只大熊猫的家园,这已经中国大熊猫密度最高的地区之一。


One of the cameras with infrared capabilities placed on a tree. Even though the straps securing it to the tree have been undone, moss has grown and fixed the camera to the tree. Due to the extremely humid and rainy conditions, plants in this part of the Hengduan grow quickly. / 一个安装在树上的红外线探测相机。尽管安装的绑带还未完全固定,但苔藓已经长牢,且把相机固定在了树干上。因为这里极端潮湿多雨的气候,横断山脉的植物生长速度很快。
These cameras use the same SD cards as regular cameras, so the photos can be checked on-site even if the batteries of the infrared cameras area already dead. / 红外线探测相机使用和普通相机一样的 SD 储存卡,所以即使在相机没电的情况下也能够检查里面的相片。

Still, it was this heroic recovery story that kept me fighting through the endless forest of thorns and wet bamboo. A village whose natives had turned from poachers to protectors was a story too enticing not to investigate and share. In response to the ever-present threat of outside poachers, the Guanba Community Nature Reserve patrols the mountains monthly and have been doing so since 2009. But even the best-laid plans go awry. A wrong turn up a ravine early on led us up to an unknown section of the mountain. An early cold snap turned the rain to snow, and we found ourselves in a position that – although the locals may be too proud to admit – could have cost us our lives. Being cold and wet with no shelter can often mean death up in the mountains.

不过,正是这一鼓舞人心的保护区事迹,让我坚持着在这片布满荆棘和湿竹的森林里奋斗。村庄居民从当初的偷猎者转变为保护者,这样的身份转变着实让人忍不住想要深入调查,并与外人分享。为了应对外界偷猎者的威胁,从 2009 年起,关坝自然保护部门每月定期巡逻山林。


At last we returned safely. The patrol was a success. We discovered no signs of poachers or their traps, a sign that the frequent patrols were working, and recovered a photo of one of the wild pandas on an infrared camera. To document this, my gear had paid the price: the Nikon body was focusing poorly, all the internal lens elements of my glass were fogged, and one my of filters had been jammed after hitting my lens on an protruding rock. After spending a night freezing in the wet cave my bed was more than a welcome sight, but I was emotionally spent from fighting through the forest. The fear of real disaster far beyond my gear for three days had drained me.

But those days cannot compare to the years that the locals have been entering the mountains for this cause. When it comes to protecting your home and the environment that supports you, there is little luxury for choice. In the brutal moments of snow falling around us, seemingly lost on a forlorn mountain ridge I was ready to give up. I would have turned back; they did not. In that moment it became evident: this is what conservation looks like. It’s dirty, it’s a mess, but it’s a real adventure. And always worth it.



Images of wildlife taken from the cameras placed throughout the mountains. / 由遍布全山的相机所拍下的野生动物照片。
Images of wildlife taken from the cameras placed throughout the mountains. / 由遍布全山的相机所拍下的野生动物照片。
Images of wildlife taken from the cameras placed throughout the mountains. / 由遍布全山的相机所拍下的野生动物照片。

In the past, Guanba had another name: bai xiong gou, or, the “Valley of the Pandas.” The road ahead will not be easy for the young conservationists who have returned here, but, as China examines how to build a national park in an area with permanent residents and villages, the positive participation of locals for conservation has never been more important, nor has sharing their story. From poachers to protectors, the young villagers are building a new future for their community and conservation in China.


Mengji, the captain of the patrol team, holds up a successfully captured photo of a wild panda from one of the infrared cameras. / 巡逻队的队长孟吉,举着一个成功拍下野生熊猫的红外线探测相机。

Contributor & Photographer: Kyle Obermann

供稿人与摄影师: Kyle Obermann

Have a Nice Day



Have a Nice Day is the latest animated dark comedy film from writer and director Liu Jian. Set in a small town in Southern China, the film starts with Xiao Zhang, a driver who steals a bag containing 1 million RMB from his mob boss in order to pay for his fiancée’s botched plastic surgery. As word of Xiao Zhang’s robbery spreads across town, a motley cast of the city’s residents join in on the hunt for the stolen money, each with their own dreams of making it big.

大世界》是作家兼导演刘健的最新黑色喜剧动画电影。影片故事发生在中国南方的一个小镇上,电影一开始,司机小张为了给未婚妻一笔钱去做拙劣的整形手术,从他的流氓老板那里偷走了 100 万元的巨款。小张的抢劫案传遍了整个小镇,当地的居民开始加入对被盗巨款的追捕中来,每一个人都怀有自己的大梦想。

The animation for Have a Nice Day was done mostly by Liu, who spent about three years completing the film. Liu brings a bleak and melancholic aesthetic to the film’s small-town Chinese setting and its shady cast of characters. Sharing his thoughts on creating the film, Liu says: “My favorite artistic style, and in fact, my artistic philosophy, is plain and simple. In this film, I use the minor actions and subtle movements of the characters to portray their emotions, which, along with the vivid landscapes and interiors the characters exist in, constitute the poetic, and, in some sense, sad and melancholic aesthetic philosophy of the film. In my eyes, this film as a whole can be seen as a landscape painting representing modern China.”


Multiple references to contemporary events – such as audio sampled from Donald Trump’s campaign trail, or a remark about Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Ma – tie the film to our present-day reality and make it all the more engaging for a modern-day audience. Liu says, “Have a Nice Day is an animation film, but it’s penetrated through and through with the philosophy of realism. […] There are so many uncertainties and possibilities to be imagined in such a dynamic and lively space like the city’s borderlands. What some might call surrealism is often the reality there, and that is fascinating to me in itself. I love to observe and reflect on how people there are living, thinking, and acting. The cultural landscapes of the city’s edges and the people who live there are one of the main sources and inspirations for my work. At the same time, the coexistence of realism and symbolism emphasizes the fantasy and the absurdity of these characters and their stories. In modern China, magical realism is happening around us almost every day. Life at times can resemble a surreal comedy that is filled with both jubilance and self-paralysis.”

影片当中多次对当代事件的进行了引用,例如从唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)选活动中采集的音频,或者关于马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)或马云的评论,以此将这部电影与我们今天的现实联系起来,使其更加吸引观众。刘健说:“《大世界》是一部动画电影,但它充满了现实主义的哲学……在城市边缘地区这样一个充满活力的热闹空间中,有许多不确定性和可能性令人遐想。在一些人眼中的超现实主义,在那里却往往是现实的存在,这本身对我来说就是很有意思的事情。我喜欢观察并思考人们是如何生活、思考和行动的。城市边缘的文化,以及那里生活的人是我创作时最大的灵感来源。同时,现实主义与象征主义的并存,又突显了这些人物以及他们的故事的奇幻与荒诞。在现代中国,魔幻现实主义几乎每天都在我们身边发生。生活有时像是一部充满欢乐和自我麻木的超现实主义喜剧片。”

Have a Nice Day won the award for Best Animation at the 54th annual Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, and has received worldwide critical acclaim for its neo-noir storytelling, gritty visuals, and penetrating depiction of modern-day Chinese society. Aside from the engrossing story and aesthetic, the film also features music from The Shanghai Restoration Project.

Have a Nice Day will be screening in theatres in the UK beginning on March 23rd, 2018. For more information on dates and locations, click here.

在第 54 届台湾金马奖颁奖典礼上,《大世界》斩获最佳动画长片奖,并因其新黑色的叙事风格、粗犷的视觉效果以及对现代中国的深入描绘,获得了来自全球的赞誉。另外值得一提的是,除了抓人的故事情节和视觉美学的呈现,《大世界》的电影配乐来自乐队上海复兴方案

影片将于 2018 年3月23日 在英国院线上映。了解更多,请点击此处

Website: haveaniceday.mubi.com


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao

网站: haveaniceday.mubi.com


供稿人: George Zhi Zhao

Four Characters

Mostly comprised of four characters, idioms, or chengyu, are one of the most beloved methods of expression in China. The appeal of chengyu lies in their power to convey complex and wordy ideas in a concise manner. But being that many of these phrases originated from ancient Chinese literature, they can, at times, be difficult to make sense of without an understanding of their original context. Luckily, the more convoluted expressions have all but faded from the colloquial lexicon in modern-day China, while many of the easier-to-understand idioms are still widely used.

Today, the internet has become a breeding ground for linguistic creativity. Chinese netizens have begun cleverly crafting their own four-character phrases that follow the formula for traditional idioms. One such phrase birthed by the internet is rén jiān bù chāi (人艰不拆), which translates to “life is already hard enough as is, just cut me some slack.” It’s most often used in a jestful manner. Another quirky internet expression that’s made the rounds in recent times is kōu jiǎo dà hàn (抠脚大汉), which is equivalent to “catfishing” in American slang, but it’s tailored to specifically refer to a man pretending to be a woman.

Similarly, many emojis and stickers used in Chinese messaging apps have followed this trend. Images accompanied by four or five-character phrases are commonplace; they’re used to add humor or alter the expression’s original meaning. While much of these are basically Chinese memes, they serve as a testament to the linguistic versatility and nuanced possibilities of the Chinese language. Designer and recent college graduate Xia Ruolan found herself intrigued by the evolution of these expressions, and in wanting to help explain their meanings to a Western audience, she created Four Chars, an illustration project that translates and simplifies some of the more commonly seen four-character Chinese phrases.



In the early days of Four Chars, Xia mainly used the project as a way of setting aside personal time for herself after work, a way to unwind from her stressful days. Xia recalls the many trials and tribulations that she experienced within the first year of her career: She underwent four different boss changes, switched departments three times, and even had to relocate to another country. But aside from helping her cope from the stresses of work, and perhaps more importantly, the project was a way for Xia, who’s spent much of her life abroad, to reconcile with her cultural roots.

“It may seem like being independent and living in a new country is a liberating experience,” she tells us. “But the truth of the matter is, it felt like I was running into dead ends everywhere.”

Being that Xia’s mother tongue is Chinese, Xia often found herself unable to fully articulate certain ideas in English. Out of these frustrations, she gained a newfound appreciation for the depth and versatility of the Chinese language. Xia wanted a way to share the beautiful subtleties and complexities of her native language with the world but needed to figure out an easily accessible approach. Noting the vast amounts of four-character expressions that exist nowadays, Xia came up with the idea to use illustration to offer easy-to-understand explanations for these common Chinese phrases, and thus, Four Chars was born.


作为一个中文母语者,夏若兰说,她不时会面临有货倒不出的困窘。有些略带俗气的双关词语,让夏若兰一再感受到汉语词汇的广博且充满弹性(雅俗共赏)的内涵。这也让她产生了某种使命感,要让汉语的丰富含义更加平民化地传播。加之夏若兰发现 Instagram 汉语学习专题与插画专题相交叉的一个市场空白,每四个汉字都可能是一个触发点,画面的创作空间非常广阔。“四字画语”就此诞生了。

From fine art to movies and video games, Xia’s inspiration comes from a variety of different sources. “One time, I was cooking something with Sriracha. I was just staring at the bottle of red sauce, and the idiom rè huǒ cháo tiān (热火朝天) popped up in my head mind. At the same time, an image of René Magritte’s surrealist paintings surfaced in my mind. Combining the two, I came up with the idea to draw a bunch of Sriracha rockets flying into the sky as a way of presenting the idiom.”

要说灵感的发源,艺术家的作品、电影游戏的画面,都会成为夏若兰的启发点,“有一次我用 Sriracha 辣酱(中国好像买不到,但在海外很火的中国特色辣酱)做晚饭,看着红红的瓶身,就想到了热火朝天那个词。脑海中又有超现实主义艺术家雷内马格里特(René Magritte)的经典画作,于是就画出了一大堆辣酱瓶子因为自身太辣变成了火箭往天上飞的场景。”

Xia acknowledges that conceptualizing and executing the illustrations aren’t the toughest steps of the creative process. The most challenging part lies in the fact that there are lots of four-character phrases that simply cannot be explained in a sentence or two. “In most cases, I have to simplify the full meaning; if the dictionary doesn’t explain the literal meaning or breakdown underlying connotations of the phrase, I also have to figure out how to add it in. My boyfriend will often help out too and fix up my ‘Chinglish.’” Xia says, grinning. “But when I’m trying to translate these idioms, it’s not just about their meaning. The most important thing is to explain why its an interesting phrase.”

One of the quirkier phrases Xia covers in the series is “děng dēng děng dēng (等灯等灯),” a four-character onomatopoeia that references Intel’s iconic jingle. The first and third character, děng (等), means wait. The second and fourth character, dēng (灯), means light. Her illustrations present a literal interpretation of the phrase with characters holding traffic lights. This expression is most often used as playful banter between friends and simply means “wait” or “hold on a minute.”

Another phrase Xia enjoyed working on was wèi ài gǔ zhǎng (为爱鼓掌), which is a double entendre. Its literal meaning is “clap in the name of love,” but in Chinese, the onomatopoeia for clapping – “pa, pa, pa” (啪啪啪) –  is associated with the sounds of intercourse (or specifically, the sound of skin slapping against skin). The expression is essentially used as a euphemism for talking about sex. Taking into consideration of the fact that many people might not understand the dual meaning of the phrase, she decided to approach the illustration and definition in a literal manner. Another point she took into consideration is that if she were to present the true meaning through illustration, it’d most likely result in a raunchy image that could be censored by Instagram. Xia tells us, “It was fun to look at the comment section for this post,” she says. “Many people who’re aware of the true meaning were cracking jokes with other double entendres.”

但往往最难的不是设计本身,而是那些无法用三言两语去解释的字词。“大多数情况是,自己把词典提供的释义进行略微的改动;如果词典没有提供引申义和字面义的,自己也需要补上。有时候在美国的男友也会帮忙改语法,以及改掉我比较 Chinglish 的部分。”夏若兰说,“在解释这些词的时候,不仅要解释字面义,还要解释为什么这个词是有趣的。”


Having never been formally trained in art, Xia says this project is actually her first-ever attempt at dabbling with illustration. “While Four Chars has helped me a lot personally, it’s actually my first time ever doing something like this. It’s helped me with managing my stress, but in a way, it’s pretty much just escapism. […] I do feel a sense of elation and relief whenever I’m working on the project. It feels different from doing something just to kill time. There also aren’t any extreme ‘eureka’ moments nor do I experience creative stagnation; the project lets me channel my creativity in a pretty consistent way. I also get to experiment with new styles or aesthetics every day.”

Recalling what life was like before she began the project, Xia estimates that 90% of her time was spent figuring out how to be more effective, how to work faster, and how to get results. Being locked into this mentality led her to feel restless and irritable all the time. “So, as someone who’s always looked within for answers, I began asking myself how I could get out of this slump. I guess I hoped I could use the remaining 10% of my time to come up with an answer, and it turns out, Four Chars was the result of that – this project gave me a chance to work on something that didn’t necessarily need an end goal. It was time that I can use for my personal enjoyment and to better myself creatively. In a way, I’m grateful. If I didn’t face the hardships that I did, then I wouldn’t have come up with Four Chars. Its helped me find motivation in all aspects of my life.”


因为之前受到种种压力的影响,夏若兰每天可能会有 90% 的时间在让自己加速、高效、出成果,需要做到“充实”。但这种充实却建立在浮躁本身的泡沫之上。“于是,习惯于独立思考的我立即开始向内心求助,祈求着那个 10% 的我的援助。‘四字画语’就是那个 10% 的时间,它给了我一个‘沉浸做一件事不求目的’的时间段,是一个享受匠人精神的时间段。如果没有之前的转折,就没有四字画语的初心。它像是一个自我鞭策的存在。”

Website: ruolan.design
: @four_chars


Contributor: Chen Yuan

网站: ruolan.design
Instagram: @four_chars


供稿人: Chen Yuan

Capturing Intimacy with No. 223

Beijing-based photographer No. 223 documents the people and relationships in the world around him through a lens of intimacy. His work, self-described as “free, spontaneous, unconventional, and unreasonable,” offers viewers a deeply personal look into his views on sexuality, the human body, and life in general.

While best known for his photography, No. 223 is also an avid author and independent publisher. Despite his versatility in mediums, his overall creative aspirations are one in the same. He tells us, “Sex is an essential part of life, so I try to depict as such in my works. It’s just like eating, sleeping, going out, and socializing. I just choose to record it objectively, not for the purpose of voyeurism or exposing secrets. I like the human body, so naturally, that means a lot of my works will be related to the human form.”



For personal projects, No. 223 often enlists friends as models. He’s found this approach to produce a much more organic and collaborative dynamic that allows everyone to be themselves. “The subjects in my photographs are often chosen subconsciously,” he shares of his intuitive approach. “For example, the first time that I meet somebody, I might have a strong desire to take their photo. On the other hand, when it comes to friends who I’ve known for a long time, I may not want to just casually take their photo. The action of photography comes instinctively. Some of my subjects will think that I’ve captured a sexier or more carefree version of their normal selves, while others will think that I made them look like a mess without proper styling, but to me, I feel like I’m just showing them in a natural state.”


Being that No. 223’s photography is so closely interlinked with his own life and interpersonal relationships, there are certain topics that he’s continuously inspired by and hopes to further explore in his work going forward. “What moves me the most is observing people as they slowly change over time,” No. 223 tells us. “Their skin, their gaze, their hair, the wrinkles around their eyes, their body, and so on. I wish I had the chance to capture these changes that I notice every time I see them.”


For No. 223, his creative objectives aren’t just about the superficial documentation of personal moments. The intimate nature of his work reflects his ambitions of understanding the notion of self. His photography is both passive observation and a form of self-expression. “Many of my works are about my personal journey and the things I’ve encountered in my daily life. My works that concern sexuality and the human form fall into the latter category, but it’s not that I’m focusing on sex or the human body, but rather, I see my work as being related to life and growth. Sex just happens to be a part of that.”

Ultimately, No. 223’s creativity is driven by a personal desire to better understand his own role in this world as well as the ever-changing relationship between humans and society.


Website:  linzhipeng223.com

Contributor: Chen Yuan

Image Courtesy of No.223


供稿人: Chen Yuan