“No plots, storyboards, or scripts were involved,” explains Nanchang native Lei Lei of crafting the hallucinatory short This is Not a Time to Lie. The film follows a doe-eyed protagonist on a quest through an imagined world, and was created using vintage book covers, a motif the artist inherited from his graphic-designer father. Since training at the Academy of Art and Design in Tsinghua, the 27-year-old who also goes by
the name of “Ray” Lei has crafted multimedia works that have shown at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, including Recycled, a stop-motion piece that splices thousands of negatives found at a recycling zone in Beijing by French photography artist Thomas Sauvin. Scored to the aquatic sounds of his group Hhheeeiii, today’s film is influenced by freestyle rap and features musician pals Stars Lee and J-Fever. “We don’t really do gangster stuff with so many f-words,” he says. “We only do rap with the use of Asian language, so it’s more like a poem.”
I love life’s details. If I do the same thing every day, go to a big office, do the same work faced with a computer, I will lose a lot of details. But if I go to different countries, or different events, I will find more: the difference between peoples’ faces, for example. I find details in the street or in the countryside everywhere.
My father was a book designer. Through him, I discovered a lot of books, and his covers were so beautiful. That’s why I do animation. In his generation, he did book designs by hand because there were no computers.
Right now I’m doing an animated documentary on my family history. My grandfather played with the Beijing Opera, so he has given the soundtrack for the film, my father contributed drawings and old photographs, while I am producing the animation—so all three generations worked together.