Li Xiaofei’s video works cannot lie. He makes inquiries into the most un-poetic thing of all, the “Assembly Line,” but what is the relationship of this video work to reality? Moving close to the ground, his video camera approaches the cold core of reality, all the while maintaining the fine details of said reality. Maintaining a space or a looming “critical distance,” his work is a process of opening up the viewer’s eyes—a process sometimes intermingled with narrative sounds.
Simple, direct: Behind the “zero degree writing” of the video, it is the repeated, measuring, editing and polishing of every detail. It seems very unadorned and natural, but actually it is also elaborate, forever within the natural aesthetic of the video. It illustrates the unpolished nature and the constant and precise adjustment of the measure, like if someone has a great skill it can help them realize the essence of the universe, like the paradoxical practice of Zhuangzi’s “void-quietness,” which gives us the access to the Dao.
This concerns the method of writing and creative style, exposing a paradox between truth and reality. The distance is one which strictly corresponds with reality and is also seemingly infinitely drawing near to reality, but it also is closely related with reality. This kind of distance pays sincere attention to reality itself, the detailed and logical description and observation in regards to the context of creating—namely the “Assembly Line.” In a coldly logical way investigating and depicting, the distance poses questions to reality which do not leave any traces.
Here we disturb the sequence of linear time trying to give sequence to the three different stylistic phases of the assembly line series. Each phase represents a method of writing and “aesthetic effect” or there is a starting point to be discovered and yet it remains all the way through in some form. Thus Xiaofei uses three ways of working that do not conflict with each other: the ways to observe, write and contemplate on the “Assembly Line” reality of our world.