Locked inside a digital cage seemingly of his own making, the Beijing-based audiovisual artist and composer Howie Lee plucks notes on a traditional Chinese string instrument in his new music video for “Four Seas 四海.” Is the cage an emotional one? Or is it existential, the end result of a deep dive inside an information matrix where the differences between connected cables and the bars of a jail cell have grown all but impossible to distinguish? “A lot of time I feel my body is trapped in this urban cube and physically can not go anywhere,” the Do Hits collective founder offers up. “I feel the loneliness created by social tension is unhealthy.” In “Four Seas 四海,” the result of this angst looks an awful lot like cyberpunk, but its blend of endless skyscrapers, sadistic tattooed fembots, and a vaporized take on traditional instrumentation suggest that we’re no longer imagining a sci-fi future, we’re in it.
“[H]ow do you strike a balance between traditional values and this new automated, inter-connected world?” Howie asks Dazed in an interview. See for yourself in “Four Seas 四海,” below: