Linda C.H. LAI



artistic portfolio


floating site

c.v. / bio





Publications... | Funded research... | Academic Conference... | Ph.D. thesis/research... | Thesis supervised...



Academic/refereed –

[Now in revision after anonymous peer review, refereed journal essay] “Contemporary ‘Women’s Art in Hong Kong’ Reframed: Performative research on the potentialities of women art-makers” –Positions, special journal issue edited by Shu-chin Tsui, under review (Duke University).

[Submitted, in preparation, encyclopedic entry] “My Son A-Chang (1950)” – an encyclopedic entry Critical Filmographies of World Cinema: Hong Kong, edited by Joelle Collier, to be published by Caboose, Canada.

〈在「人類紀」以活動影像為據點重整「辯證結構」〉《新美術》2017年2月,中國美術學院學報,總38卷,118-131頁,中國杭州。[essay “Moving Image as a tactical location to restore ‘dialectical structures’ in the Anthropocene,” in special issue on the Anthropocene, Journal of the National Academy of Art (CAA Journal), v. 38, number 2, 2017, pp. 118-131, Hangzhou, Feb 2017] [Read...]

[refereed book chapter] “Documenting Sentiments in Video Diaries around 1997: archeology of forgotten screen practices - in A Companion to Hong Kong Cinema, edited by Gina Marchetti, Esther Yau, and Esther Cheung, Wiley-Blackwell. Published August 2015.

[commissioned] “Video Art in Hong Kong: Organologic Sketches for a Dispersive History” in Hong Kong Visual Art Yearbook 2014; Chinese University of Hong Kong (Fine Arts Department), funded by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Published July 2015. [bi-lingual]

〈蕩游者何往?- 中國大陸九十年代城市電影的“空間實踐”與“負詩學”〉,《城市一代:世紀之交的中國電影與社會/紀錄、影像:海外與中國》,張真編,復旦大學出版社,2013年10月。

[commissioned] “Attempting a history of (new) media arts for Hong Kong: archaeology, literacy and education for artists,” in Hong Kong Visual Arts Yearbook 2007, by the Fine Arts Department, the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Chinese University Press, 2008. Pp. 97-183. [bi-lingual]

[refereed book chapter] “Wither the Walker Goes: Spatial Practices and Negative Poetics in Huang Jianxin’s `Urban Attitude’ Films and the Works of Some `Outside-the-institution’ Filmmakers in the Late 1990s,” anthologized in The Urban Generation: Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the 21st Century, ed. Zhang Zhen (Duke University Press, 2007). [read...]

[In Chinese] “cong changbian dianshi ju zhen qing chufa de richang shenhuo wanglu tanjiu: sange bendi zhufu de `wenhua ziben’ yingyong” (“Surveying the network of connectivity evolving from the reception of popular TV drama series True Love: a study of three local housewives’ mobilization of their cultural capital”), Gendering Hong Kong, co-published by Centre for Asian Studies (HKU) and Oxford University Press (China), 2004. [The essay first appeared in Hong Kong Women: Case Studies; 2nd edition); Hong Kong: Society for the Advancement of Women Rights, 2003.]

[refereed book chapter] “Film and Enigmatization: Nostalgia, Nonsense, and Remembering,” anthologized in At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World, ed. Esther C.M. Yau, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 231-50. [read...]

[refereed on-line journal essay] "HK Cinema in the 1930s: Docility, Social Hygiene, Pleasure-seeking & the Consolidation of the Film Industry," in Screening the Past (an electronic refereed journal on film and media arts published in Australia), issue #11. Officially Upload on November 1, 2000 [citation page..] [read pdf version...]

Sponsored publications (selections from 2000 onward) --

[Extended notes on exemplary pedagogic case in art education] “mei xushi: yige youguan luxiang chuangzuo de kua xueke de shiyan” “微敘事 :一個有關錄像創作的跨學科的實驗” [Micro Narratives: an interdisciplinary experiment on video creation] in Shi ba an: zhongguo meishu yuanxiao shiyan yishu jiaoan《十八案:中國美術院校實驗藝術教案》[18 cases: pedagogic cases in experimental art for art academies in China]; Hangzhou: China Art Academy, 2008. pp. 149-164.

[Digital Catalogue in DVD-ROM] General Editor / Contributor, The Writing Machine Collective 2nd Edition: Machine and Writing as Sites, published September 2007, fully funded by the ACD, one of the 4 awarded Creative New Media Projects.

Editor/Contributing Artist/Contributing Writer for A Matter of Ownership: a bilateral Exchange between Para/Site (Hong Kong) and The Substation (Singapore) (Hong Kong: Para/Site Art Space, 2005), produced with funding from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. 178 pages.

“Between `I’ and `You’: an Architextual Construction of Li Ngaw’s Broadcast Drama as Film Adaptation,” in The Hong Kong-Guangdong Film Connection, ed. Wong Ainling (Hong Kong: the Hong Kong Film Archive, 2005), pp. 184-201.

General Editor/Coy Editor for digital catalogue (on CD-ROM), Take a ST/Roll: Donut Fantasies in the Wake of the 21st Century, for the art exhibition “Take a ST/Roll” (March-April 2005); also author for article “Generative Experiences: art-making as procedures and classification” and co-author with Kongkee and Reine Wong for “The Struggle to Manipulate Data as an Art Form: Problem-solving in the creative process of the Donut / Face: the database”; sponsored by ADC.

“Early Cinema Aesthetics: a Contextual View”, Hong Kong Film Archive Newsletter April 2004.

“Serial Thinking: the Infinity and Limits of Modernism; Extension from Danny Yung’s Memorandum of the Rock.” in From Close. From Afar, a publication issued to accompany the exhibition “Tree/Man: Danny Yung’s Solo Exhibition,” by 1aSpace, November, 2003.

[in Chinese] “shixiang de ganxing zhi pu” (affective vectors of the moving images”), Artism Bimonthly June 2003, by Hong Kong: International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong).

“Retrieving an Old Thesis: Gazing at the Screen,” keynote essay for the “Third Text: Image + Media 03,” an international experimental media art festival, May 26-June 6, 2003, School of Creative Media, the City University of Hong Kong. (The piece appears in the program brochure of the event as well as individual handouts for visitors.)

“Multiple voices, diverse cultures: an overview of FIPRESCI-Hong Kong contestants,” for the FIRESCI (International Film Critics Alliance) official web-site (April 19, 2003).

“Rice Distribution: an Open Document,” in Hong Kong Indie Films @27th HKIFF (Hong Kong: Ying E Chi, April 2003), pp. 60-1.

Big Road: an Eclectic Text,” (on Shanghai film classics Da Lu directed by Sun Yu, 1934), in Fifty Chinese Classics, proceedings for the Hong Kong International Film Festival, March-April, 2001.

"Film Development Fund: Re-vision for Patchwork" (an interview with Christine Choy, Member of Projects Vetting Committee, FDF), for Asian Independent, a component of the International Film Festival of HK, April 2000.

Book -

Editor/Contributorfor World Film Locations Hong Kong, co-edited with Kimburley Choi. Intellect, U.K., July 2013.

Art Books –

[catalogue] Editor / Researcher for Tracing Data: What You Read is Not What we Write: Proceedings, a 115-page catalogue for the Writing Machine Collective 5th Exhibition, funded by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, 9-22 October 2014. Published in June 2015. ISBN 978-988-14525-9-7

[catalogue] Editor / Researcher for [Re-]Fabrication: Choi Yan-chi's 30 years, Paths of interdisciplinarity in art(1975-2005), a 333-page, bi-lingual book based on a 2-year research for Para/Site Art Space’s “Hong Kong Artists in the 1980s” series, supported by the HK Arts Development Council, published January 2007.

[catalogue] Editor/Contributing Artist/Contributing Writer for A Matter of Ownership: a bilateral Exchange between Para/Site (Hong Kong) and The Substation (Singapore), a 178-page publication with critical essays and art on paper, produced with funding from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council; Hong Kong: Para/Site Art Space, 2005.

[creative work] Crypto-glyph: Dialogues in Many Tongues in the Hidden Crevices of an Open City (a 288-page book exploring possible dialogs between the written text and photography, 9” x 8-1/2” in size in full color); funded by the Philippe Charriol Foundation (Asia), published in January 2004.

Book - adapted from M.A. thesis

Mei jie guomin《媒介國民》[media citizenship], co-authored with Jeremy Yung 翁偉微合著; Hong Kong Excellence Books卓越出版社, 1994.

Funded Research

University Funding – academic

[SRG 2015-16] Principal Investigator, “Women Art-makers in Hong Kong: Ethnography, Archiving, the Everyday and Beyond” / 12 months (2016.01-2016.12)

[General Research Fund GRF 2014-15] Principal Investigator, “Where Else to Look? – on the expandability of screen practices in Hong Kong and its possible future / 36 months (2014.10.01-2017.09.30)

[Strategic Research Grant SRG 2010-12] Principal Investigator, “From Self-Archiving to Open Content: Digital Archiving as Ethnography, Historiography and Art Practice.”

[Faculty Research Incentive Funds-SCM 2010.03-12] Principal Investigator, “What is in a ‘Talking Head’? – a visual ethnography on performativity, reflexivity and social interaction.”

[Strategic Research Grant 2008-9] Principal Investigator, “Virtual Walks through the Urban Space of Hong Kong 1929-1936: visual ethnography for a lost history of space.”

[Direct Allocated Grant] Principal Investigator, “The Writing Machine,” January 2003 to February 2004.

[Direct Allocated Grant] Co-Investigator (with Theresa Mikuriya), “Immersive Poetry,” January 2003 to February 2004.

[Research Grant from Centre for Media Technology] Principal Investigator, “The Crypto-glyph Machine,” January to June 2003.

Non-University Funding – art-related

[Hong Kong Arts Development Council] Awarded 2013.11] Project Supervisor/Artist, awarded project grant by the Hong Kong Art Development Council (Media Art) together with Hector Rodriguez and Justin Wong for “The Writing Machine Collective edition 5”; a physical exhibition and event series. Project dates: 27 Sep 2014 – 22 Jun 2015

[Hong Kong Arts Development Council] Awarded 2009.09] Projector Supervisor/Artist, awarded project grant by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (Media Art) for “The Writing Machine Collective edition 4”; a physical exhibition and event series (Jan 14-31, 2011).

[Hong Kong Arts Development Council] Research Supervisor/Curator/Artist, “The Writing Machine Collective edition 2”; support by a New Media Art Creation grant from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, for the period from January 2005 to February 2007, agreement signed in December 2005.

[Hong Kong Arts Development Council] Curator/Artist, “The Writing Machine Collective”; a grant for screening activities issued by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, for June 16 to August 31, 2004.

[Hong Kong Arts Development Council] Field research Coordinator (with Christine Choy - PI, Steve Fore, Hector Rodriguez, Ip Yuk-yiu and Nancy Tong), “The Development of Electronic Media Art in Hong Kong,” commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, completed in February 2001.


Academic Conferences


[seminar guest] “Floating Projects, Survival Re-envisioned: spatial occupation, re-producing social relations and the economy of contribution,” ‘Hard State, Soft City: the Urban Imaginative Field in Singapore’ organized by the ARI (Asia Research Institute), of NUS (the National University of Singapore), at the NUS Museum, Singapore. 2016.03.17-03.18.

[presenter] artwork with long text reviewed and selected for the 16th Generative Art Conference – Door Games Window Frames: Near Drama, Milan, Italy, 9-12 Dec 2013.

[participating scholar] Lecture-presenter - “’Women’s Art in HK’ Reframed: a performative research in progress on the potentialities of women art-makers,” at the international symposium ‘Female Embodiment of the Visual World: Women’s Art in Contemporary China, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, USA, 27 Sep 2013.

[by invitation] "How to be Human, Good, and Civilized: Everyday Modernity in the Crevices (a Study of Movie Ads for the 15 Lost Local Films Produced in Hong Kong 1934)," at Hanyang Unviersity's RICH (Research Institute of Comparative History and Culture) as part of the Everyday Coloniality: Migration, Ego-documents, Visuality ; transnational historians' workshop, funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea's WCU (World Class University) initiative. October 27-30, 2011.

[by invitation] Presenter of “Meditations on a Minor History: Voices Seen, Images Heard,” in Everyday Coloniality, International Workshop-conference attended by 13 historians, organized by the Research Institute of Comparative History and Culture, sponsored by the National Research Foundation of Korea. 2010.11.

[refereed] Organizer of the panel "What's in a Talking Head? - a visual ethnography on performativity, reflexivity & interactionism "; and Presenter for the paper "What is in a talking head? - narrated selves and event structures, a phenomenological view on glocal connectivities," at Crossroads 2010, International Conference of the Society for Cultural Studies, 2010.06.18-21, Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

[Official Selection] Presented “Micro Narratives” as part of the 18 Cases, a showcase of experimental art pedagogy in art schools in China, as part of the 80th Anniversary events of the China Art Academy, Hangzhou; exhibited March 24 – April 23, 2008.

[refereed] “Micro Narratives: an Interdisciplinary Project on Video Experiments,’ at the 2nd International Conference on the Arts in Society, in conjunction with the Documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, August 21-24, 2007.


Ph.D. Thesis/Research

Abstract of Ph.D. dissertation

"Producing heterotopia: Traces of the cinema in the thick space of governmentality, localism and citizenship in 1934 Hong Kong." [New York University: Cinema Studies]
658 p.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-09, Section: A, page: 3203.
Adviser: Toby Miller

The project began as the quest for an absent history of the pre-war Hong Kong cinema, finally re-defined as the study of one year, an attempt to gain the first sights and sounds of 1934's material existence, a year without monumental significance and before cinema turned full sound.
The choice of 1934 problematizes at once normative definitions of "significant events" and "film culture." Upholding "spatial realism" (as opposed to conceptual realism), I refresh the category of "space-time" to supercede the "time versus space" dichotomy in history-writing, thus re-assessing standard historiographic categories like causal relation, continuity, progress, and structure-conjuncture to call for revised narrative models. Spatial realism leads to the critical engagement with mapping, urban morphology, and a sought dialog between "production of space" and "heterotopia."
I also critique the notion of film culture, arguing that pro-filmic events need not always be placed in the paradigmatic center to yield productive cinema history, whereas individual films and related activities can be unique nodal points through which factual and fictional histories travel.
A multiple-approach chapter scheme establishes the following: that cinema necessarily forms a continuum with other everyday life domains; that quotidian micro-processes involving multiple players best illumine (the effects of) governmentality, and in Hong Kong's case, one looks at the colonial administration's pacification tactics in population management, the promotion of leisure via spatial reproduction, relaxing land purchase and rental legislation, and a bottom-up "Cantonization" process forging a local identity around a distinct shared dialect, Cantonese. Two key chapters trace my virtual walk through the urban space along key transportation routes, steered by thick description and free story-telling. I reveal traces of the government's constant relocation of Chinese residential clusters as disciplinary measures, and how movie theaters spatially intervened into a minor district as it evolved into modernized urbanity. Seventeen silent and Cantonese-language films are investigated, following the order of their exhibition dates across 1934, emphasizing the textual transportation between cinema and other locations of cultural writings and moral exegesis, yielding a unique picture of production of citizenship via self-techniques. Adopting process-oriented narrative strategies, I have embodied both the reflexive historian and situated ethnographer, illustrating performativity in positive knowledge production.

// Links to text /
CityU-Library: electronic // UMI ProQuest // archived by OCLC's Experimental Thesis Catalog (United States)

Doctoral Comprehensive Exams: 3 expert areas

Media Theories // History of Documentary Films // History of Italian Films (post-war)


Thesis Supervised at the School of Creative Media

[M.Phil] YIU Sheung-yee. “New Information Structure: Digital Archive as the New Form of ‘Story-telling’ and its Effect” (CityU-SCM), graduated October 2010.

[Ph.D] LEUNG Hok-bun Isaac. “A History of the Present – an Ethnographic Study of Contemporary Chinese Art” (CityU-SCM), graduated November 2014.

[Ph.D] SAMSON, Audrey. “Death in Infinite Times; Erasure as a method of inquiry to explore how memory and technical objects are codetermined and transformed” (CityU-SCM),defending August 2016.

[Ph.D/co-supervision w/ Dr. Steve Fore] CHEUNG, Terrie. “The Ecology of Chinese Independent Animation in the Contemporary World: Case Studies of Mainland China and Hong Kong” (CityU-SCM), in progress (due Aug 2017)

[Ph.D] SHIN Gyung-jin. ““A Topology of Acting Out: Critical Analysis of the Artistic System and Alternative Art Practices”” (CityU-SCM), in progress (due August 2018) **on HK PhD Fellowship

[Ph.D] Ana Clara OLIVEIRA SANTOS GARNER. “Experiencing a World with Selfies” (CityU-SCM), in progress (due August 2018) **on HK PhD Fellowship

[Ph.D] LIM Yeonkyoung. "Asian Queer Aesthetics on Moving Images" (starting September 2016)