istanbul design biennial: chinese media creative lu yang has created a mesmerizingly experimental film called ‘delusional mandala’ that sees the artist transformed into a digitized asexual avatar. yang has used her own body as the starting point to create a transformational humanoid figure, first mapping patterns in her own brain using transcranial magnetic stimulation — a procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells — in order to establish views of her cerebral limbic system. using this data, yang then transformed her brain and body into a digital avatar that extends and travels through a universe of surreal delusions and effects.

‘delusional mandala’ sees the artist transformed into a digitized asexual avatar
screenshots courtesy of lu yang



‘delusional mandala’ takes viewers on a psychedelic sojourn through a spectrum of disjoined digital graphics, religious iconography, animated dancing humanoids, nude figures, medical visuals and scientific structures. by subjectively introducing this host of cultural and religious references into the film, along with her thoughts on the physical world’s impermanence, yang induces a digital delusion. her meticulous control of images in the post-internet age, manifested through a diverse repertoire of expressive techniques, highlight the artist’s collected musings on science, religion and philosophical explorations of life and death.

yang has used her own body as the starting point to create a transformational humanoid figure
image by designboom



the artist constructs a mandala that is truly unique to her, forming yang’s reflection on her own body and work — past, present and future. part of the simulated delusions show the artist-avatar continually and comprehensively damaging herself and her projects — a reflection on human consciousness and the connection between that awareness and the human brain. the film sees the figure go through a thoroughly transformative process of life and death, first engaging with brain mapping machines, then enacting meditative rituals, dance and mind games, before finally being placed in a coffin and transported away by a psychedelic temple-bus covered in gold graphics and digital images. 

the psychedelic sojourn travels through a spectrum of disjoined digital graphics



‘delusional mandala’s’ presentation at the istanbul design biennial coincides with this year’s theme: are we human?. this third edition explores the intimate relationship between humans and design over a time period that spans from the last two seconds to the last 200,000 years. ‘design is the most human thing about us, design is what makes us human,’ curator beatriz colomina told us at the event. ‘it is the basis of social life, from the very first artifacts to the exponential expansion of human compatibility….we wrote a polemical manifesto with eight propositions, and invited a galaxy of artists, designers, architects, theorists, choreographers, film makers, historians, archeologists, scientists, and collaborations with all of the above to respond to these propositions.’

after death, the avatar figure is transported by a a temple-shaped bus clad in gold

the artist constructs a mandala that is truly unique to her

a range of graphics are combined to create a mezmerizing display of iconography 

the film forms yang’s reflection on her own work — past, present and future

the digital avatar extends and travels through a universe of surreal delusions and effects

the film forms a reflection on human consciousness and the connection between the brain and body
image by designboom

the artist’s control of images in the post-internet age is manifested through a repertoire of techniques

the film highlights the artist’s musings on science, religion and philosophical explorations of life and death

‘delusional mandala’s’ presentation at the istanbul design biennial coincides with this year’s theme: are we human?

yang has used her body as the starting point to create a transformational humanoid figure

  • My eyes still perceive this as female. I have to convince myself to go along with the whole asexual idea. I’m not so easily fooled by just removing the sex organs. It still looks completely human and completely sexual. Sexually frustrated, even!

    anonymous says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news