BMW Art Journey winner Lu Yang completes first leg of her travel to Bali, Indonesia


BMW Art Journey winner Lu Yang (represented by the gallery Société, Berlin) completed the first leg of her travel, which took her to Bali, Indonesia from January 12 to 21, 2020. The Shanghai-based artist is the eighth recipient of the BMW Art Journey, a collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide. Lu Yang aims to explore human mimicry of robots by capturing the movements of Indonesian, Japanese and Indian dancers.

Lu Yang’s BMW Art Journey entitled “Human Machine Reverse Motion Capture Project” examines how the human body can be trained to overcome its physical limitations and explores its deployment in historical and present-day cultures. Her research looks into how humans negotiate their evolving relationship with machines that may ultimately surpass human limitations. Steeped in the latest digital technologies, Lu employs sophisticated motion-capture devices to record dancer’s gestures, including facial, finger- and eye-capture techniques that can collect and analyze the subtlest body movements, and mimic these using robotic technologies.

“To me, there is no distinction between art and technology, robots and our bodies are both carriers. They are both substances. Buddhism refers to the physical world as a world of matters. From a macro point of view, arts, culture, technology, tradition, and modernity all belong to the same system. This way of thinking is less limiting”, says Lu Yang about her work.

In Bali, Lu met traditional Balinese dancers as well as kEnkEn, a renowned dancer from Tokyo (Japan). In Balinese dances, movement is controlled to such a degree that dancers are able to manipulate their finger joints individually. Lu was able to capture dance motion data from famous dancing actor I Wayan Purwanto, Legong dancer Ni Kadek Sudarmanti, Rangda dancer Made Sukadana, as well as from the warrior dancer Dewa Putu Selamat Raharja. The four sets of captured motion are highly representative for Indonesian dance traditions.


With the support of the Japan Foundation, PARCO in Tokyo, and the Tokyo based company Akar Media, Lu invited kEnkEn, a celebrated young dancer, to join her in Bali. In collaboration with him, Lu was able to collect data of kEnkEn’s facial and body gestures.

The facial micro-expressions and action data of the dancers will be used in the final artwork, which Lu will create after the BMW Art Journey. Lu has been using motion-capture technology to create her artistic work for the past two to three years. With the BMW Art Journey, the artist has the opportunity to develop her work and gather more detailed facial expressions and finger movements of the dancers.

The technological requirements of Lu Yang´s BMW Art Journey made the preparations complex, especially in regards to the need of using advanced technology. The creation of top-notch virtual and digital human and facial micro-expression is one of the greatest challenges of the project. Lu Yang´s team spent several months conducting research globally for potential partners in this area. The team decided to partner with “facegood”, from China, as they possess the most advanced patent technology in China to capture facial micro-expression. Their technology is capable of capturing facial expressions and body actions on the spot and they will be responsible for the postproduction, in which virtual digital human renderings will be created with matching action data.

The second leg of Lu Yang´s BMW Art Journey will take the artist to Kerala in India.

For further information about the artists and her BMW Art Journey, please visit: