The mind-blowing debut feature of renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing is a fictional feature created entirely from surveillance-camera recordings, about a young woman whose life takes a series of unexpected turns after she leaves the Buddhist temple where she has lived most of her adult life.



Dragonfly Eyes

Xu Bing

Destined to become a cult film favourite and cinema studies staple, Dragonfly Eyes is the alluring debut feature of renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing. Made from numerous disparate surveillance camera recordings, this complex mosaic elides the distinction between fiction and documentary. The resulting achievement is a thrilling composition of surprising emotion. Millions of people, obliviously walking in front of security cameras, lend the mundane, triumphant, or tragic moments of their lives to the creation of this awe-inspiring montage — everyday images, mobilized into meaning by the magic wisdom of Xu's filmmaking.

Each of us appears in front of a surveillance camera hundreds of times daily, as part of the constant live-streaming show on a global stage. Xu combines footage of many women to fashion one composite character, Qing Ting — a young woman whose Chinese name translates into English as "dragonfly." She leaves the Buddhist temple where she has lived most of her adult life, trading the safety of the monastery for a highly mechanized dairy farm. The repetitiveness of her daily routine echoes the monotonous rituals of life at the temple. But it is here that she meets Ke Fan, a technician working on the farm who develops a romantic attraction for her. Qing Ting's destiny, intertwined with Ke Fan's own, will take unexpected turns in a dance of disconnected, yet strangely concordant, clips.

Shocking, at times, and always fascinating, Dragonfly Eyes intrigues and seduces, connecting and transcending art and reality in a compelling visual spell. This is a landmark film.


Part of the Our Digital Future film series, presented by SAP

Each of us is captured on surveillance cameras 300 times a day. Dragonfly Eyes is the work of a Chinese artist who used 10,000 hours of cloud-based surveillance footage to craft the film's narrative, urging citizens to question if they could one day unwittingly be the star of the show.

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