Longform Editions acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land upon which we operate.

Longform Editions
A gallery for listening

Li Yilei is a Chinese artist and composer working and living in London. With a background in fine art and sound art, Li’s body of work investigates alternative modes of listening, reflecting upon the tacitness and transience of existential occurrences. Li's artistic practice often incorporates sound, found materials, movements, text, and experimental scores. Through their work, Li exemplifies serendipitous encounters between individuals and their environment, focusing on the muted state, the unheard, and the voices of the disabled and untrained. The overarching theme of tacit knowledge and disability stems from Li's unique relationship with the outside world as an individual on the autism spectrum. 

In 2016, Li founded Non Dual Collective with their partner Joan Low, an organisation dedicated to curating live events for emerging artists from East and Southeast Asia. Since 2017, Li has been actively engaged in composing for theatre and dance, while also releasing music records. Their application of sound evokes a sense of tranquillity and ambience, occasionally juxtaposed with more abrasive elements. Though growing up learning classical violin and piano, Li displays a particular interest in unconventional instruments that are played through alternative physical interactions such as frictions, movements, contact, magnetic fields, or played with natural elements like air, water, and wind. In their music production, Li frequently utilises tapes, Theremin, Euphone, field recordings, contact microphones, synthesisers, as well as designing and making their own instruments.

Artist notes:

In January 2023, I began working on a practice-based research project Tacit. It’s a multifaceted program designed to foster tacit listening – a nuanced and unspoken practice that encompasses unheard, disabled, muted, and silenced sounds. I initiated Tacit Listening: On Deafness and Muteness, a series of live sonic performances in progress. Utilising primarily found materials, broken instruments, noise boxes, and field recordings to compile fragmented and improvised sonic snapshots as part of this research. Cacophony is a sound collage consisting of excerpts from these live performances performed at ESEA Contemporary, Taikwun Contemporary, Cafe Oto and Pushkin House throughout the entire 2023. 

My goal is to capture the rawness and unrefined texture of the spaces where I performed at with contact microphones, broken devices and objects – producing feedback, overlaying echoes of delays, recreating a sensory-overloaded sonic environment that reflects the metallic, mechanical, repetitive, and non-musical nature of machines and devices. A sensory-heightened reality is like a wild dance intertwined with vibrations and frequencies. This audible world, its origins, causes, and compositions, is akin to a cryptic, ineffable, and improvisational song – a note I jotted down while wandering in central Hong Kong before performing Tacit at Taikwun Contemporary, submerged in human-made sounds, machines, glitches, speed, and palpitations. 

Deep listening for me is an exploration of the spaces between, delving into the gaps, boundaries, and frictions that reside among human bodies, objects, and phenomena. It transcends the limits of mere hearing, becoming a method of mindful contemplation – a heightened state of emergence, dissolution, and awareness diving. It unfolds as a narrative of space, a reading of time, and a discovery of overlooked resonance. It is the art of listening to silence amidst noise, hearing the unheard within saturation.