In his video work Beyond Geography, Li dramatizes the role of the artist-as-imitator to the point of sheer parody. Dressed to toe in the costume of a typical Discovery Channel adventurer-explorer, the artist dashes suavely through the uncharted jungle habitat of a primitive tribe. Li modulates his own voice in laughably accurate mimicry of the dubbed Discovery Channel protagonist familiar to Chinese viewership, daringly gulping fresh water from a river, expertly admiring exotic vegetation, and whimpering in fear of the dark sounds of the night (screaming, even, as he trips on a human skull) in an full-scale exaggeration of a nature show personality. None of these settings, however, is shot on “location” as the video takes place entirely in an empty 3-D digital film studio with a blue screen. Engaging in a near Brechtian conceit, Li deliberately keeps the studio space raw in order to remind us that these television programs are always deliberately artificial and produced. His project is entirely farcical, and just as there are not sets or props to lure the viewer into complacency, Li’s interactions with the indigenous tribesmen – whom Li “discovers” – becomes their own simulated performance of colonial appropriation and meetings of “first contact.” This narrative of appropriation carries throughout until, near the video’s end, Li (in full explorer persona) begins to make declarations about the tribe’s civilization, decreeing their cave paintings (never seen on camera) as masterpieces on par with Picasso and Mondrian. In assuming the guise of the pedantic academic, Li ends his video with a humorously condescending twist. At the same time, his video reminds us of the inherent dangers of confusing mediated representation with documentary while reminding us of the constant threat of cultural appropriation at play when we fail to see the blue screen for the the jungle and the artist for the explorer.