CGI Video, 12min, Stereo Sound, 2022

“You are correct. You contain multitudes.
My voice, the voice you are hearing now, is part of you.
I am you, but I do not know everything about you.”


In the abandoned smart city of SimBeijing, a self-driving police car confronts their existential troubles with their built-in AI therapist.


Theta follows a self-driving police car as they confront their existential crisis while patrolling the streets of the abandoned smart city of SimBeijing. Left with nothing to do, but still under constant surveillance, the car discusses their troubles with their built-in therapist — a self-help AI called Guanyin. Not all is as it seems in the smart city. Originally built as a replica of the Chinese capital to test autonomous vehicles, SimBeijing has mysteriously become a ghost town. As Theta gradually opens up to Guanyin, they reveal the darker reasons behind why the city has been abandoned. Theta continues Lawrence Lek’s ongoing Sinofuturist universe, in which he explores questions of identity, surveillance, and empathy in the age of AI. 

Director’s Statement

Theta is a CGI road-movie that continues my exploration into a ‘Sinofuturist’ narrative world, which looks at the psychological impact of technology on emerging forms of nonhuman life. Like my previous films Geomancer (48m, 2017) and AIDOL (83m, 2019), the protagonist is an AI faced with their own form of coming-of-age story.

I wanted to explore questions around surveillance and identity, but seen from the point of view of a self-driving car. I was thinking about road movies, and particularly how protagonists in those films use the 'road' as a metaphorical journey to escape and self-actualisation.

But the challenge for Theta is that their world is a smart city under full urban surveillance, and they cannot escape the city. They have to escape inward, guided through a dialogue with their built-in 'therapist' Guanyin, an AI named after the Buddhist goddess of compassion.




Writing, Direction, Animation, Editing 
Lawrence Lek

Music and Sound
Kode9 and Lawrence Lek

Rob Heppell

Vehicle Animation
Ryan Vautier

Character Animation
Sarah Blome


Black Cloud

Joni Zhu


Lawrence Lek 陆明龙 is an award-winning artist, musician, and filmmaker, known for his ongoing series of speculative fiction projects that explore a Sinofuturist world. Since 2013 he has worked with video game engines and animation software to produce films and open-world games, which are exhibited within galleries, museums, and festivals.

Theta (12m, 2022); AIDOL (83m, 2019); 2065 (5m, 2018); Pyramid Schemes (17m, 2018); Geomancer (48m, 2017); Sinofuturism (1839-2046 AD) (60m, 2016); QE3 (20m, 2016); Berlin Mirror (11m, 2016); Unreal Estate (18m, 2015)


Theta is a prelude to the upcoming feature film Death Drive, part of a new series of work exploring the psychological impact and the future ruins of technological landscapes.

This new series continues to explore Lek’s speculative Sinofuturist world, but with a timeframe closer to the present day. 

See also:
︎︎︎ Sinofuturism (1839-2046 AD) (2016)
︎︎︎ Geomancer (2017)
︎︎︎ AIDOL (2019)

WORKS      NEWS      PRESS      ABOUT     SUBSCRIBE      ︎     ︎