Ullens Center for Contemporary Art presents its latest collective exhibition on the new ‘Chinese Art Generation’, Breaking Forecast, 8 key Figures of China’s New Generation Artists (http://www.ucca.org.cn/portal/exhibition/index.798?op=current&menuId=19).
Among important names and notable voices of the young Chinese art scene, Cao Fei’s RMB City is also exhibited with a massive installation of our SL ‘fake mountain’. Inspired by artist JianJun’s original ideas on reality vs virtuality/fake/hyper-reality, RMB City erects itself in the shape of a huge fake mountain in the main hall of UCCA.
Like in a magic box, THE REAL is first represented in THE VIRTUAL world of SL (we quite obviously tend to represent what is already in our mind, what we already know and is part of our experience) and finally this new object repossesses THE REAL space of the gallery.
The work is multilayered and plays on different conceptual meanings but one thing that immediately crossed my mind while exploring new RMBCity piece is Calderón de la Barca’s play La Vida Es Sueño (http://www.enotes.com/life-dream).
What is real? Does it actually make sense to distinguish real and ‘virtual’ lives? Can human mind really perceive the limits between reality and illusion, or is maybe our life a blurred and unknowable dreamlike experience?
The idea of ‘life as a dream’ goes back to old platonic and Hindu theories of reality as illusion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_(Hinduism). And quite interesting this coincidence adds to the list of recurring connections between Hinduism and SL world (we’ve already discussed the Sanskrit meaning of the term ‘avatar’ in a previous post http://rmbcity.com/2009/05/virtual-reincarnations/).
Has virtuality become our modern way of representing an unknowable and mysterious world?
“What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction,
And the greatest profit is small;
For all of life is a dream,
And dreams, are nothing but dreams.”
Pedro Calderón de la Barca, La Vida Es Sueño, Segismundo’s soliloquy