Photoshopping the CCTV Fire

Godzilla CCTV

Some Photoshop-savvy “netizens” have been making their own interpretations of the CCTV fire imagery, layering on monster and alien attacks, cartoonish personifications of the buildings, the tracing of mysterious symbols in the smoke-clouds…

It seems only natural to want to “metabolize” such an epic-scale disaster by shrinking it to the level of the cute, or distancing it via the lenses of narrative and myth. Maybe such a catastrophe provokes the need to take more “authorship” than normal over one’s city (as demonstrated here, in a very light-hearted manner). Obviously since there was very little loss of life, it doesn’t feel like a “human tragedy” — more a tragedy of inanimate objects and systems. We know so little about the secret life and emotions of glass and steel. Does the urban fabric of Beijing itself feel the “burn”?

See more on


Blog — Tags: , , , , — Miniature Tigerpaw, February 12, 2009 @ 2:05 am

RL CCTV burns; People’s Entertainment Television is just fine

CCTV's TVCC on fire
(from RMB City)

On Monday evening, I was driving home in a taxi along Beijing’s 3rd Ring Road (in Real Life), when the traffic began to slow down… It was the final day of the Lunar New Year, also known as “Lantern Festival,” and hence the night when all of Beijing would attempt to set off as many fireworks as possible before they became prohibited again the next morning (and until the next turning of the Lunar Year, which would briefly make the city a flashing kaleidoscope once more). The evening was full of bang, sparkle, and pop in all directions, many revelers young and old standing on street corners to enjoy the show, but then as we approached the CCTV building, the crowds grew bigger and the cars ground to an almost halt. The taxi driver exclaimed that there must be a fire, and urged me to look out the left-side (Eastern) windows of the car. Sure enough, I saw small flames and huge black smoke clouds billowing out of the top of the tall building next to CCTV. He said, “I’m sure this will be in the newspaper tomorrow.” Only a little while later, the entire building was burning – as I continued to watch via my laptop at home.

Of course, RMB City has its own People’s Entertainment Television Center, gently spinning in the air above our Sims, untouched by any threat of spreading sparks. It’s amazing to remember, on such a huge scale, just how fragile a platform First Life is.

A nice essay by Bert de Muynck on Artforum China gives more reflection on the real-life icon, and its place in the ever-changing symbolic weather of Beijing.

Artforum China
(From Artforum China)

Blog — Tags: , , , — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 1:50 am

Visitors to the City / records of their travels

Since our opening, many avatars are making the trip to RMB City – no entry visa required!

Over at Virtual Underworld, one such traveler has recently posted about RMB City, saying: “Its not a ‘mirror world’, and truthfully it is hard to describe.” All in all, we’d have to agree – descriptions are difficult, best you visit for yourself… (read more)

Virtual Underworld at RMB City

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, February 6, 2009 @ 3:21 am

Axis Mundi


Sometimes things just connect. The other day I was reminded of this line from part of T.S. Eliot‘s Four Quartets:

“the still point of the turning world”

I have always been particularly drawn to the People’s Observation Wheel in RMB City, and when I thought about this phrase again it clicked for me. Though the City Hall appears to be the main center for RMB City, it seems the wheel might be an important fulcrum as well. I then remembered the phrase “Axis Mundi”, and how nearly all world cultures have their own version of this. The still point that connects heaven and earth. The eternal, unchanging center of a swirling chaos.

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, February 2, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

Mayor Project: 1st Value of UliSigg Cisse


The first mayor of RMB City Ulisigg Cisse (RL: ULi Sigg) gave RMB ‘s citizens his first value, this mayor who claimed that “I would certainly be an excellent mayor, but I am born lazy” and thinks that an Utopia should be “Sinoswisszurichbeijing – situated in the Alps but with Chinese food, and no avatar with more than one vote”, surely will make alterations to RMB. It is exciting to see what RMB City will look like after his three-month term of office. This value is a little step for the changes of our city, what ‘s up next?

As one of the RMB members, I am expecting our mayors to fulfil his/her responsobility (probably in a way that I have never seen, although repetition is a mutation too):

– Hold a “Town Hall Meeting” in City Hall on a monthly basis, listen to the needs from the RMB citizens

– Select two noteworthy residents and visitors of RMB City as “Honored Citizens” every month

– Make a new rule for his/ her successor

– Make a visit to a specific venue in RMB City and make an offering there that will be kept through his/ her term of office

– Arrange at least one event at the place where SL feng shui master Huang He (SL: Queenshoe Voom) suggested

Mayor! Jia You!

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 2:34 am

Happy Niu Year

From RMB City


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 27, 2009 @ 11:31 pm

Three layers (and more multiplying)…

It’s interesting to think about the difference between the different layers of:
– the real
– the virtual
– the fictional

If the virtual is a copy of the real – maybe the fictional is even more real, as it acknowledges the presence of its own “illusory” qualities.

It seems especially relevant to the next phase of RMB City – as an open city. How will these layers intertwine in the development to come?


(Note on this picture: taken yesterday morning, just past dawn, in RMB City – I like how the strange light seems to flatten the buildings and my body into one plane, a smoother cartoon version of RMB’s virtual “reality”, somehow more fully “fleshed out,” similar to Four Yip‘s portraits… this is how I imagine RMB City when I close my eyes)

Blog — Tags: , , — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 13, 2009 @ 3:20 am

The night before…

We are now counting down… Amidst all the chaos, late this evening I found myself suddenly in a quiet moment, alone in the presence of only the jumping carp and flying swans, and the majestic wheel turning above it all. It was an instant of such surreal beauty that it made me remember again why this project is so special.

Tomorrow we will welcome you. We can hardly wait.


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 9, 2009 @ 10:48 am

Dispatch from Freeway Mayo

“Today I had lunch with friend who knows the concept of RMB City. He just got the RMB City opening announcement today. He was so excited! He said he could not believe that this project has been realized, after one year since I first told him this project. He thought it was only a joke. I told him: ‘You should trust us and we would go forwards to do it when we said so!’

Yes, it has been one year, the imagination of RMB city finally is closer and closer to share with others. Even though there are so many changes in the process of building up the city, and it will still keep changing, we learned so much from this and keep changing our perspectives with the world in the process of encountering this project. We shape and are shaped by this unspeakable WORLD.”

– Freeway Mayo (RL: Zhang Wei), CEO of RMB City

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 6:14 am

NO LAB on Tour.1 (SCAD/Lacoste, France)


NO LAB in RMB City, originally created for Prospect.1 New Orleans, is being presented “on tour” in Lacoste, France at the Galerie Pfriem du SCAD from Jan 17-Mar 15, 2009.

More information about the project:

“NO LAB in RMB City” is a new collaboration between Cao Fei (SL: China Tracy) and MAP OFFICE created for Prospect.1 New Orleans, the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States. A special section of Cao Fei’s RMB City, a virtual art community under construction in Second Life, has been transformed into a stark, surreal vision of New Orleans. Based on MAP OFFICE’s research and drawings about post-Katrina New Orleans, the NO LAB parcel of land is a similar investigation into the landscape (physical, cultural, historic) of this unique city.

Blog,Events,News,RL Events — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 8, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

RMB City Grand Opening: Ceremony & Celebration, Jan 9-10, 2009


Announcing the Grand Opening of RMB City
January 2009 – December 2010

Public Opening Ceremony & Celebration in SecondLife

Jan 9, 2009: 6pm-8pm (SecondLife Time)

Jan 10, 2009: 10am-12pm (Beijing Time)

Venue: People’s Palace (RMB City Hall, aka Sigg Castle)
Landmark in Second Life: RMB City 1, RMB City 1 (153, 32,126) City 1/153/32/126/

After more than a year’s gestation, we are proud to announce the official opening of RMB City to the public. We invite you to join the opening ceremony and the celebration to follow, as well as to truly explore for the first time, “Your City in Second Life”.


Blog,Events,News,SL Events — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 7, 2009 @ 4:54 am

Institution Opening: UCCA in RMB City: Virtual “Christian Dior and Chinese Artists”

Institution Opening: UCCA in RMB City: Virtual “Christian Dior & Chinese Artists” (opening 6pm Jan 9, SLT)
Venue: UCCA in RMB City (People’s Aerial Castle, RMB City 2 (196, 56, 113))
More information about project:

Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts opens their futuristic virtual museum space in RMB City with a virtual view of their exhibition “Christian Dior & Chinese Artists”, held at UCCA (Beijing) from Nov 2008-Jan 2009.


Blog,Events,News,SL Events — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 5, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

Master Q’s Guide to Virtual Feng Shui: a special project by Huang He


Master Q’s Guide to Virtual Feng Shui: a special project by Huang He for RMB City
Opening January 9, 6pm, SecondLife Time
January 10, 10am, Beijing Time (the most auspicious hour)

In this special project coinciding with the opening of RMB City, young Guangzhou-based artist Huang He extends feng shui, a system based on three-dimensional spatial reality, into RMB City where space is compressed into folds on a flat screen, and its only genealogy is the cohesion among pixels. Therefore Huang He ‘s virtual feng shui project looks more like a rupture than a continuity.


Blog,Events,News,SL Events — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 4, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

RMB City at Battery City: A Post-Olympic Beijing Mini Marathon

Though it was a good 14 hours before the SLT New Year, RMB City Team rang in 2009 at the Beijing Mini-Marathon held at “the shop” of Vitamin Creative Space in Beijing.

(Marathon Man: Hans Ulrich Obrist interviewing Cao Fei, translation by Venus Lau)

This series of interviews by Hans Ulrich Obrist featured Cao Fei as one of the first conversations, where she discussed the latest progress of RMB City in the context of her own work, as images of RMB played on the wall. RMB Team Member Venus Lau (Nokan Vlodovic) translated, and continued to work her linguistic magic for several hours into the night and into the next year!

We’re now in the count-down to the grand opening on January 10th, which will almost be a *new* new year for the city itself…

More pictures and information about the marathon below.


Battery City: A Post-Olympic Beijing Mini Marathon is the continuation of Marathon events conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist which have been taking place at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions since 2006. Through interviews conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist and group discussion conducted by Jiang Jun, chief editor of Urban China, the Beijing Mini Marathon seeks to map the most pressing concerns of the minds of Chinese artists, architects, writers, and intellectuals at this moment, and to re-generate energy for future development within the Chinese context.

Hans Ulrich Obrist interviews: Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Zhang Anding, Xiao He, Zhang Da, Dai Zhikang, Wang Jianwei, Jia Zhangke, Jiang Jun, Ma Yansong, Yangjiang Group, Zak Kyes, Yan Jun.

Sound Performance: Yan Jun THE STETHOSCOPE
Calligraphy creation: Yangjiang Group (Zheng Guogu, Chen Zaiyan, Sun Qinglin)
Media Partner: Urban China Magazine
Translator: Venus
Stenography: Ruize Stenography Company
Supported by: Subjam, Zak Group

Time: 31 Dec 2008 2pm – 4am 1 Jan 2009
Venue: the shop Jianwai SOHO West Area Tower15 B1-1503

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, January 1, 2009 @ 11:00 am

Speedism Speeds Through RMB City


Recently RMB City Office had a visit from Speedism, the Belgium-based visual artist/ architect duo of Julian Friedauer and Pieterjan Ginckels. During their brief stay in Beijing, the pair had created one of their trademark “Speed Trips” – a surreal bus journey around the city with a group of other curious explorers, stopping at unusual places (from a baroque castle to artist Xu Bing’s workshop to a secret village) and getting a speedy montage view of the urban landscape.

Later they stopped by RMB City to share their creative process with our team, and discuss various possibilities for perhaps “speed-tripping” through a more virtual city in the future…

Speedism will also be participating in the Performatik festival next month, where RMB City will have a new project debuting as well (more on that to come). Happy tripping, Speedism!


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, December 24, 2008 @ 10:19 am
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