RMB City: Open Now, Art Asia Pacific Special Project


RMB City is featured in the new issue of Art Asia Pacific, which is also the 15th anniversary of the magazine. Readers can have a look at RMB City through the form of a conceptual “real estate listing,” and get excited for our upcoming opening.

Download PDF here.

Press — Miniature Tigerpaw, December 18, 2008 @ 2:46 am

RMB in the News: Art Asia Pacific


RMB City is featured in the new issue of Art Asia Pacific, which is also the 15th anniversary of the magazine. Readers can have a look at RMB City through the form of a conceptual “real estate listing,” and get excited for our upcoming opening. Pick it up on newsstands in your city!

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 2:39 am

Interview with Cao Fei, DiAAAlogue

Diaaalogue Editor Sue Acret spoke to Chinese artist Cao Fei about her Second Life project, her view on the virtual world and her generation.(中文版本)

Susan Acret: Please tell us about your avatar China Tracy and the RMB City work and how the online world of Second Life became a platform for these works.

Cao Fei: During the creation of i.Mirror and the China Tracy Pavilion (A machinima-documentary about China Tracy’s first explorations of Second Life, and the large-scale installation where it premiered at the 2007 Venice Biennale), I started to think about creating a place that belonged to China Tracy within Second Life… her own ‘city utopia’. China Tracy felt that since most cities within Second Life were Western in style, she wanted to represent some of her concepts about Chinese urban development in a space that incorporated Chinese aesthetics and identity, albeit in a surreal hybrid style.

S.A: You’ve said that your generation, brought up in a digital world, ‘will always compare virtual and real’ and that sometimes the boundaries between the two can be blurred. Your art reflects this movement between these two spheres. What opportunities do virtual worlds offer artists that are not available in the ‘real’ world?

C.F: Second Life is a world where the conventional free-market economy still applies. Although we call it a virtual world, its economic structure and the virtual currency is tied with the ‘real’ economy. From a visual perspective, Second Life appears to be hyper-real and excessively imagined. Combined with its uncertain identity, it can be mysterious and enigmatic to people. On arriving in this virtual world, China Tracy was attracted by the hyper-real prison, but also felt an unavoidable sense of oppression.

Although the boundary between virtual and real is becoming more and more blurred, the way the virtual world contradicts and coincides with reality offers something ambiguous and complex. This, to a certain extent, enhances our lives as a whole, providing a reference for the exploration of individuality and the nature of life.

Another reason that the virtual world appeals to me is that it transcends obstacles in reality, despite being hyper-real. It offers a virtual platform for human beings to experiment with a possible utopia, such as building an individualistic heaven, drafting laws and systems, generating new discussions and thoughts, etc.

S.A: Perhaps the main difference between virtual and real worlds is one of control. Though taking up an avatar offers a certain extent of autonomy and control to your visitors, you are still the mastermind behind the RMB city. Has any avatar’s behaviour been completely beyond your expectations or control?

C.F: Not yet, because the official public launching of RMB City is 10 January 2009. We look forward to having extraordinary people visit and miracles occur. Regarding the control issue, we just have some basic rules that are appropriate to the Chinese style; otherwise, there is no strict restrictions on avatars.

S.A: How many collaborators have you worked with for your RMB City project? How do you find your collaborations with these ‘real’ people?

C.F: Collaborators involved in RMB City include collectors, galleries, scholars, researchers, artists, schools, various exhibition projects, commissioned projects, biennials and triennials, etc.

1. Collectors
We invite collectors to actively participate in the actual development of the city. For example, we invited Mr Uli Sigg to be the first governor of the city (for 3 months), in order for him to oversee and propose a blueprint for the utopia of RMB City in terms of its systems, construction and direction.

2. Public organizations
We are now working closely with Serpentine Gallery. They are one of the real information centres for RMB City. Also, UCCA which will collect RMB City, will have a virtual art gallery and other independent projects. Some art organizations are willing to rent spaces to be involved in this project and also develop their own projects.

3. Exhibition/ Project
I have realized personal projects for biennials and triennials via RMB City, for example, for the 2008 Yokohama Triennial and New Orleans Biennial, as well as on some consigned projects, such as H Box’s video project. I would like to some overseas artist residency programs to take place the RMB City’s platform.

4. Other
We invite different parties (not just limited to the art field) in the real world to participate in the virtual world. We also invite Second Life avatars who are interested in our project.

Therefore, RMB City insists on ‘the cooperation of virtual and real’: collaborators should come from both worlds. Through this process, we hope to improve conventions and develop a new path.

S.A: Your use of internet platforms such as You Tube and Second Life is a democratic, open way of creating work, insofar as it is available freely to large numbers of people all over the world. Do you often get feedback from ‘non-art’ audiences on the internet?

C.F: Yes. I have received emails and messages to China Tracy in Second life, and comments on my YouTube videos, and friend-offers via My Space and Facebook.

I quite like these different forms of feedback from different channels, and meeting different people in different worlds.

S.A: What will happen to real estate prices in RMB City? Will there be a crash like that in the real world!?

C.F: There’s no significant change so far. A crash seems unlikely. We may consider launching some land-sale preferential policies, and increasing various land renting strategies.

S.A: Born in the late 1970s and brought up in the ’80s, can terminologies such as Generation X (the consumerist generation) or Generation Y (the Net-generation or Generation Why) describe who you are? From COSplayers to the RMB City project, are your art projects the result of generational influence or your personality?

C.F: Since 1978, China has undergone an inevitable reorganization. Before we were ready to respond, we were already receiving all kinds of influences from a new time. Everyone is the product of a generation; ‘I’ am an individual as well as a transcendental object. Perhaps a young person who attempts to influence the world or China Tracy who surfs around the virtual world, are indeed coming from the same route. And as for me, I remain extremely close to yet with an appropriate distance from any of these worlds. This gives me a macro view of the ‘world’. And then I decide how I should deal with it and derive my system to process all the complex messages of life. In Chinese terms, it involves entering (reality) and renouncing (the virtual) the world simultaneously. This journey is to experience both worlds while constituting the two.

S.A: Works like Whose Utopia? focus on China’s industrialization and the cities and factories that feed production. Does your work have a social/moral message?

C.F: You could say Whose Utopia? is related to themes such as political economics, globalization, the world factory, and social and moral, and so on … What I hope for my work is for it to remain in an open context where it can stand objectively, without being cynical or ambiguous. It does not require a ’correct’ perspective, or hypocrisy. It just needs an honest presentation and expression, leaving an open space for discussion. It is with this notion that I began RMB City.

問(Susan Acret):
請你介紹一下你的化身「中國翠西」及作品《人民城寨》,你如何使用第二人生(Second Life)中的網絡世界作為發展作品的平台?

當我創造《我.鏡》及“中國翠西館”(China Tracy Pavilion)時 (這是一齣關於中國翠西初次體驗「第二人生」的電腦遊戲紀錄片,在2007威尼斯雙年展時配合大型裝置作品首映),我打算為在「第二人生」裡創造一個屬於中國翠西的空間,一個她的理想城市。中國翠西覺得「第二人生」裡面大部份城市都是西方式的,她想看到中國城市化的特色,一個符合中國美學、身份,哪怕是風格突兀、格格不入的城市。






參與《人民城寨》項目的合作者包括了收藏家個人和美術館機構,以及學者、研究者、 藝術家個人,學校課題組,各類型的展覽項目,委託製作項目,雙年展/三年展等等。

我們邀請收藏家本人積極卷入城市發展的具體過程。如我們委任Mr.Uli Sigg當任城市第一任市長(為期3個月),讓他對《人民城寨》的制度/建設/發展方向等提出烏托邦藍本以及作出定時監督。

2. 公共機構
目前,我們和倫敦的公共藝術機構Serpentine Gallery緊密合作,它是《人民城寨》在現實世界的信息發佈中心之一。還有參與收藏《人民城寨》的UCCA,他們在《人民城寨》內有自己的虛擬美術館以及發展獨立項目。此外,一些藝術機構願意采取租借城市某些建築的方式來參與此項目,並獨立運作他們的藝術計劃。

3. 展覽/項目
我把我本人的雙年展/三年展項目移植到《人民城寨》上進行,如2008 橫濱三年展, 新奧爾良雙年展。以及一些對《人民城寨》感興趣的委託藝術項目,如H BOX的錄象項目。包括一些異地的藝術家駐村計劃我也建議通過《人民城寨》的平台來實現。

4, 其他


你使用的網上平台如You Tube, 「第二人生」都是民主及自由的創作方法,並可傳播至世界各地。你可有收過網上來自「非藝術界別」觀眾的回應?

有,他們有電郵給我,在「第二人生」留言給中國翠西,在YouTube留言或邀請我在My Space 及Facebook作他們的朋友。




作為生於1970年代,成長於80年代的一代,X 世代(消費主義世代)或Y世代(網絡世代或問號世代)這些稱呼可代表你嗎?你的作品如《角色》、《人民城寨》,是否受時代影響或是你的性格使然?




Press — Miniature Tigerpaw, December 16, 2008 @ 4:40 am

Nearing the fruits of our labors…

After a long “growing” period, RMB City is getting closer and closer to the harvest time…

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 4:26 am

Post-Pecha Kucha

Saturday December 13th saw a big crowd gathered at Song Bar for Beijing’s last Pecha Kucha of 2008, which featured project manager Miniature Tigerpaw (RL: Samantha Culp) presenting about RMB City. In case you missed it, see a few snaps below, and more on Pecha Kucha’s Facebook here.


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, December 15, 2008 @ 3:11 am

Cao Fei at Kunsthalle Nürnberg

KH Fei Plakat 5

December 11, 2008- February 15, 2009
RMB City is being displayed in a dedicated space as part of Cao Fei’s solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Germany. The exhibition in the Kunsthalle Nuremberg is the first comprehensive solo exhibition of the Chinese artist’s work in Germany, organised in collaboration with Vitamin Creative Space, Peking/Guangzhou and Le Plateau, Paris.


Blog,Events,News,RL Events — Miniature Tigerpaw, December 11, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

RMB in the News: DiAAAlogue

The Asia Art Archive features an interview with Cao Fei for the December issue of their DiAAAlogue Newsletter .

Text below, or read on the site here:

Interview with Cao Fei

Diaaalogue Editor Sue Acret spoke to Chinese artist Cao Fei about her Second Life project, her view on the virtual world and her generation.(中文版本)

Susan Acret: Please tell us about your avatar China Tracy and the RMB City work and how the online world of Second Life became a platform for these works.

Cao Fei: During the creation of i.Mirror and the China Tracy Pavilion (A machinima-documentary about China Tracy’s first explorations of Second Life, and the large-scale installation where it premiered at the 2007 Venice Biennale), I started to think about creating a place that belonged to China Tracy within Second Life… her own ‘city utopia’. China Tracy felt that since most cities within Second Life were Western in style, she wanted to represent some of her concepts about Chinese urban development in a space that incorporated Chinese aesthetics and identity, albeit in a surreal hybrid style.


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, December 10, 2008 @ 2:40 am

RMB City at Pecha Kucha Beijing, Dec 13 2008

RMB City’s project manager Miniature Tigerpaw (RL: Samantha Culp) will be presenting about the project at Pecha Kucha Beijing. If you’re in town, come along to see some brand-new images of RMB City as it approaches its January opening…

4pm, December 13, 2008
Song Bar
B108, The Place, No. 9 Guanghua Road
Inquiries 65871311

Link on Cao Fei’s blog

More about Pecha Kucha:

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 1:21 am

The Staff of Life…

Spotted on Facebook… the RL “avatar” of Rodion Resistance, one of RMB City’s beloved engineers, posting about his current activity…
Every city needs to eat… No digital farmers, no food!

Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, November 26, 2008 @ 12:45 am

Architectural Traditions and Futures

The other day, I saw that my friend had an interesting Facebook status update posted:
“Winnie Chan is… so amazed that architect used to work long hours in Song dynasty China (14.4 hours in summer and 9.6 hours in winter)”

This made me laugh a bit, as we RMB Kids have sometimes been working late hours these days, as Beijing night falls earlier and earlier, and the days get colder and colder. I sent a message to Winnie (who is an architectural student, one of the creators of Green Map HK, and my former studio-mate from Fo Tan), asking where she got this information. She replied that it was taken from the Song Dynasty architectural manual “Yingzao Fashi” (營造法式) (which she was reading even though her study period is Qing Dynasty gardens and city of Yangzhou).

I became curious about this book, and after a bit of Googling, found that it was written by Li Jie (李誡), an architect and author who unified several older treatises on architectural methods into one document, which was then published by the Song Emperor Huizhong in 1103, to provide a standardized methodology to architects, engineers, and government officials.

Especially as we are in the process of exploring the possibilities of feng shui in Second Life and RMB City, it is interesting to think about traditional bodies of knowledge, and how and when they are standardized. The idea of an “instruction manual” with absolute rules, guidelines, and styles for building a palace, a city, an empire, is simultaneously worrying and attractive. Would it help or hinder creativity? In some unintentional way, have China Tracy and Jia Nootan (RMB City’s Artistic Coordinator) been forming our own “Yingzao Fashi” in the process of working with our engineers Avatrian? In the rapidly-evolving field of virtual architecture, where cities can rise in the blink of an eye and disappear as quickly, is there any need for such discrete units of systematized knowledge? Our RMB City Archive, and the upcoming feng shui project, aim to explore just this.

Yingzao Fashi detail… People’s Palace detail…


Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, November 19, 2008 @ 1:19 am

CHANGE we can believe in

RMB City team decided to celebrate a little bit with the paper-cut-out Obama in the NO LAB project space – only to find our engineers Avatrian had the same idea, and were already there to take commemorative photos as well! Soon we all put on our Obama shirts, and gave a few cheers for this exciting day.

If you’d like to take your own photos with virtual-Obama in NO LAB in RMB City, please add your photos to our Flickr group pool or send to info@rmbcity.com!

Miniature Tigerpaw cheers virtual Obama

The project and building teams join together, across a few oceans
Blog — Miniature Tigerpaw, November 5, 2008 @ 3:29 am

NO LAB in RMB City, New World Notes

Longtime friend of RMB City Wagner James Au stopped by NO LAB in RMB City during the opening days and wrote about it on his renowned Second Life blog, New World Notes.

“In the far Northeastern corner of a fantasia Beijing is an even more fanciful version of New Orleans, and if you are standing in the right place at the right time, Barack Obama and Spike Lee’s avatar will come out and greet you, as another flood sweeps over the city.”

Read full entry here.

Wagner James Au in NO LAB


Blog,Press — Miniature Tigerpaw, November 4, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

Why Art in Virtual Worlds? E-Happenings, Relational Milieux, and “Second Sculpture”, CIAC’s Electronic Magazine

CIAC’s Electronic Magazine, no 31/2008

by Patrick Lichty



Another metatect in online worlds is Chinese artist Cao Fei, whose iMirror and RMB City touch on the socially constructive nature of virtual worlds, especially Second Life. iMirror 23, her romantic odyssey across Second Life, follows from her previous work, CosPlayers, that crosses cultures by exploring Chinese youth engaging in the Japanese pop practice of “Cosplay” who dress as anime and other characters (a practice which is also common in North America.) In iMirror, her avatar, China Tracy, a Chinese girl in synthetic skin (another form of Cosplay?) travels about the synthetic “Global Village” of SL in playful innocence with her virtual confidante, named “Hug Yue”. They travel the virtual world, feelings, identity, and wondering about “forgetting the real darkness” of the physical. What is significant is that China, romantic cosplayer, does not unlink her “object self” from the artist Cao Fei (like Babeli). iMirror is a documentary with relational components as China searches in an innocent Calle-like quest for the person behind “Hug”, but does retains the form of the document, retaining the formal component, and I would argue, a sort of objecthood.

In RMB City, Cao Fei plays with (dys/ut)opia in assuming the role of a virtual developer for an interpretation of Olympic Beijing. The city contains virtual analogues of the Koolhaas’ CCTV headquarters, pandas on construction cranes, a Duchampian (Ferris) wheel and many other signifiers of emergent Beijing. In addition, Cao Fei, reflecting the opening real estate sales scenes of iMirror doubles the speculative aspect of the signified city by offering development opportunities in RMB. These are offered at rates analogous to those in Beijing, but translated into the fractional currency of Linden Dollars. At Art Basel, Cao Fei sold a building unit in RMB, taking her exploration of the impact of the virtual upon the real, and then linking it to very real references to real estate, in contrast to Babeli’s “object-oriented” practice. This is more in line with Bourriaud’s model than Babeli, albeit slightly, but this also highlights the different perspectives through which artists are shaping relational spaces in virtual worlds.

Excerpt above; read full article here.

Press — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 3:46 am

Metaversal City, the Beijinger

Metaversal City, interviewing RMB City curator Samantha Culp

The Beijinger, November 1st, 2008

interviewed by Venus Lau

After working for HK art organizations such as Para/Site and Videotage, 26-year-old American Samantha Culp came to Beijing earlier this year. As the project manager of RMB City – an online art community created by China Tracy (the avatar of Chinese artist Cao Fei) in the popular 3-D virtual world Second Life, Culp talked to the Beijinger about metaverses, the media and the state of Chinese art.

The Beijinger: RMB City is a new-media art piece. Innovations in media are often “driven by the desire to overcome mediation” – does RMB City work towards that end?

Samantha Culp: RMB City engages many forms of media at once. It exists in Second Life, which could be called the primary “medium” for the piece, but also encompasses video, writings, performance, social interaction and research. It acts as a bridge between “First” and “Second” lives, and is very much about confusing/connecting these divides. Obviously virtual worlds or metaverses like Second Life are a fairly new medium for art and cultural production, but I think they have a particularly interesting potential to challenge the typical “mediation” of more standard media.

TBJ: What interested you in the RMB City project?

SC: From the first time I heard about the project, I thought it was fascinating – it touched on so many things that interest me, from film and architecture to the blurred line between fiction and reality. It’s probably safe to say that no artist has ever done a project quite like this before, and therefore it seemed like a uniquely challenging yet exciting process to be a part of. It’s not every day you get the chance to help build a city in the clouds, so it seemed too rare an opportunity to pass up.

TBJ: How would you describe the Chinese art world?

SC: DIY energy with an establishment twist.

TBJ: Are there any conditions in Beijing that you have to consider before making curatorial decisions?

SC: RMB City is a very international project, with partners and networks spanning from Asia to Europe, and [more] importantly, the nature of Second Life hopefully creates conditions to skip over national boundaries. So in a way, it has its own distinct curatorial approach that is influenced by the various cultural contexts it touches, but doesn’t really belong to any one in particular.

Press — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 2:28 am

Love Letter to an Avatar: a special project by Mian Mian for RMB City

RMB City is pleased to announce a special project by acclaimed Chinese writer Mian Mian entitled “Love Letter to an Avatar.” From now until December 15th, anyone in Second Life can commission an original love letter from Mian Mian – all she needs is a photo of the recipient (in Second Life), and a payment (amount to be chosen by the buyer). However, the recipient of the love letter must be a stranger to Mian Mian in real life. See details below and commission your love letter today…

Mian Mian, one of the most celebrated and controversial Chinese writers of her generation, will write a love letter just for you…

To order, please send: 1) A portrait of the recipient (SL avatar photo, but needs to be a portrait). It does not have to be the one who orders, but should be of the individual who will finally read the letter. 2) The buyer can choose their own price (starting at $1 Linden), but must send the payment to RMBArtDealer Xue with their submission. Please include the following information in your notecard order: your own avatar name, the avatar name of the intended recipient/photo subject, your payment amount, and your email address.

When RMBArtDealer Xue receives the payment and photo, they will be passed on to Mian Mian. She will compose the letter within 1-3 days based on these materials, writing in both English and Chinese, or in Chinese (then translated to English or French), depending upon Mian Mian’s choice.

Buyers will have the right to use their letter freely until December 15, and if they wish to have permanent copyright of this letter afterward, they will need to negotiate with RMBArtDealer Xue. All portraits and letters will be displayed in RMB City, unless specified as confidential by the buyer.

Deadline: December 15, 2008. Contact info@rmbcity.com for more information.

In Second Life: RMB City: People’s Worksite, RMB City 2 (221, 196, 21)
http://slurl.com/secondlife/RMB City 2/221/196/21/

Guest Artist Bio: Mian Mian (Shanghai, China)
Blog: http://www.mianmianbyeart.blogbus.com

Mian Mian is a true icon of China’s alternative culture over the past decade. Starting from age 17, her writings helped spark international interest in contemporary Chinese literature, despite the fact that her novels were banned for their treatment of sensitive issues such as sex and drug use. Her best-known book “Candy” was an underground best-seller, and has become a classic work of youth literature in China. Mian Mian was also one of the first organizers of rock and electronic parties, and her works and life have had an influential impact on the generation of Chinese youth born in the 1970s and “80s. Her most recent books are “Panda Sex” and “On High Blue Tomorrows”.

Download press release here (PDF)

Blog,Events,News,SL Events — Miniature Tigerpaw, @ 12:19 am
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