HaiBao: I say ‘Better City, Better Life’, let’s all gather together and face the new urban and ecological challenges of the New Millennium. Human activities lead to global warming, hurricanes intensify, costal areas are eroded and inundated with a higher frequency and the air is more and more polluted…
Mother Nature: And still I am magnificent, you may think you have some control on me but you have no influence on the natural course of my internal regeneration…Earthquakes and eruptions, droughts and avalanches are under my control and there’s nothing much you can do to prevent them, it’s a universal equilibrium…
China Sun: …the Earth’s qi…
Mother Nature: Eyjafjallajoekull! Eyjafjallajoekull! I spit volcanic ashes on your sky and half the world bows down before my whishes
HaiBao: …we can reduce pollution and discuss about prevention and handling of natural disasters and natural hazards…
China Sun: …there’s a ‘NO LAB’ here where the big wave comes and goes, comes and goes…you could come to my island and discuss all your problems here…
Mother Nature: It’s a Utopia!
China Sun: …it’s an unlocalizable island floating in the air…
HaiBao: …an imaginary place where we could give shape to our dreams and experiment practical solutions for this ‘better future’…
China Sun: …♫ the volcano fell asleep, eyjafjallajoekull, eyjafjallajoekull ♫…
Have you find Wang Guowei Wasp and solved the mystery of his disappearance?
If your mission has not been completed yet, you may find some answers here…Listen carefully: the City is showing you the right path..
- RMB City REWARD. Come to RMB City, to look for a missing poet. His name is Wangguowei Wasp. They say it’s the famous poet, Wang Guo Wei, reborn as a Second Life avatar. You may vaguely remember that you have read this poet’s work, that some of the phrases in his poetry could make your heart jump. Because you want to take the responsibility to find this missing life, you have decided to accept this mission. To search for him, please continue in RMB City to find the clues.
- RMB City REWARD: All of the little hotels have grand names. The China Hotel is no exception.
- RMB City REWARD: When the hotel owner looks at you with naïve and innocent eyes, you will know that you have found the right place. Usually, in these types of places in the city – a place that people might see in the daylight as decrepit or filthy – usually is a very valuable clue. According to our friend M, the missing poet lived for a long time in these slums.
- JEROME: I have never met him, but there is good wine here, so maybe he has drunk here.
- RMB City Reward: Congratulations, you have gotten the right code. Please continue to search in RMB City for the next clue. We heard Master Q is an eager helper and very trustworthy, she lives nearby. It is not strange that in Chinese folklore, the Feng Shui Master always appears on the horizon in desperate times.
- Master Q: My eyes change from red to blue; my eyes are fire. Water and fire harmonize each other, and in the Second Life, I can see that all sectors of life become broken pieces when passed down generation by generation. These vague and unclear matters repeat themselves; they spread in RMB City like toys, or as if they are lining up to wait for the magical gates to open.
- RMB City Reward: Congratulations, you have cracked the code accurately. Please continue in RMB City to look for the next clue. Master Q has indirectly shown you the way, the direction of the water. Go to the abundant water network of RMB City to look for it, if you’re lucky, you will find the “Yu Gong”.
- RMB City REWARD: Congratulations, you have cracked the code accurately. Please continue in RMB City to look for the next clue. This painting scroll is “Gazing at the Mountain on the Riverbank”, by Ni Zan, 1363. It depicts Ni Zan’s feelings as he says goodbye to his friends, taking his boat onto the river and gazing back at the mountain. The saying goes, that in the most difficult times, Ni Zan decided to sell everything he had, take the boat, and sail out onto Tai Lake, initiating his floating hermit life. Being a hermit was Wang Guo Wei’s dream in the first life, could it also be that he’s become a hermit in RMB City?
- RMB City Reward: Sorry, your search took a wrong turn. Time in RMB City is ‘condensed’, therefore you have to grab at the cracks in time, so that you may encounter people from different lifetimes. All of these people have a possible connection to the poet.
- RMB YuGong – Congratulations, you have found the LANDMARK, continue to follow the stream to look for the next clue.
- China Tracy: Sorry, I can’t tell you more, because this Second Life has no memory. This city continues to stretch, there is no end. Everything flows far, far away….
- RMB Depression Bottle: No water here, only the image of the water.
- RMB Happy Bottle: RMB City is created with transparency and imagination. It is very possible it doesn’t exist, and even though it exists now, it might not exist in the future. It ends after our visit ends, it starts again upon our return. Repeatedly it goes in and out of life, in the end, we all share the whole world.
- RMB City Reward: Congratulations, you’ve gained the “People’s Card of Health”. Please continue to look for the next clue, as the massage beauty
has left a word for you: In this city, people come and go, and it’s hard to find the ideal husband!
- RMB City: Perhapa W
angguoweiW asp comes to this ‘pleasure parlor’ just to feel the sadness of happiness in a swift exchange.
- RMB City Reward: This poem, titled “Water Dragon Song”, was composed in Wang Guo Wei’s first life, around 1907.
- RMB City REWARD: To compose poetry on the wall is a form of expression that Chinese literati will never tire of.
- RMB City REWARD: In this poem, on one hand, the poetry’s emphasis is on the “imagery of the water”, the misty rain on the pond, spring stream and the tears of the departing people. On the other hand, in this phrase, he also hinted at the “earth” and its relationship with water, (alike they drift, but its preferable to be stable earth, rather than to be loose, flowing, moving water) – starting with the body of water, extending to its opposition to the earth, all while hinting that we will ultimately turn toward dust.
- RMB City REWARD: Sorry, your mission has misidentified the matter, please continue to search in RMB City.
- RMB City REWARD: Sorry, you have misidentified the matter, There is a poem that will give you direction.
- RMB City REWARD: Congratulations, you have received LM, this city is full of the life of Avatars, because people gather air gradually, then maybe as this city gradually gathers more temperature, it will have more of a human atmosphere.
- RMB City REWARD: Is it that the poet sits by the only dining table, facing the empty chair and the beautiful dishes, but with no one to toast?
- Marx: I found real happiness in Second Life, the realization of the happiness of personal value and labor. I always believe: the New World will be reborn constantly, just as the Old WOrld will die constantly.
- Red Detachment of Women: In my Second Life, I find my most worship-worthy revolutionary companion.
- Marx: I’m sorry, your mission has misidentified the matter. For instance, if I say that Wang Guo Wei’s first life was in the era of revolution, and suicide was his inevitable destiny, then the confused poet Wangguowei Wasp is exactly the sort of “post-revolution anxiety” of this romantic city.
- Marx: The whole city is filled with those extraordinary “post-revolution anxieties” – it is an indescribable contemporary daily atmosphere – where have the revolutionary heroes gone?
- RMB Psalm: Sorry, your mission has misidentified the matter. In Second Life, the revolutionaries still long for revolution, the depressed people are still sunk in despair. The memorial still exists, but the ghost of the memory has died.
- RMB Psalm: In these young ruins, are there undying lovers in the broken airplane, flying the red flag, rusting public squares, broken streets, singing his poems? If you bring those poems amongst the mountains, water, grass, and trees, maybe you will find the spirit of the poet.
- RMB City Reward: Congratulations you have found Wang Guo Wei ‘s Hat, please wait for the date of award ceremony. In Second Life, life and death blur together, we have the opportunity to experience everything.
- RMB City REWARD: Congratulations you have found Wang Guo Wei’s calligraphy brush. Please wait for the date of the awards ceremony. Whether it is in the first or second life, we hope to find a stable life and an established destiny.
- RMB City REWARD: Congratulations, you have found the ghost spirit of W
ang Guowei Wasp, please wait for the date of the award ceremony. The low singing of the poet floats through the ears: “Standing by the rail, mountain and river do not end, it is easy to depart, but harder to reunite. Running water, dropping flower petals, spring has gone, heaven is on earth.
Blossom without shows to other,
then how would wither after rain.
Long peaceful calm day,
stood a slight while in the corridor,
rise blurred lingering affection.
Gentle rain falls into the pool,
setting sun shining on the compound,
with heavily door shuttered.
All about to stop, where the cloth slide over,
just there, all for the wind.
Story of flowers are waning to you,
even more unnecessary to pursue,
all branches all been covered by whitish snow.
Mention about people only for harmonious,
sadness and happiness in the world are all fall into pieces.
As to fly away,
rather to gather into dust, not flow away by the river.
With fear of such limpid warmly Spring River,
are stored the tears from whom already leave.
For more info on the project see:
“For this reason Christ died and came back to life so that he would be the Lord of both the living and the dead”; with his ‘teleporting’ power he set foot on the vast emperor of Catai and celebrated the Qing Ming Jie with his oriental friends. They raised the glass to his miraculously rosy complexion and to all their beloved ancestors, brought food and money to their tombs, and being ‘deadly’ hungry, decided to cook a huge lamb for themselves. They drank the new tea and colored boiled eggs as homage to the beginning of spring and the rebirth to a new SecondLife.
HAPPY EASTER AND HAPPY TOMB SWEEPING DAY!
“RMB City Code, Season 1: WangGuowei Wasp”, a Second Life game
29 March, 2010
In 1927, the poet Wang Guowei threw himself into the murmuring waters of Beijing’s Kunming Lake, never to be seen again in the first world.
Now, almost a century later, a rumor is afoot: was that Wang Guo Wei’s avatar that was recently spotted in Second Life? Yes, “Wangguowei Wasp” was seen in RMB City, only to swiftly vanish once again, leaving a trail of clues in his wake.
Beginning on March 29, 2010, and for one month thereafter, you can become a Second Life detective and help to solve the mystery of his latest disappearance This compelling mission will involve exploring the most secluded back alleys of the island and interacting with the most mysterious characters in all of RMB City. A curious eye and open-minded heart will help you to unearth Wuang Guowei’s secret. At the end of the game, the most intrepid explorers will be awarded with an unexpected prize.
Live launch of RMB City Code on March 29th is in conjunction with the exhibition
“Utopia Matters” at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin.
Further information on “Utopia Matters” at http://www.deutsche-guggenheim.de/
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To join Second Life and visit RMB City, register for a free account at: https://join.secondlife.com/
Landmark in Second Life: RMB City 1, RMB City 1 (153, 32, 126)
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About RMB City:
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Dressed in her shining armor, the futuristic silhouette of China Tracy flies over LeCorbusier’s modernist plan of the utopian city ‘La Ville Radieuse’, sketched by the great Swiss-French architect back in 1935.
The inspiration of this very rudimentary collage (I must admit I’m still very unskilled in graphic design) came to me from the title of the ongoing exhibition at Berlin Deutsche Guggenheim, featuring works from both RMB City project and the post WW1 Bauhaus movement (http://rmbcity.com/2010/01/rmb-city-at-utopia-matters-deutsche-guggenheim/).
The German Post-War architecture school responded to the conditions of its historical moment with a form of idealistic functional utopia, promoting an ideal unity of method and design, of art and technology, and imagining a utopian urban planning with ordered streets, a rational and systematic optimization of space, and some set rational ‘International standards’ for the new living culture of the 20th century.
Almost one century later, architects and urban planners still have to cope with similar problems of urban developments, facing an even more complex postmodern industrialized landscape, a chaotic standard of living, an increased mobility and new ecological challenges.
Our Unnerving City - 1926 - Marianne Brandt
On some aspects, Cao Fei’s Utopia retraces the same path undertaken by the Bauhaus school, specifically with regard to the general interpretation of the term ART. Snobbery and formalism are alien to Cao Fei’s works, too, and similarly to its German precursors, RMB City also promotes an idea of unity of art and technology and an understanding of an artistic project as a collaboration between diversified internal and external sources. RMB City motto: ‘My City is Yours, Your City is Mine’ somehow thus reintroduces the idea of the Bauhütte, a premodern guild of stonemasons and co-workers.
Cao Fei’s city is however a much freer and ‘impurer’ world, where opulence and modernity cohabit with the old and dirt, the sacred mixes with the profane and fantasy overlaps reality.
The faultless order of ‘La Ville Radieuse’ becomes a joyful carnival of heterogeneous elements in RMB City, where vitality and energy take shape in many different informal ways and set the stage for a different utopia.
Dou Zi, China Art Show, Elle (Chinese Edition), March 2010, pp 80-4
A joint project by ARTSPACE Auckland and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
February 13, 2010 – May 16, 2010
From the Otago Daily Times (Online Edition), J. Dignan, Monday 4 March 2010:
‘Contemplating the Void’
New York, USA
February 12–April 28, 2010
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum invited Cao Fei to imagine how she would ideally utilize their iconic museum building in New York to stage an artistic concept. Envisioning Frank Lloyd Wright’s eccentric space as a yak horn, she built the Guggenheim in RMB City as a dynamic horn-shaped building. Drawing upon a Tibetan legend about being unable to fit a large ego into the horn, the Guggenheim in RMB City is a manifestation of the concept of “nothingness” and harmony in the context of the real and virtual worlds.
Inspired by the void in the Guggenheim central rotunda, Cao Fei envisioned her virtual and intangible museum, an ephemeral building transforming into a yak horn floating in the air. A homage to the vast power of imagination, creating ‘worlds’ out of emptiness, the work is also a reflection on the meaning of intangible spaces and virtual realities such as SL.
Until April 28, 2010, a photographic series of the Yak Horn will be on display at the Guggenheim as part of the exhibit “Contemplating the Void”.
For more info on the exhibit see:
Despite the queue and the icy Beijing weather, I’ve finally managed to watch the highly advertised and long expected ‘talk of the town’ movie, James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, a blockbuster of exorbitant costs, in terms of budget (reports vary from $230 million to $500 million) and in terms of time (it took 10 years to make it).
I won’t express here any personal opinions on the aesthetic and conceptual value of the film.
I won’t talk about the exciting and dizzy experience of watching it in IMAX 3D with polarized glasses and the consequent hyper-realistic buzzing of butterflies on screen.
I won’t either focus on the many quotations, myths, legends ‘Avatar’ is imbued with (from the Greek ancient myth of Pandora and the evil side of human nature, the linguistic ‘utopia’ of a new language, Panism and the ecological message, science fiction and utopian studies).
What I here want to bring to the fore is an interesting connection between Cameron’s movie, China and RMB City. In the fantasy planet of Pandora there’s a breathtaking place called the ‘Hallelujah Mountains’: immense and slender floating peaks surrounded by natives, flying creatures and dragons. The magnificence of this scene is to be ascribed not only to Cameron’s great imagination, but in this case also to the astonishing beauty of nature. The inspiration actually comes from a RL place named the ‘Southern Sky Column’, one of the highest rock towers in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in the Chinese province of Hunan. Apparently, they inspired Cameron, who relied for some set choices on the ideas and suggestions of a photographer who spent most of 2008 immortalizing the now famous mountains. The circumstance has clearly begun an occasion for the government to promote natural tourism in China.
From fiction to reality and back to fantasy again, in RMB City too there’s an imaginary mountain: an original project by Chinese artist Jiang Jun for RMB City, the virtual mountain is a humorous representation of fake and pirated goods and a more general concept of ‘non-real’. In tune with Cameron’s movie and the possibility of re-birth into a new life (main character Marine Jake Sully is a disabled who infiltrates the Na’vi people with the use of an ‘avatar’ identity), RMB City fake mountain is also an interesting study into the meaning of virtuality, replicas and hyper-reality against the general assumption of ‘reality’.
Utopia Matters: From Brotherhoods to Bauhaus
23 Jan-11 Apr 2010
RMB City takes part in a major exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin.
Exhibiting an extensive range of works from different art currents and spanning 130 years of Art History, Utopia Matters investigates the representation of ideal society and alternative worlds in the works of various European and American artists and groups.
Among prominent works from Primitivism to the Nazarenes, from the Pre-Raphaelites to Neo-Impressionism, RMB City presents a unique and ‘cozy’ installation of its virtual space. Playing on the idea of ‘private utopias’ and the splitting between a ‘real’ and physical space and a virtual ideal world, RMB City takes the shape of an intimate room where visitors can actively experience its virtual existence. Through SL portals, videos, press material and old project installations visitors can actually enter Cao Fei’s utopian world as if they were in their own bedrooms.
As intimately suggested in RMB City exhibition slogan, If What We See And Touch are real, What We Breathe And Feel Are Virtual.
For more info:
Explosion Urbaine, Demain Sera Vert , Issue n.13 (Dec 2009-Feb 2010)
ART CONTEMPORAIN section, Regards-Les Paysages de la Ville, Jérémie Thircuir
CAO FEI RMB CITY
Se détachant du réel, Cao Fei sous l’avatar de “China Tracy” qui avec sa RMB City créée sur Second Life intègre la ville dans une complète virtualité. Intégrant nombre d’ éléments et monuments chinois, la ville se veut à la fois oeuvre et plate-forme de création pour l’artiste qui y situe la majorité de ses travaux: vidéos, expositions…
A Dramatic “Second Life” for Cao Fei, Davide Quadrio
FlashArt, International Edition, Vol. XLIII, No. 270
As part of Artissima 16 Theater project “Blinding the Ears”, Arthub invited Chinese artist Cao Fei to develop her project “RMB City” –an experimental city and community on the Internet- in a live performance, where she continued her investigation into digital fantasyscapes and the physical world.
DAVIDE QUADRIO: Why did you use Yang Ban xi as a source of inspiration for this opera?
CAO FEI: I was fascinated by how Yang Ban Xi constructed a language of “control”, both of movement and politically charged gestures. I wanted to compare this to other ways in which contemporary social and economic systems actually control us. I thought that yang Ban Xi was a great way for communicating the universal principle of social control that also characterizes the consumerist society that “RMB City” represents and destroys at the same time.
DQ: Does “RMB City” describea world of the possible future?
CF: Second Life was created in the last century. AS Hu Fang said, “RMB City” is more connected to the idea of the past/future, both in its aesthetics and representations where buildings, elements and structures are sort of “remains” of the recent past/present time. In the video making of RMB City you can see the city while it is being built, with all the buildings that represent cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, or other aspects of material culture that made China, my country, such a syncretic experimental place.
DQ: Picking up on this, what are the inspirations for your creations in “RMB City” and particularly for this new opera?
CF: I used high and low culture. Pop culture is what I experienced in the ‘90s and pop music is indeed so universal as to efficiently reach everybody. Of course I am able to combine it with complicated narratives that I build in the virtual stage. RMB City Opera is not based on cartoon animation but real recorded interactions between the characters appearing both in the virtual and physical stages. The huge images projected on stage filled all the space, and yet the two actors physically present were sometimes the center and sometimes the background of the action.
DQ: Is this opera a new chapter of possible experimentation for “RMB City”?
CF: When we started working on this project I was unsure about how to “transport” the density of “RMB City” to the stage. I thought this was going to be a very intriguing experience, and we will see if this interaction between different realities can progress.
January 30, 2010 16:30-18:00
For more info see UCCA website: