Alter///scrinium. 10 Theses Of The Architecture. Exhibition Part 2011
Cao Fei. The Birth of RMB City
  • Director: Cao Fei

    Born in 1978 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. Lives and works in Guangzhou.

    Selected personal exhibitions:
    2010 — Cao Fei: Utopia — Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin
    2006 — Cao Fei — BTAP (Beijing Tokyo Art Projects) — Tokyo, Tokyo
    2005 — Cao Fei — COSPlayers — Lombard-Freid Projects, New York City, NY

    Selected group exhibitions:
    2010 — 17th Biennale of Sydney — The Beauty and the Distance — Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
    2008 — AVANT-GARDE CHINA: Twenty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art — NMAO National Museum of Art Osaka, Osaka
    2005 — The 2nd Guangzhou Triennial — Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, Guangdong

2009,  11 min.
Alter///scrinium. 10 Theses Of The Architecture. Exhibition Part

Courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space and Artist

Virtual worlds (surreal fantasy places) creation was popular in many cultures throughout the human history. These activities, often in game disguise, allowed leaving actual reality and entering new and mysterious territories where individual creativity was the only limit for creation of something yet unknown. Development of ubiquitous management systems and hierarchic social structures gave the process of virtual creativity more romantic dimension, sometimes even resisting one as a way to escape so called patronage of authorities and to fulfill one’s creative potential. That “internal migration” has clearly intensified with digital technologies introduction; the world has entered virtual reality renaissance. In 1989 Maxis company made a computer game called Sim City, that started a new era of city planning simulation games. Further evolution of entertainment industry and global development of communication systems resulted in qualitative modification of virtual worlds and level of human involvement in them.

In 2007 Cao Fei, an artist well-known for her projects devoted to critical analysis of modern reality of Chinese society, presented her project created via multipurpose platform of online game Second Life, a virtual world that gives its users alternative way of living. By using this platform for her creations, Cao Fei built RMB-City, a virtual city that was a hypertrophic replica of modern Celestial Empire, a complex and detailed portrait with its own life, developing at the same pace as its prototype. Like any other similar phenomenon, this project could not be just an art object. RMB City is a special manifestation of alternative understanding of reality. This world with its entwinement of different aspects of modern life mostly represents paradoxical complexity of living processes, symbols and rhizomatic nature of urban landscape.

Cao Fei’s world may firstly look like a witty fiction speculating on China image and a fantastic economic project that resulted from many co-existing controversial phenomena. But mostly the artist offers a space of total freedom where any person can modify the look and even organization of the city; any registered Second Life user can take part in Rmb Сity. Thus, Rmb Сity is an addition to the whole range of utopian theories being declared by bright and eclectic images, more relevant for the modern world. Excluding aggressive manifestation and hard for understanding doctrines Cao Fei offers a consistent program of living process organization in the mode of unlimited creativity.

With the course of time Rmb Сity became a strong competitor for the real world even from the economic standpoint; city real estate can be purchased for real money, and political life of the megalopolis is led with participation of artistic activists. Generally, Rmb Сity is quite an accurate realization of modern life that is possible with collective participation and very vivid portrayal of those problems arising in any community.