Land of Illusion (with sound)
Video (excerpt) based on virtual environment and performance in Second Life, duration: 7minutes
Director / Editor: Lily & Honglei 杨熙瑛， 李宏磊
Virtual Installation: Lily & Honglei
Music / Sound: Lily X. Yang
Performance: Land of Illusion Team
more information: Land of Illusion Blog
Land of Illusion is a short film shot in virtual world, where our team members have been working for two years to develop the virtual environment and installations for Cyberspace performances. My intention is to create new artistic expressions through fusing film language, Chinese cultural traditions, and popular online virtual reality interface (Second Life). By deploying varied imaging techniques, I attempt to visualize my reflection, which is obtained after 5 years in self-exile, on Chinese women’s identity in context of freedom of expression in China.
The storyline is inspired by Chinese legend “Hundred Schools of Thought,” that indicates in ancient China, during a long period of time, people were allowed to express themselves freely and make constructive proposal contributing to social changes. Still inspired by Chinese cultural traditions, symbols and metaphors become my approaches. For instance, the “great fire wall” appearing at the beginning of the film can be read as a symbol of cultural barrier built deliberately, the “underwater city,” the virtual recreation of a real historical site nearby Three Georges Dams construction, becomes submerged in Yangtz River as a result of the ambitious development that might contribute to environmental disasters and huge cultural heritage losses. The female character roaming around the “Underwater City (image left)” is the ghost of Xishi, a famous beauty in folk tales, whose story reveals the concept in correlative cosmology in traditional China, namely, the water suggests darkness and death. In the following scene, a group of people is confronting with a dragon that symbolizes power, among them, is a modern looking female wearing a mask with blood-like stains, almost like a silent protester (image right)… in the last scene, the female’s personal identity becomes confusing and multi-layered. Inspired by “The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zi, this part of performance is proceeding in a tranquil and surreal atmosphere, in contrast to the scene of “underwater city,” the energy of life travels ceaselessly and comes back to the ground in Spring, when the female’s identity is finally reborn …
As artists from Beijing, our creativity remains deeply rooted in Chinese culture. Meanwhile, we pay attention to Cyberspace as it appears a venue with unlimited potential for artistic experiments as well as for more people to practice social interventions. Can artist adapt those functions to art-making promoting openness in cultures and societies? We have been observing, meditating and practicing. Interestingly, when living in my virtual garden in Second Life, we realize that how woman’s inner dialogues may be revealed by their interactions with the public environment, or the processes of visualizing their dreams.
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