Paradise of the Assassins (video of virtual world performance)
Artist: Lily & Honglei
Medium: Digital video, virtual world platform, soundtrack
Video running time: 3 minutes
Completion year: 2008 – 2009, Size: varied
Performance: Land of Illusion Team - Lily X. Yang, Bill He Li, Kristy Lee, Daniel Shanks, 3star Tyne (SL name), Rena Winkoop (SL name)
Since 2006, we have been developing an online virtual environment, Land of Illusion, reflecting social, cultural and political issues in China in the context of globalization. Upon completion of the construction of the Chinese garden in cyberspace, we invited online community members to participate a series of virtual world performances fulfilling these goals through reinterpreting Chinese history and legends. Paradise of the Assassins is one of those reinterpretations designed for performing at ImageRadio New Media Art Festival in Netherlands, 2008. It is a real time event during which audience in MAD emergent art center can experience the 3D environment and interact with our team members through touch screen and virtual world interface.
We designed a character of Emperor Qin, a notorious dictator in Chinese history, that audience can control it to navigate through the paradise-like garden without knowing the hosts are in fact the most famous assassins throughout Chinese history, who would lure the emperor with dancing, wine, music, beauty and cuisine, eventually trap and kill him. Our video documents this process and indicates that Emperor Qin, the role played by a viewer, is amused by the environment and activities at the party, until being hit by the magic sword hidden in fish belly.
The work largely follows the tactic used by a video game. Utilizing emerging technology of virtual reality, we create the opportunity that global audience can encounter Chinese history and folktales, and achieve a deeper understanding of heroism in China, its underlying implications for pursuing justice and individualism in the particular society.The virtual world happening Paradise of the Assassins is conducted by virtual community members from China, Japan, America and Australia, who live the historical figures’ lives while retaining their own identities. Equally contributed by the cross-continental artist collaborations and interactions with the audience who is highly involved by playing the character of Emperor Qin, the performance is accomplished online. However, their confrontation has multi-layered implications when cultural unfamiliarity plays a significant role. Immersing in an eastern fantasy landscape, both audiences and performers may find themselves lost in their ambiguous identities while. Here, the line between real and unreal, fiction and truth, east and west, past and present becomes so fine.