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Cao Fei in "Fantasy"
“Dear ladies and gentleman, I’m China Tracy—the avatar of Cao Fei—and I’m her interpreter.” Cao Fei’s digital “Second Life” alter ego acts as the English translator for the Chinese-speaking artist throughout the segment, guiding the viewer through seven multimedia projects.
A day-in-the-life is captured in the sensitive Milkman, corporate culture is critiqued in the surrealistic Rabid Dogs, while the assimilation of American pop culture by Asians is celebrated in Cao’s series of Hip Hop videos. Through a blend of documentary and magical realism, the artist investigates various aspects of role play: costumed youth and their families, workers’ dreams come to life at a Siemens light factory, and the simulated romance between avatars. The segment culminates in the artist’s ongoing project, RMB City, an artificial island built in the 3D virtual world of “Second Life” that resembles a postmodern collage of landmarks, urban over-development, and Chinese landscape painting.More information
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Cao Fei’s work reflects the fluidity of a world in which cultures have mixed and diverged in rapid evolution. Her video installations and new media works explore perception and reality in places as diverse as a Chinese factory and the virtual world of “Second Life.” Applying strategies of sampling, role play, and documentary filmmaking to capture individuals’ longings and the ways in which they imagine themselves—as hip-hop musicians, costumed characters, or digitized alter egos—Cao Fei reveals the discrepancy between reality and dream, and the discontent and disillusionment of China’s younger generation.