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In her Beijing studio, Cao Fei reflects on the behavior of avatars in the digital environment of “Second Life” and the motivations behind people who explore and inhabit virtual worlds. The video showcases Cao’s project RMB City and the many avatars that frequent it, including the artist’s own avatar China Tracy.More information and credits
Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview & Translation: Phil Tinari & Xiaotong Wang. Camera: Takahisa Araki & Frank Dellario. Editor: Paulo Padilha & Mark Sutton. Voiceover: Clara S. Jo. Artwork Courtesy: Cao Fei.
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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.