Cao Fei | Avatars

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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.

Cao’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. Depictions of Chinese architecture and landscape abound in scenes of hyper-capitalistic Pearl River Delta development, in images that echo traditional Chinese painting, and in the design of her own virtual utopia, RMB City. Fascinated by the world of Second Life, Cao Fei has created several works in which she is both participant and observer through her Second Life avatar, China Tracy, who acts as a guide, philosopher, and tourist.

Cao Fei is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Fantasy of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS.

VIDEO | 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.

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the associate curator at ART21. Miller co-curates the television series Art in the Twenty-First Century. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.
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