Brain Island: Hyperreal City (video), (2019)

Brain Island is an ongoing long-term project. It will continue to update its interior world and is determined to develop into a worldview that will have been developed over a long period of time.

Brain Island: Hyperreal City (video) presents a picture of a hypothetical heterotopian country through a lens of religion and philosophy, envisaged as a multi-dimensional space of contemporary urban architecture and postmodern fantasy.

Hyperreal City draws upon Foucault’s concept of heterotopia—’the other space’—first proposed in ‘The Order of Things’ (1966). Six ‘space’ systems are addressed in the work: well-ordered and perfect spaces that also contradict each other in the real world; different cultures and buildings that can be subtly juxtaposed with different dimensions and times; spaces that allow conditional entry following a ceremony of eligibility, and a space that is different from the utopian fantasy, where heterotopia is based on reality—it is orderly, but there is no absolute form.

Performance and post-network art are used to both convey and interrogate the influence of political propaganda on individuals, and the formation of individual consciousness in the context of modern society. Using symbolism and anthropomorphism, the constant blurring between fantasy and reality produces a brainwashing effect on the subjects of Brain Island. The work maps the contemporary function of communication and technology in the creation of pluralistic identities, the deconstruction and reimagining of human nature. The narrative structure of the work is shaped by the protagonist’s internal conflict, guiding the audience through a surreal cosmology.

Human ideology is influenced by factors such as open-mindedness, environment, information (education, propaganda) and value orientation. Being Chinese, I have had a profound personal experience under the Chinese political system. When I have received reports from media sources in other countries, I found this distorted the narrative that Chinese citizens experience and directly affects the subjective speech of ordinary people. When a person supposes that the Chinese people have no ability to think, no autonomy, no democracy, then their vision seems to always look in that direction. The Chinese people have been reduced to a symbol in Western media rhetoric, one that represents a shift away from humanism. This allows politicians to conveniently denounce China’s apparent inhumanity when it is politically expedient to do so, in an attempt to distract citizens from their own government’s.1

Furthermore, this propaganda exists everywhere. Those who shouted for freedom actually gave up the freedom of thought, and the “facts” eventually lost any meaning as facts. Perhaps, in the interest of independent thought, what we should continue is the kind of humanistic spirit and critical consciousness. When we say goodbye to Utopia, we still have ideals. Brain Island: Hyperreal City implies a vague and contemporary situation; an imagined reflection of an extreme political environment that exists on a shifting spectrum where there is no black and white.

As an experimental short film, Brain Island: Hyperreal City uses green-screen composite image shooting, exaggerated shapes and props to create heightened imagery, and computer software to unify the background and make virtual scene modeling. It covers a variety of different visual effects influenced by new media. From a rapidly changing aesthetic to the circulation of cultural forms, from the politics of participation to the new understanding of physicality, this artistic expression is deeply influenced by post-internet art. Brain Island: Hyperreal City reflects on the contemporary impact of technology, on how the “I” has become ubiquitous. It shows a new world that is not only aesthetic, but also ugly, reflective, profound, powerful, and cannot be fully explained.

1 This political strategy is identified in Edward Said’s seminal text ‘Orientalism’ (1978), which describes the paradigm of Western cultural hegemony in its depictions of “The East”.

Brain Island: Hyperreal City II (Adventure Game) (2020)

The narrative of this game is based on Brain Island: Hyperreal City (2019). Brain Island: Hyperreal City II (Adventure Game) combines the functionality of books and games. Through textual narratives supported by CG and animation, it develops a literary narrative like a movie. In this game, players will experience a virtual journey in the fantasy world constructed by the author from the perspective of “readers”.