THEMATIC: Utopia


"RMB CITY 7," 2007. Digital C-print, 47 1/5 x 63 inches. © Cao Fei. Courtesy the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.

What makes something utopian? Technology has opened up new ways to consider and define the components of an idealized society. Watch Cao Fei's segment and discuss how technology can help provide a platform to experiment with different utopian ideals.

Consider how other artists explore the idea of utopia, including: Pierre Huyghe, Andrea Zittel, and Mel Chin.


SEGMENT: Cao Fei in "Fantasy"

Before Viewing
Discuss the concept of utopia. What is the origin of the word, and what makes something utopian? How does technology contribute new ways of defining and imagining utopia?

While Viewing
List the examples of role-playing presented in Cao Fei's work and her segment. What kinds of characters and avatars does she create? How do they interact with their environments?

After Viewing
Cao Fei says that she thinks it is very common in human nature to dream of establishing one's own rules of the game. How does Cao Fei's work in Second Life or in her videos illustrate this observation? How does her work provide a platform to experiment with utopian concepts or political ideals?


"i.Mirror by China Tracy (AKA: Cao Fei Second Life Documentary Film)," 2007. Production stills, Second Life Documentary Film, single-channel color video with sound, 28 minutes. © Cao Fei. Courtesy the artist and Lombard-Freid Projects, New York.

Create
Write a short story or choose a favorite work of literature. Fashion a character from this work as an avatar, using Second Life or another application. Using images of the avatar, create a digital profile that includes photographs or drawings of the avatar in relation to the story.