Cao Fei (b. 1978)
RMB City: A Second Life City Planning (2007)
RMB City: A Second Life City Planning (3'58" excerpt)
2007 / Video / 10 mins
RMB City: Online Urbanization
By Cao Fei

In the near future, China Tracy will build a city dubbed RMB City within Second Life. This will be the condensed incarnation of contemporary Chinese cities with most of their characteristics; a series of new Chinese fantasy realms that are highly self-contradictory, inter-permeative, laden with irony and suspicion, and extremely entertaining and pan-political.

China's current obsession with land development in all its intensity will be extended to Second Life. A rough hybrid of communism, socialism and capitalism, RMB City will be realized in a globalized digital sphere combining overabundant symbols of Chinese reality with cursory imaginings of the country's future. In RMB City, we will be able to cruise the digital ocean, witnessing a Ferris wheel rotating on top of the Monument to the People's Heroes; looking down from the sky on the water of the Three Gorges reservoir gushing out of the Tian'anmen rostrum; passing the giant new totem symbolizing the Oriental Pearl TV Tower of Shanghai; hopping over the Feilai Temple marooned in a raging torrent; walking across a vast, desolate state-owned factory area in Northeast China; and finally hovering over the Grand National Theatre in Beijing. Also in our view will be gigantic planes gliding over terraces in the crevices of the central business district, and aerial super-malls. We will see water flowing into huge toilets on the container piers of the Pearl River Delta area before traveling through the sewage system into an ocean with floating statues of Mao Zedong. The rusted steel structure of the Olympic Stadium aka "Bird's Nest" will be washed in splashes of ocean spray, while an aerial band on a floating sheet of the national flag filled with five-pointed stars makes a deafening noise that shakes Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building, causing it to collapse....