“Land of Illusion” construction is designed to visualize the imagery and philosophy indicated by Cao Xueqin’s novel A Dream of Red Chambers. It consists of “Grand View Garden”(East Unit), “Red Chambers Courtyard” (West Unit), and “Underwater City” (Underground Unit), those server for a particular purpose conceptually or visually.
The narrative of the machinima is the development of the climax in the classic Chinese novel, which depicts the main character, Lady Daiyu was wandering in the Grand View Garden during a spring day, and became deeply grieved by seeing the flowers descending and withdrawing rapidly from their prosperity, that seemingly predicted the fate of her own and the unavoidable decline of the noble family leading an extravagant lifestyle.
“The work,” Lily states, “as usual, not only illustrate the original plot, instead, it observes and directs questions towards the current social environment. In our view, meditation and examinations upon the contemporary issues require profound understandings of the particular culture, its unique history and traditions. A social pattern that will be universally applicable perhaps only exists as a hypothesis. Cao Queqi’s A Dream of Red Chambers is not only remarkable for its aesthetic value, its huge cast of characters and psychological scope, more importantly, it observes the life and social structures of China precisely and comprehensively, therefore provides a foundation for building perception or launching relevant inquiries towards Chinese societies globally. This is the very reason we consider Cao’s novel as the primary inspiration of our virtual reality project.”
“In the macrocosm, The Story of the Stone (or A Dream of Red Chambers 红楼梦) seeks to reproduce the visual culture of a world now regarded by its creator with nostalgia and regret. The overriding, structuring image of the world in the novel is the garden paradise, the “Garden of Total Vision” (or Grand View Garden 大观园), which becomes its center. The Garden, however, is a work of art within the larger work of art—the novel. What the adults see as a site for a unique formal occasion, the children will find to be a universe. Indeed, it is a universe: not least because the description of the buildings, promenades, waterways and pools, hills and dales, and most abundantly the plants, symbolically represent all the elements of the environment of a vastly wealthy and privileged gentry family. Its precise detail of the application of theories of aesthetics, cosmology, and horticulture produces a timeless vision of the ultimate garden of the mind.
The Garden of Total Vision (Grand View Garden 大观园) encompasses the world of the protagonists physically and metaphorically… Luxury of fabric and furnishing, objects by famous artists, even objects imported from Europe, persistently embody a world about to collapse, to be re-visioned in later ages only in the pages of the novel. The extraordinary attachment to this world which The Story of the Stone (A Dream of Red Chambers 红楼梦) arouses in its readers relies upon the author’s loving curatorship of the art objects depicted, and aids the reader not only in appreciating the nature of that world, but in achieving liberation from its ultimate illusion.
- The Visual World of The Story of the Stone, Dore J. Levy, Brown University