Second Life Performing Night at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center

Date: Fri., October 9, 2009 | 6:30–8:30PM (SLT 3:30 – 5:30PM)
Location: Eyebeam, 540 W. 21st St., NYC
Cost: Free
http://eyebeam.org/events/performing-in-second-life

This evening will feature three different artists/groups (including Eyebeam resident Scott Kidall), which use the online virtual world of Second Life as a medium for performance art. Alan Sondheim will present a performance using the aesthetics of the Second Life environment to create an experimental choreography; Lily & Honglei will present The Merry-go-around, a virtual installation addressing a series of environmental issues in today’s China; and Second Front has discovered a virtual crypt within Second Life and are inviting the public to witness its opening. Together, these performances will sample some of the contemporary trends in Second Life performance art. The performances will be followed by a subsequent launch party of Avvie Road, the second DVD of Second Front’s performance works.

We will include following virtual constructions in Second Life: Merry-go-around (in memory of 2008 Sichuan Earthquake), Great Fire Wall (Internet censorship), and Underwater City (loss of cultural heritage caused by Three Gorges Dam construction) . The issues are interrelated when Sichuan earthquake has been criticized as a man-made disaster, because the quality of school buildings were extremely poor as result of local government corruptions; follow-up investigations on student death and victims’ families have been largely interfered – reporters, journalists, scholars and lawyers have been detained for collecting and publishing related information, their research websites have been blocked or taken down – thanks to “Great Fire Wall”; some experts point out that construction of Three Gorges Dam, the world largest hydroelectricity power plant, which has undoubtedly resulted unestimated loss of cultural heritage in Yangzi area, has a negative impact on nearby environment, and  could contribute to the devastating 2008 earthquake in Sichuan[1] as well.

Live performance in Underwater City, which will be organized and conducted by Nightingale Xuanzang, include creation of following characters inspired by folk tales and historic legends:

Character 1. 嵇康 Ji Kang, a male character wearing shackles, is playing Gu Qin. An executioner holding machete is standing by.)

Ji Kang - design of character, sketch by Honglei

Ji Kang - design of character, sketch by Honglei


Background

Ji Kang (224 – 263 A.D). Ji Kang was highly critical of Confucianism and challenged many social conventions of his time. As such he was considered scandalous and seditious. He was sentenced to death after offending high-ranking officials. Ji Kang played Guangling San with gu qin (Chinese string instrument) at the execution ground.

Character 2. 弥衡 Mi Heng, a naked young male scholar, is beating drum.

http://www.ccots.com.cn/userfiles/image/2009/04/20090427103927.jpg

Mi Heng (in Beijing opera)

http://lilyhonglei.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/fourthcry1.jpg?w=400&h=266

The Mad Drummer - painting by Honglei, still image of The Fourth Cry of the Monkey

Background

Mi Heng (173 – 200 A.D) was a great scholar during the Three Kingdoms era of China. Lord Cao Cao summoned Mi Heng to the capital of Xuchang but did not offer Mi Heng a seat. Indignant at this Mi Heng sighed “In all this world, I can see not a single man!”, Cao Cao overheard this, and named many officers in his command who he believed to be great heroes. Mi Heng scoffed at these men not believing them to be great heroes.

At this Cao Cao made Mi Heng a drum master to play at the imperial court. The previous drum master warned Mi Heng to turn up dressed in fresh attire, however Mi Heng arrived undressed in shabby robes and played Triple Tolling of Yuyang, so beautifully that the guests were reduced to tears. Half way through the piece, a court attendant asked why he hadn’t changed his clothes, Mi Heng stripped naked, angering Cao Cao.

Character 3. 屈原 Qu Yuan, the poet, lingering around “Face Reflection Well”

Background

Qu Yuan,  (ca. 340 BCE – 278 BCE) was a minister in the government of the state of Chu, descended from nobility and a champion of political loyalty and truth eager to maintain the Chu state’s power. Legend has it that the Chu king fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan and banished his most of loyal counselors. It is said that Qu Yuan returned first to his family’s home town. In his exile, he spent much of this time collecting legends and rearranging folk odes while traveling the countryside, producing some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature and expressing fervent love for his state and his deepest concerns for its future.

According to legend, his anxiety brought him to an increasingly troubled state of health; during his depression, he would often take walks near a certain well, during which he would look upon his reflection in the water and his own person, thin and gaunt. According to legend, this well became known as the “Face Reflection Well.”


Character 4. 孟姜女 Meng Jiang,
wepting for her husband who was dead and buried under the wall.

Meng Jian Nu - sketch by Honglei

Meng Jian Nu - sketch by Honglei

Background

In the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.), there were two lonely old man who were neighbors, Mr. Meng and Mr. Jiang. In the boundary of theirgardens, there was a very big gourd. One day, within the gourd, a very beautiful girl was born. Both of them like this girl, so they called her Meng Jiang Nu (“Nu” means girl). 18 years Later, Meng Jiang Nu became a very pretty lady and married a handsome young man named Fan Qi Liang. But soon after their marriage, Fang Qi Liang was forced to leave Meng Jiang Nu to build the Great Wall. After his departure, the couple lost contact for nearly ayear. When winter came, Meng Jiang Nu sewed clothing for her husband, but she was forced to endure danger and countless hardships on her journey to the foot of the Great Wall to meet her husband.

Once at the Great Wall, she was told that her husband had already died of hunger and exhaustion. Even worse, his body had been built within the base of the Great Wall. Meng Jiang Nu will never be able to see her husband’s forever. Meng Jiang Nu stayed by the Wall and wept for days and nights. Her cries touched the Heaven above. Suddenly, 300 miles wall collapsed and her husband’s body appeared, amidst the rubble in front of her. Out of extreme grief, she buried her husband and then jumped to her death into the sea.

Preference:

[1] http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2008/05/chinas-deadly-earthquake-was-the-three-gorges-reservoir-a-trigger/

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