Cao Fei / China Tracy: RMB City

Cao Fei / China Tracy: RMB City

Concept: Cao Fei, Vitamin Creative Space
Designer: Xi Xi
Publisher: Vitamin Creative Space
Language: English, Chinese
28.5 × 21.5 cm | 84 pages
Year: 2007

RMB City is a Second Life city planning by China Tracy (RL: Cao Fei). The publication of RMB City draws the whole picture of this unique project, and explores the uncertain reality within Second Life together with various authors from art, architecture, literature, music and media fields.













RMB City Manifesto

(RMB—to be ReMember)

by China Tracy


“Is this your city?” asked the young man. The angel answered: “It's yours.”

The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Italo Calvino.


Two specters are hovering over a city of lightness: virtual specters. In the name of the Holy War against them, everything from the old world united: human beings, landscape, faith and prophecies, rules and wisdom.


Now, it's time for RMB City to make the declaration to the world about its view, its purpose, and its intention. It's time to manifest to people: this is a city that you can't wipe out from your memory.


1. Us

RMB City is an adjective, a loose dream and some random coincidences. You wave to me in the pink crystal when I'm about to land on the softest of all earth, one foot in the virtual atmosphere, and one still remains on the cold, hard floor of my real life.


Come run with me, you disturbed being. Those we desire are not far away, the city is going to tell us what to think and the different versions of our stories, in the past, the present, and the future.


2. Mirroring City

“It is a city made only of exceptions, exclusions, incongruities, contradictions.”

—Marco Polo


RMB City is not a city of magical mirror, it doesn't restore the full present, nor does it recall our reminiscence of the past. It's a mirror that partially reflects; we see where we were coming from, discover some of the "connections" that fill the pale zone between the real and the virtual, the clues of which get disturbed, enriched, and polished. New orders are born, so is new, strange wisdom.


The sea above the city is reflected on the shattering white night: Fire from the chimney pokes through the cloud, burning the flag red; sky-elevator is ascending towards the sun, trembling; a missile flies a trajectory of no return; the river flows through the secret tunnel in the palace and warms up the buildings along its banks; a lonely knight strolls across the stretched-out villages; angels and madmen are having a duel among the ruins of collapsed buildings and the abandoned fields; the astute businessmen are busying on the container dock; a batwoman is contemplating in the air between skyscrapers; the kind beast has its desire for love realized...


We are trying to uncover the secrets of this city, and to discover ourselves in the shadow of virtuality. We can see the city's rare moment of sublimity and its boiling colors, we can breathe its free air through our consciousness, we can even feel the humidity, and the power of love.


3. Virtual / Real

“The core of the world is emptiness, the rule of the moving things and objects in the universe is empty space, those which exist revolve around non-existence...” 

— Parsifal


If what we see and touch are real, what we breathe and feel are virtual; our voice is real, our memory is virtual; fortune is real, poverty is virtual; fulfillment is real, sadness is virtual; resentment is real, affection is virtual; foolishness is real, wisdom is virtual; reigning is real, endurance is virtual; living is real, dying is virtual; the land is real, the sky is virtual...then, from this moment on, let all the virtual-real conflicts vanish in RMB City.


Flee from the twilight of the real world; try reversing all the discussions about realness by shifting them into the virtual light year. Be vertical against or parallel to the virtual, stab through the protection of reality with the sword of virtuality. This time, the once-invincible real is the defeated one.


4. The World

“The World” depicted on the tarot is a city with a round barrier.


Our world, however, is constructed with “transparency” and “imagination”: does it exist? It may not be. Even if it exists now, it won't in the future. It could end after our visit, and start over again when we return. Eventually, after numerous fleeing and sneaking in, we will have the experience of the whole World.




“Did you ever happen to see a city resembling this one?” Kublai Khan asked Marco Polo. “No, sire,” Marco answered, “I should never have imagined a city like this could exist.”


RMB City is such a city, you are sincerely welcomed.



About Cao Fei

Born in 1978 in Guangzhou, Cao Fei is one of the most innovative Chinese artists to have emerged on the international scene. Currently living in Beijing, she mixes social commentary, popular aesthetics, references to Surrealism, and documentary conventions in her films and installations. Her works reflect on the rapid and chaotic changes that are occurring in Chinese society today.


Image and Text: the shop, ©Authors, the shop, 2019


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