Empire – A Virtual Tour
The new media art project Empire - A Virtual Tour was led by the artist Hu Jieming with his collaborative artists, 40 students and teachers from the Institute of Visual Art Fudan University, presented to the public in Shanghai with an interactive installation show between January and February 2009 and with the screenings on the Basel based website beam-me.net.
The interactive installation show Empire - A Virtual Tour was situated in Building No.18 at M50, one of the Creative Industry Centre in Shanghai, with a three-layer tower alike structure built by steel scaffoldings within a space of 200 sqm from 9 to 18 January 2009. The project was trying to break down the space barriers between the virtual and reality by means of 3G Moving network and the web technologies, connecting and communicating the on site control base with 7 outdoor moving groups.
The game Age of Empire was selected as the platform for its 3D virtual reality. The players acted as commandant of their empires in the control base. Each of them could control a group of virtual soldiers and a group of real soldiers. 14 students acted as the real soldiers and started real adventures outside. Shanghai became to be their real game space. Commandant kept enlarging his territory by ordering his virtual soldiers and real soldiers to follow the same orders and scenarios. The real soldiers took live videos and sent back to the control base by 3G to show what they saw and what they met in the process. In nine-days period, the guerrillas occupied respectively "Empire territories" which covered all over the Shanghai, for instance Transport terminals, the historical architecture, business district, city ruins, science and technology centers, parks, TV Tower and other types of territory.
Empire- A Virtual Tour project showed an illuminating perspective of its original idea from the interactive platform and the research field, created the dialogue on space between virtual and reality by transplanting the game into a real environment. This kind of reverse-thinking pattern broke down the time and space barriers. The new generation is grown up with the development of new technology like Cyberspace, World Wide Web and virtual reality. The Game just captured their interests. The 3G Moving network technology served as a bridge between virtual and reality that turned the M50 control base as a Space-time tunnel. All the audio-visual information was gathered there. The comparison between virtual and reality exposed the "gap" of invisible stories in the virtual game. Even though the virtual solders and real solders followed the same orders from the same commandant, the process and result changed in unforeseeable ways. After all, the game still follows certain rules and scripts, while life is full of surprises.
The “Empire” group is developing the game strategy for its “Army” to find a suitable location for building a town centre, collecting resources, constructing residential houses, exploring unknown areas for general geographical information.
Inside the installation and outdoor activities: The “Empire” commanders are sending out the orders along with the strategies through the computer to the outdoor “battle fields army” groups synchronizing in occupying the relevant scenes at various locations, and sending back the scenes immediately back to the “Empire” control tower.
(Internet meetings and communications)
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