Synthetic Reality

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2 projections, 2 monitors, 4 channels, single sound track

In Multiple lies, two video projections and two vertically stacked monitors simultaneously show images of the threatened traditional Dutchness of Madurodam’s artificial world. One of the projections shows a foreign family’s reflection in the water as they cross an artificial dike in the theme park. Canned sounds can be heard of the Dutch national anthem that blares from a miniature stadium nearby when visitors insert a coin into the mechanism to activate it. With 50 cents, a visitor creates a cheap version of the highly coded semiotics of national identity at ease. The reflection of the foreign family is projected upside down so that the images are upright, which renders the scene absurd, with a fish occasionally passing by the walking family. Within the framework of national representation, the working family and the somewhat muffled national anthem provide us with an intriguing contrast reading.
The other projection shows a montage of scenes in which trains, airplanes and cars move with absolute purposelessness and meaninglessness. The two vertically stacked monitors show, respectively, a rotating windmill and a freight elevator moving back and forth along a rail, monotonously and wearily. As a whole, the sounds and the images produce an inexorable sense of oppression, alienation and ultimately emptiness, which are inherent in the time marked by the endless process of reproduction of the real, of simulation of the real.
In Multiple Lies, the issues such as national identity and its semiotics are contemplated within the territory of a simulated reality, Madurodam, which the artist considers as a synthetic Holland made for fun and a set of meticulously constructed lies; and thus the idea that there is anything conceivable as a national identity is rendered absurd here. In the context of Synthetic Reality, clearly with the predominant Orientalism in mind, the artist attempted to reverse the usual route between the West and the rest, mockingly, by presenting to ‘the rest’ an ‘Occidentalism’ version of the West.


Ni Haifeng - Biography