A man wearing a helmet and peeing on the ground runs across the prairie, followed by a cameraman with a video recorder, a humorous and bizarre reality TV show is taking place on an animal farm.
When I was studying in London, there were a number of vegetarians and vegans in the class(don’t eat meat, dairies, eggs, no animal products, etc.) In addition to personal health benefits, they generally believe that animal husbandry not only violates animal rights: such as farmed animals are given the most limited and poor living conditions, but also a negative impact on the earth’s ecological: cattle farming causes a lot of methane emissions which contributes to various reasons such as the greenhouse effect. These issues sometimes come up over lunch, such as the “meat paradox,” the psychological contradiction between people’s preference for consuming meat and their moral reactions to animal cruelty. Or “Why Chickens Have Gone All Over the World “, according to American science writer Andrew Lawler. After all, from a biological point of view, the meaning of the existence of species is reproduction, and the breeding of chickens has made good use of the super variable of human beings and complied with the development of the environment. On the contrary, animal husbandry has became one of the most successful reproductive species in modern times. Or whether animal protectionism is derived from anthropocentrism, etc., perhaps it was these lunchtime chats that formed my original motivation for creating Animal Farm.
For no reason at all, one day, a talking pig, a reporter in a helmet, a red barn, came straight to mind. The suggestion of these images may come from those conversations, or it may be the news a few days ago. This sensation is quite subtle, and what I want to do is to use a piece of work to connect these subconscious minds. In general, my workflow starts from the beginning, without any research, until a prototype sees some information to guide the concept, and so on to the end. Over the next few days I started writing pathfinder systems, character designs, all of which I didn’t think much about, but over the next few days, unexpected events shifted the direction of my creation.
Khashoggi, 59, is a veteran journalist in Saudi Arabia who has done a series of key stories for various news organizations in the country. He became an advisor to senior Saudi government officials, but later broke with the government and became a dissident. On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to his marriage certificate with his girlfriend, but he was never seen to leave. Saudi and Turkish officials searched the consulate on Oct. 15 after news reports that he had been killed and dismembered inside. The Saudi government initially denied Khashoggi’s death, but after explanations of his death changed, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general eventually said the murder was premeditated and became known as an “assassination.”
My project evolved almost in parallel with this event, which led me to extend Khashoggi’s identity to the characters I was creating and to keep an eye on international politics. Sad to say, there have been very few actual sanctions, apart from petty diplomatic denunciations, and a few months later oil diplomacy has been a honey-mouthing. Political scandals have became a bargaining chip for countries to reduce media pressure in return for more investment and resources. As I lay in bed, I remembered that so many assassinations of political figures within literary works are accompanied by secret, cold and unsophisticated ways to highlight the important identities of the targets, yet the reality is so crude and barbaric. Thinking back to the memory of stepping on ants as a child or the aliens in “Killing City” who processed humans as pets into half-baked food, the naked, uncaring absolute power of coverup made me feel uneasy in the dark. That’s when I really started to have a clear vision for Animal Farm.
In fact, the reason that I like to use video games as a medium, the most important thing for me is whether the message is clear, whether the amount of data is sufficient. As long as the artist is familiar with the medium, the game engine is undoubtedly excellent, and the creator can simultaneously present many ideas in the work through the virtual space or audio-visual interaction to achieve the purpose of expression. Generally speaking, my games are for exhibitions, so in the early stages of creation, I take into account the realistic issues of game length, difficulty, and live experience. Then there are the technical problems that artists have to face, of course I have my own way of doing it. In the role of design, for instance, the reporter Jimmy with a helmet on to remind the audience he’s in a hazardous situation. In addition to the movement and dialogue of the character in the game, you can also pee on all kinds of things that you are uncomfortable with. This setting embezzles “Postal 2” (due to its feature and violent anti-humanity I think it’s made up by an extreme pacifist. ) Through the misappropriation of a few symbols, a large amount of information can be easily transmitted to a specific audience. This efficient way of information transmission is also called “stem” in the “two-dimensional” field.
In the game, viewers come across side stories, such as being near a traffic accident that turns out to be a human smuggling operation. Through the appearance of the vehicle, it is not difficult to remind people of the “Essex lorry deaths” case that occurred in the UK in October 2019. The public opinion at the time was quite dramatic. Few media would really care about the 39 lives, even the two governments are unwilling to bear the cost of transporting their remains, and contemporary media has become a push algorithm tool for truth-making and screening of personal data.
Back to the exhibition “Free Fall”, the truth is like the standard in free fall, the same event can be described in different terms, the purpose of the truth is to make people believe subjectively, faith can also infer the truth, that is, to make the truth. It doesn’t matter if the truth is the truth. What matters is that you don’t lose your faith. Just like when I was a child, I believed that KFC chickens must have a dozen wings, otherwise how could there be so many wings for customers to eat.
To put it simply, Animal Farm is my record and mourning for the killing of Gamal Khashoggi, and it also extends to some discussions on power, identity and media. It is not hard to see, the work name came from Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, also as the original is a political fable, it is a contemporary political metaphor of electronic games (the gossip is not involved in the plot and setting of the game, in the actual game will be more than one group, leading role in the parties to pester power vortex eventually doomed tragic story).Since Animal Farm is far from completion, my imagination of it should be Lu Xun’s New Tales or Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. My job is to faithfully depict the era I live in.