“Cyber Theatre Project” is the revenge of the ghost, doll and virus on the “reality”. The sentence “the sister in the garden talked with ghosts in a friendly manner” comes from a verse of a poet named Trakl. The garden (artificial bonsai-doll), sister (frail-virus) and ghosts confirm the virtuality of the “reality” and ubiquitous existence of the “screen” with their own virtuality (fragile feelings). These screens are between the reality versions produced by various media (between Alpha and Release Candidate), and obtained the meaning of Derrida’s interpretation of the “hymen”—an uncertain interface. “Cyber Theatre Project” is trying to become “beta” in the squeezing process of being swallowed by and overflowing from the interface (screen).
Speed Show: Drift Internet Cafe
《Speed Show：漂流網咖》是「賽博劇場計劃」的第一個作品。它徵集具有禦宅族、網癮少年、賽博少數民族等特徵的人群，僅憑著在網絡上浪漫的「邀約」，於特定日期的淩晨相聚到某網咖。 淩晨0:00，如果你也不想回家，就跟我去網咖。 你可以把它當做派對、野餐、離家出走、表白的機會、夜晚遠足的終點。 從這個現實生活中消失，反正，也沒有人會注意的吧。 在押見修造所著的漫畫《漂流網咖》中，主人公在常去的網咖遇見了國中時代的初戀女友，此時外面正下著傾盆大雨，逼不得已之下的他們在網咖渡過了一夜。隔日，雨停了，他們走出網咖，展現在他們眼前的卻是一個異世界。 究竟是返回瑣碎庸俗的現實生活，還是與記憶和幻想中的初戀女友永遠沉溺於荒謬的虛擬大陸？漫畫《漂流網咖》提出的是一個類似哈姆雷特「to be or not to be」的問題，網咖這樣的場所作為兩種現實的交界地帶，人的一半已在熒幕裏，另一半還在熒幕外。 2016年8月21日，共有四十五人赴約聚集到北京東四的「好風景」網咖。表演分成兩個部分，第一部分是0:00至6:00「聚眾上網」，每一臺電腦都安裝了錄屏軟件，昔日臥室般私密的熒幕（既是原子的也是比特的）變成敞開的劇場；第二部分是6:00至18:00光天化日下的「幽靈網咖」，清晨隨陽光蒸發的表演者留下他們的蹤迹——熒幕複播的操作記錄，耳麥殘留的囈語、咳嗽、打盹，以及熒幕外面的飲料瓶、零食、貼紙、玩具、口紅印。空置的四十五張椅子前，四十五臺電腦看起來像在自主運轉，熒幕擬造了四十五個「有意識的電腦」的鬧鬼現場。而仔細凝視每個熒幕裡面細微的操作，包括滑鼠的拖曳、打字的速度、光標的閃爍（有如臺詞沉默的間隙），不同於《活死人黎明》的僵屍，它們像是肉身缺席的「死活人」。 傍晚18:00，網咖的四十五臺電腦因為「所剩餘額零元」依次被網咖管理員關閉，蹤迹蕩然無存，像謝幕一般依次黑屏，對於我們這些駐留在網咖中的人來說，夜晚那些表演者才徹底從現實生活中消失，永久地漂流在不可見的異世界。
“Speed Show: Drift Internet Cafe” is the first work of “Cyber Theatre Project”. It called for people with characteristics like otaku, Internet addiction, and cyber minority. They gathered at an Internet cafe in the wee hours on a certain date just by romantic “invitation” on the network. At 0:00 in the morning, if you also do not want to go home, just come on with me to the Internet cafe. You can take it as a party, a picnic, an opportunity to confess love or an endpoint of your night hiking. Disappear from the real life; anyway, no one will care. In the manga “Drift Internet Cafe” created by Oshimi Shuzo, the protagonist met his first love of the middle ages at the frequent Internet cafe, when there was a downpour outside. They were compelled to spend the night at the Internet cafe. The next day, the rain stopped and they walked out of the Internet cafe, a different world opened up in front of them. To return to the trivial and vulgar real life, or to indulge in the ridiculous virtual world with first love in memory and fantasy? The manga “Drift Internet Cafe” put forward a question like “to be or not to be”. The Internet cafe, as a boundary between two realities, provide a place for people to be half on the screen and half outside the curtain. On August 21, 2016, a total of 45 people kept appointments and gathered at the Haofengjing Internet Cafe in Beijing Dongsi. The show was divided into two parts. The first part “gather together for surfing on line” was from 0:00 to 6:00. Each computer was equipped with screen recording software, thus transforming the private screen as bedroom to open theatre. The second part “spooky Internet cafe in broad daylight” was from 6:00 to 18:00. The performers who evaporated with the sunlight in the morning left behind their tracks—replayed operation record on the screen, residual raving, cough and snoring from the headset, and drink bottles, snacks, stickers, toys, lipsticks outside the screen. In front of 45 unoccupied chairs, 45 computers seemed to operate autonomously, creating a “haunted scene” with 45 “conscious computers”. By carefully gazing at the subtle operations on each screen, including the drag of the mouse, the speed of typing, the blinking of the cursor (like silent interval between the lines), you could find they were like “dead living man” without fresh different from the zombies in “Dawn of the Dead”. At 18:00 in the evening, the webmaster successively shut down the computers due to “zero balance of the accounts”. The screen of computers successively turned black like curtain falling with no trace left behind. For us who stayed in the Internet cafe, those performers at night disappeared completely from real life and drifted permanently in an invisible different world.
In the second work of “Cyber Theatre Project”—“Love’s Labour’s Love”, firstly, two girls spent almost twenty minutes to fill their boudoirs with the goods bought from Taobao under the public gaze. This “potlatch” came from cheap factories in China, but it was full of “exotic atmosphere”—a “stateless” mixed reality, which was tantamount to virtual decorations bought with virtual currency in Qzone—to add props for their own stages. At one point, girls liked to decorate their private spaces online as boudoirs, waiting for the visit from others at any time and any place. Nowadays, with the overflow of live-streaming software, the monitor has made the real boudoir a virtual scene waiting for strangers’ sightseeing. The girls inside have also become dolls surrounded by various augmented reality (the offerings under the eyes). Karaoke is the most common show in live-streaming room. The looping tracks of the player list create a romantic background that one can fall in love all the time, from “Loving you”, “Love, Bigger than the Sky” to “Heartbeats”. Love and break-up are all in the screen, the invisible virtual lovers climb in from the window, carrying the stars and moon of the mobile phone and the computer screen. “Staying at home” means falling in love with the screen and staying in the screen. The ending quotes several literary texts: Pablo Neruda’s love poems--we have lost even this twilight. No one saw us this evening hand in hand, while the blue night dropped on the world, and the overlong English word “Honorificabilitudinitatibus” (glory) like messy code appeared in Shakespeare’s play “Love’s Labour’s Lost”, which coincides with “Blue Screen” (the death image of the computer). The use of the cartoon “My Little Pony” echoes the “unicorn” in “The Glass Menagerie” created by Tennessee Williams. It is also the embodiment of the self-image of the house girl Lola. The carried prosthesis due to a physical defect was like the horn of the unicorn different from other horns, which became the root of inferiority before the birth of the self-identity of the new subject. “Love’s Labour’s Lost” was invited to attend Festival/Tokyo (F/T) in 2017. The foot of the real Mount Fuji was the Mount Fuji in the dream, where the computer desktop was filtered by the pink sunset. The girls who all day long lived in “exotic homes” carried their “daraku room” (originated from a Japanese idol group’s description on the “magnificent” scene of the female dormitory) arrived at the underground stage of Roppongi and were still in the screen. They did not belong here or there, they were the afterimages in the mirror, and the counterfeit goods without copyright.
Here Is the Message You Asked For… Don’t Tell Anyone Else ；-）
「賽博劇場計劃」的第三個作品《這是你要的那條信息……不要讓別人看到;-)》的名字來自叫「Melissa」（脫衣舞女孩）的病毒程式，從表面上看，她像熟人或朋友發來的郵件：「Here is the message you asked for…don't tell anyone else ；-）」，郵件的附件是一個Word檔案，如果收到郵件的人打開了這個檔案，病毒就會選擇通訊錄最前面的五十人將染有病毒的郵件發出，1999年她破壞了全世界的郵件系統。
The name of the third work of “Cyber Theatre Project”—“Here Is the Message You Asked For… Don’t Tell Anyone Else ；-）” comes from a virus program called “Melissa” (striped girl). On the surface, she sent an email as an acquaintance or a friend: “Here is the message you asked for... don’t tell anyone else ；-）”, the attachment was a Word file. If the recipient opened up this file, the virus would choose the top 50 people in the address book to send out the virus-stained mail. In 1999, she destroyed the mail system around the world. Taking the dormitory and the bed as the starting points (the pain of growing up is also the pain of leaving the bed), the girls who loved Cosplay were wrapped in the projected gauze (the metamorphosis of the fetal membrane, the hymen and the screen) with the cute elements in the “database”. The microscopic body movements made the audience have to get close to them—entering the dormitory, so that they could enjoy the same sight distance as the audience in live-streaming room, thus constituting a “snooping” on the screen. The cute things created in 2-dimension world (also a kind of “misemono”) occupied the rear audience, their “anti-viewing” to the audience and the “anti-live” to the audience by the actors on the stage using mobile phones were the performative of the two metaphorical media—the theatre and the screen and made one-way snooping and viewing into mutual snooping and viewing, confusing the inner (virtual) and outer (real) part of the screen. The live sound gave a feeling of bulging like an encephalic orgasm to a flat living space, and the “surreality” in the gauze was about to overflow at any time—the physical form was black feathers and clouds falling down from the bed to the outside. The “overflowing screen” began with soft whispers, melted and pierced the huge gauze wrapping the entire stage, downloaded one reality into another, and the incompatibility of the code caused the latter to be overloaded and collapsed, leading to the chaos and disorder of the shown without clear ending. After the premiere in Shanghai, a bit audience leaving the theatre stood on the MRT platform with a “salted fish” (cute thing) in her arms and a “white bear” (cute thing) in her hand. She was like one of the top 50 people in the address book infected by “Melissa”, and a dead pixel crushing on the liquid crystal of the screen, leading to the gradual spread of the fault (decoding). “Here Is the Message You Asked For… Don’t Tell Anyone Else ;-)” was invited to attend Kyoto Experiment in 2017. Bilibili met Niconico on “Clone Island” and hung on the bed with the surrounding T-shirts with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo which was suspected of plagiarism and the cute version of the Japanese submarine Japanese submarine I-58 during WWII, which was hidden with toxicity as the director’s note to the Japanese audience. Hello, Japanese audience, welcome to peep the collective dormitory of “copy girls” who are A Sheng, Midori and Hua Hua, also Nemurin, I-58, Izumi Sagiri and Tsushima Yoshiko. They can’t speak Japanese, but the background music in their heads is Japanese; it is their first time to Japan, but it seems they have lived here for a long time. In order to come to Japan, pirated Koromon, Bulbasaur and Korosensei from China had to disguise themselves as props, and were vacuumed into a jam shape to cheat the customs. They entered the theatre like refugees. If the premiere in Shanghai was a virtual invasion of reality, the performance in Tokyo is the solution or question from the copy to the original (real?). “Copy girls” were bred on the bed, hatched on the screen, immersed in the downloaded “copy life”. The liquid crystal screen seemed to be the virgin who thought about sex in dreams, and there was full of something being about to overflow. Is it a “real” world when their toes touch the world outside the screen? Or is it another “copy”? At the end of the final night, the typhoon was blown up. The screen above Kyoto was broken. The rain overflowed from the sky like the flood in Revelation. Shanghai appeared in the huge reflection of the street covered with liquid crystal water.
It is said that listening to ASMR audio for a long time will lead to an increase in the body’s threshold value (decrease in sensitivity), accompanied by the phenomenon of addiction. In the midnight webcast room, the screen replaces the window, and the squishy whispering, chewing, and sucking sounds of the girls are attached to the weak current of the headset——there is no need for “real” lust, and lust is everywhere on the network—in the brain. In the horror game “The Song of Saya”, the male protagonist Fuminori Sakisaka lost his hearing, sight, and taste due to a traffic accident. Not only did everyone become dirty pieces of flesh in his eyes, but the speeches he could hear turned into harsh and bubbling voices. Only the appearance of a mysterious girl Saya brought him out of the “real” hell, and only her voice could make him feel happy again. But one day he found that Saya is not a human being, not a “real” girl. In the world of Fuminori Sakisaka, human beings and aliens were turned upside down. The human bodies exuded rancidity, while Saya had a beautiful smile of simulacrum. “If it isn’t the world that collapsed, then it must be me that collapsed alone.” “Saya Addiction” tries to breed and reproduce Saya’s image and voice in various scenarios in the way ASMR generates lust. The result of addiction is immunity to reality. Once Saya appears, she will never disappear. “Are you willing to give up the world you originally didn’t care about for the only one of your kind in the world?”
If “The Cherry Orchard” is a prophecy of the doomsday, it points to the unarrived disaster of the 21st century. The interpersonal crisis is particularly prominent in the screen generation growing up in the digital network. Although they are located in the same place, it seems to be divided into different times and spaces, so they are wandering and saying to themselves in their own small world, even the body and mind can be separated and float in their respective clouds. So in spite of staying at home forever, one can forget he is alone, and holds the dreams and snacks on the bed like Gayev and Ranievskaya in Chekhov’s works guarding the plastics and bubble-like cherry orchard. They were the generations who refused to grow up, choosing to hide in the white shackles to resist the truth. However, in the eyes of others, they were really a group of “freak”, so the cherry orchard for their parasitism also had a sense of “terror” —a white garden that might also be the murderous house in the mirror or the uterus of the girl. If “The Cherry Orchard” is an elegy, like Neruda’s poem: Always, always you recede through the evenings towards where the twilight goes erasing statues, the image of the person is hidden into the dusk of the world, and the break of the strings of the sky is also broken sound of the screen of the sky.
The work presents a reimagined group of stage settings of the medieval Valeuciennes mystery, a scene of human death, a sci-fi adaption of “Divine Comedy”, which tells the story from hell to heaven in the new theocracy era of the future. Beatrice looked up at the screen with an angle of 45°, not only to hold the tears, but also to see the face of God.
In the “‘A Doll’s House’ Episode I: Tik Tok Doll” , the new Noras are the “experts” acquiring the skills of shooting short videos for Tik Tok. Through a series of body adjustments and character settings, they have either good appearances or gentle manners, and they look at themselves in filters and make-up special effects, and are looked at by others. With gesture dances and childlike voices, they were like kids who never grow up, and call strangers on the other side of the screen as “Daddy” or “Hubby”. Having clean faces, they act cute and are like pets, such as cats or rabbits. They even make a sound of “Meow”. If you stare at them, you will find they are just the same as “dolls”. Is it a sublimation or degeneration? The aesthetic paradigms produced by the Internet in volume at any time are practiced on them. The indistinctive “face blindness” is pursued under the economic effect of “giving a like”, and catches the attention of hundreds of thousands and even millions, making them a photo album of young girls viewed by countless people. “‘A Doll’s House’ Episode I: Tik Tok Doll” will let the audience see how a group of “cute” girls are fostered, how they make themselves “ideal” images through dress collocations, make-ups, and dance rehearsals. However, when “being cute” is seen everywhere and even becomes “being extremely cute”, will it turn into terror? Will such terror become sublime? Though these new Noras speak the words of “running away from home” resolutely, their childlike voices of not wanting to grow up finally turn it to be sweet and soft twittering.
The so-called “divine manifestation” means that the divine always appears to people in a secular way. This is an artificial exhibition hall and a temple, created by freezing the screen images and digital moments in “Kwai” including combinations of unrelated life props, unconventional body movements, meaningless language, emotional expressions that look only at the camera—thus re-salvaging them from the flood of destructive parody and misappropriation. We display, worship, and confess with the seriousness of restoring cultural relics, specimens, and myths. It is hoped that these objects can shed their respective symbolic restrictions in the solidified time and form an open future system through a number of isolated fragments.
In view of the prevailing “new normal” of isolation and separation, in which routine get-togethers with our loved ones are conducted online rather than in cafés and restaurants, an apparently defunct bulletin board—one where users play a game of lost-and-found—is now inviting new players to help revive the platform. This Way to Visit Room is an experimental online theatre that brings role-playing and interactive story-telling directly to your browser. Place your post online and the one you seek could be anyone lurking on the board right now. In addition, the webmaster is setting up a “visit room” in Tai Kwun this June, a place where players log off, meet each other, and perhaps truly reconnect in a rendezvous! As you both slip into the characters that you create, no one knows what your story will lead to, be it tear-jerking, mind-blowing, or no more than a misunderstanding. This way through, to the visit room.