In 2017, Chinese artist Chen Zhou produced an ambitious live-action/machinima film about teenagers living in Shanghai. To create Life Imitation, the artist scouted real locations that evoked the hyperreal look-and-feel of Grand Theft Auto V, in order to highlight the Baudrillardian aesthetics of the contemporary moment. Life Imitation is about alienation and parasocial interaction via social media and texting. This is how Chen Zhou describes the 82 minute film:
This is a film combining a virtual game and real life. In the virtual game, a gun-wielding female killer wanders the streets of Los Angeles on a dark night. Police sirens wail all around, but the police cars are sitting idle, and they are found to be empty. There are people lying in the streets... possibly dead, possibly asleep. In real life, a woman expresses her suffering and depression over her love life using social media chat, revealing the symptoms of a mental disorder.
Artist and filmmaker Chen Zhou (b. 1987) graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Media Art Lab with a BFA in 2009. His practice encompasses painting, print, sculpture and installation, but primarily he focuses on video. Chen is fascinated by contradictions inherent to film and video and frequently stages incongruous relationships between images that create a disjointed narrative. His experimentation with aesthetic language and curiosity about everyday decision making is a constant in his work, and questions, obscures or mocks the viewer’s and artist’s relationship to meaning: whether Chen investigates why the letter “P” is printed on a pepper shaker, or the behavioural patterns of twins, what seems random subject matter transforms into a working process that frames and reframes until every aspect of the work and its meaning has become ambiguous. ”(My) works (...) emit a visual sparsity and coldness which resonates with (my) interest in violent relations between systems and their constituent bodies” (Chen).
LINK: Chen Zhou