Huidi Xiang, my playbench in the workground, 2021
Huidi Xiang's sculptures are based on the life-simulation game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a video game that achieved huge popularity during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Xiang' combines the idea of “personal paradise” the game promises with her personal, physical surroundings. By transforming the gameplayer performed in the game into the labor of her studio practice, Xiang reflects on a world in which the boundary between apparently distinct activities like play and labor are becoming indistinguishable. For the record, Xiang invested over 500 hours into developing a simulated paradise and to show how such playbor maps onto oppressive socio-economic forces of Late Capitalism (see also Bren Watanabe's Animal Crossing: All Mine)
As she explains on her website:
Until today (March 26th, 2021), I have been in the game for more than 300 days and have never missed one single day since the day one. When looking back at my game log these days, I noticed that some patterns started to emerge, and I became curious about these patterns and about potential meanings, motivations, and implications hidden behind them. Primarily working as a sculptor in my studio practice, I started to create sculptural objects to help me explore and understand my gaming patterns and present my discoveries. In a way, I am using these objects to construct a system or a network that enables me to reiterate my gaming experience using my own artistic language and to contemplate the connections between my idiosyncratic narratives and the world beyond the game. I am also using these objects to help me better understand my role and position as an artist living and working in a world where we are all constantly navigating back and forth between digital and physical contexts.
Xiang's compare-and-contrast approach is perfectly exemplified by these two images featured on her website:
Xiang's Welcome to the workground to see my playbench is part of Friends Forever: 2021 MFA Exhibit at Carnegie Mellon University.
Xiang was born and raised in Chengdu, China, and attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, receiving a B.A. in Architecture and Studio Arts in 2018. She is currently based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Art degree at Carnegie Mellon University.
LINK: Huidi Xiang (all images courtesy of the artist)