Sanlitun District, Beijing, 2009, 30 minutes.
This video targets a public television screen running an irregular slate of 15-20 different promotions. Some promote major global brands while others publicize local businesses like the Peking Opera theaters and the Beijing Zoo. One might expect this type of advertisement to be on a regular loop but the ad segments are mixed together randomly creating an odd pacing of repetition of messages.
The activity around the advertisement is largely street traffic. Cars, bicycles, motorcycles and police vehicles pass through, and sometimes stop in the scene. Pedestrians come and go in the middle ground while a lower level of activity occurs in the parking lot of the upscale hotel in the background.
The thrust of this video stems from the strong visual draw of the television screen. Unlike the Wangfujing video where the viewer gradually loses interest in the repeating advertising in favor of the human activity, the Sanlitun video challenges the viewer to direct their gaze away from the video within the video.
The repeated segments on the LED television include costumed performers in Peking Opera, tropical fish, a dog in goggles, a smoothed-over female model promoting skin products, buffalo, and various foods, among others.
From the perspective of Postmodern theory, this video presents a simulacra within a simulacra. Video and photography have the power to transport the viewer to a different place. This video transports people to the streets of Beijing, while the video in the scene is taking the viewer to a wide variety of places that are not the exhibition space, nor the space in which the video was made.
This piece has no coneptual beginning or end. Viewers are invited to watch as much or as little as they like. Presentation would likely be on a wall-mounted television rather than a projection.