The University of Chicago News Office
Jan. 9, 2002 Press Contact: Karen Reimer
(773) 702-8670

Feng Mengbo: Q4U

January 13- February 24, 2002

Quake III Arena: Showdown 2002
Sunday, January 13, 1 - 4 p.m.
Talk with the artist 5 - 6 p.m.

Good at Quake? Beijing artist Feng Mengbo needs a serious whoopin'! Mengbo, who boasts of his Quake skills, welcomes all competitors for a live Quake Showdown projected on 13-foot screens. Survive and win valuable prizes. This event is free and takes place at The Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Avenue, on the University of Chicago campus. The game can also be accessed and played via the Internet, beginning January 13, at

One of China's leading new media artists, Mengbo has created Q4U, a customized version of Quake 3, the popular Internet game whose plot is simply kill or be killed. Quake was designed by id software, the makers of the hit game Doom, which alongside Mortal Kombat, both released in 1993, set new standards in video game violence.

The latest version, Quake 3, is written in open code, a feature that allows users to customize the game. Q4U is extensively customized featuring a 3-D likeness of Mengbo holding a video camera in one hand and a plasma rifle in the other. There will be three play stations in the gallery and, from China, Mengbo will engage players via the Internet throughout the exhibition. Given the dynamic audio-visual of contemporary video games, Q4U is formally stunning. It is projected over three large screens (10 feet x 13 feet) each featuring a different point of view.

One of China’s leading new media artists, Mengbo was initially trained as a printmaker at the Central Academy for the Arts in Beijing. He began making digitally-based work in the early 1990s, with his earliest video games recasting the popular Nintendo character Mario as Mao Zedong. The Long March Goes On reinscribes the objective of the original Mario Brothers game within the contentious relations between China and the West. The goal is simple: vanquish your enemies and capture the cola. Mengbo’s early games gained him a reputation as one of a new generation of Chinese "pop artists" to emerge after the Tiananmen Square riots of 1989. Indeed, over the course of his life - as a child of the Cultural Revolution and a young adult during the events at Tiananmen Square - Mengbo has witnessed oscillating degrees of openness between China and the West. As a result, his earliest games are not simply ironic commentary on Chinese society, questioning the goals of revolution and modernization, but also a trenchant critique of opposing ideologies. These he feels are reduced and delimited value systems appropriate to the video game.

In 1997 he produced Taking Mt. Doom By Strategy as both a video game and a CD-ROM of animated collages combining family photos, snippets from the game and excerpts from The Taking of Mount Tiger, a 1970s action film popular during the artist’s childhood that retroactively celebrated Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Taking Mt. Doom By Strategy was an attempt to insert something of both a personal and historical narrative into the space of the video game and vice versa. It was not until 1998 that the technology would allow this to be done on terms far less prohibitive than collage.

The result was Q3, a computer-generated video work starring Mengbo as a war correspondent interviewing a computer clone in the midst of a battle. Produced in 1999, it explores the nature of militarism and violence, both real and virtual. The footage is a surreal, poignant and profound exchange on the nature of militarism and violence both real and virtual. At the conclusion, Mengbo decides to join the warring clones. Q4U is an interactive sequel to that narrative.

The Renaissance Society, the University of Chicago's contemporary art museum, focuses on the forefront of the visual arts. The Society maintains an international reputation as one of the finest resources for contemporary art. In addition to exhibitions, The Renaissance Society also sponsors concerts, performances, film and video screenings, and talks by noted artists and critics.

Museum hours: Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon -5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Admission is free.
Last modified at 05:02 PM CST on Wednesday, January 09, 2002.

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