IMirror: Soundscapes of SL (Zafka)

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General Information

Artist: Zafka
Title: i•Mirror: Soundscapes of SL
Release Date: 2008, February, 13
Label: Archival Vinyl (Post-Concrete)
Type: net release
Catalog No.: AV007

Track Listing

  1. I (17:52)
  2. • (9:52)
  3. Mirror (13:12)


  • (c) that's Beijing Magazine and Blogs, Berwin Song, August 20, 2007

The latest project from Hunan native and Beijing sound artist Zhang Anding (aka Zafka) is eye-catching thanks to some innovative packaging: i.Mirror comes on a limited edition vPod – in essence, a daoban iPod shuffle – which makes a neat enough gift, and offers plenty of utility beyond Zafka’s artistic contribution. As for the content, its three tracks use sounds taken exclusively from the virtual online reality world of Second Life (SL) – a project that started with the intent to capture the “sonic environments” of SL residents, but instead discovered mostly just the built-in noises of the virtual environment: loops of whistling wind, bird and insect calls, all mimicked electronically for a digital world.

You might recognize the name from The China Tracy Second Life project: a short, digital SL docu-drama by Chinese artist Cao Fei which was featured in the China Pavilion at this year’s 52nd Venice Biennale. Zhang’s SL “field recordings” were mined for sound effects in Cao’s movie, i.Mirror, and Zafka’s vPods were featured in listening stations surrounding the main viewing room of the Pavilion.

Coincidentally, Zhang also provided the music for the i.Mirror movie segments – three airy, down-tempo pop tracks recorded under his band’s moniker Prague – though the vPod compositions are clearly not meant to be i.Mirror’s accompanying soundtrack; rather, it’s a collaboration with Cao Fei using the same principles of exploring the SL world. Like most laptop noise collages, it’s better in explanation than in execution – though in the true spirit of digital-age experimentalism, Zhang advocates freeing his vPod from all constraints, even suggesting that listeners replace his tracks with their own – or, eventually, the i.Mirror update tracks he plans to continue recording.