Rhett Tsai, MetaVessel, Color digital animated video, January 2022.

Words by Rhett Tsai
January 13, 2022
MetaVessel is a 3D video work reflecting on the metaverse, in which the main character Joe is about to encounter a flood “OpenSea” caused by the fracture between virtual and reality. In this flood, only the lucky few who successfully board the giant ark “MetaVessel” can survive. Joe and other humans have to undergo virtual reality training, obtain the boarding credential “MetaMask Fox Mask”, and get the positive nasopharyngeal swab test of the MetaVessel to board the ark to survive. The work discusses the collapse of the balance between virtual and reality under the trend of the metaverse, the emerging hierarchical order after being reshuffled by the metaverse, and the new post-human identity after being reorganized by the new order. The nasopharyngeal swab test in the video is also a darkly humorous metaphor for the current reality: is the swab that stabs the nostrils again and again in ordinary life to cause a minimal but important physiological pain the Sword of Damocles for humans to escape from reality and move to the virtual world?
The textual description of this work is discussing the so-called metaverse, however, its essence starts from COVID-19: the reality panic brought by COVID-19 makes people prefer to inhabit the virtual world (that's why metaverse is so popular nowadays), and the nasopharyngeal swab session at the end of the whole video is a metaphor for this real phenomenon.
About The Artist
Rhett Tsai (Yuxiao Cai), is an artist currently based in Hangzhou, China. He teaches at China Academy of Art. Based on China’s unique Internet ecosystem and media society, Rhett’s interests include art and technology, cyberculture, smart city, Chinese characters, hypertext, and the soundscape in China’s social media. His work spans multiple fields including virtual reality, computer animation, sound, and audio-visual to express his critical reflection on the media society here and now. In most of his works, Rhett focuses on the human dilemma under the technological society and how it reshapes human beings.