2010 : HOW IS THE INTERNET CHANGING THE WAY YOU THINK?

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Writer, Co-founder OF Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou and the shop in Beijing, China
NOTES FROM A FILM DIRECTOR

I am particularly fond of this story: 7 men and 7 women who do not know one another, living in a glass house together for a month. Because their circumstances require that they sever all ties with their previous ways of life, they develop a brand new dynamic amongst themselves, and as a result, this sparks off the fundamental emotions of humankind — love, desire, passion and hatred.

During the first week, their caution with one another is evident. They make tentative attempts at communication, tapping on their past glories and social statuses to get into the good books of others. However, all that happens within the glass house is as convincing as empty promises. Gradually, they realise: the sole elements to victory are their own beings and the purity and simplicity of words; it is these things that are needed to reveal a "true self" to the other party.

Everything in this transparent and closed space is captured by the camera, and viewers from all over the country (including their own loved ones) are gathered around their televisions sets, watching their every move with intense interest, whipping out their cell-phones to send text messages.

At times, the participants wonder if they should seek help from the director, admit to their personal weaknesses, and then withdraw from the competition. But the lure of millions of dollars in prize money is irresistible (everyone has valid reasons for why they ought to win). They are also constrained by their sense of personal pride, hence no one would allow himself or herself to give up that easily. Some of them endure sleepless nights, and their loved ones — following their struggles as observed by the camera — consequently suffer the same insomnia with them. How difficult it was to make the right decision!

As required, each of them has to say a few words via the camera to their loved ones each day; most of the time, these revolve around their recollections on the past, realizations about life and confessions when their consciences are pricked. These in turn elicit widespread national tears. When the participants look right into the camera, and speak to their loved ones with deep emotions, in actual fact, they are gazing at the audience, confiding in them with great sentiment. Time and time again, this experience reiterates to them: what is important is not leaving good impressions on the opposite sex in that glass house, but rather, winning the favor of the audiences outside the glass house.

The participants' views are indistinct, and when projected beyond the glass house, are akin to messages sent from earth into the dark unknown that is outer space.

Finally, a pair amongst the participants kiss. Their profound love spur on another pair, unwilling to be left behind, to embrace each other. This incredibly lucid and protracted feature story drives their loved ones outside of the glass house to resort to smashing up their television sets in a bid to break that endless kiss.

The fragments of the television set are symbolic of the shattering of the glass house. Yet the image of the kissing lovers remains deeply seared into the minds of that man or that woman; it has become an indelible memory in their lives.

In my youth, I dreamed of becoming the director of that "tragicomic reality show". As the participants are wrapped up in their passionate embraces, I would have the shot cut to a series of personal, private spaces, to focus on the despair on the face of that man or woman sitting before the television.