Zhong Kui and the Reform of Hell


2019 | 00:55:56 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: History, Multimedia, Myth, Performance

For their first collaboration, artist duo eteam and the Hong Kong Puppet and Shadow Arts Center have developed a powerful opera-play that combines ancient stories and analog story-telling technologies with the digital tools and scripts we have available now.

Zhong Kui, mostly known as the ghost catcher, is still frustrated about the unfair treatment he once received due to his facial appearance. Assisted by the White Bone Spirit, a shape-shifting demoness, who ended up in hell when she resisted her abusers, Zhong Kui catches a ride on a drone and leaves the hell of ancient times. He is now among us as a computer specialist behind a screen, who catches bots and viruses.

Zhong Kui and the Reform of Hell draws a connection between storytelling and handheld devices. With the physical presence of the puppeteers in bringing ancient characters to life, eteam reveals the mechanics of how stories and news media are created. Yet, once a viewer is drawn into the story, these mechanics seem to disappear. The suspension of disbelief hovers in a state of fluctuation and one can’t help but wonder who is human, who is ghostly, who is artificial, who is controlled, who is operating, who is spirited and who has personality: the operators, the puppets, the technological devices, or the systems that keep them in proximity?

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