This is a bit nuts. Lawrence Lek uses video game software to imagine a future in which the Royal Academy of Arts in London has been sold off to a Chinese billionaire as a privately-owned luxury estate. This site-specific simulation, created for the Dazed Emerging Artist Award exhibition at the RA, is accompanied by a soundtrack by virtuoso cellist Oliver Coates and a voiceover of a found text from Russian Tatler magazine, translated into Mandarin by Joni Zhu. The viewer takes the point of view of the estate’s new owner as he tours his purchase following extensive renovations; I thought the Jeff Koons bunny in the courtyard was a classy touch, but it’s really the rest of central London that sees the most improvement.
Coates’ soundtrack is soon to be released on the Slip imprint, mostly without the instructive Mandarin voiceover. The music is as grand and boldly delineated as any computer game soundtrack, making it a perfect fit for Lek’s virtual world.