Long, March, Restart
Feng Mengbo’s Long, March, Restart is an interactive video game which was acquired and exibited at Moma Ps1 with two large screens as seen here. The game recreates the very historical flight of the Communist Red Army from the nationalist KMT government. Mengbo combines this story with a traditional Sega Nintendo aesthetic for a game that comments on the political history as well as artistic gaming history.
The Long March is so significant in history for it marked the emergence of Mao Zedong as the undisputed leader of the Communist Party. It also signified a turning point in the war with the Red Army’s incredible battles and defeat of the Japanese in the North, where they marched to, they gained popularity among the Chinese masses.
The game lifts imagery from classic games like Street Fighter II, Super Mario Bros, as well Mega Man. This allows those too young to understand the Long March to relate to the imagery and be drawn in. This also highlights the relationship, which China and the Western world have in regards to the evolution of video games.
The game also uses a combination of Western imagery as well as Chinese propaganda imagery. This is important for,
“the work does more than simply juxtapose Eastern and Western icons as a painting might; interactivity of the icons construct new symbolic meanings.” (Kulhanek, Jamie, “Long, March, Restart” Feng Mengbo)
The blue suited soldier shoots Coca-Cola bottles- an iconic Western image- at the ghosts, demons, and dieties he encounters. The avatar also meets ray shooting American astronauts on the moon as well as USSR satellites. Monsters, robots, dieties, ghosts, and demons also appear throughout the game evoking a fear of the unknown just like the Western world’s relationship with Communism.
Mengbo’s fantastical additions to recreating the long march also create a questioning of the reality of the historical event. For America would have reported this march in a very different light than China would.
This is similar to the video game Vietnam Romance, created by Eddo Stern, which recreates the Vietnam War using a variety of different cultural representations like Hollywood film, war literature, tourist packages and more. Both works bring attention to who represents a story and how it is represented.
Another work Long, March, Restart relates to in its purpose is Brent Watanabe’s San Andreas Deer Cam. This video live streams a deer placed inside Grand Theft Auto V, contrasting the natural innocent animal with this violent world. Long, March, Restart simplifies the killing necessary in war and in war video games to throwing coke cans and jumping on enemy’s heads. Also the death of an enemy equates to a quick disappearance with no gore.
The end of the video game is extremely anti-climactic just like the killing of enemies is. The game ends with abrupt credits as well as a short pyrotechnic display. This is done to contrast the chaos and violence of the game of which the player was just so absorbed in to make them rethink their actions.
Chayka, K. (2010, December 31). Feng Mengbo’s Video Game Epic “Long March”. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://hyperallergic.com/15898/feng-mengbo-long-march/
Kulhanek, J. (n.d.). “Long March, Restart”. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/WebExclusives/LongMarchRestartFengMengbo
History.com Staff. (2009). Long March. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/long-march
Eddo Stern Vietnam Romance. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.postmastersart.com/archive/stern15/stern15.html
Bwatanabe. (n.d.). San Andreas Deer Cam. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from https://www.twitch.tv/bwatanabe