A LIFETIME GUARANTEED: Based on the works of Wong Kit Yi

Wong Kit Yi, Uploading Consciousness to a Lotus Root, 2018, single channel HD Video, 20 min.

I made a promise that expires in 99 years [1]. At the Golden Computer Centre [2], I transferred my body’s lease on life to the Emperor. Filled out the form: red hair, pale skin, female. Couldn’t remember my birthdate. In any regard, I had plans to live forever. As one of the documented aliens slated to be exchanged for the elixir of life, the only thing I had to preserve on this trip was my virginity. [3] At the Centre, Dolly comforted me, “Everything is nothing if you got no one, and you just walk in the night.” [4] I said I would sail away to another world with her. Today, Midland Realty reported in the papers that the average home price has reached 12,147 Hong Kong dollars per square foot. [5] I thought, how lucky it is that I’ve never suffered from horizontal growth.

The American geneticist George McDonald Church claims that forever is today. Today, we can imagine reviving the livelihoods of extinct species and reverse human aging. Unlike bacteria, humans have a built-in shelf life. The invention of life is the production of death. Our journey moves forward and our thoughts move back. Court alchemist Xu Fu’s contemporaries suggested drinking gold. The ​Essential Formulas of Alchemical Classics ​suggests a concoction of mercury, sulfur, and arsenic. Today, I write my goodbye letter to the city I have always been half in love with. Hafiz and I said, “Be my moon,” and you said, “If it rises.” The feeling of forever has been stamped with a 99 year expiration date, a promised return to an ex lover. With that fact in mind, it was no longer possible to be in love.

Tracing my index finger along the contours of our steely vessel, I found my presence silenced by lush carpets. It was all long hallways and closed doors, operated by workers who only wore white and moved in angles. Forward motion, eyes closed. I open my eyes and find the same scene. In a grand denial of death, the Emperor Qin Shi Huang had commissioned us to take part on a second voyage in the search for everlasting life. I am one of one thousand boys and girls on an expedition led by Xu Fu. We are fed nothing but red grapes, fish oil, and green tea extract. Told upon boarding, “Our focus is on quality, purity, potency. Shouldn’t that be ​your ​focus, too?” [6] As the violent waves jostle the sea surface outside, we step on solid ground. Days go by as they change the mats in the elevator. Today, the mat read “Tuesday.”

Wong Kit Yi, Uploading Consciousness to a Lotus Root,2018, single channel HD Video, 20 min.

In 1985, the Foreign Languages Press released the English edition of Ge Cuilin’s ​Wild Grapes​. It told the story of a girl who had bright beautiful eyes and was beloved by all those who knew her.

On Mid-Autumn Festival, White Goose Girl was blinded by her jealous stepmother, who rubbed salt into her eyes under the full moon. The white geese she tended balked in surprise, making a ballroom of ruffled feathers on a rural peninsula. They organized a navy of geese to set sail that night, bringing White Goose Girl to a mountain ruled by immortals. There, she entangles herself in vines ripe with red grapes. It only took the taste of one pearl to reverse her blindness. We now refer to these red grapes as resveratrol.

After studying the ​Classic of Mountains and Seas​, I believe this place to be Mount Penglai, where we are headed now. A land of no pain and no winter. All matter gives off white light and jewels grow on trees. It is rumoured that a research facility constructed from platinum and gold exists on Mount Penglai, where alchemists edit genes and germlines with a technology known as CRISPR/Cas9. Xu Fu has been sent to find ​Magic Wands​, ​Batons and DNA Splicers​. [7] Xu Fu, a now out-of-court sorcerer concerned with setting the gold standard for Qin Dynasty R&D.

Wong Kit Yi, Uploading Consciousness to a Lotus Root, 2018, single channel HD Video, 20 min.

I heard the research facility has boxes of transparent creatures, creatures of myth, magic mushrooms, and organic hard drives. Uploaded to the clouds, these alchemists said they no longer wanted to just feel the feeling of forever. They wanted to reverse forever itself. Enter a time continuum and have no further use for the term ‘anachronistic’. Species will be resurrected for human novelty though promoted as a biodiversity tactic. Humans will become immortals. InMagic Wands, Batons and DNA Splicers​, we will have our cheeks swabbed for Polymerase Chain Reaction and sequencing. In my last offering to Hong Kong, I poured a concoction of mercury, sulfur, and arsenic onto the ground.

In my 99 year promise, my corrosion rate was slower than gold. Aboard this ship, time only passed for seven days to reset itself on elevator mats. I would be a good test subject. Follow the route of my blue veins. I am worth the power of forever. The Emperor had set up an elaborate network of postmortem measures to prevent the families of the six conquered states from uprising against him in the afterlife. It is an added measure. For once Xu Fu comes back with the elixir of life, there will be no afterlife to contend with, no fools to suffer in systems with bad exchange rates for joss paper. And once Xu Fu comes back, we—the boys and girls—will not.

1. 99 years is the expiration date for relative Hong Kong freedom. ​The Independent ​headline of January 3, 1997 read, “A lease no one thought would run out.” The second Convention of Peking was signed on June 9, 1898, leasing the New Territories to Britain for 99 years. In 1997, Margaret Thatcher trips on the red carpet in a cakewalk ceremony returning the landmass of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China.

2. The first computer market in Hong Kong, the name “Golden” is now synonymous in Cantonese with computer market itself. The Centre is the namesake of more-popular-than-Twitter forum GoldenHK, the free distributor of local slang.

3. In the first Qin Dynasty, Emperor Qin Shi Huang sent envoys led by court alchemist Xu Fu on two journeys in the search of the elixir of life that would promise immortality. The first included 6000 virgin boys and girls and the second included 1000. They were to be sacrificed to the immortals for the elixir.

4. Released in 1983, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers sang of other imagined isles of love in “Islands in the Stream.”

5. ​South China Morning Post ​reported this figure on January 31, 2018.

6. A motto of Life Extension business, a “global authority on nutrition, health and wellness.” Part and parcel of life extension science, which aims to extend the maximum and average lifespan. Some call themselves “life extensionists,” “immortalists,” or “longesvists.”

7. ​Magic Wands, Batons and DNA Splicers ​is an exhibition showing with a.m. space during Art Basel Hong Kong 2018.