Virtual Effort


The project explores a way for people to perceive value through effort in the immersive Internet. in the context of this new virtual world’s spirit needs remembering.

The original Internet spirits talk about information transparency and equality has been eaten by the Internet economy. Monopolist owns what people create and tells them these are “your file”.

At the same time, people’s perception of value is undergoing a profound change in this 2D virtual world. The value people perceived through effort stands far away from reality when they conduct certain intangible activities like “online tomb-sweeping”.

Standing at the entrance of the immersive Internet, which is an augmented reality that people can inhabit. It is becoming possible that the value of effort of doing intangible activities can be shifted into this new world. Nevertheless, it is also becoming more and more urgent to discuss and debate about a treaty of this new world.

Standing at the entrance of the immersive Internet, which is an augmented reality that people can inhabit. It is becoming possible that the value of effort of doing intangible activities can be shifted into this new world. Nevertheless, it is also becoming more and more urgent to discuss and debate about a treaty of this new world.

So what is the position of an architect if we want to strengthen the value of effort in this world? And how can we prevent the spirit or treaty of the immersive Internet from being forgotten? The project starts by diving into those “old virtual” like “indulgence” and “recent virtual” like “online tomb-sweeping” to study how is value influenced by effort input, and finally create a monumental world in the immersive Internet for people to look for meaning.


What prompted the project and the interest in the brief developed by Intermediate 1?

The work of the unit is dealing with complex and sometimes intangible ideas, however our projects are not fictional, but highly plausible. Our speculations on this possibly near future of an immersive internet allows both students and tutors to explore a potential revolution in architecture more drastic than any other in history.

How would you define your relationship to the internet?

Me and the internet grew up together. When I was born, China just linked itself virtually with the world, but now of course China is one of the most active countries in the digital world economy. I witnessed the Internet transform from a spice in life to a necessity in life.

What questions does the project raise?

Our increasingly digital lives are shifting our conventional methods of valuing effort. On one hand actions and rituals which previously required physical effort is gradually being replaced by virtual actions which require next to no effort at all such as birthday wishes on Facebook and even spiritual pilgrimages such as Chinese tomb sweeping online rather than at your ancestors’ tomb. On the other hand the internet is increasingly dominated by huge economic forces taking it far from its humble beginnings of freedom of information and equality. The project speculates that this loss of value of effort will get more complex when the internet becomes immersive and seeks to create a new system for virtual effort.

What importance do you behold upon the images through which you reveal the project?

I use images to express ideas from all stages of the project and as such they are both crucial for the project but also less important as individual artefacts. Throughout the project from the highly relevant studies of medieval European pilgrimages and the Chinese ritual of Tomb Sweeping practiced across East Area Images are used to express the effects of virtual effort. The final images of the project are perhaps the most important as they show how the project exists on very different scales from the size of rooms to skyscrapers and networks covering the entire globe.

What was the most important tool when articulating the project, from research to execution?

I just a range of media such as drawings, models, videos, texts and books to represent the project. I think it is important to be as diverse as possible when it comes to representing complex ideas so that the focus remains on the idea and not the tool.

What is for you the architects most important tool?

Again, from my perspective I think it is important to not get attached to tools and instead develop a passion for learning new tools. This is especially important in an age where technology is evolving so fast and a tool might only be relevant it effective for a short time. However I do believe that it is very important to keep learning new tools, imagination is nothing without the ability to realize it.

What would you define as “Virtual Effort”?

Virtual effort is the mental or physical labor that causes meaning deficit. It relates to actions which has the potential to create value through effort, such as offerings or pilgrimages, be they digital or not. It is important to note that digital and virtual are to very different things and something does not have to be digital to be virtual.. In medieval Europe, people paid huge efforts in pilgrimages for completely virtual values and beliefs. The labour of religious (virtual) effort came to a climax at the end of the middle ages as religious indulgences of the Catholic Church completely undermined the value of the effort as you could effectively pay your way out of sins. . Buying indulgence cannot fulfill the spiritual need that the original pilgrimage provided, online tomb sweeping in China shares a similar logic and problem. It however becomes a growing problem in the coming age of the immersive internet when perhaps most of our actions are virtual.

How and to what extent does virtual effort impact our society?

In an episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror titled Fifteen Million Merits, people earn merits through physical effort by riding stationary bicycles to generate electricity for some unknown ruler. A wry sense of humor reveals the paleness and meaninglessness of their efforts. The human mind requires a feeling of weight and meaning of the work they do. The emergence of more and more virtual effort would bring the occurrence of social boredom, which is a stifle to the creativity of the society.

Can you explain the difference between the old and the new virtual?

In a broad sense there is no new virtual, just new dimensions of access. In a narrow sense, the main difference between the past virtual spaces of spirituality and imagination and the new virtual of the immersive internet is that it can be shared an objectively experienced in a similar sense as the physical reality our bodies share.

What is for you the contemporary relevance of the “monument”? What informed this as final output of the project?

Monuments are indispensable in any stage of the human society. They support remembering of people, events or ideas. Monuments alarm or comfort people to fulfill a mental need. In our time, a society with rapid technological development and information explosion, it would be very easy to bring meaning deficit caused by the mismatch between the spiritual progress and technological progress. The mental function of the monument is rather evident here.

The evolving digital economy is breaking a lot of initial treaties and ideals of the Internet, which is harmful for its health as a human environment.. Standing at the entrance of the immersive Internet, it is important that we are informed to protect the treaties of this new virtual life and avoid history repeating itself.. Meanwhile, some characteristics of the immersive Internet such as its endless size and possibilities determine that a virtual monument could be much more profound than the physical one.