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  • VR / 360 Video
In China, internet gaming is described as “electronic heroin” and many parents of suspected internet addicts send them to re-education camps. One of them was the director of this VR experience that places you at the center of his haunting experiences.
  • Mengtai Zhang
  • Lemon Guo

Exploring the potential of VR as a tool for transplanting secondhand memories, ‘Diagnosia’ aims to connect the audience to social issues via a sensorial immersion and embodiment in the memories of people who experienced them firsthand. “Diagnosia” portrays Mengtai’s memories of being incarcerated in a military-operated Internet addiction camp in Beijing in 2007, where internet addiction and other youth issues were treated as a severe mental disorder with sometimes violent means. It also raises questions about the extensive research publications that have come out of this institution, and how they entangle with the scientific literature of “internet addiction” on a global scale. By tracing the lineage of “Internet addiction” in China’s cultural context, the work discusses how societies can create or manifest pathologies as a tool for social control.

A Fluffy Cactus Production

Created by
Mengtai Zhang, Lemon Guo

Directed by
Mengtai Zhang

Mengtai Zhang, Lemon Guo, Huang Yue

3D Modeling
Mengtai Zhang, Xingjian Wu

Mengtai Zhang, Ethan Edwards

Music Composition and Sound Design
Lemon Guo

Interactive Sound Advisor
Brad Garton

Mengtai Zhang, Lemon Guo, Li Yuxi, Baohe Xue, Gang Xu, Sanshi Song, Wenfei Sun

Special Thanks
Zheng Yihao, Tang Yi, Chaesong Kim, Peng Zuqiang, Eris Qian

Adam J. Segal, The 2050 Group (Sundance)
Yun-hua Chen, NOISE Film PR (IDFA)

Diagnosia is part of the IDFA DocLab R&D program 2021 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This project is made possible, in part, with funds from the Media Arts Assistance Fund, a regrant partnership of NYSCA and Wave Farm, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Diagnosia is supported by La Fonte.

During the 2022 Quills Fest, a 2D video playthrough version of this project was available to all ticket holders.

Watch 2D Video Playthrough

Project Images

Diagnosia man sitting in darkened cell
Diagnosia men running
Diagnosia empty room
Diagnosia bunkbeds
Diagnosia group of men


Mengtai Zhang

Zhang Mengtai (he/him)employs sculpture, sound, and simulation technology to create ambivalent allegories of power, where personal and sociopolitical factors encounter each other. Mengtai’s works have been presented internationally, including IDFA (Netherlands), MIFF (Australia), Sundance Film Festival, New York Fashion Week, NYCEMF, ChaShaMa, Humble Arts Foundation, and Fridman Gallery (US); Times Art Museum, Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, MOCA SJZ, and SNAP (China). Conferences that have programmed Mengtai’s works include ACM Siggraph, New Interfaces for Musical Expression, International Computer Music Conference, and Sound and Music Computing. He has received fellowships from Wave Farm, IDFA DocLab, and Sylff Association. He received the “Best Chinese Work Award” from Sandbox Immersive Festival for his VR work Diagnosia (2021).

Lemon Guo

Lemon Guo (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, composer, and vocalist from China. Drawn to the visceral and evocative nature of the voice, she creates voice-based performances and installations that connect people to current environmental and cultural realities. She has performed and exhibited her solo and collaborative works internationally, in places such as Rubin Museum of Art, Sundance Film Festival, IDFA, BBC Radio 3, International Computer Music Conference, ACM Siggraph, and Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture. Lemon has held residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Making Tracks. Lemon created music for director Yi Tang’s short film All the Crows in the World, which won Palme d’Or at Festival de Cannes 2021. Lemon is also half of an experimental music duo Southeast of Rain with composer/pipa-player Sophia Shen and had recently released their debut album 42 Days to critical acclaim.


La Fonte
Wave Farm