Tang 唐: treasures from the Silk Road capital.
AGNSW and UNSW Art & Design use new technologies to explore objects and create experiences.
A major international exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW brought together an extraordinary array of objects and a fully-immersive augmented-reality installation developed by UNSW Art & Design Professor Sarah Kenderdine and Professor Jeffrey Shaw, in collaboration with the Dunhuang Academy.
Tang 唐: treasures from the Silk Road capital featured work in gold, silver and glass, as well as ceramics, sculptures and mural paintings from the Tang Empire.
The exhibition explored life in Chang'an during the Tang Empire. Each artefact carried a story from this enduringly influential time; from the freedom and power of women to innovations in fashion and music, from the elevation of tea culture to religious tolerance and the rise and fall of Buddhism.
For the first time at the AGNSW this exhibition incorporated an augmented-reality installation titled Pure Land: inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang which transported visitors 'inside' ancient Buddhist grotto within the UNESCO World Heritage listed 'Caves of the Thousand Buddhas'.
This immersive technology offered visitors the opportunity to stand in the shoes of archaeologists and explore a life-sized reconstruction of a cave known to researchers as 'Cave 220'. Visitors could discover intricate murals and statues that told the story of the Medicine Buddha and the 12 great vows taken upon enlightenment. Using iPads and advanced 3D modelling techniques, the visitor to Pure Land had the chance to enter one of the world's most remarkable – and now inaccessible – heritage sites along the Silk Road.
While Europe was still in the Dark Ages, the Tang Empire (618-907) was the most powerful realm in the world. At the heart of Tang was its ancient capital, Chang'an (present day Xi'an). Located at the start of the famous Silk Road trade route, this cosmopolitan metropolis was renowned for its great wealth, sophistication and cultural diversity.
Professor Sarah Kenderdine's research is at the forefront of interactive and immersive experiences for museums and galleries. In widely exhibited installation works, she has amalgamated cultural heritage with new media art practice, especially in the realms of interactive cinema, augmented reality and embodied narrative. She is considered a pioneer in the fields of digital heritage, digital humanities and big data visualisation and is a regular keynote speaker at events such as the World Economic Forum and TEDx internationally.
Professor Kenderdine is also co-director of UNSW's EPICentre (Expanded Perception and Interaction Centre) on the UNSW Paddington Campus.
Click here to view the original article, published 5 April 2016.
Augmented 3D tech reveals major Tang Dynasty exhibition at Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Morning Herald
Image: Pure Land Augmented Reality Edition (2016) created by Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw in collaboration with the Dunhuang Academy. Photo: Jenni Carter, AGNSW.