Imagine an ancient Chinese scroll painting from centuries ago, brought to life in a fantastical style by modern technology.
Along The River During The Qingming Festival, one of the most famous Chinese scroll paintings from the Song Dynasty, is now a touring animated mural, complete with interactive elements. The original painting was done by imperial Chinese painter Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145).
This 3D animated version was first unveiled at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai by digital agency Crystal Digital Technology Co Ltd.
Along The River During The Qingming Festival, which was made by a team of 70 designers from Shanghai Crystal CG, was an instant hit, drawing long queues wherever it toured. The mural features moving characters and objects.
In recent years, this digital painting has wowed crowds in Macau, Taiwan and Singapore.
Malaysians will be able to view it at UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara) in Shah Alam from Dec 1-5. The mural is part of UiTM’s Creative Media and Technology Hub (CMT) Visual Arts and Cultural 3D Animation Exhibition.
“I think this is the first time an exhibition like this has been featured here. I think it’s a very innovative way of promoting a painting, combining traditional content, with a medium that is modern,” says Professor Dr Mustaffa Halabi Azahari, director of UiTM’s Creative Media and Technology Hub.
The event is co-organised by Crystal Digital Technology, which has extensive experience in world-class visual technology exhibitions.
It provided digital animation for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the Shanghai World Expo 2010.
“I’m very glad that a reputed company has agreed to have this venue for the exhibition,” adds Mustaffa during an interview at UiTM.
For UiTM, there are plans for further collaborations with Crystal Digital, including technology transfer and the training of local students. According to him, these collaborative plans could include a similar project like Along The River During The Qing Ming Festival, but based on the Malacca Sultanate.
For sheer headlining quality, the Along The River During The Qing Ming Festival has been a major crowd-puller.
As a backstory, the painting depicts the every day life of people in the town of Bianjing during the Northern Song period. Today, Bianjing is known as Kaifeng, a city in central China’s Henan province.
The digital animated tapestry features 814 humans, 28 boats, 60 animals, 30 buildings, 20 vehicles, nine sedan chairs and 170 trees.
Previous tours for this digital work have received overwhelming response. In Hong Kong, it attracted 960,000 visitors, while in Taiwan, it pulled 1.2 million visitors during an extended exhibition period.
“The Song Dynasty saw the peak of painting skills in Chinese (art) history. This work is a great representation of how people once lived,” says Lin Jingtong, Crystal Digital Technology vice general manager.
The entire piece was painted in hand scroll format and the content reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor as well as different economic activities in rural areas and the city. It offers glimpses of period clothing and architecture.
“We realise that art is a world language, and can bond cultures. This work can help to bring people together,” he adds.
Visitors to the Malaysia exhibition will also enjoy additional attractions.
Don’t miss a digitally animated version of the art of Chinese artist Sun Wen, depicting scenes from Cao Xuepin’s Dream Of The Red Chamber.
Dream Of The Red Chamber, written during the Qing Dynasty, is considered a masterpiece of Chinese fiction, and is one of the nation’s Four Great Classical Novels.