Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Along the River During the Qingming Festival

One of the highlight of the Shanghai Expo was the remake of a well known Chinese painting 'Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival' (清明上河图) by the famous Song Dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan. It is presented in the format of a long panoramic view as soon in many Chinese paintings except much longer. The scale of the original painting measured at 528 cm long and 24.8 cm wide, this new installation is about 30 times the original size. However this is no ordinary remake, keeping up with modern technology the entire painting is fully digitized with CGI animations giving the audience a multimedia experience of an ancient artwork. Not only that the scene also cycles through night and day. It is being currently shown in Hong Kong, it was such a hit all the tickets were quickly sold out.

The fascination with the painting is the depictions of a bustling city where civilians busily running errands in preparation for the Qingming festival and doing all sorts of daily activities. The painting is based on the capital city of the Song Dynasty Bianjing, which is today's Kaifeng.  Now if you integrate that with modern technology the whole picture just literally comes to life like an animation on canvas. The painting gives us the glimpse into the daily lives of civilians during the Song Dynasty, showing people from all walks of society and occupations as the scenes transcend from one end to another, through different sections of the city. There's also various farm animals working along side humans like ox pulling carts along the street. The details in it are just immaculate.

Official homepage

Here's a little video clip in the first half with some background info of the production:

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Great Global Evil Empire: China

Following on from the last post I found a very interesting article in regards to the advert:

As the New York Times reported on Oct. 9, a startling percentage of those billions in campaign funds went toward advertising portraying China as the new Great Global Evil Empire -- and tarring those associated with it, no matter how marginally, as traitors to the republic. Worse yet, the cues used to invoke China's ominous rise were a familiar hash of discordant symbols: Great Leap Forward-era images of Mao. Looming shots of the Forbidden City's brass-bound gates. Factory lines of masked, dronelike workers. Rippling seas of revolutionary red. Twanging zither music, punctuated by the booming accents of opera gongs.

The sheer scale of China's awkward symbiosis with the U.S. would seem to caution against simplistic, knee-jerk demonization. After all, China is America's second-largest trading partner behind Canada, and following a heavy series of T-bill purchases over the past six months, the largest holder of our foreign debt -- nearly $870 billion worth and counting. That's not even considering the fact that China's burgeoning population of 1.4 billion people is poised to become the globe's second-largest consumer market in the next few years, with a roiling appetite for Western consumer goods (cars, liquor, luxury goods, iAnything).

These mutual dependencies -- and make no mistake, they are mutual -- have produced a world-straddling, tail-chasing, two-headed beast that historian Niall Ferguson has dubbed "Chimerica." Both America and China need the other to survive in order to thrive, yet each has recently had the tendency to play off fear and anger of the other in order to distract their populaces in times of unrest and anxiety.

The difference, of course, is that unlike China, our political system is founded on democracy, and our society is rooted in diversity. It's chilling to see American candidates run not against each other, but against the looming specter of a foreign country. It's even more alarming when one considers that a large and growing proportion of the U.S. population traces its heritage back to this newly ordained Ultimate Enemy -- or at least looks like it does. (As we've seen in the past, amped-up fear and rage have a way of blurring subtle distinctions like ancestry and ethnicity.)

More from the article:
Fear of a Chinese Planet