The New Yorker recently ran a story about the Dunhuang Library and the efforts to digitize the large cache of materials originally discovered in a cave outside Dunhuang, in the Gobi Desert in western China in 1900. That original discovery revealed a chamber with more than five hundred cubic feet of bundled manuscripts in 17 languages and 24 scripts. The sheer size of the find is not its only extraordinary feature. Other significant discoveries were revealed, including the oldest known example of a printed book—out dating Gutenberg’s press for sure.
In 1994, the British Library created a team with partners in China, France, Germany, Japan, and Korea to digitize the cache of Dunhuang library materials. Called the International Dunhuang Project, its efforts are two-fold: they want to make the documents accessible to researchers around the world in addition to preserving them. The International Dunhuang Project’s database is freely accessible and provides high quality images of manuscripts ad other materials along with robust cataloging information.
Another fantastic research pertaining to Dunhuang is the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive avaialble in ARTstor. With funding from the Mellon Foundation, a team from Northwestern university photographed (in extremely high resolution) more than 40 of the cave grottos at Dunhuang. The photographs they took were stitched together to create 2-and 3-D representations of the caves that can be viewed using QTVR (QuickTime Virtual Reality) technology.
Via the New Yorker.
The Center for the Art of East Asia has recently announced the launch of a new and improved website for the digital handscroll paintings project:
One of the major types of traditional East Asian painting, the handscroll, or horizontal scroll, is meant to be appreciated by unrolling and viewing it section-by-section as a continuous composition. Unfortunately, the temporal and participatory aspects of viewing handscrolls cannot be readily experienced today, as the original paintings are far too valuable and fragile to be handled frequently. When shown in museums, they are always placed in glass cases and are seldom displayed in their entirety. For students and specialists seeking to view them, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain access to these important cultural materials. Beyond the rare opportunities to experience them in person, they are primarily known through static, fragmentary images in slides and as photographs in books. Fortunately, the digital medium has offered the potential for much greater exposure to these works of art, simulating the interactive viewing experience for which they were originally designed. The Center for the Art of East Asia (CAEA)at the University of Chicago has teamed with the Visual Resources Center (VRC) and Humanities Research Computing to develop this innovative digital presentation. Initially used as a course website, we are also developing it as a resource for teaching and research at other universities and for museum archiving and exhibition. The digital scrolling paintings website is a multi-functional tool that allows users to move through the scrolls and view elements of the painting in high resolution, with colophons, signatures, and seals of artists and collectors, and also to examine their media, materiality, and techniques of production. This is a means to fuller understanding of a work both in its details and as a composite of its many elements.
Digital technology presents these paintings as continuous scrolling images and offers various kinds of user interfaces such as auto-scrolling, zooming, and comparison. The newly designed website has more paintings accessible for public viewing and enhanced functions for searching, text annotations, and links to related material. We are continuing to add paintings to the public website and partnering with other institutions with a goal to create a more extensive public database of these invaluable works of art. We will include more rare works, Japanese painting, and calligraphy. The project has negotiated agreements to show paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Palace Museum, Beijing, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago.
To learn more, visit the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project.
The Buddhas of Mes Aynak, a new film by Brent Huffman, Assistant Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, will be screened at the University of Chicago on Thursday, February 7 at 4:30 pm in Swift Hall, Room 106.
The Buddhas of Mes Aynak directed by Brent E. Huffman tells the story of the archaeological site, as well as the dangerous environment the mine has created for archaeologists, Chinese workers, and local Afghans. The film follows several main characters, including Philippe Marquis, a French archaeologist leading emergency conservation efforts; Abdul Qadeer Temore, an Afghan archaeologist at the Afghan National Institute of Archaeology; Liu Wenming, a manager for the China Metallurgical Group Corporation; and Laura Tedesco, an American archaeologist working for the U.S. State Department.
For more information view the film’s Facebook page.
From the New York Times’ ArtsBeat:
Chinese archaeologists have unearthed 110 new terra-cotta soldiers of the kind that stunned the world in the 1970s when thousands of such figures were discovered at Xian in central China, part of a tomb army built to guard China’s first emperor in the afterlife.
Agence France-Presse reported that the newly excavated life-size warriors were found near the Qin emperor Ying Zheng’s mausoleum over the course of three years and that archaeologists also uncovered 12 pottery horses and parts of chariots, as well as weapons and tools.
The Tibetan and Himalayan Library (THL) collections of images are indexed by THL’s Place Dictionary and Knowledge Maps for easy exploration. View over 60,000 photos of Tibet and the Himalayas, many with links to maps.
The Tibetan and Himalayan Library is a publisher of websites, information services, and networking facilities relating to the Tibetan plateau and southern Himalayan regions. THL promotes the integration of knowledge and community across the divides of academic disciplines, the historical and the contemporary, the religious and the secular, the global and the local.
Images are linked together by topic, location, and collection for easy browsing and context. For more information, see the library’s main site.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek now presents 20 manuscripts from its voluminous Oriental collection in the form of an application for iPads and iPhones. The “Oriental books” are available free of charge in the Apple App Store.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek also presents the application “Famous books – Treasures of the Bavarian State Library” for iPads and iPhones, which features 52 highlights of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek’s collections.
This week PBS aired a new episode of their television program Secrets of the Dead in which producer Steve Talley explores the life-sized terracotta warriors of China:
This clay army of 8,000 including infantry, archers, generals and cavalry was discovered by archaeologists in 1974 after farmers digging a well near the Chinese city of Xian unearthed pieces of clay sculpted in human form.
An amazing archaeological find, the terracotta warriors date back more than two thousand years. But what was the purpose of this army of clay soldiers? Who ordered its construction? How were they created? Secrets of the Dead investigates the story behind China’s Terracotta Warriors and documents their return to former glory for the first time.
The episode is now available online.
Directly influenced by Asian shadow and puppet theater, utsushi-e was a uniquely Japanese magic lantern show using multiple, hand-held lanterns. Bearing some surprising similarities to the European phantasmagoria show, ustushi-e was a screen practice based on back-projection. Tokyo-based performance troupe Minwa-za has revived this 200-year-old multi-media spectacle, which they present in an evening encompassing history, techniques and a special performance of projections, live narration and traditional shamisen accompaniment.
Update: Tickets are now sold out. Event will take place at the Film Studies Center.
Via The Center for East Asian Studies.
Chinese artist Ai WeiWei is still missing after having been detained while trying to board a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong in early April.
A question posted on Facebook about what we, as an arts community, can do to support the safe release of Ai Weiwei sparked great ideas, including one by curator Steven Holmes to reenact Ai Weiwei’s project Fairytale: 1,001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs—an installation which was comprised of 1,001 late Ming and Qing Dynasty wooden chairs at Documenta 12 in 2007 in Kassel, Germany—in front of Chinese embassies and consulates around the world. This Sunday, April 17, at 1 PM local time, supporters are invited to participate in 1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei, by bringing a chair and gathering outside Chinese embassies and consulates to sit peacefully in support of the artist’s immediate release.
Location: Regenstein Library, 1st Floor Lobby
Dates: Monday, March 28th to Friday, June 3rd (Spring Quarter 2011)
Public Hours: M–Th. 8:30am–7pm ; Fri. 8:30am–5pm; Sat. 9am–1pm; Closed Sundays
Guided Tour & Opening Reception: Tuesday, March 29th at 4:30pm
Presented by Eric Huntington, Ph.D. Candidate Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations