13 May, 2011

River of Wisdom

In the Shanghai World Expo 2010, the "Animated Version of the Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" created by modern multimedia technology earns its reputation as the star exhibit in the China Pavilion. 

Projected on a giant screen of more than 120 metres long and 6 metres high, the picture shows its details with animation including moving people, running water, various kinds of goods being displayed for sale, boat trackers shouting on the river and boats swinging their ways forward. A vivid, artificial river meanders through the lower part of the giant picture, giving visitors a stunning experience and an illusion that they are staying in Bianjing, the capital of Northern Song Dynasty nine hundred years ago. This giant picture is called "River of Wisdom" because it depicts many cultural aspects demonstrating the wisdom of Chinese in ancient times.

The animated version of the picture is 30 times of its original scroll. Elaborate computer animation gives life to characters and objects in the painting. An integrated image is formed by several high resolution projectors using sophisticated computer geometric transformation and correction technology. The entire features of the original painting including all its streets, boats and buildings are retained in the animation. The scene is portrayed in day to night cycles lasting for four minutes with dramatic interplay of light and colour. It is indeed a masterpiece that blends state-of-the-art animation technology with traditional Chinese culture.

Zhang Zeduan's "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" is beyond doubt among the top ten most famous Chinese historical paintings. Besides its extremely high artistic value, this picture possesses, more importantly, tremendous historic value due to its vivid depiction of the civilian life of different social classes in Bianjing and in the suburbs during the Qingming Festival. It provides important historical information for those studying the urban life in the Song Dynasty and opens one more window for the moderns endeavouring to understand the ancient Chinese culture.

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