The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Celebrated artist Cai Guo-Qiang partners with HTC VIVE Arts to unveil first Virtual Reality artwork
VR work Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City, installation view at exhibition Odyssey and Homecoming, 2020. Photo by Lin Yi, courtesy Cai Studio.



BEIJING.- Cai Guo-Qiang, one of the world’s most celebrated artists, recently unveiled his first virtual reality artwork, created in partnership with HTC VIVE Arts. The artwork, Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City, debuted as part of Odyssey and Homecoming, the artist’s major exhibition at the Palace Museum, Beijing, which runs until to 5 February 2021. For this exhibition, the artist uses leading VR technology to create a wondrously magnificent fireworks ceremony dedicated to the Forbidden City and its majestic history.

Cai Guo-Qiang began working with gunpowder in the 1980s and is internationally renowned for his large-scale gunpowder paintings, installations, and outdoor explosion events. His exhibition, Odyssey and Homecoming, coincides with the six-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Forbidden City. Inspired by fireworks celebrations historically held in the Forbidden City to mark the Lunar New Year, and how virtual reality can entwine space and time and enhance the tension between the real and virtual world, in Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City the artist imagines a resplendent daytime fireworks ceremony that took place six-hundred years ago, in celebration of the significant site and its history.

In this 5-minute VR artwork, audiences will be able to witness the grand ceremony unfold over four chapters, beginning with gold, silver and red fireworks, which will ignite from all corners of the historic site. Moving from sparking strands of coloured smoke to sunrise views over the City’s layered rooftops, the piece will conclude with an explosive finale as the coloured smoke and pigments dissipate and fall through the sky, transforming the viewers’ surroundings into a remarkable three-dimensional gunpowder painting.

Cai-Guo Qiang remarks, “The daytime fireworks ceremony for Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City was inspired by the traditional principles of ‘round sky and square earth’ and Wuxing (the Five Elements). The work highlights traditional Chinese aesthetics and the bold spirit of ‘the world is mine’ felt within the Forbidden City, and expresses my thoughts while ‘sleepwalking’ back to that chapter of its history. It’s my first-time using VR as an artistic medium, and I hope to destabilise the sleek and flawless aesthetics commonly associated with works created by high technology, and to explore its capacity to evoke raw emotions. Ultimately, through the immersive 360° fireworks, I hope to create a channel for audiences to have a dialogue with a broader space and time.”

Victoria Chang, HTC VIVE Arts Director remarks, “For many years Cai Guo-Qiang's ground-breaking artworks have defied conventions to capture the imaginations of millions of people around the world. We greatly admire his artistic vision and tenacity in achieving the near impossible with his breathtakingly explosive and complex artworks. HTC VIVE Arts is committed to working with artists to experiment and innovate, using digital technologies to push beyond traditional boundaries. We are delighted to have been able to support Cai Guo-Qiang's creative exploration of a new medium in his practice, with his first artwork made using virtual reality. The result is remarkable—Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City will surely bring audiences a most extraordinary and memorable experience of contemporary art.”










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