Wei-Cheng LIN 林偉正
The University of Chicago 芝加哥大學

Exhibiting Chinese Art in Virtual Reality
在虛擬現實中展示中國藝術

It has become a trend in art museums around world to add digital components to their exhibitions - from smartphone apps, interactive platforms, digital models, to the full-fledged virtual reality. Chinese art exhibition is no exception. These digital implements serve informational and/or didactic purposes, enhancing visitors' viewing experience and improving their interest in and understanding of the exhibition. In some cases, they are employed simply as new technological gimmick to evoke some sort of "digital sensation." While these digital components are mostly part of the exhibitionary and installation strategy designed to bring more and younger visitors into the museum, as the digital technology develops, they concurrently also create "new" images of the artwork that bring about different visions, perceptions, experiences, and understandings of it. In other words, the new "digitality" in the art exhibition is more than a curatorial issue or challenge, but also has some important art historical implications. Virtual reality, which provides the best all-around visual simulation, also solicits most questions in this regard - in particular, when exhibiting Chinese art in virtual reality.

Some have argued that the idea and practice of "virtual reality," as we understand it today, were already developed in the Western convention of perspective representations. It produces a viewer-centered vision that is able to simulate his or her spatial relationships with the surroundings in a measurable and empirically verifiable manner as if he or she were in that simulated space. They further argue that it is then awkward trying to reconstruct or simulate the experience with Chinese traditional artworks virtually as China lacked such a visual convention. While these arguments hold some truth, this paper shall demonstrate that virtual reality also has a history in China, only in different terms. To this end, this presentation will start with a reconsideration of the digital image of Chinese art produced through 3D technology not as a representation, but a recreation. It will then situate the digital image, specifically that of virtual reality, in a broader Chinese art historical context to see ways in which the new digital image could be part of the old tradition. The presentation will end with some reflections upon the current practice of using the digital technology in Chinese art exhibition to suggest how the new digital imagining technology has changed not only the way we exhibit Chinese art, but also the way we appreciate and understand it.

世界各地的藝術館皆隨現今流行的趨勢在展覽中加入數碼元素,例如智能電話應用程式、互動式平台、數碼模型,以及虛擬現實。中國藝術展覽亦非例外。這些科技產品具資訊及教育性,有助深化參觀者的視覺體驗,並進一步提升他們對展覽的興趣和認識。有時候,這些科技產品還被用作噱頭以激發觀眾的「數碼感官」。雖然這些數碼元素主要用以配合博物館的展覽和裝置策略,以吸引更多年青參觀者進場;但隨著數碼技術的發展,它們亦同時為藝術品創造「新形象」,帶來格外的視像、感觀、體驗和理解。換句話說,這種在美術展覽中嶄新的「數碼性」不止是一個策展性的議題或挑戰,還具有藝術史層面的重要意義。虛擬現實能提供最全面的視覺倣擬,但若實行在中國藝術上亦帶來不少爭議性的問題。

有些人認為早在西方源用的透視再現法中,已呈現出虛擬現實的概念和實踐。透視再現的原理是要製造一個以觀看者為中心的視覺,並用可實證量度的方法,仿擬他與四周空間的關係,令觀看者有如置身於虛擬空間。因此,他們認為這樣照方抓藥,為一向缺乏透視再現的中國傳統藝術品重建虛擬的體驗,是一個牽強的舉動。雖然這說法在某程度上是對的,然而,本次演講將論証中國亦存在虛擬現實的歷史,只是以不同於西方透視發的形式而存在。為此,這次發表演說先會重新審視三維科技製造出來的中國藝術數碼圖像,並論說其圖像非原本藝術品的再現,而是再創造。其次,演說會在更廣闊的中國藝術史情境中,探討虛擬現實的數碼圖像怎樣融入傳統藝術。最後,演說將反思現時在中國藝術展覽的數碼技術,並據此提出新圖像技術如何改變中國藝術的展示方式,和我們欣賞及認識它的方法。