We see three opportunities for extending outreach from this project: technology to our Chinese colleagues, resources available to scholars in the field, and a fascinating exhibit for the general public.
While production of the 3-D models for the research project will take place at Northwestern University, our Chinese colleagues are greatly interested in establishing a technical facility and the expertise necessary to continue this work at Dunhuang. The Dunhuang Research Institute wants to continue 3D documentation of other important caves. The vast number of cave-shrines at Dunhuang alone (492) provide many opportunities for other modeling projects. Huang Gezhong of the Cultural Relics Institute in Beijing indeed intends to apply this technology to provincial sites throughout the country. Academic Technologies experience with designing digital media laboratories as well as developing extensive technology training programs for faculty will guide a program of technology transfer so that cultural heritage custodians in China may establish local digital collections. We are looking for corporate partners to aid in this effort.
This project will result in a substantial collection of images, 3-D models, and essays. Academic Technologies has experience in designing digital library collections for both scholarly and public audiences, incorporating a wide range of media and structural requirements. The media catalog for this collection will be used to build a WWW-accessible archive, allowing users to search across like compositions, designs, and related materials, providing a valuable resource for scholars and students of Chinese Buddhist art.
Northwestern University will serve as an excellent network host for the site, given our OC-12 SONET (622 Mbps) internet connection, OC-12 ATM backbone, and investments in server and storage platforms, including our new IBM SP-2 super computer. We became the first university in the Midwest to connect to Ameritech's OC-12 SONET ring, providing Northwestern with next-generation networking services while permitting participation in a variety of technologically advanced consortiums and educational networks. One such initiative is exploring links to Asian pacific countries, including the Asian Pacific Advanced Networking Group (APAN).
The collection could also present a fascinating view of this art and period to a much broader audience. To provide for broader appeal, we would expand the project in three ways: 1) We would expand the catalog to make hyperlink references to offsite materials, such as manuscript scrolls from the hidden library now housed in the British Library. Types of texts that could be linked with the cave-shrine models include eulogies, sutras, and descriptions of storehouse contents. 2) Around this rich fabric, we would position video introductions by the researchers (listed below), each exploring a different facet of artistic and monastic life, delivered as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 digital video streams. 3) With each facet, we would associate a scripted tour of the collection, illustrating the narrative. For the first time, a visitor will be able to recreate the experience of going to the caves without traversing the Gobi Desert!
Lectures for the general public would describe the compelling lives of monks, nuns, lay worshippers and artists working or living in Silk Road monasteries. Speakers are research members of the "Merit, Opulence, and the Buddhist Network of Wealth" project and recognized experts in their fields.
Speakers and Themes:
Sarah E. Fraser, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University-Art Workshops in Western
China during the 10th century
Rong Xinjiang, Professor of Chinese History, Beijing University-Dunhuang's Secret
Library, Why was it Closed?
John Kieschnick, Academica Sinica, Taiwan-Material Culture of Monks and Nuns
Francois Louis, Bard Institute for the Decorative Arts-Gold and Silver Objects in
Wendi Adamek, University of Iowa-Sacrifices and Gifts to the Monasteries
Ma Shichang, Professor of Buddhist Archaeology, Beijing University-Storehouses at
Stephen Teiser, Professor of Religious Studies, Princeton University-The Wheel of
Existence: Life and Death in Chinese Buddhist Art
Ding Mingyi, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences-Sichuan Provincial Sculpture
Huang Kezhong, Cultural Relics Research Institute-Preserving China's Cultural Heritage
Brook Ziporyn, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University-The Lotus Sutra in Chinese Religious Life
Yang Wei, Northwestern University -Printing Workshops in China's Western Regions