We Are like Vapours
The source material for this interactive installation is the Pacifying the South China Sea handscroll, painted by an anonymous Qing painter almost two hundred years ago. The scroll chronicles the story of how the forces of the Jiaqing Emperor suppressed piracy in the early nineteenth century.
Commissioned for the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, We Are Like Vapours is a digital re-presentation of Pacifying the South China Sea, staged in the AVIE 360-degree display system, which is 10 metres in diameter and 4 metres high. Inside this cylindrical enclosure the high-resolution image of the scroll slowly rotates; parts of the painting are obscured from viewers by digitally generated sea mists that drift over its surface. These mists thin and part to reveal the key situations, characters and events in the painting, which are brought to life as animated vignettes. These fifty-five animations appear in a sequence around the screen, so the viewer experiences a 360-degree unfolding of the narrative during its fifteen-minute exposition.