A Song of Valediction:  Dreaming I Roamed on TianMu Mountain

Immersive interactive installation.

Collaborate with Chuyan Xu

My role: illustrator, programmer, art director

Mentor: Tealeaf Ye, Lie Zhang

 

Introduction

This installation is inspired by the famous poem of the same name, an ancient Chinese poem about the poet – Bai Li’s – dream of a wonderland.

Through “immersive space,” we reconstructed the bizarre experience that occurred on TianMu mountain. Like mirrors that reflect people’s shapes in different scales, we created 3 different scenes that merge the man- and the dream-world.

The work features traditional Chinese aesthetics, and helps users visualize the poem and the unconscious dream experience through human motion interaction.

– Scenes without viewer –

 

Concept

The vacant mind still contains details of its surroundings. So now, the world is colored by the human mind and spirit.                                         —-Baihua Zong(Famous Chinese Philosopher )

Bai Li’s original poem has always been my favorite from the ancient period. From the first time I read it, a bizarre collage of a wonderland emerged in my mind’s eye. Thus, in my first year of college, I drew a series of illustrations based on this work.

Three years later, I sought another way to reconstruct not only the scene but also the experience of the poet in his dream about TianMu mountain.

Sketchs & Developments

We tried different plans for the interaction and visual styles

Design immersive scene

Inspired by ancient bronze mirrors, we focused on re-inventing the illusive experience of dreaming – i.e., where people get lost in the unconscious.

By incorporating frequently-changing surroundings and bonding with reflections of figures, the people in the “dream” will, undoubtedly, lose their sense of time and space.

Analyse and extract elements from the poem (using Witter Bynner’s translation)


 

Final Interactions

Close Shot- Lost  

Myriad peaks and more valleys and nowhere a road. Flowers lure me, rocks ease me. Day suddenly ends.

Growing from viewer’s hands, flowers thrive and wither with human motion.

Midium Shot- Falling

The stone gate breaks asunder
Venting in the pit of heaven, An impenetrable shadow.
Now the sun and moon illumine a gold and silver terrace,
And, clad in rainbow garments, riding on the wind, Come the queens of all the clouds, descending one by one.

The human becomes the rotating flower, falling into the heavens surrounded by fairies, flowers, and phoenixes rising from the ashes.

Long Shot- Climbing

I wear his pegged boots
Up a ladder of blue clouds,
Sunny ocean half-way,
Holy cock-crow in space,

Chasing by the birds, viewer’s figures rise and disappear among the changing mountains.


 

Algorithms

Although processing is an ideal tool for abstract graphics, it is not particularly convenient for concrete symbols in Chinese traditional aesthetics. My challenge, therefore, was to design proper algorithms for the scene.

Visual reference: Dunhuang Art, traditional landscape paintings.

 

Baoxiang Flower——Parametric Design

I designed different algorithms for various patterns of the BaoXiang flower, which is an auspicious pattern in Chinese culture. I generated hundreds of flowers in diverse patterns and colors.

 

Dynamic mountains —— Perlin noise         

Using time as the input dimension for Perlin noises, I generated dynamic mountains which continually overlapped without repetitions in their appearance.

 

Chasing Birds—— Boid algorithm

Using the boid algorithm (bird-oid object), we generated 2 groups of birds: those that flew freely and those that chased the viewer without end.

 

 

 

Motion Sensing interaction

Input: Kinect provides depth maps and contour information. Using the blob recognition function in Open CV, we obtained information about hand positions and human silhouettes.

Output: In different shoots, we used 3 scenes to reflect and change the dreamer’s figure in different interaction modes.

 

Development (trailer) :

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