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Cai Guo-Qiang: Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City

, Palace Museum, Beijing

Cai Guo-Qiang, one of the world’s most celebrated artists, unveiled his first virtual reality artwork, created in partnership with 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, on view from 15 December 2020 to 5 February 2021. 

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. In Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City the artist imagines a resplendent daytime fireworks ceremony that took place six-hundred years ago, weaving together the past and present. As the viewer puts on the VR headset, they are taken on a dreamlike journey with the artist, where they experience his signature fireworks from unexpected perspectives, sometimes immersed inside the alabaster model of the Forbidden City, and sometimes soaring high above, traversing the colored smoke in midair.

Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City is installed in the final section of the exhibition and comprises of three elements. It includes a large-scale alabaster model of the Forbidden City, created in collaboration with craftsmen from the artist’s hometown, a richly layered gunpower drawing and the VR film, which brings these pieces together. The work was created using a unique production process, which incorporates 3D scanning and modeling, 360° filming, and CG technologies.

To book the exhibition’s admissions in advance, please visit: https://gugong.ktmtech.cn/

Image credit: Stills for VR work Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City, courtesy Cai Studio

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