The Stunning Installation of Calligraphy Art in Virtual Reality

We have written at length about art in virtual reality and its capacity to usher in a whole new movement in the art world. Whilst there is little chance of art in virtual reality taking the place of art in the real world, we are fascinated by new installations and exhibitions using the new technology in innovative ways. So, the news of this exhibition of Chinese calligraphy in virtual reality has really struck a chord here at VMI Studio.

The Taiwan National Palace Museum, in association with the technology show, Computex, claims to have created the world’s first VR calligraphy exhibition. The Spirit of Autobiography was shown at the Computex technology show in Taipei, to much interest by visitors.

The Experience of Calligraphy Art in Virtual Reality

On entering the experience, you are transported to a scene in which you’re standing within a traditional Chinese pavilion, surrounded by calligraphic Chinese letters rising out of the calm water around you. From here, you are transported to an empty room, holding just a calligraphy brush in your hand.

As you may know, calligraphy is both a meditative act and one requiring extreme precision. Inside the empty room, you are invited to trace over the words laid out in the space before you, repeating and repeating until you get it just right.

“My brush varies as the snake glides poised into his post, or thrashes in tune with the windstorm upon the walls.” – Huai Su Tang, Autobiography

The style used in the experience is taken from Huai Su’s Tang Dynasty masterpiece, and dates back to 777 AD.

More Examples

The Spirit of Autobiography is not, however, the only art in virtual reality using styles and subjects derived from the distant past.

“(We have) a VR adaptation of the late Song and early Yuan dynasty painter Zhao Mengfu’s ‘Autumn Colours on the Qiao and Hua Mountains’ (that) whisks you from the real world into a virtual fantasy land,” said Walter Yeh, president and CEO of TAITRA, which organised Computex.

The National Palace Museum is showcasing a wide range of classical Chinese art in virtual reality. This includes recreations of Southern Song dynasty painter Feng Ta-yu’s “Lotus Blossom in the T’ai-yeh Pond”, which consists of interactive virtual reality somatosensory space presenting a scene of summer lotuses filling a pond, as well as countless intricate and beautiful details from the original work.

You can also experience “Autumn Colours on the Que and Hua Mountains” by Zhao Mengfu, a stunning example of art in virtual reality. The calming and meditative scene into which you are transported explores the terrain of the Jinan Province, with its falling maple leaves, tall trees, and orderly rows of huts around which goats wander. You’ll use the hand controller as a small paddle for rowing a small boat across the Yellow River, all rendered in the revivalist brush and ink style of the original masterpiece.

Examples like these represent the tip of the iceberg as to what can be achieved with art in virtual reality. Whilst, as Mat Collishaw recently asserted in our interview with him about his own virtual reality art exhibition, virtual reality art will never take the place of the lived-experience of visiting a gallery, we anticipate it becoming a large part of the art world in the future.

There is so much potential for widening the audience of fine art through technology, which has sadly become marred by this sense that the art world is only for an elite group of intellectuals. If technology can allow more people to access and engage with art on a deeper level, to experience it fully, then a bright future is certainly ahead. It’s a future we are eagerly looking forward to seeing.