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solving a giant art puzzle

How the Team of Dispersed Chinese Art Digitalization
Project Members are Healing History

History artifacts have sentimental value - they tell stories, and make people feel connected and reflective. Although the majority of art artifacts outlive people, not all of them make it through the course of time intact. What’s left is often a huge puzzle, with pieces of objects separated from one another and divorced from their original context. The DCADP team has taken a novel approach to restoring these broken connections, offering a new perspective on Chinese art.


Professor Wu Hung, Katherine Tsiang, Wei-Cheng Lin and their team of historians and technologists re-connect sites and artifacts using digital technology – an alternative approach to perceiving and sharing art, to build bridges between cultures. It no longer truly matters if parts of an art object are on different continents–they come together digitally and virtually making them accessible to anyone in the world.

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"We use technology to tell new stories about Chinese art"

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Professor Wu Hung

from DCADP

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the process of digital

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meet the team

Examining Fragments From the
Longmen Grottoes, 2019

3d Scanning of Figure of Wei Mo Chi (Vimalakīrti) From Longmen Grottoes, National Museum of Asian Art, 2019

3d Scanning of Coffered Ceiling at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Originally Located in Zhihua Hall, Zhihua Temple, Beijing, 2019

Director of Center for the Art of East Asia, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor, Consulting Curator for the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. He is the senior scholar of the team and his scholarship in both traditional and contemporary art has led him to integrate these into new kinds of art historical narratives

and methodologies

Associate Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and research project supervisor. Her research and project planning launched the first digitization projects at the Center

Associate Professor of the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. He is the Project Director of the DCADP and his primary research interests are visual and material cultural issues in medieval Chinese art and Buddha art and architecture

Web and Software Developer who creates interactive informative experiences around the Center’s 3D cultural heritage projects for websites and digital exhibitions

Center’s Digital Collections Curator who manages research and data related to the DCADP. Her work draws on her degrees and work experience in Art Education and Library and Information Science

Center Administrator who manages internal and external communication, center finances, and the day-to-day operations of the Center

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Scanning of the Ceiling, Which Took 3 Weeks to Complete, on a 30ft High Scaffolding

DCADP Director

wei-cheng lin

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What do you feel most passionate about working on this Project?

I feel we’re doing something rather unprecedented, being able to see and show cultural artifacts from a perspective that is simultaneously historical and contemporary. From its conception to its final product, our digital project creates a paradigm that demonstrates a new way to marriage art and technology in the field of art history. I’m convinced that digitalization is the future of art historical research, and I am excited we’re at the forefront of the development. 

What was the biggest challenge you had to find a way to tackle?

When turning a physical object into a digital format, digital technology creates new possibilities but concurrently raises new issues regarding the status of digital objects. Not necessarily perceivable on the viewer’s end, the digitization of cultural heritage raises questions about, for instance, authenticity, virtuality, copyrights, etc., uncharted territory for digital projects such as ours. This project has not been merely “digital” but involves the reconceptualization of art from various disciplinary stances. 

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Missing Ceiling in the Buddha Hall

The Ceiling Was Digitally Recreated

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Missing Ceiling in the Buddha Hall

The Ceiling Was Digitally Recreated

Would You Like to Know More
About the Project?

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