云游 Yun You is a Virtual Reality Gallery exhibiting Chinese Shan-Shui (mountain and water) paintings. Combining traditional Chinese art with contemporary digital technology, the gallery offers novel possibilities for bespoke spatial settings and perspectives of viewing these precious pieces of artwork. Yun You means travelling in the mood of a cloud, which represents the spirit of freedom ancient Chinese artists sought. The project aims to provide visitors with a similar feeling of being far away from the constraints of everyday life to enjoy an experience of serenity while learning more about the unique qualities and heritage of Shan-Shui.
The gallery emphasises both spatial atmosphere, which invokes the philosophy of Chinese art, as well as techniques of spatial presentation, which supports interpretation of the paintings. The structure of the VR world is built following the traditional Chinese notion of the sky as a circle and the ground as a square. Together with water and fog this creates a tranquil environment of Zen. The visitor experiencing a quasi-floating engagement with the space which emulates the aspirations of ancient Chinese artists who travelled freely in nature.
As visitors walk around the gallery, the spatial configuration fluidly reacts to their position and dynamically evolves its layout. As spatial elements and the position of paintings transform, visitors are able to view each artwork from the spatial perspective that is tailored to the specific feature the painting embraces within Shan-Shui. The viewer within each landscape scene is asked to adopt a perspective of Lofty (showing the loftiness of the mountains), Lowly (showing the depth of the valleys), or Longing (showing the width of the water). The structure and movement of the gallery space emphasise these respective features so that visitors feel what the artists were aiming to express. The embodied and serene experience in Yun You gallery at once supports the accumulation of relevant knowledge and enhances the immersive experience of Shan-Shui.