Empowering The Matsu(Goddess) Festival Celebration: From Static Woodcut Print to Animated Art

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Jia-Ming Day

    Taipei National University of the Arts

  2. 2. Su-Chu Hsu

    Taipei National University of the Arts

Work text
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The Goddess Mazu, who protects sailors, plays an important role in folk culture in Taiwan and China’s southeast coast. In 2009, UNESCO placed Mazu belief and customs on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). Artist Lin Chih-Hsin spent over twenty years making his celebrated woodcut print entitled “Celebrating the Mazu Festival,” preserving vanishing rural scenes and simple style of bygone days. The woodcut print is 125 meters long, making it the longest woodcut print by a single solo artist, and it has been presented in a number of exhibitions throughout Europe.

In our work (supported by the [Taiwan] National Science Council), we extended the original static print into animated images. Our goal was to provide a detailed representation of Taiwanese folk art activities and offer opportunities for further research in this field. We used the original style of Lin’s woodcut print as a visual theme, recreating characters in 3D in an installation that combined motion sensors, performers, and animated image technology to create a work of animated art. Artist Lin Chin-Hsin was closely involved in this research from the beginning with great enthusiasm, and he has approved the results of the animation.

Constructing the artwork consisted of the following phases: (1) scan an original print from a copy provided by artist Lin; (2) cut out characters from scanned images; (3) build a 3D model of each character; (4) make an empty UV texture map for each model; (5) insert woodcut material texture into the empty UV texture maps; (6) assign UV texture maps back to the 3D model; (7) compare with the original print to ensure accurate representation; and (8) approval by artist Lin of final result.

Our artwork faced two special challenges: (1) animating a static image, and (2) maintaining the original visual style of the print in the animation. Animated content was derived by recording dramatic human performances of folk art groups. Each group acted out a historical story as a dance performed as a parade along the street. From over sixty groups, we chose three on which to perform motion capture using portable Kinect motions sensors to capture individual performer’s choreography. The collected motion data was sent to a 3D program as animation frames. However, the Kinect sensor has a limitation: if some object (such as another performer, or a body part such as an arm) is placed before a Kinect sensor, detection of the motion is blocked. To overcome limitations of the Kinect sensor in multi-user sensor capture, we used the traditional methods of animation key frames to render the loss movements which cannot be detected. Using thematic material from the original print, we manipulated the motion data to reconstruct the print as a set of animated 3D characters.

When we finished the animation, 3D animated images were added to the original woodcut print. The highlight of the Mazu Festival is the parade with participants depicting historical stories, and new media technology allows viewers to see how performers actually dance and act in the parade, continuing this folk art tradition. Even artist Lin Chih-Hsin, who spent twenty years on his masterpiece, can now see his work in motion. Tradition and folk values, together with an engaging animated display, are integrated to manifest an exciting yet mysterious side of Eastern culture.

Fig. 1: Lin Chih-Hsin “Celebrating the Matsu Festival” exhibition at Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde München, Germany,2009.

Fig. 2: The 7th Lord and 8th Lord, who bring the souls of the dead before the judge of the underworld, according to Chinese folk religion.

Fig. 3: Ox fight in spring as an entertainment in rural region.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

XML available from https://github.com/elliewix/DHAnalysis (needs to replace plaintext)

Conference website: https://web.archive.org/web/20161227182033/https://dh2014.org/program/

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO