Unfortunately, a visit to the impressive Mogao caves isn't within reach for everyone. Even if the great distance to North China isn’t enough of an obstacle, the restricted access to these Buddhist temple caves often is. The Cave changes all of this. Filmmaker Qi Zhao entered the beautifully-painted and decorated Cave 285 with a laser scanner, enabling him to make a virtual reality copy of the cave with great precision—in fact, it's hardly distinguishable from the real thing. The exact location of visitors is determined using special sensors, allowing them to roam around freely, for example to examine the cave paintings up close. You can even hold up a virtual candle to illuminate these artworks, or open a magic book to get more information on the history of the paintings. It’s almost as if you can feel the temperature changing; a low crevice in the wall invites you to nestle like a hermit. The experience is so overwhelming that it comes as a great disappointment when the 15-minute tour is over and you have to get back to reality. On-site reservation required.
Qi Zhao for Zhaoqi Films
Bohang Pan, Xiangfeng Huang, Xiang Li, Kevin Geiger