A panoramic video installation showcasing traditional Jiao festivals is City University of Hong Kong’s (CityU) contribution to a major cultural exhibition at the Hong Kong Central Library this month.
The long-standing Jiao festivals are opportunities for residents from different villages throughout Hong Kong to thank or appease gods and ghosts through opera performances, Taoist music and rituals, poon choi, or big bowl feasts, and the construction of a bamboo stage with decorated floral boards, paper icons and other offerings.
“Jiao festivals are really important because they give us a cultural memory, by which we know where we come from, and we really understand the capacity and nature of our culture,” said Dr Sarah Kenderdine, Visiting Associate Professor in the School of Creative Media at CityU, who supervised the filming.
Dr Kenderdine, who is also Director of Research at CityU’s Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment (ALiVE), has been making 360-degree recordings of intangible heritage events in Hong Kong since last year and had wanted to film the Jiao festivals because they are culturally unique. “They take place every year or every five, eight, or even ten years, depending on local customs,” she said.
iJiao uses CityU’s iDome hemispherical projection system. “The panoramic camera captures everything, not just the view of the cameraman but the whole main event and the scenes behind,” she said. iDome consists of a single projector, a spherical mirror that reflects images onto three-meter-diametre dome, and a control panel.
“It is fully interactive and immersive, and a more experimental way to interpreting things,” Dr Kenderdine said.
The library exhibition where iJiao will be screened is titled “Genesis and Spirit: A Showcase of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China”. Its aim is to strengthen exchange and cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong, safeguard intangible cultural heritage and showcase the richness of the country’s living heritage. The exhibition has been earmarked as one of the major programmes of the Asia Cultural Cooperation Forum 2011.
The Cheung Chau Jiao festival, Tai O dragon boat water parade, Tai Hang fire dragon dance, and the Yu Lan Ghost Festival of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow community are all examples of listed national intangible cultural heritage in Hong Kong.
The opening hours of the library exhibition, co-organised by the Ministry of Culture of China and the Home Affairs Bureau of Hong Kong, are 9am—8pm in the exhibition gallery from 9-27 October.
Exhibits from both the mainland and Hong Kong will be on display at the venue. There will also be live demonstrations related to the exhibition theme. Please visit the website www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk for more information.