文/《华盛顿邮报》 Mark Jenkins
赛克勒美术馆及其兄弟博物馆，弗利尔美术馆，已经在网上发布了它们全部馆藏的数码照片。但宇宙佛有一个特别的优先性，这个展览以及上述两个美术馆的古代中国艺术策展人基斯·威尔逊(J. Keith Wilson)解释道。
A modern look at ancient, spiritual work
There’s just one original artwork in “Body of Devotion: The Cosmic Buddha in 3D,” yet the show contains an entire world: the spiritual universe as understood by Chinese Buddhists in the 6th century. That firmament is inscribed on a life-size limestone figure that represents the “Vairochana,” or Cosmic Buddha, one of many manifestations of the teacher whose name means “awakened one.” The statue’s head and hands are missing, but elaborate engravings remain.
三维的宇宙佛澳门太阳娱乐集团：。In addition, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery exhibition includes two touch-screen computer monitors that transport the 1,500-year-old artifact into another realm altogether: a virtual reality that shows the sculpture in close-up, and from multiple perspectives, as well as provide historical, artistic and even geological context. A spin through the digital data reveals that the sculpture was carved from a single block of gray limestone, originally formed during the Paleozoic Era, at least 252 million years ago.
The Sackler and its sibling museum, the Freer, have published digital images of their entire collections online. But the Cosmic Buddha was a particular priority, explained J. Keith Wilson, curator of this exhibition and of ancient Chinese art at the two museums.
“I would, sitting in the galleries, watch visitors walk past it, even though it is one of the most important Buddhist sculptures from China. It was so disheartening to me,” he said.
The Buddha wasn’t speaking to people because it had lost some of its ability to communicate, Wilson notes. “When it was first created, it was no doubt painted, and the polychrome surface would have made it much easier, I think, to decipher what was actually going on in each one of those complicated narrative scenes. But with the loss of the pigment, and maybe some erosion of the surface, a lot of the clarity that would have been there originally would have been lost.”
Because of this, people weren’t noticing a series of vignettes that depict almost 250 figures, both animal and human, negotiating the karmic cycle of reincarnation and enlightenment — or failing to do so. The Buddhist world, generally rendered as a circle in Indian-style depictions, becomes vertical on the Cosmic Buddha’s body. Paradise is at the top of his chest, while hell is near his feet.
There is something distinctively Chinese about the images of people who are being sentenced to a season in hell. (In Buddhism, damnation is not eternal.) “China loves civil servants,” Wilson said with a laugh, “and the fact that judges are included there, I think is really interesting.”
The “Vairochana,” which the Freer purchased in 1923, may or may not predate similar Buddhist statues from central Asia. “It’s a little bit contentious, but you can certainly safely say that this is one of the earliest depictions of the subject,” Wilson said.
Like all art, the Buddha reflects the time in which it was made. China, which would be reunified in 589 after centuries of strife, was probably still in chaos when the statue was carved. In addition, it had been about a millennium since the historical Buddha’s death, which some followers took as a sign that a new cycle was about to begin. They feared that Buddhism would decline, or even be destroyed.
That might explain, Wilson suggests, why so many Buddhist teachings were inscribed in stone, rather than written on paper, during this period. The goal was to preserve the creed until more congenial times.
But the Cosmic Buddha’s lessons would have made it to paper anyway, copied via rubbings that were far more portable than a limestone sculpture. The practice damages the stone and is now seldom allowed for valuable antiquities. This show includes two full-size rubbings, which turn the sculpture into a series of intricate drawings. Also available are the digital scans, in 2- or simulated 3-D. (To view these without visiting the gallery, go to 3D.si.edu, whose data can even be used to replicate the Cosmic Buddha as a plastic avatar via 3-D printer.)
The digitized statue is a boon to scholars and web surfers alike. But it doesn’t have the spiritual or artistic heft of 1,500-year-old carvings on a shaped hunk of 250-million-year-old rock. The virtual Buddha is an attempt to understand one exceptional artifact. The limestone one is an attempt to understand everything.