Shan Shui in the World
Shan Shui in the World presents shanshui (山水, landscape) paintings of places in the world generated by a computational process based on geography-related information.
This project revisits the ideas implicit in Chinese literati paintings of shan shui: the relationship between urban life and people’s yearning for the nature, and between social responsibility and spiritual purity. For an audience living in an urban area, a traditional shanshui painting provides them with spiritual support through the depiction of the natural scene of elsewhere. With generative technology, however, Shan Shui in the World has the ability to represent any place in the world—including the city where the audience is—in the form of a shanshui painting based on geography-related information of the place.
The notion that shan shui can exist right here (though in a generative parallel world) not only underscores the contrast between the artificial world and nature, but also reminds the audience of an alternative approach to spiritual strength: instead of resorting to the shan shui of elsewhere, we may be able to obtain inner peace from the “shan shui” of our present location by looking inward.
In this first production of Shan Shui in the World, the shan shui of Manhattan, New York is generated. The generative engine was written in C++ with use of creative coding toolkit openFrameworks. The code that renders the shanshui painting was written in OpenGL Shading Language as fragment shaders. The generative shanshui paintings were printed and framed into traditional Chinese scroll paintings, and inscribed and sealed by hand.
To learn more about the project, please visit Weili’s website via http://shi-weili.com/shan-shui-in-the-world/.