Culture+Tech Forum: When traditional culture meets modern technology



The rapid development of technology has profoundly affected all aspects of human life, and the cultural sector is no exception.

Beijing's Palace Museum and Chinese tech company Tencent have teamed up to created the “2017 Culture +Tech International Forum” to discuss the role technology plays in culture preservation and creation.

Experts and academicians working in culture protection and technology development sectors all over the world gathered for the two-day forum which started on Tuesday in central Beijing.

Revived Palace Museum decorated with high-tech

In October, the Palace Museum officially digitized its ticket service and scrapped paper tickets altogether following three years of research and preliminary experiments.

Visitors can book tickets online with a local ID card or passport instead of waiting in long queues at the entrance.

The Hospital for Conservation, officially launched at the end of 2016, is another big move the Palace Museum has made in integrating culture and technology.

Experts repairing a relic at the conservation hospital at the Forbidden City

There are over 200 experts in the hospital and over half are technicians, said Shan Jixiang, curator of the Palace Museum.

“We will have a scientific diagnosis for the cultural relics before any repair work starts. It’s just like when people go to hospital, the doctors will undergo disease diagnosis before giving prescription,” he explained.

“Without technology, complete repair of cultural relics will be impossible.”

Shan Jixiang, curator of the Palace Museum, speaks at the

"2017 Culture +Tech International Forum”.

Shan also said that thanks to the development of technology, the Palace Museum has managed to build interactive platforms, a digital community, Palace Museum-themed cyber games and carry out large-scale renovation over the past few years.

Meanwhile, to enhance the visitor experience, the museum introduced a virtual reality demonstration of the Hall of Mental Cultivation, a combination of the living and bedrooms of Qing dynasty emperors from 200 years ago.

Learning Chinese in a colorful way

When your shadow touches a Chinese character, the world that character embodies appears. For example, touching the character “虹” (hong or rainbow), a streak of colors appear, while choosing “火”(huo meaning fire), a burning flame rises on the digital wall.

Behind the projected world, there’s a 360-degree computer-generated space. The objects that are from the characters are placed at various positions within that space and the physical connections between them is calculated in real time.

Besides showing the meanings behind the characters, people can also see a complex and natural world. For example, if the wind blows, the objects are subjected to its physical influence. Butterflies are frightened by fire, but attracted to flowers.

Shadow play artist takes on robot apprentice

Eagle Shoal,

a three-finger robotic hand

Qin Ligang, often referred to as “King of Shadow Puppets” due to his famous performances, used to worry about how to pass on this ancient culture... until he took on a robot apprentice.

"Eagle Shoal" is a three-finger robotic hand designed by the Intel Corporation. Driven by AI, the hand – with fully actuated 8 degrees of freedom – can accomplish movements that people cannot.

Qin Ligang (middle) at the "2017 Culture +Tech International Forum”

Qin has managed to perform the play Wusong Fights Tiger with the robot. During the play, his puppet acted as Wusong and the intelligent robotic hand as the tiger.

“Young people don’t understand the shadow puppet nor choose it as a career,” said Qin.

“The robotic hand really surprises me and I want to take on more robotic apprentices.”