New and emerging technologies are playing a transformative role in preserving and sharing the world's natural and cultural heritage. UNSW Art & Design staff member Professor Sarah Kenderdine recently presented Pure Land,  her pioneering immersive, 3D display capturing one of China’s most revered historical sites as part of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Prof Kenderdine's role at the WEF included leading a personalised tour of Pure Land for founder of this influential organisation, swiss academic and business network leader Klaus Schwab.

Hosted in the  Chinese city of Dalian, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions is the WEF's global conference on innovation, science and technology which aims to explore innovative and entrepreneurial responses to the challenges of economic growth.

Kenderdine was invited by the WEF to present her full-dome exhibition Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang, an immersive, digital reproduction of the 1,500 year old Buddhist murals in the UNESCO World Heritage listed caves. Cave 220 is one of 492 grottoes resplendent with Buddhist mural paintings more than 1000 years old. Through Kenderdine's digital scanning techniques the cave has been virtually recreated and augmented at 1:1 scale in a 360-degree display system

As director of UNSW’s iGLAM Lab (Laboratory for Innovation in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), Kenderdine’s research focuses on interactive and immersive experiences for museums and galleries. Pure Land won an award from the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) in 2014. 

A team of 30 specialists, including world-leading authorities on the cave's murals from the Dunhuang Academy, developed Pure Land after a three-month period of scanning the interior surfaces of the cave.

Based on their advice and art direction, a team of artists and animators were able to redraw and restore key iconographic elements in the murals, and create its 3D animated objects and 3D filmed dance sequences. The animations, and 3D modelling, combined with Pure Land’s virtual reality technology, allow audiences to feel as if they are inside the cave.

Read more at UNSW Newsroom.