Behind the Light and Shadow Focusing — Discussion on Technology and Content in Multimedia Exhibitio

The integration of technology and culture is an irresistible trend. Multimedia technology has been widely used in the field of exhibition because of its colorful forms of expression. However, there are multimedia presentations not ideal, and some drawbacks such as technology abuse and content ambiguity, which affects the presentation effect.

As the "gimmicks" get bigger and the content gets shinier, and the cool-looking technology disguises the exhibition's inherent humanistic temperament and gradually weakens it, it's time to talk about the exhibition.

First Cognition: getting into the World of Light and Shadow

Multimedia refers to the collection of text, sound, image and other media forms. With the rapid development of digital technology, phantom imaging, VR, AR and other technologies have been widely used in the exhibition field. The integration of multimedia technology promotes the innovation of exhibition forms and brings new impetus to cultural communication.

The Palace Museum is an early museum for VR technology application research conducted in China, and has designed a number of virtual exhibitions successively. In 2018, the large-scale virtual reality work "Imperial Garden" focuses on the royal garden in the Forbidden City, with 3D special effects to truly present the whole landscape of the garden, combining historical data research to restore plants, animals, rockery and buildings. Visitors in the virtual space, can interact with deer and fish, enjoy the lively and intelligent garden space, and explore the cultural connotation of the royal garden. The adequate combination of technology and content enable the exhibition to bring about a series of senses for tourists to hear, to move and to jump, from just simply being to see at the beginning, which not only expands the visitors' experience of perception, but also makes a better transformation for the traditional culture.

Analysis: Exploring the Essence of Light and Shadow

From static to dynamic manners, multimedia technology promotes the continuous transformation and renewal of presentation approaches, providing new possibilities for collaborative innovation between cultural undertakings and science and technology industries. But this trend also triggered out a discussion on the relationship between technology and content. This kind of discussion is not a confrontation for traditional exhibition and modern science and technology, but back to the original intention of the exhibition based on a rational attitude in the perspective of the times.

In 2015, the sensual art exhibition Immortal Van Gogh got so popular in China. It played over 3,000 Hd pictures of Van Gogh on a great number giant screens, which dynamically provides Van Gogh's work and his brief artistic life. After the exhibition, the visitors gave mixed reviews. Some believe that the exhibition provides a better immersive experience through large screens and music while some professional scholars think that the exhibition takes advantages of presentation techniques with a large number of "slides", which only magnifies the classic works blindly, and weakens the artist's brush strokes, thus losing the sense of mystery and vitality of Van Gogh's works, and becoming a superficial visual consumption with Van Gogh's name but Van Gogh's reality. In facing such questions, we, as workers of museology, are also constantly thinking about whether some exhibitions pursue technical forms too much and forget the original intention of the exhibition to convey cultural values.

For this phenomenon, we always believe that the fundamental purpose is to effectively reflect academic views and convey cultural information through technology, regardless the way in which technology is involved in the exhibition, so as to realize the exchange of thoughts, cultures and emotions between the exhibition and visitors. As a leader in the field of multimedia exhibition, teamLab, a Japanese science and technology art group, founded in 2001, has been carrying this concept through its works. Since 2017, the first exhibition of teamLab was on in China, its works have attracted the public's attention and won the win-win in both business and public reputation. teamLab often has an in-depth research on the theme and content of its works, and is good at integrating universal themes such as the circulation of the four seasons and the cycle of life with multimedia devices, so that to arouse the spiritual resonance of visitors. In their work "Flower Forest and Future Parks", the electronic screen creates a huge illusion, visitors are like stepping into the ocean of flowers, meeting and knowing each flower, and feeling the whole process from their birth, growth, and blooming to withering. When visitors stop, the flowers around them are blooming. If they touch the screen, the flowers will wither and die. While getting shocked in a vision, the visitors would experience the feeling of "very moment" and "material sorrow" of life when the flowers are blooming and falling, which makes them comprehend the humanistic philosophy coexisting harmoniously. Compared with the impressionable art exhibition of the Immortal Van Gogh, teamLab's success is that it enriches the sensory experience of visitors by means of science and technology, but also touches the hearts of visitors through rich cultural connotation, having technology truly used for the content.

Comprehension: Perceiving Light and Shadow Aesthetics

As an institution for social education and cultural communication open to the public, the cultural exhibition hall shoulders the important missions of protecting history, spreading knowledge and inheriting culture. Therefore, for the multimedia exhibition items in this kind of exhibition hall, the refinement and dissemination of cultural connotation is all the more important. On the other hand, on the premise that content is the key and technology is auxiliary, how to effectively deliver cultural value by taking the use of technology requires a mutual cooperation with exhibition planners and designers. That is to take cultural output as the common goal, intensively study the theme and content of the exhibition, arouse the enthusiasm of visitors, and satisfy their requirements both in visual and spirit.

Let's say the multimedia exhibition item, "Huang Guangsheng Yuliun Seawall" in the Museum of Seawall Site of Hangzhou, the planner of Boyue art consulted the materials and finally made the historical conclusion by carefully arranging, screening and analyzing in rigorous attitude. Whereafter, they had a discussion for the content and effect of the exhibition item, and exchanged their ideas. They reached a decision through communication, which leads to igniting the sparkle of creation. With the high combination of multimedia approaches and content, it makes visitors have a more vivid and detailed understanding for the structure of five horizontal and five vertical construction of "Huang Guangsheng Yuliun Seawall. In the process of project deepening for the exhibition, the biggest challenge faced by planners and designers is to balance the content, design and technology. The single exhibition technique makes the exhibition as dry as dust, while excessive pursuit of form means more "gimmicks" than contents. Accordingly, the stylist has systematically and comprehensively considered the cultural connotation, design concept, exhibition atmosphere and other factors. They designed multimedia animation in the Chinese classical art style, weakened the sense of incongruity and disobedience of mechanical equipment, and created a highlight display area, so that visitors can naturally feel the wisdom of ancient craftsmen in water control and craftsman's spirit.

Moreover, in the process of producing exhibition item of emperor cultural center, not only do they deeply study the cultural content but also introduce the spatial concept, which realizes the cross-dimensional combination displaying space, content and technology. Taking the comprehensive multimedia exhibition item of "Brillant Ancestors —the Unity of Man and Nature" as one case, at the top of the space, a huge screen is used to dynamically deduce the brilliant ancient star map, showing the ancient people exploring astronomical changes. The acrylic material is used for ground segments to simulate the fertile soil of fertile farmland, and match the color changing of fiber optic lighting effect, presenting the four seasons transformation corresponding to the star map. It implies the farming wisdom of planting in spring and harvesting in autumn in accordance with the season. Furthermore, inside of the "the earth and sky " for simulator humans, the light belt is used to simulate the skeleton and muscles of human body. With the changing light, the "skeleton" flickers, and the "blood" flows away, highlighting the ancestors exploring the human body structure and law. The exhibition, with ingenious spatial layout combined with the multimedia sound and light, makes the abstract and obscure philosophy idea three-dimensional and visualized. It shows Chinese ancestors head the sky above and root in the earth below, follows the principle of the unity of man and nature, and embraces all things in the universe. It is one of the excellent examples of multimedia narrative, culture and natural integration of science and technology.

Outlook: Sticking to the Original Idea of Light and Shadow

In the dramatic changing digital age, the technology provides new possibilities for the realization of creative idea. In the field of cultural exhibition, the introduction of each new technology is likely to bring about significant changes, so the exhibition needs to be forward-looking in the application of technology. Nevertheless, the cultural value of the exhibition cannot be diluted though the technology is changing. Behind the visual impression created by light and shadow, the cultural deposits of technology and content, profound and interesting humanistic connotation, and the spiritual resonance between designers and visitors are the real value of multimedia exhibition.

Therefore, as the workers for museology exhibition of the new era, Boyue art will stick to our original intention of studying history and inheriting culture. We will make better service for cultural transmission by technology approaches while maintaining the technology forward, meet the visitors for their cultural needs constantly growing and upgrading, and let history and culture get out of the exhibition hall and into life together with visitors.