Combining technology with art, the Searching for Shangri-La exhibition in Beijing offers a unique and immersive exploration of this legendary place.
The event presents the works of Laurence Brahm, an award-winning Himalayan explorer and documentary film director, with Feng Jianguo, a professor from the Academy of Art & Design at Tsinghua University who specializes in large format photography.
Working with a team of young technology engineers, the two spent one year preparing installations that are being shown at Tsinghua University galleries through May 9. The exhibit opened Sunday.
Instead of simply viewing photographs, visitors are invited to participate on a spiritual journey, using holograms, brainwave sensors and augmented reality to relive the moments that once captured artists' imaginations on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
Searching for Shangri-La film and photography expeditions were launched in 2002 by the Shambhala Expeditions team – an organization led by Brahm, who left his career as a finance and investment lawyer for artistic pursuits.
In 2016 the Searching for Shangri-La expeditions received the National Geographic Air and Water Conservation Award for raising awareness of climate distortion. In 2015 Brahm was elected a Fellow International of the New York Explorers Club for leading these expeditions to find the fabled land of Shangri-La. Wikipedia lists him as one of 293 American explorers.
During the exhibit's opening ceremony, Brahm also announced his next Himalayan expedition and documentary film project - Searching for the Lotus Master. This time, he will follow the footsteps of Padmasambhava, known in Chinese as the Lotus Born Master, the founder of Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism.
The team will trace the historic route once traveled by the Lotus Born Master through Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and western China, which is better known as the Southern Silk Road or Tea Pony Road.
Brahm believes this route possesses deep historical ties linking all the way to contemporary Asia.
"The Lotus Born Master is a historic figure who brought together the various elements of what we know today as Himalayan culture and belongs to the heritage of each of these countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative," he said.