Rebuilding the Tong-an Ships New Media Art Exhibition

2015 Hong Kong, China

Collaborator: Jeffrey Shaw

National Palace Museum
Advisors: Fung Ming-chu , Ho Chuan-hsing, Lin Quo-ping

City University of Hong Kong
Project Executive Producers: Paul Lam, Jeffrey Shaw

Rebuilding the Tong-an Ships New Media Art Exhibition features installations using a holographic projection, naked-eye 3D, augmented reality, and Kinect sensor technology as an interactive and digital art form to reinterpret the rise and fall of Tong-an ships in Chinese maritime history. With the advanced digital technologies, the audiences can enjoy a much more immersive viewing experience. The exhibition presents a splendid recreation of the heyday of East Asian maritime culture during the 19th century and the historical elegance of the Tong-an ships.

These large traditional sailing vessels, which emerged in the middle of the Qing Dynasty, were so named because they were constructed in Tong-an County of Fujian Province. They were widely used in the private sector and utilised by pirates before finally becoming the naval mainstay of the Qing court. Before the arrival of the steamship in China, Tong-an ships were the most representative sailing vessels in ancient China.

A curatorial focus of the exhibit rests on the idea of “tides”, as in “ocean tides”, “the tide of immigration”, and an “economic tide”, all of which became associated with Tong-an ships. First, ocean tides brought unlimited opportunities, opening an indispensable link to the outside world along China’s coast. Tong-an ships also helped spur a tide of immigration, adding to the development of Taiwan. With it came an economic tide, creating a rich and pluralistic maritime commercial culture at a time that saw the rise of the “Pirate Kings”, such as Cai Qian and Cheung Po Tsai. In addition, interpreting and presenting artifacts from NPM using new media technology represents a new trend, or “tide”, in contemporary exhibit installations. Thus, the kinds of “tides” mentioned above provide an objective for explaining this exhibition.

This exhibition follows three main perspectives in dealing with the subject: “Periodical Background”, “Main Characters”, and “Ship Construction”. The integrated application of advanced new technology allows audiences to fully experience the emotional impact and atmosphere of each work and thereby further understand related information on such facets as the history, military affairs, and cultural aspects of the Tong-an ships as well as the rich content of historical documents.


The Side Gate
Deconstructing the Tong‑an Ship
Space and Time See‑Through
The Augmented Reality Clothes Changing System
We Are like Vapours
The “Bon Voyage!” Projection Wall
Puppeteering with Your Magical Stylus
Linear Navigator of Chinese Maritime History
Paint and Sail Your Tong‑an Ship
Cross-over Dialogue: Holographic Projection
Tong-an Ship Scale Model
The Sea Chart Interactive Tabletop
Cloud Gallery
Breaking Waves
Documentary Rebuilding the Tong-an Ships (50’00”)
Animation Adventures in NPM: The Formosa Odyssey

Exhibition Record
2015/08/15 - 09/30
Academic 3, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2016/01/06 - 05/29
Songshan Feng-Tian Temple, National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
2017/04/27 - 06/30
Magong Jinguitou Fortress Cultural Park, Penghu, Taiwan