I’m off to Dunhuang for a conference at the end of June. This will be the last trip for this consultation project. National Geographic magazine is featuring the caves in an article this month. Our project is indirectly mentioned in one of the last paragraphs:
“Digital technology may provide one solution. Following up on a photo-digitization project completed in 23 caves with the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive, the academy has launched its own multiyear marathon to digitize all 492 decorated caves (so far, the staff has completed 20). The effort mirrors an international push to digitize the scattered scrolls from Cave 17.
Fan’s dream is to bring together digital archives from East and West to re-create the full three-dimensional experience of the caves—not at the site itself, but in a sleek new visitor’s center proposed to be built 15 miles away. The center has not yet moved beyond the planning stages. But Fan believes that reuniting all of Mogao’s treasures in one place, even virtually, will guarantee that their glories will never again be buried in the sand. “This will be a way,” Fan says, “to preserve them forever.”
We’ve been working with the Dunhuang Academy for the past two years consulting on the 492 cave digitization project. I’m looking forward to seeing them one more time, next month.