It is a very cool exhibit. Each video installation focuses on an art piece, bringing it to life on the screen. We saw Arhat Taming the Dragon (the link has a snippet of video and photos):
Arhat Taming the Dragon is vertical in format like the scroll that was its inspiration, and projected on a screen inside the same wooden shrine that appears in the film. We first see a diminutive Buddhist monk fishing in a river, which in his fantasy becomes the churning, stylized river in the scroll. He is indeed the artist engaged in painting the work. Returning to reality, he finds a shuttle (a wooden tool for holding yarn in weaving) and takes it with him. It turns out to be a magic shuttle that can move and transform itself. Walking home with his catch, through a world alive with the imagery of Chinese art, the little monk comes upon a pavilion in which a boy is playing with a toy, then the shrine, where he joins a pair of larger monks reciting an evening prayer. We see him finishing work on his painting, dotting in the eyes of a dragon––the moment of giving life. The mischievous shuttle sneaks under the scroll and becomes the dragon, clawing its way out into the real world. While making an offering to the scroll, now installed in the shrine, the little monk goes into a dream that is his own act of transformative magic. Suddenly the whole scene in his painting
comes to life. He is a guardian king and one of his fellow monks is an arhat, a Buddhist saint of great wisdom and supernatural powers. The other monk also appears, holding the boy who was playing with the toy. A great wind rushes through the scene as the arhat strains to will the dragon into his alms bowl, a symbol of triumph over the hostile forces of nature. The wind subsides and calm is restored.
We saw the scroll before watching the video, and the girls were mesmerized to see the characters from the scroll come to life to act out the scene from the scroll. We actually watched it twice, and then had lunch at the museum so we could see it again!
After lunch we poked through the gift shop, always a dangerous exercise! I was showing admirable restraint until we came upon this stuffed Buddha! Who would have expected that such a thing even exists!
The girls were delighted. Zoe has long had an interest in Buddha (probably living next door to a Buddhist temple when we were in Xiamen!), and while reading about him on the Internet (she's discovered Google. Be afraid, be very afraid!), she found that his mother was Queen Maya, so now Maya is also hooked on Buddha.
The Buddha is part of a series of dolls called "Little Thinkers." Too cute! They have Shakespeare and Freud and Jesus and Nietzsche and Van Gogh and Socrates and too many others to name. I love the idea, and couldn't resist the girls' entreaties to buy it. And I love that on the tag, the contact address is the Unemployed Philosophers Guild!
I highly recommend the Kimbell exhibit if you live in the Fort Worth area -- it's free, and it's a great way to give a dollop of culture, both Chinese culture and high art!