Virtual Mandala | USA, 2015 (7 min)
J. Cecilia Wu
Saturday, March 2
Stay after the showcase for our Filmmaker Q&A!
The word Mandala comes from Sanskrit, meaning "circle." It represents wholeness and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself. In Tibet, as part of a spiritual practice, monks create mandalas with colored sand. The creation of a sand mandala may require days or weeks to complete. When finished, the monks gather in a colorful ceremony, chanting in deep tones (Tibetan throat singing) as they sweep their Mandala sand spirally back into nature. This symbolizes the impermanence of life and the world. Mandala is a multimedia audio-visual piece that explores the use of body movement and virtual imaging to enrich musical expression. This project combines an interactive 3D bimanual interface with a computer imaging application designed to graphically render and physically simulate the interactive construction and deconstruction of the ancient Tibetan Buddhist sand arts. Mandala, an agent of ancient arts and philosophy, uses technology to lure the next generation into traditional cultural practices, disrupting the boundaries between ancient arts and leading-edge interactive imaging technologies.
From the Director
Human beings are deeply expressive. We use body language, and speech to communicate our thoughts and feelings to other individuals. During musical performances, audiences often connect to the performer and mentally model thoughts and feelings in the performers mind, in what is called emotional contagion (Hatfield et al., 1993). In addition, humans are highly skilled at reading bodies, and voices; this ability begins at infancy and is refined to an art by adulthood (Darwin, 1872). Body motion and gestures are natural artistic expression forms worthy of further study and implementation in live performance. The aspiration of the Mandala project is to capture the natural forms of human expression and embody them artistically in realtime by bringing an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism to the digital world.
Originally from Beijing, Jiayue Cecilia Wu is a scholar, composer, multimedia artist, and audio engineer. She is currently an assistant professor at University of Colorado Denver's College of Arts and Media. Cecilia earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Design and Engineering in 2000. Upon winning the MTV Asian Beat contest, Universal Music Group identified her talent and hired her as a music producer in Hong Kong. She then worked as a professional musician for ten years. In 2010, Cecilia produced her original album of spiritual electronic music, Clean Your Heart. In 2013, Cecilia obtained her Master’s degree in Music at Stanford University, where she focused on computer-assisted composition and audio engineering. In 2018, Cecilia obtained her Ph.D. in Media Arts and Technology from the University of California Santa Barbara. As an audio engineer, she received a grant award from Audio Engineering Society. As a musician, she received an award from the California State Assembly for being a positive role model in sharing Chinese culture. As a multimedia artist, she received the “Young Alumni Arts Project Grant Award” from Stanford University. As a scholar, she has been awarded a UC Central Campus Diversity Fellowship, a UC Central Campus Humanities Research Fellowship, as well as a National Academy of Sciences Sackler Student Fellowship. Cecilia's research interest focuses on the healing power of music and how music technology can augment this powerful force. Her music has been performed in China, Southeastern Asia, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Europe.