Artist Masaki Fujihata uses AR to bring Wanchai's past to life

November 29, 2018 12:59
Japanese new media artist Masaki Fujihata (middle, in blue shirt) adopted AR technology to recreate the historical scenes of everyday life in Wan Chai. Photo: HKEJ

Masaki Fujihata, one of the visionary pioneers of Japanese new media and interactive art, has begun work on a project that involves use of augmented reality (AR) technology to bring Wanchai's past to life.

Invited to join the creative tourism project Design District Hong Kong (ddHK), the Japanese media artist is participating in a public art project ‘BeHere’ that aims to portray scenes from Hong Kong's bygone era through creative use of AR technology.

The 3-year creative tourism project ddHK is presented by the Tourism Commission and organized by the Hong Kong Design Centre with Hong Kong Comics & Animation Federation as the strategic partner.

In one of the highlights in the project, Fujihata adopted AR technology to visualize the historical scenes of everyday life, creating 3D figures and virtual scenes for ten Wanchai historic spots including the revamped heritage complex Blue House cluster, old Wan Chai Post Office, and Dominion Garden, presenting audience with the ordinary life of yesterday.

In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Fujihata said his team looked into extensive amount of old Hong Kong images showing common daily life in old Wan Chai, and interviewed elderly residents to get a grasp of the street activities in the old districts.

With reference to the old images and the narratives from elderly residents, the team augments the virtual scenes and figures of the streets and community and assigns over 20 actors to act out the perceived scenes, which are then shot by photogrammetry with 70 cameras in 360 degrees.

As the virtual scenes are placed in public places, in addition to seeing images that mix the past and present, the audience can interact with the 3D AR figures and recompose the scene via their own mobile devices, turning smartphones into a “pocket museum”.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 29

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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The team looked into old Hong Kong images extensively and interviewed some Wan Chai residents to capture daily activities of old Wan Chai. Photo: Osage Art Foundation
Fujihata, recognized for his sophisticated interactive network installations and works in video, animation and digital imaging, plans to turn the audience's smartphones into “pocket museum”. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong Economic Journal