Using Light Art to Represent Chinese Culture on the World Stage


The organizers of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics stunned the world earlier this year with a remarkable digital spectacle, both in terms of scale and presentation of traditional Chinese culture.

The show also drew public attention to its visual arts director Wang Zhiou and his team. “It’s not easy for a team as young as ours to complete a world-class project,” Wang said.

“And we took care of every step, from the initial planning to the final visual effect. I’m sure no other team, not even the top level ones, could have done this, but we did. I think after the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, we are very proud to say that we are the best.”

Zhang Yimou worked on the project with Wang, who gained worldwide fame for leading the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Games.

Wang said he takes every opportunity to learn from this experience. “I was so lucky to work with director Zhang Yimou, who I think is like my teacher. He focused on one theme in each opening ceremony program, which was to use science and technology to tell stories about China.

Hearing about Wang’s career in more detail, his journey seems to have a special connection to the Olympic movement, a connection that dates back to when the Chinese capital was a candidate for the 2008 Summer Games. “I thought that if Beijing won the tender, I would go there for college,” Wang said.

Beijing has indeed won the right to host the 2008 Games, and Wang has indeed made his trip to the Chinese capital, choosing multimedia art as his university major.

Multimedia artist Wang Zhiou.  /CGTN

Multimedia artist Wang Zhiou. /CGTN

Multimedia artist Wang Zhiou. /CGTN

Just a few years after hosting the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese capital was selected for the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to be selected to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. winter.

Wang was perfectly placed to leave his mark, and for the closing ceremony of the previous Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, he was given a platform to join the Beijing Games.

“One of my dreams since childhood has been to introduce Chinese culture to the world in some way. In the eight-minute show, we aimed to present symbolic Chinese motifs, such as the dragon, the peacock and the Chinese knots. They were flying on the floor. Like the way painters move their brush strokes in Chinese painting. The performance was well received by audiences around the world,” said Wang.

Wang calls it a good start. And a good start is half the battle. This was especially true for Wang and his team, who achieved great things in the years that followed.

He has now developed a team of over 120 people in his studio. “Every time I communicate with them, I hope they’re all doing what they really love to do.”

Talking about his current projects, Wang is very proud to present his latest project: the Long March Digital Art Museum in Guizhou Province. “This is the entire journey of the Red Army’s Long March. The tour allows visitors to experience the stories of these wars as if they were happening just now. We use light and shadow to immerse viewers in this period. For now, there is no such theater to tell the story of China.”

Wang presents his multimedia project

Wang presents his multimedia project “Yuan”. /photo CGTN

Wang presents his multimedia project “Yuan”. /photo CGTN

Besides these large-scale national projects, Wang’s love for traditional Chinese culture is also very evident in his personal creations, such as the one displayed in a temple.

“Zhizhu Temple has a history of over 200 years,” Wang said. “I hope the art can help visitors feel more in such an ancient oriental space. Through the language of light and shadow, people can travel back in time to a hundred years ago. .”

The temple was closed many years ago. With the art of light and shade, Wang intends to restore vitality to his architecture. “Visitors could feel a drop of rain falling from the eaves and the marks left on the architecture by time.”

As night falls, a magical alchemy is established between the ancient temple and Wang’s artistic creation.

The red walls become his canvas.

“China is catching up in terms of the world’s most advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence. I think we have to develop an aesthetic corresponding to the development of science and technology. I think digital art could be the new expression of China at this time. can use the light and shadow brush to make artistic creations of cities, mountains, stars and the ocean.”

Christopher S. Washington