ELECTRONIC SKETCHBOOK OF THANGKA PAINTING

 

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1989

 

The Electronic Sketchbook of Thangka painting, one of the world’s first interactive multimedia learning technology installations, ‘re-situates’ the Thangka in Tibetan cultural practices and illustrates interrelationships between artifacts and composition process, myth, ritual and physical setting. The multimedia exhibit shifts the focus of the learner from the outward form of the Thangka artifact to the inner world of Thangka process. 

 

Work realized by Ranjit Makkuni at Xerox PARC.

THE ELECTRONIC SKeTCH BOOK
OF
TIBETAN THANGKA pAINTING

Letter from H.H. Dalai Lama to Ranjit Makkuni on bringing multimedia technology to Tibetan institutions of culture, 1986..
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Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1989

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During 1987-9, while the world was predominantly text centric in thought, and the only way one could interact with computers were through text commands and button pushing, computers  my work explored visual,
kinesthetic gestures as to interact with computers, and gestural interfaces served as a way of humanizing the traditional button pushing paradigm of interactions
with computers.

 

As early as 1985, I built a system in which one could wave a gesture on the screen and the computer would ‘understand’ what the gesture meant and translate it into parameters for the design of, say, a Chinese temple.

 

One could make a gestural diagram and retrieve an image of a Tibetan deity matching the diagram. Remember that these were designed in a period when the screen was text based. Gradually, my work added video representations on the screen and the Electronic Sketch Book of Thangka painting project developed one of the world’s first ‘multimedia' learning system of any kind!

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One could wave a gesture on the screen and the computer would ‘understand’ what the gesture meant and translate it into parameters for iconography of a Tibetan deity. One could make a
gestural diagram and retrieve an image of a Tibetan deity matching the diagram.

World's First Multimedia Learning system of any kind 

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While the world was focusing on  text based interactions,  I was part of an early group of researchers who were trying to interact though interactive images and video. 

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One of the word's first popup menus (hyperlinks) occurring over an image! Can you believe that!!

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Knowledge codification of Tibetan deities iconography and an interactive system to retrieve images of Tibetan deities. 

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Codification of Tibetan landscapes in a database. 

One of the World's First Gesture Based Interactions with Information suystems

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Acknowledgements.

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(c) 1985-present, Ranjit Makkuni

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