Tags for: Into the Seven Jeweled Mountain
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Into the Seven Jeweled Mountain

Take an immersive digital journey
February 15, 2024
Figure looking at Korean landscape

Digital renderings courtesy of Technology Research Institute for Culture & Heritage

Located in the northeast of the Korean peninsula, the Seven Jeweled Mountain (칠보산, in Korean) was one of the most coveted destinations among adventurous scholars and devoted Buddhist pilgrims during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). Designated in 2014 as one of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves, the mountain is celebrated for its wondrous, vast terrain. Cleveland Art sat down with Sooa McCormick, Korea Foundation Curator of Korean Art, and Jane Alexander, chief digital information officer, to learn more about this engaging exhibition experience.

What is the historical significance of the Seven Jeweled Mountain?

SM: The name originated from a local legend that the seven different kinds of jewels—gold, silver, pearls, coral, seashells, agate, and crystal—were buried in the mountain. Journey to the Seven Jeweled Mountain by Lim Hyeong-soo (1514–1547), the first travelogue on this remote site, inspired many adventurous spirits to hike the mountain. Later, the region gained popularity through images, as officials like Kim Su-hang (1629–1689) commissioned court painters to depict its topographic features to commemorate their trips. After the Korean War (1950–53), the Seven Jeweled Mountain became part of North Korea, the most secluded and secretive country, and so it is no longer accessible to the outside world.

What is the legacy of Korean landscape painting and how does this screen fit within that narrative?

SM: Korean landscape painting (literally meaning “mountains and water” in Korean) has a long, rich history. Some of the earliest examples are found in ancient tomb murals and evoke the idea of a blissful afterlife. Later, landscape paintings formatted in either hanging scrolls or folding screens served various functions, including becoming a substitute for the real thing. Today, this concept translates into experiences at museums. That’s why this digital interpretation of the CMA’s 19th-century screen—one of the most spectacular examples of the mountain’s eccentric topography—is so important: it gives our audience the opportunity of a lifetime to hike in nature beyond reach.

artist rendering of a visitor standing in front of a vey large projection screen displaying a mountain landscape

What is special about this digital immersive exhibition?

JA: Get ready for an extraordinary experience! While designing this project, we placed a paramount focus on inclusivity, perfectly aligning with the CMA’s exacting standards. The exhibition is a thrilling collaboration between the CMA, the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation (OKCHF), and the Technology Research Institute for Culture & Heritage, or TRIC, a dynamic interactive design firm. This venture builds on our long-standing relationship with OKCHF, renowned for its unwavering support in the digitization and 3-D animation of our Korean objects, all universally accessible on our website. Plus, our partnership with TRIC commenced at the project’s inception, guaranteeing a flawless fusion of the digital realm.

We’re also thrilled to announce that Into the Seven Jeweled Mountain represents the next chapter in our commitment to immersive experiences, following the tremendous success of Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain. The exhibition showcases our dedication to pushing the boundaries of art and culture, offering an exhilarating and inclusive experience.

What can visitors expect from this exhibition?

JA: Visitors will encounter a captivating and immersive experience that takes them on a digital journey through the terrain of the Seven Jeweled Mountain. Under 10 minutes, this adventure is presented on an awe-inspiring, large-scale, three-wall projection. Visitors will witness dynamic atmospheric changes and unique geological features, retracing the steps of past travelers who documented their extraordinary treks.

Upon exiting the digital experience, visitors will encounter our renowned Korean screen, a remarkable 10-panel folding masterpiece. The digital experience provides context and connects visitors with the breathtaking landscape depicted on the panels, ensuring a deep appreciation and understanding of the screen’s profound significance and subject matter. The exhibition promises to enlighten and captivate all who embark on this immersive journey.