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Digital Cave

Weaving together archival photographs and current imaging technology, the Digital Cave displayed in Echoes of the Past virtually reconstructs the damaged South Cave. This immersive experience allows viewers to visit the site and see removed sculptures restored within the cave's original setting.

The configuration and scale of the three screens of this installation piece, created by contemporary artist Jason Salavon, were inspired by the South Cave's cubical space framed by three altars. Black-and-white photographs show its damaged state in the 1920s. These are complemented by highly accurate 3-D models, created by the Xiangtangshan research team of the University of Chicago as part of its multiyear effort to photograph and scan removed sculptures and the cave's interior. The results made it possible to match missing pieces to their original locations.

The Digital Cave was produced and directed by Jason Salavon, with assistance from Travis Saul, 3-D graphics and animation; Michelle Graves, editing; Larry Smallwood, ESAM, LLC, installation production; and Alexander Dunn and Mark Beasley, technical assistance. Video by Hutomo Wicaksono.


The Freer|Sackler is currently closed for renovations, updates, and gallery reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Please join us for our weekend-long reopening celebration on October 14 and 15, 2017.