Polytechnic University Professor Carl Skelton Brings Tibetan Book of the Dead to Life through Innovative VJ Mix of Video and Graphics at Asia Society

Professor Carl Skelton, director of Polytechnic University’s Integrated Digital Media Institute, gives new meaning to “raising the dead” with his department’s innovative real-time-rendering of 3D graphics on multiple screens for the unique “The Tibetan Book of the Dead: LIVE” work-in-progress performance to be presented tomorrow evening, Friday September 7 and Saturday, September 8 (8:00-9:00pm, ET, each night) at the Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY.

 “The Tibetan Book of the Dead is highly descriptive text of the teaching of the great 8th- century Buddhist master Padmasabhava,” says Professor Skelton. “The text describes the intricate structure of the ego and the mind and is traditionally read aloud to a dying person.  Many artists have attempted to portray these complex and vivid visions and dream states of dying in thangka paintings. 

“In this project, the complex models were sculpted from simple polygons such as cubes and spheres,” he explains. “Details added to the models were done with textures and normal maps, the methods used in 3D graphics of today’s videogames.

“These 3D models produced during Polytechnic’s 2007 summer research program are to be rendered in real time with elaborate lighting effects and animation.  It is a unique way of presenting an ancient esoteric text to a modern audience, and is intended to demystify death while offering new insights into life.”

The audience will witness the creative process in action at the workshop production which also includes spoken text and music. Other artists participating in the project include composer Philip Glass, director Peter Goldfarb, production designer Kenneth Green, writer Douglas Penick, and Tibetan thangka painter Romio Shresthra. Skelton, who is directing the digital imagery, will be assisted by Polytechnic students Lan Xu and Karlen Tam, who were part of Polytechnic University’s first undergraduate summer research program during which 75 students were involved in 10-week research projects that began last June.

Polytechnic University, the nation’s second oldest private engineering university was funded in 1854 in Brooklyn, NY.  Today it is the New York metro area’s preeminent resource in science, engineering and technology education and research. 

For tickets, contact: 212-517-ASIA or visit: www.asiasociety.org

Professor Carl Skelton, Director of Polytechnic University’s Integrated Digital Media Institute, is seen here with students Lan Xu (center) and Karlen Tam.  They are creating imagery for the Tibetan Book of the Dead LIVE theatrical work-in-progress presentation to be presented at the Asia Society, this month.