Buddhas in 3-D

Published 1:23 AM ET, Tue January 15, 2013
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Viewers look at a digital representation of a 1,500 year old Buddhist grotto. ©ALiVE, CityU and Dunhuang Academy
The cave re-creation was developed by ALiVE -- the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment at City University of Hong Kong.
It uses pioneering virtual reality technology to bring the cave to life. ©ALiVE, CityU and Dunhuang Academy
A magnifying glass allows you to explore the virtual environment, which depicts seven figures known as medicine Buddhas. ©ALiVE, CityU and Dunhuang Academy
Details like faded incense burners, lutes and harps were drawn by hand with traditional brushes before being scanned and modeled in 3-D. ©ALiVE, CityU and Dunhuang Academy
The cave featured in the prototype is part of a larger complex located in the Chinese city of Dunhuang, once a Silk Road oasis and now a Unesco world heritage site. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
The cave frescoes were created as eternal tributes to Buddha but are today fading away because of age and tourism pressures. AFP/Getty Images
The grotto depicted by the team at City University is already closed to tourists and only 70 of the 492 decorated caves are open to the public. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
A 50-strong team is documenting the heritage site through extensive high-resolution photography and 3-D laser scanning. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images