The hollow in the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan, central Afghanistan, still harks back to the looming Bamiyan Buddha statues that once emerged from the cliff-face, before they were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. A Chinese couple has created 3D projection technology to holographically recreate the destroyed statues which, standing at 180 feet and 120 feet respectively, lorded over the Bamiyan valley for 1500 years.
Representing the classic style of Gandhara art, the monuments withstood the armies of Genghis Khan and the introduction of Islam to the region, as well as multiple artillery rounds by the Taliban, which eventually deferred to explosives when their firing failed to make a dent. “These idols have been the gods of infidels,” Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar reportedly declared in marking the statues for destruction. In 2005, Japanese artist Hiro Yamagata proposed a laser show system to recreate the Buddhas, but the project was never implemented.
On display for two days in June, the holograms were cast from projectors mounted on scaffolding, the work of a Chinese couple who are traveling the world to film a documentary. Moved by the legacy of the statues and their destruction, they decided to add Bamiyan to their itinerary and provide the projection as a gift from the people of China to the Afghan people.