Underwater Chinatown

Underwater Chinatown

Using new digital platforms to create multi-sensory experiences, Underwater Chinatown is a creative exploration of the question of ‘Chinatown’ with artists and community: where it is, what it is, how does it look, sound, and feel?  Can we create a bridge between newcomers, established Chinese migrants, and other alternative communities by imagining ‘Chinatown’ as a set of experiences within a metaphorical space?


For the first phase of the project, Cinevolution partnered with the Chinese Cultural Centre to present an all-ages digital storytelling workshop in Vancouver’s Chinatown.  Under the expert guidance of media artist Catrina Megumi Longmuir, fifteen participants worked diligently over a span of five weekends to capture their memories and impressions of Chinatown through story, voice, and sound.

Eleven unique audio stories were produced through the workshop.  Heard one after the other, they form a tapestry of life in Chinatown from childhood to adulthood, arrival to transformation.



The second iteration of Underwater Chinatown is a multimedia website exploring Cantonese Opera in Vancouver from 1895-1924.  Though small, the Chinese community at the time sustained three Cantonese Opera Houses.  Where did the actors come from?  Who were the patrons?  What was the significance of the opera for the community?

Meticulously researched and beautifully stitched together by artists Deanne Achong and Faith Moosang, the website weaves fact with fiction through archival video footage, photographs, audio recordings, newspapers and documents to create an immersive experience of a different time and place.



Underwater Chinatown is an ongoing project.

We are currently developing the next phase. Please stay tuned for more updates.

We acknowledge the financial assistance of Canada Council for the Arts, Creative BC and and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. Special thanks to UBC Learning Exchange.

This project was inspired by Yawen Wang.

Illustration by: Lynn1 Chen12