Short List
CategoryG05. Cultural Insight
Idea Creation GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE Beijing, CHINA
Production MEDIAMONKS Shanghai, CHINA


Name Company Position
Kay Yang Google Creative Director
Julia (Wenli) Zhu Google Director
Quentin de La Martinière MediaMonks Experiential Lead / Creative Technologist
Ron Lee MediaMonks Technical Director
Dennis de Rooij MediaMonks Project Manager
Bob Best MediaMonks Project Manager
Anouk Urban MediaMonks Animation Producer
Tianwei Wang MediaMonks Producer
Max Dorsman MediaMonks Sound Producer
Jakko van Hunen MediaMonks Developer
Johan Holwerda MediaMonks Developer
Laurens De Gier MediaMonks Developer
Ramzi Chaabane MediaMonks Head of Business
Robert den Hertog MediaMonks Head of Games
Roberto Nunez MediaMonks Developer
Mariano Larronde MediaMonks Developer
Ivaylo Dimitrov MediaMonks Developer

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

For Google Developer Days 2019 in Shanghai, Google’s biggest conference event of the year, Google Arts & Culture wanted to create a branded experience that would showcase their latest image recognition advancements with TensorFlow in an entertaining and interactive way. Living Jiagu was placed at the center of the event, ensuring every single attendee would see it. It was a great way for Google to show a practical demonstration of their product rather than just talking about TensorFlow’s features. By getting people to draw ancient characters, we piqued their interest and created an emotional bond between culture and technology.


Google has developed an incredible machine-learning platform, TensorFlow, but its applications are so broad that it’s difficult for Google to communicate its potential uses to potential customers. How can we make a wider audience understand the potential of TensorFlow through a medium that would resonate? In terms of objectives, we aimed to create a memorable interactive experience that would raise awareness around TensorFlow and both its creative and practical capabilities. As the centerpiece of Google’s biggest conference event of the year, it had to be something culturally relevant, technologically impressive, and enjoyable to the diverse visitors of the conference.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

We showed visitors of Google Developer Days the origins of Chinese characters while showcasing the future of Google technologies. We asked people to write in the ancient oracle bone script (OBS) that is the earliest known form of Chinese writing, colloquially known as jiǎgǔwén. After visitors copied a character on a tablet, we used TensorFlow’s image-recognition capabilities to check if the input matched the original OBS character. If the attempt was recognised, we used Google’s AutoDraw API to then bring the character to life in an animation springing from the tablet to a 23m² LED wall.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

We identified Oracle Bone Script characters, or 甲骨文, as an exciting avenue to promote TensorFlow’s image recognition capabilities. Their distinct yet traceable lineature made for an ideal medium for people to draw, and a great piece of information to show off the capabilities of TensorFlow’s machine learning. We decided to create an opportunity for visitors from all different backgrounds to learn to draw these ancient characters and understand the characters’ origins by animating them and creating stories around them. Through play and interactions, people gained a better understanding of the origins of the language.

Describe the execution (30% of vote)

Placed at the center of the event, the installation consisted of two large drawing tablets and a large 10m wide centre screen. Visitors would queue in front of each drawing tablet. Upon reaching the tablet, they would be asked to draw an Oracle Bone Script (OBS) character representing either an animal or a human character. Once drawn, TensorFlow would check if the OBS character was recognizable. If it was, the animal or human character would animate and transition from the drawing tablet to the centre screen, where it would live in a virtual world surrounded by the other characters that the visitors were drawing.

List the results (30% of vote)

The experience was premiered at the 2019 Google Developers Day event in Shanghai. It ran for the entire two-day event which had over 4,000 attendees.

Please tell us about the cultural insight that inspired the work

Oracle Bone Script is the earliest known form of Chinese writing that evolved over millennia to become what are today's modern Chinese characters. However, most young people are not familiar with OBS anymore. By promoting Chinese traditional culture through an innovative Google technology, we created an opportunity for people to engage deeper with their ancient culture.