Until the Taliban blew them up in 2001, the massive Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley had stood for more than 1,500 years. There’s something poetic about how they’ve been restored in the spectral light of a 3-D projector.

Good has a write-up of the Buddha’s 21st century restoration by a team of Chinese video projectionists. Their work perfectly mirrors the 53- and 35-meter statues that were once carved into the stone of the cliff face.

The Taliban threatened to take the statues down for months before finally using anti-tank mines and dynamite to demolish them in March 2001. Since then the cavities have stood empty with plans to rebuild the statues or something to honor their memory mired in the region’s culture wars and the practical dillema of building in rock. The projections serve as a good reminder of what could be, but as any Buddhist will tell you it’s folly to latch onto the material world. Even statues that have been around since the sixth century.