"Art and Text Collisions in Contemporary Chinese Art"
Art and Text Collisions in Contemporary Chinese Art is a transdisciplinary practice-led mode of research. The aim of the research is to explore Contemporary Chinese Text Art which uses Chinese text as an artform that expresses artists’ thoughts and concerns about contemporaneity. Although Chinese Contemporary Art has flourished nationally and globally since the 1980s, there has not been an identifiable textualization process comparable to the textualization of art (the linguistic turn) in Western art since the 1960s. As the first significant mediating practice, the textualization of art carries important spatial meaning in the history of Western Art, while in modern China Text Art has had scarce visibility and, as such, has hitherto not been studied at length.
Through three transnational curatorial projects and my own reflective art practices, the research constructed continuous space of exploration and reflection. There are three general research analytical themes in this thesis – (1) Contemporary Art and its contemporaneity, (2) Chinese Contemporary Art and its contemporaneity, and (3) Contemporary Text Art and its textuality. Based on the findings from these three general fields, three further fields emerged – (4) Contemporary Chinese Art and its contemporaneity, (5) Periodization of Chinese Contemporary Art, and (6) Contemporary Chinese Text Art.
In order to answer these aforesaid questions, a range of methodologies were utilised in this research. As well as reflective curatorial practice and art practice, philosophical inquiries, philological inquires, contextual inquires, comparative analysis and translation were deployed to study the distinct fields.
This research contributes towards a new understanding of Contemporary Art theories, 2 creative and innovative art practices by presenting original findings. Through an original reading of Osborne, Smith and Schwab’s theories of contemporaneity, I extend their conceptualisation of contemporaneity, which sees it as an historical-universal unity. Through a series of art practices, I discovered the unique textuality of Chinese characters, explored the textuality and contemporaneity of VR Text Art, and interpreted Osborne’s theory by drawing upon Chinese philosophy.
Through contextual comparison and philosophical analysis, I clarified the distinction between Chinese Contemporary Art and Contemporary Chinese Art, which is predicated on their distinct philosophical perspectives. Moreover, I refined the distinction between Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese Modern Shu Xiang, and Contemporary Chinese Text Art, which constitute the three aspects of Shu – Six Shu, pronunciation and rhymes, and Bi Fa. Furthermore, I put forward a new interpretation of Chinese Contemporary Art and its periodization, which frames it as the artistic reflection of the result of ideological struggles in the context of the Cold War and PostCold War periods. My new understanding of the contemporaneity of Contemporary Chinese Art is grounded in an historical-contextual perspective, which connects China’s current hegemonic ideology and values with Confucianism and its conception of governing.
The findings from this research addressed lacunae in extant research on Contemporary Chinese Text Art and proffers future avenues for theoretical and practical exploration. Ontologically speaking, Contemporary Chinese Text Art is a subcategory of Chinese Art, which uses Chinese Six Shu Text as art to express artists’ thoughts on contemporaneity. Consequently, the process of this research echoes the title of this thesis – Art and Text Collisions in Contemporary Chinese Art.