Panel: Cross Cultural Art and Embodiment

Yu Zhi, Hand Scroll and the Seeing: An Embodied analysis of Chinese traditional Painting – telepresentation

Hand Scroll (手卷、长卷、卷轴、横卷、横轴) is a genre and the classical mood of existence of Chinese traditional painting. It can be only appreciated while a person deploys it to several viewers, rather than to be suspended or hanged in a public space such as a museum or gallery. In comparison with Western oil painting, Hand scroll has many embodied characteristics:“Embodied presence”, “Roll of hand and extension of body”, “mobile viewing and point of view” and “private space and communication of body”. We can find these embodied elements in some celebrated hand scrolls, for instance Thousands Miles of Rivers and Mounts (《千里江山图》) by Wang Ximeng (王希孟), Along the River During the Qingming Festival (《清明上河图》) by Zhang Zeduan (张择端) and Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (《富春山居图》) by Huang Gongwang (黄公望).

“Duan Siying, From “Harmony” to “Tension”: the reconstruction of “body” in Chinese New Ink Art

With the heated debates on whether Chinese painting should keep it’s brush and ink tradition at the end of 20 centuries, a series of New Ink Art works declared their existence in a series of exhibition named “An Experiment in Tension: An Exhibition of Expressive Ink Painting” (1994) and “Tension and Expression: An Exhibition of Ink-Wash Painting” (1995). In contrast to the pursuit of a harmonic world in traditional Chinese painting which involve the freely “walking, seeing, playing, and living” (Guo Xi) of both artist and viewer, the New Ink Art works push this four-dimensional world to an extreme moment of power, speed and tension by borrowing the western painting techniques of pouring, breaking, collage or modern technology of light and electricity.

Instead of keep focusing on the political background and identity arguments of the issue of Chinese New Ink Art, this paper tries to investigate the profound shift in mode of time-space perception as well as the idea of “body-cosmos” relationship during the radical modernisation period in China which fully embodied in the transformation of Chinese Ink Art.

After carefully revisit some conventional painting principle under the Confucian and the Taoist contexts compared with Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics, several New Ink Art works including Xu bing, Qiu anxiong, Yang yongliang would be examined as a reflection of the lost of “Yi Jing/poetic world” and an expression of anxious bodily experience in a globalised urban world.

“Yuedi Liu, Somaesthetics, body and Chinese Art Tradition – telepresentation

As we all know, The body action plays an important role in Chinese traditional art, especially in Chinese Ink Art. In the perspective of Chinese Aesthetics, painting is not just a kind of production from artist’s creation. and Chinese regarded it as a art of living. Today, there a main stream in Chinese aesthetics: Aesthetics of Everyday Life, and the new aesthetics present another mode of Embodiment. In west, “somaesthetics” as a new branch of aesthetics is focus on the relationship between body and aesthetics. Actually, in China, somaesthetics is belong to a Chinese Aesthetics of Everyday Life, and it interpret how body acts in Chines art. The importance of the creative process was highlighted as early as Chinese classical culture. In calligraphy and painting, in the process from “bamboo in the hand” to “bamboo under a brushstroke”, the artist must be left in an unrestrained state of great ease. When writing a small character, the artist moves his wrist, while to write a big character, he moves the elbow, “lifting his elbow, with qi of the whole body going from shoulder through arm and wrist to the fingers. When qi finally reaches the tip of the brush, the power of the whole body penetrates through the surface of the paper to the back.” Meanwhile, the “bamboo in the mind” has been reproduced in the “bamboo in the hand”, with the strokes of the brush swaying to the free flow of the mind. This is not only an externalization, but also a psychosomatic merge. Furthermore, calligraphy is a pan-art process, which not only focuses on the finished works, but also the process of writing. Of course, the highest value of miao shu (wonderful writing) lies in the rhythm of life being presented.

Chae Yoo and Michael Fuller responding.