Session 1: The Urban Landscape
An Era without Memories
Joshua Jiang (Director, Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, School of Art, Birmingham University)
The talk will provide a unique perspective on the experience and appearance of cities in China – the histories they have destroyed and the heritage, memories, and futures being invented in them. It treats cities as a regime of visibility and seclusion. But most of all it offers insiders’ visual responses to the experience of fast urbanisation in the often disturbing photographic images of artists who are living through it. Unveiling the most recent development of contemporary photography in the particular context of China’s ‘revolutionary’ urban development, it will discuss artists’ visual reflections on the rapid changes, their imaginations through the surreal experiences, and, the significance of photography in the unprecedented era of social, ideological and cultural transformation.
Architectural Mockery and Traditional Chinese Crafts
Vimalin Rujivacharakul (Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of Delaware)
This paper offers a critical examination of contemporary foreign and Chinese-born architects who, during the 2000s, initiated a new architectural trend in China by incorporating translated patterns of traditional Chinese crafts into their building designs. The paper focuses on Ma Qingyun, Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, who played a major role in disseminating the idea of incorporating translated Chinese crafts' patterns to international star architects, among whom were Rem Koolhaas and Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron, designers of the CCTV Headquarters and the Beijing Olympic Stadium, respectively. The key questions I ask in this paper are, what are the criteria that distinguish traditional crafts from the non-traditional ones and whether their use on contemporary architecture really allow the revitalization of Chinese traditions in a contemporary setting? This paper, based on interviews over six years with Ma Qingyun, traces his life and career from Shaanxi and Tsingua University to the USA and back again to China, in order to unfold layers of international design politics in relation to the emergence of new China and post-millennium Chinese architecture.