Type d'événement, date(s) et adresse(s)Colloque
Multiculturality and Materiality in Arts and Aesthetics
Colloque international de l'International Project on Arts and Aesthetics (IPAA)
Le colloque international Multiculturality and Materiality in Arts and Aesthetics de l'International Project on Arts and Aesthetics (IPAA) aura lieu à Paris, les 28 et 29 juin 2023. La langue du colloque est l’anglais.
Cet événement est labellisé 40 ans du CRAL.
Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage - CRAL (EHESS/CNRS), Academia Sinica, Taipei ; University of Toronto, Canada ; National Taipei University of Education, Taipei
- Yolaine Escande
Participantes et participants
Esteban Buch, Chen Guan-Jhang, Cheng Fan-Ting, Yolaine Escande, Fan Mengying, Gong Jow Jiun, Huang Ching-Ying, Huang Kuan-Min, Antoinette Kuijlaars, Lee Yulin, Lin Chi-Ming, Johanna Liu, Lu Yue, Pang Yidan, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, Shen Yuhua, Weng Ruoyang, Yang Chien-chang.
The topic of the conference corresponds to the closing of a research project conducted by IPAA (International Project on Art and Aesthetics) entitled "Multiculturality in Art and Aesthetics, Case Studies" that began in 2018 and was scheduled to end in 2022. The closing conference has been postponed to 2023, together with the end of the program, due to the pandemic.
Multiculturality, as a new concept in contemporary art and aesthetic research, follows the established concepts of internationalism, transnationality, multiculturalism, hybridity and interculturality, but seeks to clearly distance itself from them. Thus, the concept of multiculturality aims to highlight the various forms and manifestations of cultural pluralism that we all share in the contemporary context of globalization. The question of multiculturality in contemporary art and aesthetics differs fundamentally from Charles Taylor's vision of multiculturalism as a political support of identity. In the work of an artist or in a work of art, the aesthetic meaning of multiculturality is a quest to overcome the limits of the monoculture presented by established civilizations in favor of the possibilities of cultural pluralism through artistic creation. Thus, multiculturality is distinct from questions of identity or cultural nationalism, and focuses on the scope of artistic experience. In this perspective, the reflection could pay attention on themes such as "Multiculturality, materiality, art and power" or "Multiculturality, materiality and contemporary art".
Moreover, in contemporary aesthetics, among the many artistic practices that address multiculturality, the aesthetic question of materiality is considered paramount. It concerns particularly the interest of anthropology for the material culture. This perspective differs from the materialist perspective of modern materialism. The significance of the materiality of a work of art is not only the materiality of the work's form. The materiality of the object is not a fixed property of matter, but a process and a relationship. The materiality of the object also differs from the objective object of study of modern physics. Not only do different disciplines have different understandings and interpretations of the materiality of objects, but the materiality of objects is the basis of artistic creation in different cultural regions. The materiality of objects is also a rich source of information that is silently transmitted across different cultures, revealing by default the multiculturality of objects and artists. Therefore, questions such as "Materiality, multiculturalism and the relationship to nature" or "Materiality, multiculturalism and the aesthetics of materialism" can be put forward.
Le sujet du colloque correspond à la clôture d’un programme de recherche mené par l’IPAA (International Project on Art and Aesthetics) intitulé « Multiculturalité dans l’art et l’esthétique, études de cas » qui a commencé en 2018 et devait se terminer en 2022. Le colloque de clôture a été repoussé à 2023, de même que la fin du programme, en raison de la pandémie.
La multiculturalité en tant que nouveau concept dans l’art contemporain et la recherche esthétique, s’inscrit dans la lignée des concepts établis d’internationalisme, de transnationalité, de multiculturalisme, d’hybridité et d’interculturalité, mais cherche à s’en démarquer clairement. Le concept de multiculturalité vise en effet à mettre en évidence les diverses formes et manifestations du pluralisme culturel que nous partageons tous dans le contexte contemporain de la mondialisation. La question de la multiculturalité dans l’art et l’esthétique contemporains diffère foncièrement de la vision de Charles Taylor du multiculturalisme en tant que support politique de l’identité. Dans le travail d’un artiste ou dans une œuvre d’art, la signification esthétique de la multiculturalité est une quête du dépassement des limites de la monoculture présentée par les civilisations établies au profit des possibilités du pluralisme culturel à travers la création artistique. Ainsi, la multiculturalité se distingue-t-elle des questions d’identité ou de nationalisme culturel, et se concentre-t-elle sur la portée de l’expérience artistique. Dans cette optique, la réflexion pourrait porter sur des thématiques telles que "Multiculturalité, matérialité, art et pouvoir" ou "Multiculturalité, matérialité et art contemporain".
En outre, dans l’esthétique contemporaine, parmi les nombreuses pratiques artistiques qui abordent la multiculturalité, la question esthétique de la matérialité est considérée comme primordiale. Il s’agit en particulier de l’intérêt de l’anthropologie pour la culture matérielle. Cette optique diffère de la perspective matérialiste du matérialisme moderne. La signification de la matérialité d’une œuvre d’art n’est pas seulement la matérialité de la forme de l’œuvre. La matérialité de l’objet n’est pas une propriété fixe de la matière, mais un processus et une relation. La matérialité de l’objet diffère également de l’objet d’étude objectif de la physique moderne. Non seulement les différentes disciplines ont des compréhensions et des interprétations différentes de la matérialité des objets, mais la matérialité des objets est la base de la création artistique dans différentes régions culturelles. La matérialité des objets est également une riche source d’informations transmises silencieusement à travers différentes cultures, révélant en creux la multiculturalité des objets et des artistes. Aussi des questions telles que "Matérialité, multiculturalité et relation à la nature" ou "Matérialité, multiculturalité et esthétique du matérialisme" peuvent-elles être mises en avant.
International Project on Arts and Aesthetics (IPAA) International Conference - 28-29 June 2023 - “Multiculturality and Materiality in Art and Aesthetics”. Venue: Maison Suger, Paris
Wednesday 28 June 2023
- 9:30 : welcome of the participants
- 9:45 : introduction by Yolaine Escande and HUANG Kuan-Min
Session 1 : Multiculturality, Materiality, Art and Power
- chair : Yolaine Escande (CNRS-EHESS)
- 10:00-10:30 : LIN Chi-Ming (National Taipei University of Education), “When is Anthropocene and The notion of the Anthropocene in Some Curatorial Perspectives in Taiwan”
- 10:30-11:00: WENG Ruoyang (University of Toronto): Materiality and Poetic thinking: Reinventing the Epigraphy (Jinshi) in Qing China"
- 11:00-11:30 : Jean-Marie Schaeffer (CNRS-EHESS), “Lost in translation : contemporary visual culture and the demise of the materiality of the artwork”
- 11:30-12:00 : discussion
- 12:00-14:00 : lunch break
Session 2: Materiality, Multiculturality, and the Relationship to Nature
- chair : Johanna Liu (University of Toronto)
- 14:00-14:30 : HUANG Kuan-Min (Academia Sinica), “Living with vegetal fantasy: inspiration from Ni Zan’s work”
- 14:30-15:00 : SHEN Yuhua (National Taipei University of Education), “Peony as a thing: the perspective of Ouyang Xiu”
- 15:00-15:30 : GONG Jow Jiun (National Tainan University of the Arts) : “The Dynamics of Meshwork: Reflections on the Group Curatorial Works in 2022 Mattauw Triennial”
- 15:30-16:00 : discussion
- 16:00-16:30 : break
- chair : HUANG Kuan-Min (Academia Sinica)
- 16:30-17:00 : Johanna Liu (University of Toronto) : "Affordance of Things and the Nurturing of Life: Materiality Thinking in Early Modern China”
- 17:00-17:30 : PANG Yidan (EHESS), “Materiality, Experience and Relations : Reimagining Space in Alternative Structures”
- 17:30-18:00 : CHEN Guan-Jhang (National Tainan University of the Arts) : “The Soil Narrator－A Case Study of the Soil Project of the 2022 Mattauw Triennial”
- 18:00-18:30 : discussion
Thursday 29 June 2023
Session 3: Multiculturality, Materiality, and Contemporary Art
- chair : YANG Chien-chang (Taiwan National University)
- 9:30-10:00 : Esteban Buch (EHESS), “Powers of Music, Powers of Sound”
- 10:00-10:30 : FAN Mengying (University of Toronto) : “Plants, Fudo, and Art of Saiho-ji Temple Garden in Kyoto, Japan: Making of Zen”
- 10:30-11:00: discussion
- 11:00-11:15 : break
- chair : LIN Chi-Ming (National Taipei University of Education)
- 11:15-12:15 : YANG Chien-chang (National Taiwan University) "Materiality and mediation in music: Rethinking musical work and its technologies"
- 12:15-12:45 : Antoinette Kuijlaars (EHESS), " Carnivalizing Multiculturality: From “Commercial” to “Cultural” Parades in Rio de Janeiro’s Samba Schools Carnival”
- 12:45-13:00 : discussion
- 13:00-14:00 : lunch break
Session 4: Materiality, Multiculturality, and Aesthetics of Materialism
- chair : Huang Kuan-Min (Academia Sinica)
- 14:00-14:30 : CHENG Fan-Ting (National Taiwan University), "The New-materialist Turn of Contemporary Object Theater. Against Again Troupe’s Drift Error as Example" (remote presentation)
- 14:30-15:00 : HUANG ChingYing (National Tainan University of the Arts) : “Campfires, Tents, and Multicultural Communities: Open Circle Tribes and its Materiality Dialogues”.
- 15:00-15:30 : discussion
- 15:30-16:00 : break
- chair : Yolaine Escande (CNRS-EHESS)
- 16:00-16:30 : LEE Yu-lin (Academia Sinica): “Language as a Form of Multiculturality: On Li Kotomi’s Novels”
- 16:30-17:00 : Lu Yue呂樾 (National Taiwan University), “The Anthropocene Perspective in Across the Mountain: War, Empire, and Image of Taiwan’s Forest “
- 17:00-18:00 : discussion and conclusion of the conference
- CHEN Guan-jhang (PhD student, Tainan National University of the Arts), “The Soil Narrator－A Case Study of the Soil Project of the 2022 Mattauw Triennial”
The 2022 Mattauw Triennial takes the Zengwen River Basin as the starting point of the exhibition. In the early stage of research and investigation, the curatorial team invited archaeologists to lead the team and artists to explore the archaeological sites of the Siraya and Tsou ethnic groups along the Zengwen River. It is discussed that different ethnic groups in the watershed need to collect clay in different environments for pottery making, and have developed their own understanding and description of clay. Ceramic artists mentioned that contemporary pottery artists mostly use imported clay produced by foreign factories, which leads to their disengagement from the environment, place, and soil. Therefore, as one of the projects of the 2022 Mattauw Triennial, the Soil Project, was carried out on the aforementioned archaeological sites on the bank of Zengwen River to collect soil for pottery making. With the guidance of hunters, boars, and elders, we have shaped our understanding of the materiality of soil from a multicultural perspective. The Soil Project, therefore, serves as a contemporary artistic practice of pottery making, and allows the reconnection between people and soil, people and the environment and people and non-human species.
As a research topic, "soil" is highly related to agriculture. Soil research in Taiwan began with the Department of Agriculture and the Experimental Agriculture Station in the Japanese ruling period when soil was mainly associated with management and utilization out of the concern of agriculture and crop production.
In 2020, soil emerged as an interesting topic as I assumed part of the curation of the 2022 Mattauw Triennial whose affiliated multidisciplinary investigations launched by artists, archaeologists and hunters of the Tsou indigenous community revealed that various species treat soil as a critical zone. During the preparation of the Triennial, I asked Mo'e Yasiyungu, a Tsou hunter, how to find clay, and he replied, "Ask the wild boars," which made me realize the entanglement between soil, hunters, and animals. In contrast, the city sees soil as an invisible subsurface foundation that supports modern cities, while at the same time it sees visible soil as dirt. I consider whether it is possible to make the seemingly inert soil a "living soil" by engaging in practices across borders, so I adjust the "order" of soil in the scientific classification to the "kingdom" of the biological classification, and thus begin my discussion. Such adjustment reflects on the title of this paper, “The Soil Kingdom” which suggests that the non-human and material soil is viewed as a dynamic living creature and actor with agency.
As a curator-researcher, I would like to shift my focus from the conceptual "land" to the porous "soil" where multispecies assemblage takes place. Although there are many scientific ways to describe the soil, most of them are based on scientific or agricultural visualization (scientific data charts). When discussing the concept of "Soil Time", anthropologist Yen-Lin Tsai mentions a shift away from the visuality-oriented epistemology to the auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory senses to describe the world, and the temporal patterns of these perceptual structures are very different from the directness of vision. On the other hand, Hugh Raffles (2015) asks how culture should be written if the object is neither human nor animal nor "multispecies" nor amenable to flattening into a network or assemblage and yet is entirely inseparable from life itself. Further, I ask myself, “if soil is regarded as the object that carries culture, how should I write about it?” In this paper, therefore, I will first focus on the experiences of two Tsou hunters who have interacted with animals and plants in the mountains and forests for years. Second, I will discuss the relationship between culture and the porosity of soil. Most importantly, I will situate people into the soil framework and disconnect from the epistemology of visuality to reconstruct a world where people, living things, and non-human species coexist.
Keywords: 2022 Mattauw Triennial、multi-species, soil writing, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)
- CHENG Fan-Ting (Associate Professor, National Taiwan University) : “The New-materialist Turn of Contemporary Object Theater: Against Again Troupe’s Drift Error as Example”
Tracing back to the history of theater studies, we find a journey that has experienced several directional changes in this century. After the waves of new criticism burgeoned during the 20-30S, theater studies turned away from the traditional view that privileged playwright and started to focus on the structure, symbol and language of the play text. This view continued and, along with the linguistic turn happened in the 60S, even more underscored the method of close-reading that targets at lines and stage instructions of script. Ever since Roland Barthes proposed his famous notion of The Author is dead, script, along with the historical context and reception scenario of it, have become materials for deconstruction. Post-structuralism rendered script no more the end of interpretation but the starting point of signifying differentiation.
However, at this point, theater studies still mostly gazed at script that contains linguistic text or narration; the definition of drama supposedly associated with the text on which performance relies. It was not until Richard Schechner and Victor Turner proposed the discipline of Performance Studies—which sees human behaviors and activities as performative gestures from anthropological view—that the established framework of theater studies has been knocked down. Nevertheless, the normative theater studies have always paid most attention on people, including all participants that surround the theater production. The limited analysis of staging, lights, costumes, and sound usually serves as supplementary discussion.
This human-centered theater paradigm has changed in the recent years. Firstly, the rapid developments of digital technology, along with the growth of discourses of media, AI, cyborg, and even metaverse, have mobilized the genre of digital performance, in which lived body is no more the sole theme on stage. Instead of any complete integrity, the idea of human becomes fragmented, coded, and invisible. Furthermore, the globally-sweeping neoliberalism, capitalism, and shadow wars, along with the precarities brought by these political and economic apparatus, has stimulated reflexive criticism against the anthropocene philosophy that considers happiness from the lens of human benefits. In this sense, in theater on stage, human/person/ character does not work as the only carrier of resistance and agency any more.
Against this background, in November 2021, Against Again Troupe premiered the theater production Drift Error, not only extending the troupe’s transdisciplinary methodology launched from 2002 but also suggesting a contemporary critique of materiality and object that works against human centrism. Drift Error presents no linear narrative. The performance contains a small live concert, an awards ceremony, an outdoor drag dance, a piece on artificial grass, a piece on rugs and fabrics, a rakuyo performance, a piece with garbage, a short speech on interpersonal relationship, an allegory about pursuing goal, and the final piece of farce talk show.
The term “drift error” originally means deviations in the performance of the measuring instrument that occur after calibration due to humidity or temperature influences. Designed and produced for specific purpose, measuring instrument fails when it shows inevitable deviations. Yet, deviation here may surprisingly signify a force of creating that transcends the established system. In Drift Error, all the objects on stage that lack of logocentrist imperative in fact respond to what Sara Ahmed narrates as the queer use. Ahmed focuses on the inheriting and rebelling dynamics between body and object, proposing a queer phenomenology that troubles any founded, fixed orientations and emphasizing the potential of misuse that argues against the utilitarianism that has been prevailing since the 19th century.
This utilitarianism privileges the concept of use, leading to the unequal and oppressive social scenarios. Ahmed hence asserts for an inclusive and flexible queer thought that welcomes creative rebellion and mistake. In theater, where I consider as a hyper-place that underscores conscious connection between people, object, and space, the performing body, stage props and event on stage differ from the body, daily object, and activity in ordinary reality. In this light, by presenting multiple novel relationships among characters, props, and spaces, Drift Error critically unveils the contemporary human habitus strafted by neoliberalism and pandemic as well as its counterpart creative resistance.
- FAN Meng Ying (PhD student, East Asian Studies, University of Toronto), “Plants, Fudo, and Art of Saiho-ji Temple Garden in Kyoto, Japan: Making of Zen”
Gardens in Japanese Zen temples, as a form of art, have been praised as enigmatic spaces that express the truths of Zen. Staying/lingering in a Zen garden, where fudo constructs its space inhabited by various plants, leads to a meditative ambiance that facilitates contemplation and introspection, which are central to Zen cultivation. In taking the garden at Saiho-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, this paper seeks to investigate how the material and cross-cultural elements of fudo in relation to plants and design embody the mystery of Zen garden through the aesthetic qualities of wabi-sabi, tranquillity, and mono-no-aware. Instead of examining Zen and art through a spiritual lens like Okakura Tenshin, D. T. Suzuki, and Hisamatsu Shinichi did, my approach is to reconsider the topic from a material culture perspective using Watsuji Tetsuro’s notion of fudo as guidance. The concept of fudo, translated as milieu, refers to the environment, the physical spaces, and social/cultural factors that shape human behaviour and consciousness. Fudo, as concretely experienced by humans, structures the way individuals perceive and interact with their surroundings, influencing their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The first part of my essay delves into how fudo at Saiho-ji temple acts as an aesthetic intermediary between Zen and humans. Specifically, I examine how the fudo possesses the ability to bring individuals into a sensory and aesthetic moment that guides them towards a meditative state of mind and experiencing Zen as a way of being. In other words, how does the materiality of fudo produce space as Zen? Moreover, I will investigate the cross-cultural elements of fudo in the garden, as Zen garden art developed over centuries with the influence of various cultural traditions and historical contexts, including Chinese garden design principles, indigenous Japanese aesthetics like mono-no-aware, East Asian landscape theory, Japanese tea ceremony aesthetics, and Zen/Chan philosophy.
My second focus regarding the relationship between fudo and Zen lies in the perspective of plants and human interactions. More concretely, what is the role of plants and design in forming the fudo that manifests Zen? The Saiho-ji temple boasts an abundance of plants, including mosses, bamboo, maples, and cherry trees. Together they create a powerful presence in shaping the Zen meditative atmosphere and aesthetic qualities within the temple’s grounds. Regarding plants as proactive entities (that is, communicative, sentient, and world-shaping rather than representative and utilitarian agents), I will explore how the materiality of plants and the making of humans - design, cultivation and maintenance - achieve a correspondence to make fudo that invokes a meditative state of Zen.
Finally, I explore the dynamic and adaptable nature of fudo, plants, and the aesthetics of Zen, which continues to evolve and respond to changing environmental conditions and the development of multicultural Zen. Saiho-ji Temple is translated as the “Temple of the Perfumes of the West” but is commonly known as Koke-dera, literally “Moss Temple.” Yet the garden, initially designed by Muso Soseki (1275-1351) in the fourteenth century, had little mosses. Instead, it featured a heart pond wrapped in a circuitous path and a prototype of a dry landscape garden with rock cascades and sand to suggest monumental landforms. Abundant mosses started appearing in the nineteenth century due to repeated floods that submerged the deserted garden. My objective is to explore the evolving fudo due to garden reconstruction during the twentieth century and investigate how contemporary plants, particularly mosses, can significantly enhance or transform Zen’s presence and aesthetic.
- GONG Jow Jiun (Professor, Tainan National University of the Arts) : “The Dynamics of Meshwork: Reflection On the Group Curatorial Works in 2022 Mattauw Triennial”
This paper will aim at clarifying the concept and dynamics of “meshwork” through my group curatorial works experiences in 2022 Mattauw Triennial, One Thousand Names of A River. During the preparatory works on this Triennial, which happened in Tainan city in Taiwan, we have 13 curators working together through three years in different topics. As the chief curator of the Triennial, I have organized an online series lecture of the anthropologist Tim Ingold in March 2022. Focused on his book “Making,” we found the concept “meshwork” as a possible way for describing the complicated and overlapping process of our group curatorial working experiences. In light of art theory and practice in Anthropocene, I propose the “meshwork” as a multicultural descriptive model for group curatorial dynamics. In this paper, “meshwork” will be placed in the new perspective of multiculturality of arts and aesthetics in the context of Anthropocene.
As a Chinese translator of late Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical works, I am always hesitated and confused to translate the concept like “empiétement,” “entrelac” and “la chair” into Chinese. But in the interpretative methodology of Tim Ingold’s book “Making,” he uses anthropological writing as a multicultural filtering lens to translate Merleau-Ponty’s ontological concepts. “Meshwork” is one example. Focused on this translation problematics from French to English, from philosophy to anthropology and from European culture to Asian culture, we find the global ecological crisis prevailing in contemporary Anthropocene situation could be a common passage for the mutual understanding among multispecies and intercultural beings.
As an art and advocative festival, 2022 Mattauw Triennial initiates its artistic and sustainable caring about the riverbed community of Zeng-Wen River in southern Taiwan. The Zeng-Wen River, 138 km in length from 2600 meters altitude high mountain areas to the sea of Taiwan Strait, runs through two indigenous traditional living areas, thousands of living beings like plants and wild animals, hybrid cultural production modes of hunting, gathering, agriculture and industrial factories. There are three reasons for considering the meshwork model of curatorial group works.
In perspective of critical Anthropocene, the curatorial study works of Zeng-Wen River firstly have to pave a new way of methodology in face of different disciplines like geology, biology, botany, zoology, ethnography, architecture, anthropology, archaeology, hydraulics, agriculture, indigenous studies, art and ecology et cetera. Among these different disciplines, how the curatorial group inviting and cooperating with diverse specialists from the domains of nine topics become an important issue of team work. Secondly, how the spatio-temporal scales in Anthropocene are so changed as to make us confronting with so-called “modern art” aesthetics regime and criteria through changing viewpoint about the role of “art” in contemporary society. This spatio-temporal scale changing could even make us rereading the hidden multicultural meanings of artworks in modern art history like Spiral Jetty(1970) of Robert Smithson. In this respect, Anthropocene is not only a geological event, but also an aesthetic event. It has changed our sensorial experiences and perception “in a damaged world,” in anthropologist Anna Tsing’s words. In this way, the dynamics of meshwork, not only network, would be the new model of self-organizational works during the curatorial group’s crisscrossing sharing experiences. Finally, meshwork is a working model in negotiation with the space politics and territory debates nowadays prevailing in capitalist society, gentrification and land commodification. Among the different tribes, there were longlist of cross-cultural and spatial-political conflicts during the Han people’s reclamation in Ching Dynasty and Japanese colonization in modern era. This paper would open the political issue according to a meshwork model of space politics that includes intertwining and ,overlapping of territories among heterogenous species and human beings.
- HUANG Ching-Ying (Curator, Ph.D. Candidate, Doctoral Program of Art Creation and Theory,Tainan National University of the Arts, Taiwan), “Campfires, Tents, and Multicultural Communities: Open Circle Tribe and Its Materiality Dialogues”
In 2002, more than ten Taiwanese indigenous and non-indigenous young people gathered together at Jinzun Beach on Taiwan’s east coast. They stayed there for three months. During that time, they led a communal life and created artistic works together. They call themselves “Open Circle Tribe”. Without electricity and running water, the members had to look for driftwood or floating marine debris brought onto the beach by the sea (the Pacific Ocean). In a new perspective of materiality, they abandon the customed way of building and use those recycling materials to build their own temporary huts as well as a public co-living space. When they were not at work, they discussed and exchanged their creative ideas and learned different techniques in everyday life from each other. This paper will focus on the artistic action of cross-cultural co-living tribe on a Pacific coastal beach to reflect on the issue of materiality and multiculturality in contemporary art field and bio-politics in Taiwan.
The members of Jinzun Beach Art Action came from very different ethnic groups so as to they had to confront with the problematic of multiculturality in the so-called “Open Circle Tribe.” Living between the beach and the mountains, their recycling shelter places gradually emerged and became a multicultural space where they not only lived their life, but also created some crafts similar to site-specific installations or art-objects. As time went on, the Tribe became more or less self-governing. Thereafter, critics believe that “events” arranged by the Tribe played an important role in both Taiwanese Art and Contemporary Indigenous Art in Taiwan. It’s because the Tribe of multiculturality with high hybrid members. This artistic group led a multicultural life and its members cooperated in a decentralized way. Both their collective action (a totally coincidental process of varied experiences) and their environmental writing (of the life at the beach and under other natural conditions) challenged the original concept of Taiwan’s Contemporary Indigenous art, Performance art, and Off-site art. And at the same time, we believe that it is necessary to bring out the topics of materiality and multiculturality under Anthropocene crisis.
After 2002, along with gradually maturing indigenous art spaces, most members became professional artists. Some have stayed in the eastern coast of Taiwan and lived in areas near Dulan village . They set up individual studios, continued to create, and constructed a “sharing space”. However, after 2002, due to the economic transformation and growing cultural tourism, the local governments carried out several projects of tourist park in the BOT framework. Being at risk of continual privatization of their sharing space, the members used artistic action and advocacy to actively organize and support many social movements and protests in the eastern coast of Taiwan.
In the year of 2022, twenty years later, some old members as well as new participating artists decided to return to the beach. Since February 28th 2022 (events often held in March, April, and May in 2022), under changed environmental conditions and extreme climate threaten, the old and the new members followed the traces of materiality left twenty years ago and reconstructed a sharing space again as an art action of revisiting, regathering on Jinzun Beach. As a participant in the 2022 Jinzun Beach Movement hosted by the multicultural Tribe, in this paper, the author attempts to shed some light on the context of the multicultural art action and how this temporary community established its on-site relation with the materiality in the open space of the beach, and how this revisit action retold a tale of the beach’s multispecies dialogues in the current Great-Acceleration materiality under the emerging danger of Anthropocene conditions.
- HUANG Kuan-Min (Academia Sinica), “Living with vegetal fantasy: inspiration from Ni Zan’s work”
In contrast to animality, often mentioned to criticize anthropocentrism in order to reconsider the fatal Anthropocene, vegetality is an alternative approach to reexamine the human lives. Inspired by the Chinese traditional landscape painting, especially that of Ni Zan, this paper will reveal the image of tree in catching the cosmic “breath” expressed by the typic idea of vital resonance and universal becoming. Tree, as a constant image presented in landscape, is also a basis for the skill of brush painting, such as we can see in the “Book of Trees” in Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. Ni Zan, master under Mongolian dynasty, whose skills are imitated and admired, is no doubt inscribed in a transitional pivotal position leading to a new period of painting under Ming dynasty. For Ni Zan, the trees, including bamboo, in his work, are not only the material for representing the world he saw and experienced, and therefore evoke the need to manipulate their representation skillfully, but also they formulate the life style that Ni created on his own life. Ethically, trees are symbolic for the self-understanding of human life. By way of the clues of vegetal images, a new perspective could be formed. But the role that tree plays is not limited to Chinese culture, it is quasi universal, as we can see the metaphor of Life Tree in Greek mythology and Jewish mystics or the metaphor of knowledge in Descartes. Seen in a multicultural perspective, it is of interest even today to realize how the trees occupy a central position in artistic works. The aim is thus triple: aesthetically, to explain how and why Ni Zan’s work is attractive in its depiction of vegetal images; ethically, to animate the metaphorical function of tree as person in the formation of human character; metaphysically, trees are indicative to a better conception of living (together with the species other than human beings) on the planet.
- Antoinette Kuijlaars (Postdoctoral Fellow, Associate member, CRAL, EHESS): “Carnivalizing Multiculturality: From “Commercial” to “Cultural” Parades in Rio de Janeiro’s Samba Schools Carnival.”
This communication aims at studying the construction process of a new paradigm in samba schools’ parades, which purpose is the contesting of the “official history”, the rewriting of the national narrative, and the claim for class, race, and gender equality, through the valorization of Brazilian multiculturality. Samba schools in Rio de Janeiro perform every year carnivalesque parades, in the scope of competition. Each of them presents a “narrative” (enredo), displayed by a song encompassing the whole theme, and allegorical coaches determining subthemes. Between each coach, dancers, percussionists, and costume holders, refer to every point of the narrative. Visual and musical details, as well as the overall view of the parade, are thought to serve the enredo. They are classified according to their appropriateness to the theme, and their technical and artistical realization. Producing highly symbolic content, they constitute a cultural practice, both considered Afro-Brazilian, and as a symbol of national culture, transcending class and race identities. Studying it allows an understanding of the production of relationships, structures, social hierarchy, and national imaginary in Brazil. This comes within the scope of the miscegenation ideology, meant to include the Afro-descendent people into the population without changing the social structures of domination, to prevent the formation of interests of class, race, and gender and therefore, the development of protests, in a society that is still structured by a social hierarchy stemming from slavery (1500-1888). For decades, samba schools have been both actors in the (re)production of official history (invisibilizing "minorities" and spreading myths such as "racial democracy" and "smooth slavery"), and of an alternative vision of national history, contributing to reproducing the social structures and representations basing social, racial, and gender oppression and, at the same time, allowing the spread of subversive pride and social demands. This has been linked with the obligation to develop historical themes in carnivalesque parades, at the same time embraced and appropriated by samba schools. With the extinction of this obligation in 1991, which is in line with the democratization process of Brazilian society, has come a phase of "commercial" parades, financed by public and private sponsors. These “commercial” parades were dominant from the end of the 1990s to the middle of the 2010s. They staged commercial products (such as yogurt or even shoes), imaginaries about brands (rural life, sponsored by Bayer), or geographical spaces (cities, regions, states), in a depoliticized way that has been perceived as problematical (such as the exaltation of authoritarian governments). The hypothesis is the existence of a turn in the paradigm of the production of samba schools’ parades, identified in 2016 and linked to the sociopolitical context in Rio de Janeiro. It leads to the predominance of “cultural” parades over “commercial” parades, that is to the consolidation of new carnivalesque practices, from deference to challenging elites and discriminations, elaborating a new national narrative, inclusive, multicultural, and multiracial. I make the hypothesis that these new practices were triggered by contingent political context but have their source from middle-term dynamics, and constitute a paradigm. Thus, I assume that they will continue unless the evolutions of the political context. Multiculturality is thought of in these contemporaneous parades in opposition to the domination of European culture in the Brazilian cultural landscape, and the invisibilization of other forms of culture inherited by the colonization and slavery contexts. It is performed in the parades through the valorization of (un)known popular artists and heroes, religious diversity, and cultural practices, which are the product of these historical contexts. For instance, in 2023, samba schools performed parades about the first Black woman to write a book in XVIIIth century Brazil; the African heritage of Bahia State; the popular hero Lampião; the clay sculptor Mestre Vitinho; the Black, indigenous and female actors of Brazils’ independence, etc. This communication will show how this turn is performed in the actual parades, through the literary and musical analysis of synopsis and explicative books written by the conceivers, lyrics, recordings of the songs, and performance of the parades. The communication will present an ongoing ethnographical inquiry, through the realization of interviews and observations, which focus on the changes in the social composition of the new generation of parades' conceivers, carnival jurors, and composers' teams.
- LEE Yu-lin (Academia Sinica): “Language as a Form of Multiculturality: On Li Kotomi’s Novels”
This essay focuses on Taiwanese-Japanese writer Li Kotom’s work, particularly her 2021 Akutagawa Award-winning novel An Island Where Red Spider Lilies Bloom (Higanbana ga saku shima, 彼岸花が咲), attempting to illustrate how language can be recognized as a special form of muliculturality, which should not simply be regarded as reflection of multiculturalism, but rather as manifestation of cultural pluralism in the context of contemporary global environment.
Three languages are invented in this particular novel, including Japanese language, Nihongo language, and Women’s language. The three languages are derived from Japanese and thus less distinct linguistic systems than bifurcations of the same Japanese language. Not surprisingly, the three different languages are intertwined so profoundly that it becomes impossible to distinguish them from one another. Apparently, Li endeavored to experiment with a hybrid language that could exceed the boundaries of all the various languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and the Ryukyu tongues, thereby demonstrating the process of linguistic creolization.
It is worth mentioning that Li is also a translator who translated her own Japanese works into Chinese. However, Li’s efforts to translate her own works do not attempt to ensure the complete transmission of “authentic” meanings in the process of translation; to the contrary, through translation, Li is enthusiastic about exposing the intertwined relationship between these languages and the complex entanglement of their cultures and histories. Being a translator, Li often states that translation is almost impossible. Yet intriguingly, her creative writing reflects just such an experience of “impossible” translation. Rather than demonstrating a practice of multilingualism, Li’s literary expression presents a unique form of “writing-translation,” a similar writing performance to what Jacques Derrida describes in Monolingualism of the Other, wherein the writer-translator is haunted by a profound alienation found in a language that belongs to the Other.
Usually recognized as a “minority literature,” works by immigrant writers consistently show the communication and transformation that can exist between different languages and cultures. In addition, their works are often considered as translations. Without a doubt, these translations are neither transparent nor are they complete. One may argue that nothing is translatable, just as is exemplified by Li’s linguistic experiment. However, it is precisely in the process of undertaking translation that the comparison and entanglement between languages and cultures become attainable. More significantly, the emergence of a new language and culture is only made possible by just such comparisons and entanglements.
In this regard, the writing and translation by immigrants may also shed light on the conception of a “world literature.” Immigrant authors always write from marginal positions, but their writings should not be regarded as only minority literature that opposes the mainstream; to the contrary, they should be considered as what Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have designated as “minor literature,” that is, writing through minor use of the major language. As clearly exemplified by Li’s experiment, she writes Japanese into a foreign language by incorporating other languages, thereby inducing a transformation of the Japanese language. Immigrant writers seek less to affirm their authorship and positioning in literary history, but rather, to perform a social demonstration through their language experimentation via writing, a task that can be recognized as the radical political nature of minor literature.
In a similar fashion, if the world is viewed as an ongoing process of worlding, migration literature should clearly participate in this process, instead of being excluded by the dominating mainstream literature. Without a doubt, immigrants will continue to write and translate; however, their writings and translations do not simply “translate” the minority languages and cultures into the majority ones; on the contrary, in their continuous linguistic experiments, these immigrant writers are inventing a new language and a future society to come, thereby forecasting the emergence of a new world literature.
- LIN Chi-Ming (Distinguished Professor and Director of CCSCA, National Taipei University of Education): “When is Anthropocene and The notion of the Anthropocene in Some Curatorial Perspectives in Taiwan”
Even though it is not formally confirmed as a scientific term, the Anthropocene is already a highly functional notion and a working theme. In this research, I would like to study the curatorial statements of some recent international exhibitions held in Taiwan and analyze how the notion and the theme of the Anthropocene function in their curatorial statement or their underpinning thinking.
From a more theoretical point of view, the definition of the Anthropocene is highly related to the starting period of the Anthropocene. That means, in the place of asking what is Anthropocene, we should ask when is Anthropocene firstly to understand it in depth.
In his curatorial statement, titled “The Politics of the Anthropocene: Humanity, Things and Reifications in Contemporary Art” for the Taipei Biennial 2014, Nicolas Bourriaud takes the thesis of Great Acceleration seriously (after WWII) and considers this situation as a driving force for the rethinking of the human’s place on the planet.
Concerning the aesthetic dimension, he advances the appearance of a new paradigm as one of the consequences of this rethinking. The currently popular philosophical trends -- according to Bourriaud -- like the “object-oriented” philosophy or the speculative realism are considered essential and central for establishing this new paradigm. In such a perspective, “artists seem to have started a new kind of dialogue with other forms of life, as well as objects” since according to speculative realism, “humans and animals, plants and objects must be treated on an equal footing.” The critics of anthropocentrism are certainly one central scenario of this philosophical scene.
Another French thinker, Bruno Latour, a co-curator of the Taipei Biennial 2020, has more confidence in Anthropology. For him, “Anthropocene is first of all opportunity to listen seriously at last to what anthropology teaches us about other ways of composing worlds”. The significant references of Latour in anthropology, besides his own version (An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns), are Philippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture, and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics: For a Post-Structuralist Anthropology. For them, “other civilisations were able to adopt a variety of ways to distribute qualities to beings in the world, thus resulting in forms of discontinuity and continuity between humans and non-humans” and “Amazonian and other Amerindian peoples (from the Achuar and the Runa all the way up to the Kwakiutl) who live in intense proximity and interrelatedness with other animal and plant species, see these nonhumans not as other species belonging to nature but as PERSONS… In effect, nonhumans regard themselves as humans, and view both "human" humans and other nonhumans as animals, either predator or prey, since predation is the basic mode of relation. Thus the idea that culture is universal to human beings and distinguishes them from the rest of nature falls apart”.
As a result, Latour’s elaboration of the Anthropocene differs from that of Bourriaud. For him, “the Anthropocene, despite its name, is not an immoderate extension of anthropocentrism, as if we could boast of having really been changed into Superman of sorts, flying about in red and blue costumes. It is rather the human as a unified agent, as a simple political entity, as a universal concept, that has to be decomposed into several distinct peoples”. This idea of humans without a unified view is implied in Latour’s more comprehensive discussion of the Anthropocene and Gaia as connections of parts without forming a totality. This thinking of the networking of agents helps to develop the underpinning schema of the 2020 Taipei Biennial, titled “You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet”.
Behind the notion of Gaia discussed by Latour looms the Earth system, which is more closely linked to the themes like biodiversity, increasing concerns for non-humans, and even the human responsibility for them. The notion of the Anthropocene here appears more related to its original coinage and starting from the Industrial Revolution.
To answer the question of when the Anthropocene started, The British geographers Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin have recently proposed starting the Anthropocene with the European conquest of America since “The unification of the flora and fauna of the Old and New Worlds caused an upheaval in the agricultural, botanical and zoological map of the globe, newly mingling in a biological globalization forms of life separated 200 million years earlier with the break-up of Pangaea and the opening of the Atlantic Ocean.”
This thesis continues the Colombian Exchange concept advanced by the ecology historian Alfred Crosby. Suppose it is true that the species migrate not necessarily with human agency. In that case, the Columbian Exchange and its consequence sped up these migrations and put them into directions highly influenced by human purposes. We will take corn and sugar as examples to study. The study will extend then to several recent Taiwan-related exhibitions and see how they could be understood in this new light.
- Johanna Liu (Professor Emerita, University of Toronto, CRAL associate member) : “Affordance of Things and the Art of Nurturing of Life: Materiality Thinking in Early Modern China”
The art of nurturing of life, as way of being toward the ultimate meaningfulness of Dao, has a big turn from pursuing spirituality and immortality to dwelling poetically with leisure in daily life, since Song and Ming in China. Different from taking golden elixir jindan as Daoist's spiritual cultivation, the practice of nurturing life, shown in the numerous books on yangsheng compiled by literati/scholars, consists mainly in the encountering with myriad things in the world, via traveling in landscape with ease, being aware of the mysterious existence of flowers, fishes, birds or even insects, playing with music, paintings and calligraphy, developing the culinary art, disclosing the values of materiality in the artifacts, such as brushes, inks, papers, and inkstones, etc., beyond the humancentric aesthetics. This paper aims to scrutinize the issues of materiality thinking in art of nurturing of life, in the moment of the rising of the material culture in early modern China. The first question to investigate is the connotation of the term, yangsheng (nurturing life), which Su Shi has asked to Wu Ziye in the short essay lun yangsheng (“on nurturing life” (in The good method of therapy by Shen Kuo and Su Shi, 1075). However, the two words, 和he/han harmony/with and安 an install/peace/tranquil, Su got from the answer with open concept projecting more possibility, or more space of imagination about the proper meaning of nurturing life: who is the subject in the process of nurturing? Whose life to be installed? How and why is the nurturing needed? Is it the individual life or collective life to be nurtured? All the questions urge us rethinking the issues of self, life and desire in the relational mashwork of myriad in the Nature. Secondly, in reading the various kinds of the recipes on food, drink, incence, listed in Gao Lian’s Eight Treatises on the Nurturing of Life ( Zun sheng ba jian, 1591), we investigate the material
ity turn of the concept of nurturing in daily life, to see how the people reach the plants, the stone, the waters according to the changing variance of the things, e.g. to see how the affordance of the things make the richness of human life possible. The third, we will discuss the aesthetic issues in the practice of nurturing of life, such as tasting the strangeness, seeing a world in a tiny thing, pursing the sentiment of laziness, and enjoying the solitude, then we could understand why for classical Chinese literati the landscape relates much more to the issue of nurturing of life.
- LU Yue (Ph.D. student, Tainan National University of the Arts): “The Anthropocene Perspective in Across the Mountain: War, Empire, and Image of Taiwan’s Forest “
The Anthropocene, first proposed in 2000 by Paul J. Crutzen, has become adopted in the humanities in a sense beyond the strictly geological over the past ten years. It has now been a popularized theoretical keyword around the world. The Anthropocene, semantically, refers to the commencement of human impact on Earth’s geology. As Timothy Clark puts it, the Anthropocene compels us to view a complex set of data that is planetary in scale, and, thus, all objects must be seen as breaking out of the frames in which human thinking has previously confined them. Timothy Morton employs the term “hyperobjects” to describe objects that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transgress human understanding. In this view, the issue at stake comes as- what modes of scale framing we should cultivate to perceive and respond to the friction and collision among the hyperobjects. Based on this research topic, this study takes Jun-Honn Kao’s Across the Mountain: War, Empire, and Image of Taiwan’s Forest as an example to examine how the writer, through his landscape writing, on the one hand reveals the ways in which the local forests and mountains were controlled and incorporated by the then Japanese colonial government and the Chinese government and, on the other hand, illustrates the complex and intertwined histories of the Atayal Dabaoshe Incident (大豹社事件), the White Terror, and even the personal experience of Kao. In this book, Kao points out that the information collected from the field survey comes with “either too much detail or too little”, which is embodied by the incoherent, rambling, and even off-topic paragraphs throughout the book: the narrator visits places that contain overwhelming historical archives and memories. Landscapes, therefore, are perceived as hyperobjects that are considered to be outside the permissible scope. For this reason, the narrator is only possible to perceive the landscape temporarily through, what he calls, “re-viewing subjects” (二次觀看主體). In other words, as nature-oriented literature in Taiwan always considers the nature as an external and established fact, which is observed and represented upon independent perception by a human subject from a detached perspective, this book, instead, adopts another entry point. With a touch of self-mockery, Kao points out that “mountains and forests always present themselves as puzzles, tangled with literal meanings beyond comprehension.” In that sense, the writer does not believe that 2 people would be able to build a prosperous future of multiculturality in a postcolonial way by pursing histories of objects. Alternatively, Kao uses series of scaling modes to humbly show that his words can only capture understandings on a personal level, while there is so much more about the mountains and forests beyond his knowledge to tap into. Félix Guattari describes in The Three Ecologies that thinking ecologically is concerned with the movement and intensity of evolutive processes. The Anthropocene perspective in the book reveals the histories and memories of the mountains and forests and their collisions with each other, where the hybrid hyperobjects emerge. All measurements and perceptions are only temporary means of observations. “Re-viewing subjects” are used not only as an expedient approach to addressing hyperobjects, but an ethical choice when it comes to writing about nature, history, and memory. With the aforementioned backgrounds, this paper attempts to develop a method to apply the Anthropocene in literary analysis, which, in turns, could provide a different approach to Kao’s landscape writings.
- PANG Yidan (Ph. D. student, EHESS, CRAL): “Materiality, Experience and Relations : Reimagining Space in Alternative Structures”
Since the 1960s, the proliferation of alternative exhibition venues outside traditional institutional art systems has occurred on a global scale, which reveals a process of decentralization in the contemporary art world. As exhibition venues have expanded from authorized art institutions to unconventional locations, these alternative structures also represent a culture of the multitude in the context of globalization. A heterogeneous network of actors challenging cultural hegemonies has emerged as a result of this culture, one that transcends the geographical boundaries of the nation-state.
As artists and other actors decided to replace “gallery” or “laboratory” with the general term “space” to describe those alternative venues in the early seventies, the use of “space” became a critical factor in art production and exhibition making. The rethinking of space affected how art can be sensed, interpreted and understood by viewers, which extends to issues of materiality. Without seeking to focus on a specific genre of art, this paper investigates the materiality of “space” and its role in alternative art space to examine the renewal of aesthetical experience in contemporary art created by spatial experiments in those alternative structures.
Before entering into the discussion of the materiality of space, it is essential to clarify the concept of “space” in alternative art practice. By tracing the definitions and arguments of the term “space” among the artists and curators involved, this paper would like to demonstrate that the sense of space in alternative art space is closer to the “ambivalent togetherness of place and space” that Edward S. Casey refers to, more precisely, a dynamic and evolving entity that is intimately interacting with experience, memory, and culture of human subjects. Although space is immaterial, it ceases to be a fixed and static container or background, and becomes a being of materiality.
Based on the understanding above, the spatial experiments within alternative art structures focus on the process of how the art is created or perceived. As a result, the space, the artwork, and even the viewer, no longer isolated from each other, but together contribute to the integrity of art practice, which allows explorations on new forms of art and aesthetic experience. In order to demonstrate the significance of the materiality of space, this paper will analyze two approaches in alternative space : the situation-based approach and the relational approach.
The situation-based approach emphasizes the use of space as the material, which allows the audience to view the space as a component of the overall scenario. Alternative spaces frequently pop up in unexpected areas, including storefronts or private apartments, as a result of a lack of funds and their experimental mindset. The material presence of the space becomes unavoidable when artists create works based on the venue's physical characteristics. In this instance, the exhibition space itself turns into an essential part of the artwork, being viewed by audiences as an object within a broader urban environment.
On the other hand, the second approach regards space as a collection of relations and a network of social practice, which derives from the antagonism to hierarchy of alternative structures. Reflecting on space has led to a series of process-oriented and “dematerialized” artistic practices. The display of pure and absolute objects on the walls and floors at a physical location is no longer ideal; instead, community-oriented participation or interaction, which intertwines various art forms such as performance, social engagement, and digital art, has taken its place. More crucially, this approach seeks to rethink the aesthetic experience of art by dissolving the barriers between curators, artists, and viewers, allowing everyone to engage in the production of art as actors and creators.
Through the exploration of the materiality of space, alternative structures continually challenge the relationship between the viewer and the artwork, stimulating the renewal of the forms of presentation, the process of production and the mode of mediation in the contemporary art scene.
- Jean-Marie Schaeffer (Research Professor Emeritus, CRAL, CNRS-EHESS): “Lost in translation : contemporary visual culture and the demise of the materiality of the artwork”
This paper addresses the dynamics of dematerialization which is a defining trend of contemporary visual culture in the context of its digital globalization. It explores some of its roots of this evolution - for example the promotion of the intention (idea) over the material reality of the artwork – as well as some of its consequences - notably, in the case of painting and photography, the impoverishment of aesthetic experientiality due to a reductionist, purely semiotic and/or hermeneutical definition of their nature and identity.
- SHEN Yu-Hua (Ph.D. student, National Taipei University of Education): “Peony as a thing: the perspective of Ouyang Xiu”
In this presentation, we will discuss the materiality of peonies between Tang and Song Dynasties, through an analysis of Ouyang Xiu's “Luoyang mudan ji” 洛陽牡丹記 and literary works in Tang Dynasty. "Luoyang mudan ji" is the first coherent article of botanical esthetics from a non-practical value standpoint in the Northern Song Dynasty. In the past, we can only find the article such as “Treatise on Bamboo” ⽵譜 and “Appearances of the Plants of the Southern Regions” 南⽅草⽊狀 , which were not so complete and coherent on the perspective of botanical writing. The "Tea Classic" 茶經 written by Lu Yu in the Tang Dynasty is the appreciation of plants from the aspect of taste. Ouyang Xiu, on the other hand, describes the appearance, variety, and planting methods of peonies from a visual perspective. He created his own floral aesthetics to appreciate it as a thing. In fact, before the Song Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty had already begun the folk customs of a peony mania in the capital of Chang'an. However, Bo Juyi's poem criticized the act of buying it. He 3 wrote about the existence of peonies from the critique of social and cultural activities. “Supplement to the Tang National History"唐國史補 also recorded Han Ling's rejection of indulging with peony flower. This kind of critique involved the disapproval between the intellectual class and the civilian 4 class. Han Ling positioned the peony flower from the vision of custom. This shows that Tang literati's descriptions of peonies were generally influenced by moral values, making it difficult to write from a different perspective. However, Ouyang Xiu put aside the idea of virtue that projected himself on plants. At that time, peonies did not have the symbol of traditional virtue. For example, plum, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum were used by literati to symbolize the four gentlemen of flowers. The peony flower has a gorgeous appearance, rich petals, and varied colors, which is very attractive visually. Therefore, writing the peony flower is easy to fall into the appreciation of sensory pleasure which is not acceptable by Buddhism and Confucianism. But Ouyang Xiu did not focus on the virtue that people projected or on the symbolic meanings within the culture. Instead, he analyzed the visual aesthetics of peony from different aspects, such as planting, cultivation, and the problem of artificial intervention. He used writing to represent the existence of peonies, and his perspective was quite unique at that time. The "Luoyang mudan ji" indeed influenced other literati of the Song Dynasty.
The contradiction between the artificial invention and the natural formation began to appear in Northern Song Dynasty. In traditional Chinese concepts, nature is the highest creation of heaven and earth, which cannot be usurped by human. However, today's Luoyang peonies are created through artificial grafting which produce the stunning shapes. This beauty achieved through human hands is remarkable but also unusual. Wang Guan, a literati in the Northern Song Dynasty, doubted about unnatural beauty. He believed that natural formation is more worthy than artificial intervention. Therefore, the way a peony is produced will affect the literati's evaluation. In other words, it is very important that how beauty is formed. Ouyang Xiu believed that artificial intervention will not affect the validity of aesthetic appreciation of peony flowers. As a thing in nature, peonies get gorgeous appearance through human intervention. Ouyang Xiu depicted the different facets of peonies through their interactions with the city, people, society, and economy, which represent the way he treated peony as a thing in his writings.
- WENG Ruoyang (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto): “Materiality and Poetic thinking: Reinventing the Epigraphy (Jinshi) in Qing China”
The learning of jinshi 金石 or epigraphy in Chinese historiography refers to the systematic study of ancient artefacts featuring bronze vessels and stone stelae, particularly the rubbings of and the archaic characters inscribed upon them. According to Jeffrey Moser, two qualitatively different approaches could be detected in pioneers of this field of studies in Northern Song (960–1127): artefacts and their rubbings could either serve as “catalyst” for open-ended reflections, poetically or intellectually, of a complex mind or as an epistemologically authoritative medium of texts to correct errors of other forms of historical writings. He further claimed that when jinshi studies, as one of the notable aspects of collecting fever at the time, gained traction in the eighteenth century, it was the latter approach that dominated the intellectual scene facilitating the showboating of erudition and accumulation of cultural and social capitals. This study intends to examine Moser’s observation as regards Qing China by investigating Yuan Mei’s (袁枚, 1716–97) relevant writings. Though he was much remembered for his persona performance as a man of letters in an urban setting and for upholding of a poetics of spontaneity, individuality, and mundanity, Yuan was not immune to the intellectual trend of his time. Other than contemporary poets, he engaged frequently with scholars, collectors, and artisans, building his own collection of ancient artefacts, rare books, and rubbings. In his Random Notes of the Sui Garden 隨園隨筆, a whole volume (juan 卷) is devoted to the topic of jinshi studies; he also left a considerable amount of proses and poems describing and reflecting upon his collections and the practice of collecting itself. In the case of Yuan, we will find that in addition to simply accentuating the mediating function of bronze vessels and stone stelae in conveying information and the traveling of texts across media ranging from artefacts to rubbings, wooden blocks, and printed papers, sensitivity to visual and material aspects of inscriptions and rubbings, aesthetic concern over visual pattern and calligraphy, and more personal and embodied ways of engaging with ancient artefacts still loomed large in the intellectual field. As a contrast to Yuan Mei’s identity as a man of letters, this study will also invoke the collected writings of Cheng Yaotian (程瑤田, 1725–1814) and Ruan Yuan (阮元, 1764–1849) as representative cases of scholars’ view upon collection and activities of collecting. Materiality or thingly characters of their collected items will be given pride of place to investigate whether it is really the case or not that the concern over textuality towered over that over the former. If not, in what way did their perception and characterization of the material aspects of the collections differ from Yuan Mei’s poetic approach? Despite their commitment to Confucian orthodoxy, rubbings of Buddhist statues and inscriptions sponsored by conquest dynasties in northern China from the medieval period constitute a significant part of Cheng’s and Ruan’s collections. This study will also touch upon how they come to terms with the “foreignness” of culture and how the latter even reshaped their understanding of the normative trajectories of cultural changes in China’s past.
- YANG Chien-Chang (Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Musicology, National Taiwan University): “Materiality and mediation in music: Rethinking musical work and its technologies”
“No other art but music exists that has a raw material which is, in and of itself, already impregnated with such divine spirit.”
The assertion proposed by the 19th-century German writer/composer E.T.A. Hoffmann testifies only a naive confidence on the self-evident identity of musical meaning and its acoustic materiality. This assumption on the one hand presupposes a straightforward process of creative act through intensive manipulations of musical forms, on the other hand identifies these formal properties as the origins of music’s meanings. Indeed, music requires a mediated materiality and work process to be transformed and conceived as “work”, which is in fact difficult to be ascribed simply as forms or social functions. Yet the polarity between the two are simply apparent, there should be more complex through different levels and channels of mediations, both intra- and extra-musical. This paper focuses on this apparent paradox in music practices. This paper first reviews recent musicological literatures on the status of music’s double identities as simultaneous “artwork” and faits social. Furthermore, theoretical reflections on related discussions from writings of Heidegger, Adorno, and Friedrich Kittler will be examined. This paper analyzes the case of the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, particularly on the composer’s constant references of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach in the forms of musical quotations and personal rituals in real life. This paper argues that music is never a dull piece of work but in constant referencing processes, shown through different levels of musical technology, its materials and mediations.