May 6 Henry Smith

Friday, May 6, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Making Meiji Red: Materiality vs Meaning in the Changing Colors of 19th-century Ukiyo-e

Henry Smith
Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, EALC, Columbia University

Kunichika, kabuki triptych 1885-04 HDS2 14.06c

Two decades ago, I postulated a “Blue Revolution” in ukiyo-e woodblock prints that began in 1829 with a sudden increase in the use of imported Prussian blue, a versatile pigment that quickly dominated landscape prints in particular. I further argued that this bright new blue came to express a new awareness of the world across blue oceans under blue skies into which the Japanese were increasingly drawn. I hypothesized finally that a similar process would be repeated four decades later in the 1860s with the import of a new generation of imported colorants, but now the principal hues were purple and red. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, I proposed, “Red became the modal color of another era with other priorities: where late-Edo blue was the color of expanding space, Meiji red was to become the color of accelerated time.” This talk is a report on an ongoing research project in which I have been engaged for two years in cooperation with the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to identify these new colorants and trace their history. The results force a thorough reconception of the materiality of Meiji ukiyo-e colorants and their artistic possibilities, and in turn a new look at the diverse and changing meanings embodied in “Meiji Red.”

Friday, May 6, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Posted in Cross-cultures, Japan | Leave a comment

April 29 Douglas Gabriel

Friday, April 29, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Revolution from 360 Ft. Below: On the Pyongyang Metro and the Problem of Ground

Douglas Gabriel
Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University

Pyongyang Metro Promotional Image

Among the deepest subway systems in the world, the Pyongyang Metro is marked by a radical disjunction with the space of the North Korean capital above it. Rather than referencing street names or landmarks above ground, each of the 17 stations on the Metro’s two lines is named after and elaborately designed according to a revolutionary theme, ranging from Camaraderie to Prosperity. Further, the Metro stations contain no maps of Pyongyang, and, in turn, city maps do not indicate the locations of the Metro stations. Frequently, the Pyongyang Metro is characterized as, on the one hand, a conspicuous form of propagandistic brainwashing, and, on the other hand, the result of a militaristic effort to conceal the locations of underground sites that could potentially serve as emergency bomb shelters. In contrast, this paper draws on visual evidence as well as previously unutilized primary sources in order to demonstrate that the bifurcation of the Metro and the city space stems from a highly singular understanding of the relationship between material reality and revolutionary ideas. I argue that the architectural design, lighting, sound, and mosaic murals of the Metro stations form a complex system of aesthetic effects aimed at suspending the North Korean revolutionary project within a dialectic of ground and transcendence.

Friday, April 29, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Posted in Cross-cultures, Korea | Leave a comment

April 15 Kristina Kleutghen

Friday, April 15, 4 to 6pm, CWAC156

Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China

Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis

unnamed

When European optical devices were first introduced into early modern East Asia, these devices affected not only viewing experiences and ideas about vision, but also the production of art. In contrast to the well-established effects on Japanese art, the Chinese case has barely been explored, not the least reason being that the science of optics did not develop significantly there prior to the mid-nineteenth century. Yet from the seventeenth century onward, Qing domestic production and use of optical devices resulted in significant relationships with art at the imperial, elite, and popular levels. The devices and the viewing experiences that they mediated created varying levels of foreign intervention into Chinese art, vision, and visuality. However, the consistent but diverse methods of Sinification of all these elements and the reliance on domestic products rather than imports offers new insights into how Qing art engaged the West without being limited to either the court or the capital. Through an art-historical case study of several different optical devices and their related works of art that are all linked through one particular type of magnifying lens, this talk examines how the production and consumption of these new objects and images varied with place, format, audience, and social status. 

Friday, April 15, 4:00 to 6:00pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Posted in China, Cross-cultures | Leave a comment

April 8 Sandy Lin

Friday, April 8, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

The Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion) Screens from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: An Object Biography

Sandy Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago

Image 1 (1)

In Summer 2015, a group of three screens were discovered in a storage facility of the Chicago Park District and later acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago. Photographs of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and contemporary sources suggest that the screens were painted by Hashimoto Gahō for the Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion), a building commissioned by the Japanese government and erected in Jackson Park for the fair. Their discovery makes an exciting addition to the four ranma (transom) panels (now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago) as the only surviving architectural elements from the Hōōden, which burned down in 1946. Nevertheless, a close examination of the screens has revealed some material discrepancies and historical incongruities. In an effort to clarify the confusion, this presentation outlines the object biography of the screens, following their footsteps through their (1) material birth in 1892, (2) career in the 1893 World’s Fair, (3) neglect after the conclusion of the fair, (4) second career from 1936 to 1942 in a Japanese teahouse that was converted from the Hōōden, and (5) provisional death in 1943, when they were removed from the teahouse and sheltered in storage. Throughout the different stages in their life, the screens developed numerous relationships with various communities of people and objects, accumulating a biography that exemplifies their anachronic ability to embody multiple temporalities.

Friday, April 8, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Posted in Cross-cultures, Japan | Leave a comment

April 1 Dongshan Zhang

Friday, April 1, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Making Images of Dharma

Dongshan Zhang
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago

Fig. 1铁山刻经 Sutra Engraving On Mount Tie, Shandong, by Seng'an Daoyi.

To deal with the coming of the Final Dharma, or mofa, people initiated different types of projects around the Northern dynasty (439 – 589). The Buddhist images and stone engravings in the Xiangtangshan caves, Yunju temple, and in the mountains in central Shandong area are representatives. A few of the stone engravings found on the boulders and slopes of the mountains in Shandong are made with characters of unusually large size. This essay reconsiders the nature of the Northern dynasty Buddhist stone engravings in Shandong, and suggests that the preservation of images of dharma in the Final Dharma period was the true aim of the Shandong large-character engravings.

Friday, April 1, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

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Spring Schedule 2016

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia is proud to present our schedule for Spring 2016.
All sessions unless otherwise noted will take place in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center (CWAC)

Fridays, 4:30-6:30
pm
Room 156

HEADS_dahliaII

Paper Flower by Tiffanie Turner

April 1 Dongshan Zhang
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago
Making Images of Dharma

April 8 Sandy Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago
The Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion) Screens from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: An Object Biography

April 15 Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis
Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China
(This event is sponsored by CEAS Committee on Chinese Studies)

April 29 Douglas Gabriel
PhD candidate, Northwestern University
Revolution from 360 Ft. Below: On the Pyongyang Metro and the Problem of Ground
(Co-coordinated with RAVE Workshop)

May 6 Henry Smith
Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, EALC, Columbia University
TBD

May 20 Penglinag Lu
Curatorial Fellow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Two-Thousand-Year Journey of the Goosefoot Lamp (Yanzudeng): Exoticism, Antiquarianism and Visual Redesign

May 27 Naixi Feng
Ph.D. Candidate, East Asian Studies, University of Chicago
Stone Drum in Traveling: A Study on the Late Ming Urban Literature of Beijing

Posted in Cross-cultures, Schedule | Leave a comment

March 11 Anne Feng

Friday, March 11, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Water, Ice, Lapis Lazuli: The Making of a Buddhist Paradise through the Sixteen Meditations in Tang China 

Anne Feng
Ph.D. Candidate, Art History, University of Chicago

148 ground meditation

This paper provides new insights into the relationship between Buddhist meditation and images in medieval China by looking at 7th to 8th century illustrations of the Sixteen Meditations in Dunhuang caves. I demonstrate how these paintings provided new possibilities for depicting moments of metamorphosis pictorially. Drawing upon recent scholarship on Buddhist ‘visualization’ in East Asia, I will trace how imagery of the Sixteen Meditations was introduced and appropriated at Dunhuang and address the perplexing iconography of these paintings. Working against previous studies that treat the Sixteen Meditations as a linear step-by-step sequence, in which the meditator focuses on a static visual object in each meditation, I argue that the visual phenomena described in meditation manuals were constantly in flux. This emphasis on moments of metamorphosis is frequently captured by illustrations of the meditation on water, which is an important threshold moment for the meditator to envision the Western Pure Land. Reading contemporary mediation guides and tales of rebirth, I will show how the iconography of the Sixteen Meditations could be creatively stretched and condensed, and how these intricate manipulations allow us to understand how Pure Land transformation tableaux were understood as dream flight destinations in the Tang dynasty.

Friday, March 11, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

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February 19 Tom Kelly

Friday, February 19, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Luminescent Surfaces: Inscribing a Ming Rhinoceros Horn Cup

Tom Kelly
Ph.D. Candidate, EALC, University of Chicago

tom pic

This paper considers how the creation and reception of an object-inscription might lead to the construction of a political monument in late imperial China. I focus specifically on the case of an inscription for a rhinoceros horn vessel from the late Ming and the story of its re-mediation over the course of three centuries. The first section of the paper reconstructs approaches to rhinoceros horns among collectors from the sixteenth century, examining how the poetic animation of these luxury imports re-calibrated conceptions of the exotic and the antique. Against this backdrop, I ask what might have been at stake for Ming scholars in trying to transform a rhinoceros horn into a vessel with a classical genealogy through acts of naming and marking. The second section of the paper charts the circulation of the vessel and the re-mediation of its markings during the Qing, exploring the ways in which the transmission of the inscription in different formats provided later scholars with a means of working through anxieties of displacement and loss. In doing so, the paper weighs some of the latent desires embedded in object-inscriptions from the Ming against the reception of these texts by Qing antiquarians. At the same time, I use this case to reflect on the divergent values attributed to the act of inscription as a situated political performance and to the “thingness” of an inscription as a physical trace of the past.

Friday, February 19, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

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February 12 Christian de Pee

Friday, February 12, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

The City Organic: Writing the Commercial Streetscape in Eleventh-Century China

Christian de Pee
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Michigan

de Pee-Image

During the eleventh century, Chinese literati changed the geographic orientation of inherited literary genres and devised new literary genres in order to create a space in writing for the commercial cityscape. Within this newly created literary space, literati represented the commercial cityscape, not as an achievement of human artifice, but as an extension of nature, where traffic flows like water, money and goods circulate like the vital essences of the body, and trade flourishes like a well-tended garden. The efforts of eleventh-century literati to discern natural principles in urban traffic and in the urban economy aligns their writing of the city with other intellectual developments of the period, such as a widespread interest in natural observation, medical diagnostics, financial management, civil engineering, and criminal forensics. The writing and painting of the commercial city in eleventh-century China thus has significant parallels (and even direct connections) to the writing and painting of the industrial city in nineteenth-century Europe: the playful manipulation of boundaries between nature and artifice, the application of medical diagnostics to urban planning, an apprehensive fascination with the interchangeability of commoditized goods and labor, the anonymity of urban crowds and the related development of detective stories, and the foregrounding of the painter’s eye and the painter’s hand in the visual arts. Although the similarity between Song-dynasty cities and the metropolises of the nineteenth century should not be overstated, the commonalities do allow the disarticulation of certain “modernist” ways of seeing and thinking from linear narratives of Western modernity.

Friday, February 12, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

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Jan 29 Miriam Wattles

Friday, January 29, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 153

Defining Manga Anew in 1928: Ippei, a Book, and History

Miriam Wattles
Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture, UCSB

IppSen

It wasn’t until the explosion of mass media in the 1920s that the word “manga” began to be used for comics and cartoons in Japan. Reformulations of the past were integral to the redefinition of the word. Okamoto Ippei (1886-1948), hugely popular with the public and head of a newly formed manga circle, wove a new historical sensibility into his prescriptions for the future of manga in his book Shin manga no kakikata (How To Make New Manga, 1928). The larger genus he employed was “minshûga,” or “pictures of the people.” In proposing this term at this particular historical moment, Ippei was responding to deep underlying tensions between elite and popular culture, individualism and collectivism, and nationalism and cosmopolitanism. This talk counters present amnesia around Ippei and his definition of manga and gives a surprising history of public ownership of one particular copy of Shin manga no kakikata.

Friday, January 29, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 153
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Posted in Japan | Leave a comment