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A Panoply of Metaphors: Painting and Intermediality in Early Modern China
A Panoply of Metaphors: Painting and Intermediality in Early Modern China
WhenFriday, Oct 18, 2019, 3:30 p.m.
Campus locationThomson Hall (THO)
Campus roomRoom 317
Event typesAcademics
Description

In this talk Prof. Jun Hu will try to unpick a seeming paradox in seventeenth-century Chinese painting: just when artistic practice and theory became increasingly inseparable from an engagement with the past, that past, it would seem, also became unrecoverable, at least not on its own terms. While painters showed great confidence in knowing what the styles of old masters looked like, as exemplified by the popularity of modal albums in this period, the same painters would probably agree that old paintings were now few and far between. Various technologies of indexical transmission—woodblock printing, rubbing, seal-carving—emerged as powerful and at times poignant metaphors that embody this paradox, offering patently reliable mechanisms of replication that guarantee the possibility of a  history of visually verifiable styles on the one hand, and disclosing the truth itself, on the other, that this past is now available mostly through mediation, printed or otherwise. Contemporaneous writings on these technologies, in the meantime, began increasingly to bear on the nature of labor and materiality that made such transmission possible. These writings, Hu will argue in this talk, offer themselves as an allegory for understanding how painters came to terms with this paradox.

Jun Hu is Assistant Professor of Chinese Art and Architecture and Mr. and Mrs. Pai Ruchu Presidential Professor in the Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on how the material process of art-making intersects with other modes of knowledge production. In addition to his ongoing research on seventeenth-century painting, Hu has published on the art and material culture of the Silk Road in relation to Nara (Japan) and Dunhuang (China). He is currently completing a book entitled The Perturbed Circle: Chinese Architecture and Its Periphery.

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