The Distorting Mirror
Visual Modernity in China
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
Contents / Acknowledgements
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Let us look at an ordinary newspaper advertisement printed in a 1933 edition of Shenbao (Shanghai daily), the most popular newspaper in China at that time (fig. Intro.1): Latest Scientific and Entertainment Discovery Distorting Mirror with...
Part I: The Pictorial
Chapter One: The Pictorial Turn and the Realist Desire
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In the last years of the Qing dynasty, people saw the drastic cultural discontinuity engendered by Western imperialism, and the increasing mobility of capital, commodity, and population fueled and intensified one other. The Qing government had little control over imperialist aggression and rapidly transforming values and social norms, which reinforced...
Chapter Two: Photography, Performance, and the Making of Female Images
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As mentioned briefly in the previous chapter, the value of lithography as a mass visual medium was wiped out quickly by the invention of photography, a phenomenon seen in China and in most other countries.1 With people’s new realist sensibility and the mass pictorial culture introduced by lithography, the Chinese people were ready to greet photography as an emblematic medium...
Chapter Three: Advertising and the Visual Display of Women
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Given the unquestionable fact that images of women were more frequently seen in this new visual culture than those of men, the meaning of female representation is a key area of exploration in this book. I am interested in analyzing not only the form and content of selected visual representations, but also what they imply about the people’s experience and affect in the advent of cultural modernity. A methodological...
Part II: The Theatrical
Chapter Four: Peking Opera, from Listening to Watching
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The previous three chapters focus on the print media and the relatively private and personal experience of producing, reading, and using these print images. My analysis both highlights and questions the level of control producers and viewers held over the images as new commodities. Specific to these pictorial forms is the temporal and spatial detachment between production and reception, giving the artist or photographer...
Chapter Five: Walking into and out of China’s Early Film Scene
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If there is one area that no study of visual modernity of any culture can afford to ignore, it undisputedly is cinema. The recent surge of academic interest in the relationship between visual culture and modernity is to a great extent fueled by the lively scholarship on early cinema published in the past two decades, which demonstrates how substantially...
Chapter Six: Magic and Modernity
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The following is an advertisement soliciting investors that appeared in a 1915 issue of the magazine Yuxing (After-hours entertainment): We in China try to reform everything of ours along the lines of foreign models; only the coffin has remained unchanged for generations. Is this because there is no way of making better coffins, or could this not be due to a lack of financial motivations? I have been...
Epilogue: Modernity as an Unfinished Project
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Informed by modernity discourses, my previous studies have focused on the dynamic interactions between the visual representations (artifacts/ performances) and the visually embodied experience, that is, exchanges between the seen object and the seeing subject, as well as interactions among the collective viewers. The affiliation between modeng (modern) and moshu (magic) in urban China at the turn of the twentieth...
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Index / About the Author
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Publication Year: 2007