Papers on Arts IV

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm

  • Chaired by Martina Caschera
  • Bryce Heatherly, “Commentaries Illustrated: New Methods for Visual Exegesis in a Ming (1368–1644) Woodblock Print of the Diamond Sutra”
  • Miki Homma, “A Chinese Printmaking ‘The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars’ from Saray Album in Istanbul”
  • Yvonne Lin, “’Slobbery, Dusty, and Scratched’: Decay as Fetish in Beijing Silvermine
  • Adina Simona Zemanek, “International Visibility and Official Promotion of Taiwanese Comics: A Case Study of the Angoulême International Comics Festival”

Bryce Heatherly, “Commentaries Illustrated: New Methods for Visual Exegesis in a Ming (1368–1644) Woodblock Print of the Diamond Sutra”

This paper examines a specific mode of illustration designed to accompany printed editions of one of the most widely-recited sutras in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, the Diamond Sutra (Jin’gang jing 金剛經). In a rare illustrated edition of this sutra, printed four times throughout the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the sutra text itself is imbedded with 46 full-page “commentarial illustrations,” which visually interpret various historical commentaries on the Diamond Sutra. Since the advent of woodblock printing in China, printed illustrations of the Diamond Sutra have employed a variety of para-sutraic visual modes, yet previous studies have focused either on sutra frontispieces (feihua 扉畫) or on illustrations of miracle tales (lingyan gushi tu 靈驗故事圖). To date, no comprehensive study has been conducted on the role of commentarial illustrations in these sutra prints. This essay, while examining the textual origins of the commentaries – some penned by religious luminaries like Huineng 慧能 (638–713), others by little-known lay scholars – demonstrates that these illustrations are not subordinate to their texts, but rather constitute their own “text,” which serves the dual functions of edification and entertainment. Setting these illustrations within the development of the illustrated sutra in China, this paper engages with the broader scholarly discourses on the aesthetic dimensions of woodblock printing, and the shifting relationships between text and image, readership and viewership.

Miki Homma, “A Chinese Printmaking “The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars” from Saray Album in Istanbul”

This paper will discuss an illustration of The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars 二十四孝 in Saray Albums (Istanbul, Topkapi Palace Library). The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars is a book of Confucianism in China. This Chinese Confucian classic is pasted on the Saray Album in Istanbul was probably imported from China during the Timurid Dynasty (1370–1507). A number of studies indicate that there is a relationship between China and West Asia, but no detailed research has been done about Chinese printmaking imported to the Timurid Dynasty.
This paper carefully examines the characteristics of The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars in the Saray Albums. It is in a rare form compared to other Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) printed books because it is not in the form of full-page illustrations or figure on above and text in lower composition, but in the form divided into 6 sections. The paintings are brightly coloured, showing that the original prints imported from China were painted by Islamic painters regardless of the theme. It is hard to believe that it was read by the general public or had an artistic influence like a similar kind of Chinese printed book imported to Japan. This Chinese printmaking in Saray Albums is an important example that suggests the possibility that such printmaking was also imported to Western Asia.
By comparing the The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars imported to East Asia (Japan) and West Asia (Timurid Dynasty) during the Ming dynasty, this paper shows the iconographic similarities and differences.

Yvonne Lin, “’Slobbery, Dusty, and Scratched’: Decay as Fetish in Beijing Silvermine

My paper examines the aesthetics of patina in Thomas Sauvin’s found photography collection, Beijing Silvermine, which travels the international gallery circuit but also lives online as a popular Instagram account. The original set of negatives was salvaged from a recycling plant in Beijing and dates from 1985 to 2005, an era corresponding to the economic liberalisation of the PRC.
I focus on photographs in which decay—arresting patterns of lattices, blur, scratches, and discolouration—are foregrounded against a backdrop of the every day, injecting an experimental mode into a complex of vernacular photographs. I argue that the aesthetics of patina in vernacular photography functions as a commodified problematic of time. In the context of Instagram, which acts as a direct marketplace and advertisement, the decayed emulsion is a visual effect lifted from the material processes of its production. I further contend that historicity as filter reflects not nostalgic yearning but the fetishisation of temporal passage, whose success relies on a gesture towards authenticity that is always already undermined in a virtual experience.
Although scholars have written extensively on the decay in the work of filmmakers or conceptual photographers, the aesthetics of decay in vernacular photography remains underexplored. I situate a formal analysis of these photographs within a theoretical framework that draws from theories of found photography, new media studies, and the cultural history of photography. Through an interrogation of the aesthetics of patina in Beijing Silvermine, my paper will deepen our conception of the practice of narrating the cultural history of postsocialist China.

Adina Simona Zemanek, “International Visibility and Official Promotion of Taiwanese Comics. A Case Study of the Angoulême International Comics Festival”

Comics in Taiwan have a long history of association with Japanese manga, children’s entertainment, and negative value judgments. In recent years, the mainstream manga-style art has been paralleled by the rise of independent artists who cultivate individual styles, target older audiences, and work on a variety of topics including social activism, local culture, history, and memory. Despite these developments, homegrown artists still tended to remain invisible to both the general public and to state institutions promoting Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries and its international image.
This project focuses on the Angoulême International Comics Festival, where Taiwanese artists gained acclaim and have been showcased since 2012 by local organisers at first, and later also by the ROC Ministry of Culture. Based on interviews with three kinds of actors participating in this prestigious festival (artists, publishers and representatives of state institutions), this study attempts to assess how and to what extent Taiwanese comics have been revalued and granted visibility, supported, and integrated into official projects related to public diplomacy. It will also look at how artists and publishers themselves perceive this European event and state backing for homegrown comics.
The following aspects will be considered: 1) criteria and procedures for the selection of state-subsidised works, artists and publishers; 2) Taiwanese comic artists’ and publishers’ motivation for participating in the festival and its potential impact on their careers or marketing strategies; 3) the extent to which all these actors work towards capturing a specifically Taiwanese “cultural geometry” (K. Murphy) in internationally promoted comics.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room G