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Lecture: Digitizing Chinese Art

February 16, 2017
Price Auditorium
Free with museum admission

Visual digitalization has become part of our craft as art historians. About half a century ago, André Malraux boldly asserted: “The history of art has been the history of that which can be photographed.” And 30 years later, it was still essential for art history students to learn how to shoot photos or develop slides for their work. Now, digital technologies not only make our classroom “smarter,” but also help us study images much more extensively and efficiently. The impact of new imaging technologies on our discipline is much greater than ever before, and the field of Chinese art makes no exception. In this talk, Wei-Cheng Lin, University of Chicago looks into the many ways in which digitalization has changed, or dictated, how we go about our research. Yet more than a tool that enhances the quality and accuracy of visual reproduction and representation (especially in such case of visual or virtual simulations), it will be suggested that digitalizing technologies more importantly stimulate a much deeper understanding of “visuality” in Chinese art history.

Wei-Cheng Lin, associate professor of art history at the University of Chicago, specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture with a focus on medieval periods. In this lecture, Lin explore ways in which current imaging technologies have changed our viewing, experience, and thus understanding, of Chinese art. He is the author of Building a Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, and his current book project, titled Performative Architecture of China, investigates the ways in which Chinese architecture can be considered as actively engaging its users by structuring, affecting, evoking, or shaping their spatial senses and imagination.

Museum admission is free for Illinois residents during this event and every Thursday 5:00–8:00.

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Incomplete digital model of the Wooden Pagoda in Yingxian, Shanxi, 1056. SketchUp model built by Zhenru Zhou.