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West meets east: reworking traditional eastern art in contemporary digital media

journal contribution
posted on 02.10.2015, 08:07 by Christin Bolewski
This proposal is based on a practice-led research project and includes the delivery of a paper and the presentation of video art. It investigates how East Asian traditions of landscape art can be understood through reference to the condition of Western contemporary art. Proceeding from Chinese thought and aesthetics the traditional concept of landscape painting ‘Shan-Shui-Hua’ is recreated in modern video art; the main features of ‘Shan-Shui-Hua’ merges with Western moving image practice creating new modes of ‘transcultural art - a crossover of Western and Asian aesthetics – to explore form, and questions digital visualisation practice that aims to represent realistic space. In his book ‘The detour over China’ (free translation of the German title ‘Umweg über China’) the contemporary French Philosopher Francois Jullien attempts to create a new approach to Western culture: A ‘local change of thinking’, a process of distancing from Western thinking as an effective strategy where Chinese philosophy functions as an ‘outside’ from which to see more clearly the values and preoccupation of Western culture. My video work ‘Shan-Shui-Hua’ is not the research of an art historian, it is an individual response as an artist and includes artistic freedom. In the sense of Francois Jullien I make a ‘detour over China’. Emphasizing to some extent pictorial concepts and practical aspects of the Chinese painting process enables me to distance and to take a fresh approach to Western film and digital visualisation practice, but at the same time using software tools that generally have been devised to create 2D and 3D artefacts from a Western cultural perspective avoids the pitfalls of echoing and imitating Chinese landscape painting too closely. The concept of multi-perspective and the endless scroll are explored through digital filmmaking, video compositing and virtual camera, depths and particle systems. Challenging the Western preoccupation with narrative and distinct meaning the work also contains no complex narration and attempts to be a meditative open art work - a detour over China - combining and contrasting Western and Eastern aesthetics.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • Arts

Published in

Revista de Estudos Chinese - Zhongguo Yanjiu (The journal of Chinese studies)




225 - 238


BOLEWSKI, C., 2011. West meets east: reworking traditional eastern art in contemporary digital media. Revista de Estudos Chinese - Zhongguo Yanjiu (The Journal of Chinese Studies), 6, pp. 241 - 252.


Portuguese Institute of Sinology


VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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