Conference Program: The Inaugural Conference of the Association for Chinese Animation Studies, Zoom Webinar, March 1-May 12, 2021

Webinar Registration (In accordance with the Copyright Ordinance of Hong Kong, please do not photograph and/or video record the film screenings. Violation of copyright laws will result in legal action.)  

Panel 1: 9:00am-11:30am, March 1 (Monday, Hong Kong time), Keynote Speeches, chaired by Daisy Yan Du, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong SAR

9:00-9:15am: 

Opening Remarks, Daisy Yan Du

  • Daisy Yan Du is Associate Professor in the Division of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She has published articles on animation, film, gender, and popular culture in Positions: Asia CritiqueModern Chinese Literature and CultureJournal of Chinese CinemasGender & History, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her first monograph, titled Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation 1940s-1970s, was published by the University of Hawaii Press in 2019. She is currently editing a book titled Chinese Animation and (Post)Socialism: From Animators’ Perspectives (under advance contract with Brill). She is the editor in charge of Asia for the Encyclopedia of Animation Studies, newly launched by Bloomsbury. 

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, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Welcome Speech, Kellee Tsai

  • Kellee S. Tsai (Ph.D., Political Science, Columbia University) is Dean of Humanities and Social Science and Chair Professor of Social Science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).  She previously served as Head of the Division of Social Science at HKUST; and Vice Dean of Humanities and Social Science and Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.  She is the author or co-editor of several books, including Back-Alley Banking: Private Entrepreneurs in China (Cornell 2002), Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China (Cornell 2007), and State Capitalism, Institutional Adaptation, and the Chinese Miracle (co-edited with Barry Naughton, Cambridge 2015).  She has published articles in Business and Politics,China Journal, China Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Development Studies, Perspectives on Politics, World Development, and World Politics, among others.  Tsai’s research interests include informal institutions, informal and digital finance, endogenous institutional change, political economy of development, and private entrepreneurship. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the impact of migration on local development in three pairs of localities China and India.

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, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Welcome Speech, Andrew Cohen

  • Prior to joining the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) as the Director of the Institute for Advanced Study and Lam Woo Foundation Professor in 2017, Prof. Andrew Cohen was Professor of Physics at Boston University. Currently he is also the Acting Dean of Science at HKUST.

    As a leading expert in the field of theoretical particle physics, Prof. Cohen has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the origins of matter and physics at short distances. Among his major research achievements include his groundbreaking work on the construction of models of electroweak symmetry breaking and ideas for the nature and origin of the baryon asymmetry of the universe.

    As a prominent figure in the international scientific community, Prof. Cohen was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2003. He was President (2007-2010) and Chairman of the Board (2015-2018) of the Aspen Center for Physics, a world-renowned organization fostering advanced research in theoretical physics. He also served on many US and international boards, including the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel under the US Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.

    Research achievements and scientific leadership aside, Prof. Cohen is an award-winning teacher, and has received unreserved commendations for his inspiring and innovative teaching approach. Acclaimed as a spectacular speaker and excellent teacher, Prof. Cohen is passionate about taking science to students and the public.

    Prof. Cohen received his bachelor degrees in Physics and Music, both with distinction, from Stanford University in 1980 and, after spending two years in China teaching English, his PhD in Physics from Harvard University in 1986. He spent the early years of his career at Harvard University as a Postdoctoral Fellow and an elected Junior Fellow in the elite Harvard Society of Fellows.

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, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 

9:15-10:25am:  

“Playful Dispositif and Remediation: Chinese Animation from the Perspective of Film History as Media Archaeology”

  • This paper approaches Chinese animation from the perspective of film history as media archaeology (Elsaesser 2016). First, we posit that Chinese animation constitutes an alternative archive, which encourages scholarship that departs from the time-honored teleological and organic modelsand, instead, traceslines of descend rather than origins. In parallel or parallax histories and trajectories, Chinese animation is associative of various artistic media and generative of new visual styles and forms (e.g., ink painting, papercut). Second, the concept of dispositif—involving materiality, bricolage, and assemblages—requires that we examine medium, image, and spectator together in animation studies. The anticipation ofthe child-like spectator explains the types of images to emerge, but it also allows for “double power”(Du 2019) that interrogatesthe socialist reconstruction ofchildhood via violence. In contemplating what, when and why is animation, we see how the increasing importance of experience has transformed animation into an encounter more than an event. An investigation of the medium in animation history shows not so much definitive breaks as playful remediation, oftentimesthrough pastiche and parody vis-à-vis live-action film and classical narrative.Chinese animation represents a distinct transmedia synergy referencing literature, theater, painting, and music. Third, precisely due to its multiplicity and heterogeneity, Chinese animation does not conform to a singletelos despite historical exigency and ideological interpellation. Chinese animation studies should therefore keep“a retrospective and prospective frame of mind at the same time” because, like cinema in general, animation is“still in permanent flux and becoming” (Elsaesser 2016).

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,Yingjin Zhang
  • Yingjin Zhang (Ph.D., Stanford) is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Chinese Studies, and Chair of the Department of Literature at University of California, San Diego. He also holds a Visiting Chair Professorship in Humanities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. He is the author of The City in Modern Chinese Literature and Film: Configurations of Space, Time, and Gender (Stanford, 1996), Screening China: Critical Interventions, Cinematic Reconfigurations, and the Transnational Imaginary in Contemporary Chinese Cinema (Center for Chinese Studies, Michigan, 2002), Chinese National Cinema (Routledge, 2004), and Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China (Hawaii, 2010); co-author of Encyclopedia of Chinese Film (Routledge, 1998) and New Chinese-Language Documentaries: Ethics, Subject and Place (Routledge, 2015); editor of China in a Polycentric World: Essays in Chinese Comparative Literature (Stanford, 1998), Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghai, 1922-1943 (Stanford, 1999), A Companion to Chinese Cinema (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), and A Companion to Modern Chinese Literature (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016); and co-editor of From Underground to Independent: Alternative Film Culture in Contemporary China (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), Chinese Film Stars (Routledge, 2010), Liangyou, Kaleidoscopic Modernity and the Shanghai Global Metropolis (Brill, 2013), and Filming the Everyday: Independent Documentaries in Twenty-First Century China (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). He has co-edited two special issues for Journal of Chinese Cinemas (2008) and Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (2018), the latter on “Chinese literature as world literature.” Additionally, he has published ten Chinese books and over 170 research articles in Chinese, English, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

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, University of California, San Diego, USA      

10:25-11:35am:   

“Vernacular Networking: The Transmedial Situation of ‘Chinese Anime,’”

  • Haoliners Animation League, established in Shanghai in 2013, uses a model for multimedia franchising reminiscent of what is loosely called media mix in the Japanese context. Haoliners has adapted a number of Chinese webcomics and net animations into animated television series thatresemble anime.  Since the establishment of a Japanese subsidary, Emon Animation Company, in 2015, Haoliners has launched into coproductions entailing various combinations of Chinese directors and writers with Japanese animators, such as the anime series Fox Spirit Matchmaker (2017) and Evil or Live (2017-2018) and the omnibus film Flavors of Youth (2018).  In an era in which there is increasing emphasis on the part of governmental agencies and filmmakers in both Japan and China on the articulation of a “national style,” Haoliners’ animations may appear somewhat scandalous because they introduce a zone in which national styles are indiscernable. Indeed, common complaints are that these animations are either too much like anime, or not enouch like anime, and without Chinese characteristics.

    While it is tempting to characterize these multimedia franchises as “convergence culture,” this manner of convergence is not like the American grassroots culture evoked by Henry Jenkins.  It is not a nation-based popular culture or national populism. Such convergence is more like what Miriam Hansen called a “global sensory vernacular” — “with connotations of discourse, idiom, and dialect, with circulation, promiscuity, and translatability” — that might be said to register and respond to processes of regionalization and globalization. In this paper, I propose a closer reading of the “form of content” and the “form of expression” in Haoliners’ animations to consider how they respond to processes of regionalization and globalization related to media circulation, distribution, and translatability. Of particular interest is the paradigm of net addiction in Evil or Live, for it exemplifies an experience of “unbalanced equilibrium” or “equilibrium away from equilibrium” that characterizes the contemporary transmedial situation.

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Thomas Lamarre
  • Thomas Lamarre is professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies & East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. His research centers on the history of media, thought, and material culture, with projects ranging from (Uncovering Heian Japan, 2000), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen, 2005), animation technologies (The Anime Machine, 2009) and on television and new media (The Anime Ecology, 2018). Current projects include research on animation that addresses the use of animals in the formation of media networks associated with colonialism and extraterritorial empire, and the consequent politics of animism and speciesism.

    He has also edited volumes on cinema and animation, on the impact of modernity in East Asia, on pre-emptive war, and, as Associate Editor ofMechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts, a number of volumes on manga, anime, and fan cultures. He is co-editor with Takayuki Tatsumi of a book series with the University of Minnesota Press entitled “Parallel Futures,” which centers on Japanese speculative fiction. Current editorial work includes volumes on Chinese animation and risk, media, and animality.

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, University of Chicago, USA

Panel 2: 9:00am-11:00am, March 2 (Tuesday, Hong Kong time), Screening of Early Animated Shorts by China Film Archive (not open to the public, exclusive to conference participants only), chaired by Zhen Zhang, New York University, USA

The Mouse and the Frog (cel, Wan Brothers, 1934)

Songs of Resistance 2 (cel, Wan Brothers, 1938)

Songs of Resistance 5 (cel, Wan Brothers, 1939)

The Kite (cel, Liang Jin, 1943)

Dreaming to be Emperor (puppet, Chen Bo’er, 1947)

Capturing the Turtle in the Jar (cel, Mochinaga Tadahito, 1948)

“An Overview of the Animated Film Data in the China Film Archive,”

  • Since its inception, the China Film Archive has been dedicated to the collection of animated film data. Over the years, from a variety of sources, China Film Archive has been collecting, preserving, organizing and restoring animated film data, particularly Chinese animated film data. Currently, a cohesive system and procedure has been put in place. This presentation gives an overview of the animated film data contained in China Film Archive, including text, pictures, videos, and restoration of animated films. In particular, there will be a background introduction to the five animated films that China Film Archive has provided for screening during this conference.

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TAN Qiuwen
  • TANQiuwen is an associate editor in China Film Art Research Center and one of the executive editors of Contemporary Animation. His works include A Brief History of Chinese Film (1978-2019). He is the translator of Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century and chief editor of Ups and Downs in the World of Film: An Oral History of Luo Yijun.

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, China Film Art Research Center, PRC

“Screening of Selections from the Early Chinese Animation Playlist,”

  • This screening event will introduce the Early Chinese Animation playlist, a publicly-accessible repository of Chinese animation from the Republican era, available on YouTube and on the website chinesefilmclassics.org. The playlist is comprised of film clips with English subtitles excerpted from Chinese films made up to 1949, such as A String of Pearls (1925), City Scenes (1935), Song at Midnight (1937), Street Angels (1937), Hua Mu Lan (1939), Princess Iron Fan (1941), and Wanderings of Three-Hairs the Orphan (1949). The playlist both illustrates the various uses of animation in Republican cinema, andconstitutes an animation-centric method of revisiting cinema history (further discussed in Panel 3). Other playlists focus on songs and special effects. Scholars are invited to contribute to building this shared online resource. Send nominations of animations for inclusion, along with rights/permissions information, to chris.rea@ubc.ca.

    The playlist may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhA05Qf-09xAgCdNLbAF3n6PCfu-awo6I

    Updates will be announced to subscribers of the Modern Chinese Cultural Studies YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-Xdirs4_JYpeyWi46h8kdA?view_as=subscriber

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Christopher Rea
  •  

    Christopher Rea is Professor of Chinese inthe Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, as well as former Director of the UBC Centre for Chinese Research. His monograph The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China, which won the Association for Asian Studies 2017 Joseph Levenson Book Prize (post-1900 China). His other books includeChina’s Literary Cosmopolitans (2015),Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts (2011),The Business of Culture (2015)(with Nicolai Volland), The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (2017) (with Bruce Rusk), Imperfect Understanding (2018), China’s Chaplin (2019), and Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949. and China on the Make. His translations of 20+ Republican era films may be found on chinesefilmclassics.org.

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, University of British Columbia, Canada

Panel 3: 9:00am-11:40am, March 8 (Monday, Hong Kong time), Early Animation and Cartoons before 1949, chaired by Yingjin Zhang, University of California, San Diego, USA      

“Kamishibai in Wartime China,”

  • The street performance medium kamishibai developed in Japan alongside cinema from the 1910s to the 1930s, in a mutually-influencing relationship with live-action film, animation, and also manga. In the 1930s and ’40s kamishibaiwas exported to Japan’s colonial empire, including Taiwan, Manchurian, and parts of China, where it was used to try to propagandize the local populace into supporting Japan’s military and colonial activities. This presentation will explore kamishibai in China and Manchuria during Japan’s colonial period, highlighting the elements where animation and kamishibaiinfluenced each other most profoundly: editing, narrative pacing, and sound technology. It will also explore the visual and rhetorical strategies used in kamishibai plays to try to persuade Chinese and Manchurian audiences to support Japan.

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Sharalyn Orbaugh
  • Sharalyn Orbaugh is professor of modern Japanese literature and popular culture at the University of British Columbia, where she teaches courses on manga and anime. Recent publications include: Propaganda Performed: Kamishibai in Japan’s Fifteen Year War (Leiden: Brill, 2015); “Play, Education, or Indoctrination? Kamishibai in 1930s Japan” (forthcoming in Mechademia); and “Kamishibai: The Fantasy Space of the Urban Street Corner” (Introducing Japanese Popular Culture, ed. Alisa Freedman and Toby Slade; Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2018).

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, University of British Columbia, Canada   

“Metamorphosis: ‘Three Hairs’ from Newspaper to Big Screen,”

  • San Mao (or Three Hairs), the famous street urchin created by cartoonist Zhang Leping in 1930s-40s, is a household name in the Chinese-speaking region across generational and geo-political boundaries. The comic books have inspired many screen adaptations ranging from live action, puppetry and cel animation films, and TV serial animation. After a brief consideration of the trans-medialmetamorphosis of this legendary cartoon figure’s “evolution” from still images to moving images on the big screen, my article focuses on the two live action-animation hybrid films, An Orphan on the Street (1949) and San Mao Joins the Army(1992), and their articulations of what I call a persistent “orphan imagination” in Chinese film history. The former was made on the brink of the Communist “liberation,” whereas the latter was made by a Shanghai-based Fifth-generation director when China and Chinese cinema remerged onto the international stage under the forces of post-socialist globalization. Thus I am also interested in investigating the relationships between these two popular films’ unique or ambiguous forms and Shanghai film industry’s two epochal transitions book-ended by the emergence and decline of a state-sponsored cinema system.

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Zhen Zhang
  • Zhen Zhang is Associate Professor and Founding Director of the Asian Film & Media Initiative (AFMI) at the Department of Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Herpublications include An Amorous History of the Silver Screen: Shanghai Cinema 1896-1937; The Urban Generation: Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century; DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations after Independent Film, as well as numerous articles and essays on Chinese-language film history, women directors, and independent cinema and media activism in anthologies, journals, catalogues etc. She is currently working on a new book tentatively called The Orphan Imagination and Transnational Chinese Film History. She founded the Reel China at NYU Documentary Biennial (2001-ongoing) and organized films series for, among other venues, the Film Society at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Taiwan’s Women Make Waves International Film Festival.

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, New York University, USA

“Reality and Seriality in Zhang Leping’s Comic Strip: The Wandering Life of Sanmao, 1947-1948,”

  • China’s most celebrated comic-strip character is, without doubt, Zhang Leping’s Sanmao, or “Three Hairs.” After inventing Sanmao in 1935, Zhang updated the wordless escapades of his big-headed orphan boy across fifty years of a changing historical landscape: from the War of Resistance against Japan, to Civil War-era Shanghai, the mass campaigns of the 1950s, and the post-Mao reform era. Studies of Zhang’s art have largely centered on The Wandering Life of Sanmao (Sanmao liulangji), the most iconic and extensive iteration of the Sanmao comics, serialized through more than 250 installments in the Shanghai daily newspaper Dagongbao(L’Impartial) from 1947 to 1948. These studies generally approach Wandering Lifeas a source ofinformation onsocial andhistorical realitiesduring China’sCivil War period. Taken for granted, however, is how the content of Wandering Life was conditioned by certain abstract and globalized forms. One of these forms was the Sanmao character itself, which belonged to the genealogy of the serial comic-strip personality, originated in Europe and elaborated in the United States, who bounces back after repeated defeat.But more broadly, Sanmao himself inhabited the open-ended serial form of the daily comic strip, which was in turn embedded in the open-ended serial form of the daily newspaper. This paper explores how these two virtual and globalized forms, the comic strip and the daily paper, together mediatedWandering Life in ways that suggest a rethinking of how the strip, and other serialized sources, should be approached as historical information.

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John Crespi
  •  

    John A. Crespi is Associate Professor of Chinese and Asian Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Colgate University. He is the author of Voices in Revolution: Poetry and the Auditory Imagination in Modern China (University of Hawai’i Press, 2009) and Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn (forthcoming, University of California Press, 2021).

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, Colgate University, USA 

“Animation and the Republican Chinese Film Industry: In Search of New Methodologies,”

  • Animation and cartoons affected Chinese cinema up to 1949 in big ways and small. Animated text appears in innumerable films—a leitmotif of the era. The Wan Brothers produced animated shorts inserted into live-action films, such as Yuan Muzhi’sCity Scenes (1935) before creating their famous full-length feature, Princess Iron Fan (1941). Comic strips like Ye Qianyu’sMr. Wang and Zhang Leping’s Sanmao were adapted into live-action films. Which appearances of animation in the Republican Chinese film industry represent the most significant trends, in terms of artistry, industry, or legacy? What might be productive approaches to measuring, evaluating, or understanding the strong influence of international cartooning, including the Disney juggernaut? How can the very concept of “animation” help us to gain new perspectives on “motion pictures” in general? This paper is both empirical and methodological: it draws on a variety of examples from Republican-era films, print culture, and other historical records to map out several methodological approaches for studying animation history, with Chinese inflections.

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Christopher Rea
  •  

    Christopher Rea is Professor of Chinese inthe Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, as well as former Director of the UBC Centre for Chinese Research. His monograph The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China, which won the Association for Asian Studies 2017 Joseph Levenson Book Prize (post-1900 China). His other books includeChina’s Literary Cosmopolitans (2015),Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts (2011),The Business of Culture (2015)(with Nicolai Volland), The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (2017) (with Bruce Rusk), Imperfect Understanding (2018), China’s Chaplin (2019), and Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949. and China on the Make. His translations of 20+ Republican era films may be found on chinesefilmclassics.org.

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, University of British Columbia, Canada

“The Wan Brothers Reexamined,”

  • The Wan Brothers have long been considered as the founding fathers of Chinese animation. Among them, the most acclaimed is Wan Laiming. Many researchers even omit the other brothers and call Wan Laiming “the father of Chinese animation.” However, “the Wan Brothers” was, in fact, a constantly changing concept. In the early stages of their career, it was referring to four brothers, but later it was at times three of the brothers and at times two. In cases where two of the brothers were involved, it wasn’t always the twins – Wan Laiming and Wan Guchan. As a result, the real authors behind many works by “the Wan Brothers” were misconstrued. The achievements and artistic features of each individual brother were obscured under the encompassing term “the Wan Brothers.” Even the memoirs of each of the brothers sometimes differ from or contradict each other. This article will attempt to deconstruct the concept of “the Wan Brothers” through historical documents, memoirs of the brothers, and oral history from their contemporaries as well as family members, in order to re-evaluate each of the brothers individually. With special focus on the early period of the Wan Brother’s animation career (before 1930s), this article aims to examine the conditions of their work in that time through primary resources including a great number of news accounts, and argue that Wan Guchan is in fact “the Father of Chinese animation” who had made the greatest contributions to the early development of Chinese animation.

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Yan Chen
  • Yan Chen is a lecturer in Character Design Course in the Faculty of Manga at Kyoto Seiki University. She received her PhD degree in Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, Japan. Her PhD dissertation is titled “Man, Dong, Dongman―History of Chinese Animation from a Sinosphere Viewpoint.”She also holds a MA degree in the same discipline from the University of Tokyo, and a BA degree from the School of Journalism and Communications at Peking University, PRC. Her research focuses on Chinese animation history. She is a member of the Japan Society for Animation Studies and research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2014-2016). In addition to research, Chen Yan works on creative writing and arts. She was a columnist for “Nijigen,” Fresh Japan by the Asahi Shimbun. She also published several graphic novels, including Yanner’s Days in PKU (2008) and Hilarious Times in PKU (2010). Since 2018, Chen Yan has been working as an advisor for multiple corporations in the comic and animation industry in China, including Tencent and Dream Castle. She is a fan, creator, researcher, and practitioner in the field of comics and anime.

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, Kyoto Seiki University, Japan

Panel 4: 9:00am-12:10pm, March 9 (Tuesday, Hong Kong time), Animation in Socialist China, chaired by Stephi Hemelryk Donald, University of Lincoln, UK

“The Deconstruction of Animated Technology in Socialist Puppet Animated Films, 1949-1964,”

  • By examining puppet animation produced by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio during the 1950s—a time when the technologies of animation film were still being harnessed and their uses to portray socialist realist worlds were still being debated and shaped—this paper provides critical and historical perspective for the fantastic modes of early PRC’s animation and science education. Here, I pursue questions of the animated technological object, media ecologies, and animated space creation, by engaging with critical work by Gilbert Simondon, Thomas Lamarre, Vivian Sobchack, and Suzanne Buchan. Specifically, thinking of Simondon’s utopian vision of the individual as a central node in a network of machines, I provide close-readings of the puppet animation films The Dream of Xiaomei(Xiaomei de meng) (1954) and The Magic Paintbrush (ShenbiMaliang) (1955). I argue that the social construct of the machine as imagined in these films function on several levels. First, in their aesthetic play with the division of the screen and with the boundaries between 2D and 3D animation—between life and lifelessness—they deconstruct and also fetishize the process of animated technology. At the same time, these films also teach the viewer to become an ideal user of technology and ideal member of a mechanized society by depicting a utopia where machine and society work together hand-in-hand. Rather than mere propaganda, I argue that these films and the discourses surrounding such animated films together produced a narrative space for imagining China’s future of scientific modernization.

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Linda C. Zhang
  • Linda C. Zhang is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at University of California-Berkeley. Her research pursues questions of medium, space, technology, and realism related to experimental cinema, documentary, and animated film. Her current project, focusing on the early Cold War period, examines how media such as animated films, scientific education films, and documentaries work in a myriad of ways to mediate anxieties about modernity while also projecting an optimism about a technologically-powered future.

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, University of California-Berkeley, USA

“Sonic ‘National Style’ in Socialist Chinese Animation Films,”

  • This paper explores the employment of “national style” in the soundscapes of Chinese animation films made in the socialist period through the lens ofUproar in Heaven (1961-64), a fantasy animation about the Monkey King, based on an episode from the classic Ming dynasty novel The Journey to the West.The costumes, color patterns, gestures and diction of the animated figures in this film take much inspiration from Beijing opera repertoire, as do the highly operatic and kinetic martial arts and acrobatic combat scenes. The visual realm strongly evokes a kind of “national style”—a broad concept and practice encompassing and combining various Chinese folk cultural conventions and art forms: Buddhist statues, architecture, sculpture, painting, woodblock, pictures of door-gods, among others. Moreover, the soundtrack, which includes dubbed dialogues, sound effects and orchestrated music, corresponds to the visual realm and further cultivates“national style” by incorporatingBeijing opera luogujing (percussion by drums and gongs), folk melodies, and kunqu tunes composed by Wu Yingju (1926-2008), one of the most accomplished composers atShanghai Animation Film Studio who created scores for more than eighty Chinese animation films. Within the diegesis, soundscape also reinforces a sense of “national style” in an illuminating sequence of “musical battle” in which pipa-playing is used todizzy and defeat the adversary. By closely examining the soundscape in Uproar in Heaven and other Chinese animation films, this paper investigates how this sonic practice of “national style”differs from that in other animations (such as “Mickey Mousing” in Disney animations) and identifies the particular kinds of sonic conventions Wu Yingju and his music helped to establish for Chinese animation films.

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Ling Zhang
  • Ling Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at SUNY Purchase, currently an ACLS post-doc fellow (2019-2020). She received her MA in film studies at Beijing Film Academy and her PhD from the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She specializes in film sound theory, Chinese-language cinema and opera, cinema and travel/mobility, ruins in cinema, documentary, gender and cinema, as well as film and urbanism. Zhang has extensive experience as a documentary filmmaker and is also an established Chinese film critic with a published collection of reviews and essays in Chinese (2011).Zhang has published academic articles on film sound, 1930s Chinese cinema and film theory, contemporary Chinese independent documentary, Taiwan New Cinema, socialist road movies, and Chinese opera films in Film Quarterly, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, The New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, Asian Cinema, Film Art (mainland China) and Film Appreciation (Taiwan), among others. She also contributes to anthologies such as Cinema of Exploration (James Cahill and Luca Camitani eds, AFI, forthcoming), Routledge Companion to Global Film Music (Jeremy Barham, ed, forthcoming), The Global Road Movie: Alternative Journeys (Timothy Corrigan and José Duarte, eds, Intellect, 2018), and Early Film Culture in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Republican China: Kaleidoscopic Histories (Emilie Yeh, ed., University of Michigan Press, 2018).She is currently working on her book manuscript, tentatively entitledSounding Screen Ambiance: Acoustic Culture and Transmediality in 1920s-1940s Chinese Cinema.

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, State University of New York Purchase College, USA

“Animated Soundscape: Wu Yingju’s Music in Meishu Films in Socialist China from 1957 to 1965,”

  • During the golden age of Chinese animation, the Vietnamese Chinese Wu Yingju (1926-2008) was the composer of meishu films including The Herd Boy’s Flute (1963), Uproar in Heaven (1965), and Heroic Little Sisters of the Grassland (1965). Before entering the Department of Music at Yenching University, Wu had composed and performed patriotic songs in Hai Phong, Vietnam and colonial Macau. Well versed in western and Chinese musical instruments, Wu joined Shanghai Meishu Film Studio in 1955 as the leading composer. This paper examines the musical style of meishu films produced during 1957 and 1965 by focusing on Wu Yingju’s musical numbers, film score, and research papers. I first investigate Wu’s appropriation of Chinese operatic and folk music tradition in Uproar in Heaven and The Herd Boy’s Flute where music guided the flow of the storyline in the visual. I then look into his approach to collecting ethnic music in inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Yunnan, etc. in response to the call for “national style.” Finally, I discuss how Wu’s film music distinguishes from orchestra music (performed independently) and film score for live action films to create an animated soundscape. Wu defines a distinct animated world based on the sub-genres of meishu film, such as paper-cutting, paper-folding, puppet, stop motion, as well as animation clips within live action films. I argue that the film music in meishu films demonstrate the flexibility of national style incorporating a wide array of musical instruments and musical corpus from western music and Chinese folk music traditions.

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Yunwen Gao
  • Yunwen Gao is assistant professor of the Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received her PhD from the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture at the University of Southern California. She is interested in modern Chinese literature and culture, Sinophone studies, Chinese cinema and performative arts, and post-colonial studies. She has published article on literature and opera in refereed journals such as Concentric, and Ming Qing Studies. She is currently working on her book manuscript titled Language, Soundscape, and Identity Formation in Shanghai Fangyan Literature and Culture.

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, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR

“Receiving the Classics,”

  • Much current literature about animation produced during the 1950 and 60s describes a “Golden Age” of animation. Films such as The Magic Brush (1955) and The Arrogant General (1956) are considered classics of national style. Released in two parts, Uproar in Heaven (1961; 1964) is admired as an adaptation of one of the most famous episodes of Journey to the West while also referencing theater reform of the period. Where is Mama? (1960) and The Herd Boy’s Flute (1963) are revered as examples of a type of animation distinctly new to China at the time, ink-wash animation. The current evaluation of these iconographic films has been formed by years of screenings and discussion. But how were these classic animated films received in their time? Lacunae remain about how responses to the Shanghai Animation Film Studio catalogue emerged at the time the films were screened. In this paper, I would like to suggest some possible ways of understanding the reception of animated films in the 1950s and 60s. Producers at the Shanghai Animation Film Studio have noted how much freedom animators had to produce their films, often made specifically for children. But children were not the only spectators. No less than live-action film, animation was discussed and debated in the press. How were these films for children interpreted? Did politics affect the reception of these films? Did the reception of the films play a role in their production? This paper attempts to open up questions about the role of audiences in classic animation produced at the Shanghai Animation Film Studio.

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Sean Macdonald
  • Sean Macdonald received a PhD degree in comparative literature from University of Montreal. He currently teaches Chinese Language and Culture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His book, Animation in China: History, Aesthetics, Media attempts to trace several historical strands that make up the development of the animation in the People’s Republic of China. He attempts to link the early industry of animation to concepts of institutional postmodernism. He has published on the important director of puppet animation, Jin Xi (1919-1997) and is currently working on a translation of an important example of animation theory by that director. His current research explores concepts of fantasy in literature and film, both live action and animated. Fantasy holds a unique place in premodern and modern Chinese literature. While fantastic writing was once contrasted to historic writings, by the twentieth century, concepts of the fantastic emerge within a context of superstition and irrationality. The fantastic played a key role in animated film. In live-action fictional film, fantasy played an important role from the earliest years of martial arts cinema until recent blockbusters. Sean has published translations of two short stories by the Shanghai modernist Mu Shiying (1912-1940).  

     

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, State University of New York at Buffalo, USA

“From Ink to Animation: Tang Cheng’s Artistic Road,”

  • For a long time, Tang Cheng(1919-1986) has been frequently mentioned in the animation history, often referred to as a“practitioner of Chinese ink animation.” However, little attention has been drawn to her early artistic activities before she joined the socialist animation industry. She grew up in a standard traditional literati family, with her ancestors coming from Shexian County, Anhui Province. Tang Cheng’s grandmother, Wu Xingfen(1853-1930), was a famous female painter in the late Qing Dynasty. Her father TangXiongwas a painter and property investor, as well as a collector and art patron. In recent years, a number of works appeared in the auction show us the glorious past of this family.In this paper, I will focus on paintings and letters to study Tang Cheng’s early artistic career, her contacts with the art circles at that time, the background of her artistic style, and the cultural values and influence of her art. More important, I will discuss her achievements in ink animation, and the relationship between her ink painting and animation.

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Zeyu Yang
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    Zeyu Yang received his master’s degree from Northeast Normal University in 2006. Since then, he has been teaching in the Communication School of Qingdao Agricultural University. He is currently doing research on Chinese ink-painting animation. In 2019, hejoined theDepartment of Art and Art History at the University of Alabama to write a book on Tang Cheng, which will be published soon.

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, Qingdao Agricultural University, PRC

Panel 5: 9:00am-11:10am, March 15 (Monday, Hong Kong time), Legacy of the 1980s, chaired by Paola Voci, University of Otago, New Zealand

“Motifs of Science and Technology in Chinese Animation during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw,”

  • Echoing PRC government rhetoric during the post-Mao cultural thaw of China’s new springtime for science, scientific and technological imagery such as robots and satellites were ubiquitous in Chinese animation during the late 1970s and early 1980s. This essay focuses on major motifs of science and technology in Chinese animation during this key transitional era in PRC cultural history. I will examine how animated films portrayed the visual aspects of everyday life at home, at school and at the workplace. The motifsin these settings of everyday modern-style lifefeature advances in science and technology,new developments in aerospace and national defense,and critiques of religion and superstition. These animated films look moreto the future than to the past, celebrate a wider latitude for scientific inquiry, and champion technological innovation; such films argue that science and technology greatly improve economic productivity and are crucial to a near-term achievement of the “Four Modernizations” of agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology.In addition, I also relate some scientific themes in animation to those inPRC science fiction, such as genetic modification, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and industrial automation. I argue thatthese scientific themesin animation resonate with those in science fiction, and contribute to a significant rise in interest in science fiction among Chinese readers during the 1980s. 

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Hua Li
  • Hua Li is Associate Professor of Chinese and Chinese Program Coordinator in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Montana State University. Her primary research field is modern and contemporary Chinese literature. Her monograph,Contemporary Chinese Fiction by Su Tong and Yu Hua: Coming of Age in Troubled Times, was published by Brill in 2011. She has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters on various topics in contemporary Chinese fiction and cinema—this includes more than ten journal articles and book chapters on Chinese science fiction in peer-reviewed journals such as Science Fiction Studies, Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, Communication and the Public, and edited book volumes such as the Cambridge History of Science Fiction. She recently completed her second book manuscript on Chinese science fiction during the Post-Mao cultural thaw.

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, Montana State University, USA 

“Adapting Dunhuang in a Transitional Period: Negotiated Intermediality in The Deer of Nine Colors and Jiazi Saves the Deer,”

  • Dunhuang caves (Dunhuang, China), the ancientBuddhist site in Northwestern China, has inspired many Chinese animations. Previous scholarship has revolved around the issue of national style byidentifying visual and narrative references of Dunhuang murals in related animations.While recent studies on Chinese animation begin to look beyond features of sinicization andto pay more attention to the transnational encounters or influences, the changing ideas of animation as a mediumare rarely examined. This paper points to the changing perception of animation in China in the 1980s by comparing the distinctive approachesof The Deer of Nine Colours(Jiu se lu, 1981) and Jiazi Saves the Deer (Jiazijiulu, 1985), both of which adapt Dunhuang murals. While the former approaches animation as a branch of fine arts (meishu), the latter practicescinematic methods (dianyinghua). Their difference resonates with the changing perception of animation. In addition, the production of these two animations was intertwined withpicture books (lianhuanhua), whichfurther testify Chinese animators’ struggles with linear story and their efforts in differentiating mural paintings and animated images.Unpacking the intermedialityofthese cultural productions, this paper aims to highlight the complicated conceptual change of animation as a medium in China.

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Shasha Liu
  • Shasha Liu is a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada). She received her BA (2008) from the department of Art History and Theory at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts (Tianjin, China) and MA (2011) from the department of Art History at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the issue of mediating Dunhuang in the 20th century through the perspectives of four visual media: photography, painting, animation, and film, and argues that the visual mediations of Dunhuang produce knowledge, shape politics, and rewrite relations among the self, the tradition, and the world. She is currently writing her dissertation, titled “Mediating Dunhuang with Images in 1940s-1980s,” with the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship.

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, University of Toronto, Canada   

“Xu Bing’s The Character of Characters and the Possibilities of Calligraphic Animation,”

  • This paper investigates the encounters between calligraphy and animation. My focus is Xu Bing’s 2012 animation video, The Character of Characters, which mediates the history of Chinese calligraphy and its intimate relationships with nature and painting within a highly conceptual framework. Pairing Xu Bing’s animationwith A Da’s36 Characters (1984), an educational animated short, I will underscore how the transformative and performative qualities of archaic Chinese hieroglyphics come into play in the medium of animation. I will also explore how audiences react to calligraphy—or dancing lines—with immediate, visceral excitement. By offering a close analysis of the scene of The Character of Characters in which trees and stones fly into a book—a calligraphic manual—and become the “heartfelt” Chinese characters so dependent on nature, I will argue that, to think about pictographic scripts on screen is meant to see the screen as a space crosshatched with multiple temporal rhythms, one in which the ancient story of “images-becoming-words” coexists with the present tendency of “words-becoming-images.” I will also put my reading of this scene into dialogue with Xu Bing’s other artworks, especially the Landscript series (1999-present). Ultimately, I will evoke a double vision that sees words on screen as linguistic texts and pictorial shapes at the same time, a vision through which and because of which looking and reading are no longer separate activities. If, in Horkheimer and Adorno’s account,the historical process of disenchantmentinevitably entails a dissociation of verbal and pictorial functions, a double vision that enables a re-association of verbal and pictorial functions perhaps indicates the unwitting and spectral return of dream, imagination and poetic possibilities in the mundane world.

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Panpan Yang
  • Panpan Yang received her PhD in 2020 in the joint program in Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, where she is currently a postdoctoral teaching fellow. Her first book project, partly based on her dissertation, rethinks the questions of cinematic space and time through a reappraisal of the history of Chinese animation. Concurrently, she is pursuing a second book project on the calligraphic imagination of contemporary films and emerging media.

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, University of Chicago, USA 

“Dynamics of Dialogue: Reconstructing the Sino-European Opening-Up within the Art-house Animation Festival Circuit in the 1980s,”

  • This paper examines directions, methods of implementation and aftermath of the 1980s Sino-European intercultural dialogues conducted by animators, curators, and animation historians. As much as it remains a two-sided, politicized process, it should also be perceived as an exceptional and creative phenomenon stimulated by mutual curiosity. Its development may be observed from two complementary perspectives. Analyses and interpretations of Ah Da’s films and writings demonstrate this Chinese animator’s conscious reflection on European animation, especially Zagreb and Polish School of Animation. Ah Da’s efforts in modernizing Chinese animated film by means of expression (reduced imagery, sound design, editing) complement the landscape of the late 20th century Chinese animation that was turning into the system of global market and entertainment. Collections archived at world-leading animation festivals, such as Annecy (France) and Animafest Zagreb (Croatia, ex-Yugoslavia), reveal the agents and procedures of the ongoing exchange between China and Europe. The documents from Annecy exemplify structural difficulties in overcoming cultural misunderstandings.Individual interactions occurring in Zagreb led to the artistic collaboration between Chinese and European art-house authors as well as the emergence of the Chinese chapter of ASIFA. Ah Da, a juror and visitor of both festivals, should be acknowledged as a creative spiritus movens of the Sino-European cultural exchanges. Archive-based research at the European festivals and contextual analyses of Ah Da’s films illustratethe collaborative features of Sino-European dialogue. At the same time, they disclose the distinctive characteristics of art-house animation’s styles and functions in Deng Xiaoping’s China and Europe on the eve of the Iron Curtain’s fall.

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Olga Bobrowska
  • Born in 1987, Olga Bobrowska is a film and animation scholar who obtained her PhD in Humanities (Art Studies) at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland) in 2020. Her dissertation discusses trends and tendencies in Chinese animation between 1957 and 1989. She has presented and written on Chinese, Polish and European animated film and co-edited two monographs: Obsession Perversion Rebellion. Twisted Dreams of Central European Animation (2016) and Propaganda, Ideology, Animation. Twisted Dreams of History (2019). She is also a festival director of StopTrik International Film Festival (Slovenia/Poland).

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, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Panel 6: 9:00am-11:10am, March 16 (Tuesday, Hong Kong time), Independent Animation in China, chaired by Thomas Lamarre, University of Chicago, USA

“The Chinese Animateur 2.0: Playful Technologies and Magical Wonders,”

  • At the turn of the millennium, the J.Paul Getty Museum hosted an unusual exhibition on “Devices of Wonder: From the world in a box to images on a screen” (Los Angeles, 13 November 2001- 3 February 2002), which set out on the ambitious pathway of re-imagining both histories and practices of augmented vision by examining “the strange and uncanny optical instruments humans have used to perceive the world and some of the powerful images they generated or inspired.”In the catalog that accompanied the exhibit, Barbara Maria Stafford points to the complex, multidirectional connections between these “revealing technologies and magical domains” (my emphasis), which show that “art and science do not so much rival each other as intermingle and branch.”I argue that the Chinese animateur meaningfully contributes to such multidirectional connections, both in space and time.

    In my previous research, I have begun to examine and understand the post-digital animateurs as part of a “shadow” development in cinema that re-centershuman agency/handling/manipulation/ in the making of the moving image.In this presentation I further explore the materiality and ontology of shadowsin Chinese animation to address multidirectional connections between technology and magic, observation and imagination, science and art, knowledge and pleasure. Their animateur practices seek – and, I propose, attain – an alliance between the human body (and, more specifically, eyes and hands) with the mechanical (and now digital) machines in order to see beyond reality, perceive and re-imagine the world, and respond to the human desire for evocative, surreal, fantastic, magical domains.Among the case studies I discuss are the works ofDuan Tianran, Wang Yingqi (Inkee Wang) Jennifer Wen Ma, Xiao Junyi, Zhang Xiaotao, and Qieer Wang.

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Paola Voci
  • Paola Voci is an associate professor at the University of Otago. She specializes in Chinese visual cultures, and, in particular, documentary, animation, and other hybrid digital video practices. She is the author of China on Video, a book that analyses and theorises light movies made for and viewed on computer and mobile screens, and co-editor of Screening China’s Soft Power, a book focusing on the role played by film and media in shaping China’s global image. She has published in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Journal of Chinese CinemasScreening the PastSenses of Cinema, Modern Italy, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, and Bianco e Nero. Her work also appears in several edited collections of essays, such as The New Chinese Documentary Movement and The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas.Expanding from her conceptualisation of lightness to rethink the past of digital cultures, her current research is on handmade cinema, shadow play and animation and other amateur, vernacular practices and their contribution to the archaeology of the moving image.

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, University of Otago, New Zealand  

“Animating the Urban: Cities in 21st Century Chinese Independent Animation,”

  • In the last two decades, the city has become increasingly central to Mainland Chinese society and culture. While the role of urbanization in literature, feature film and fine art is relatively well-documented, the growing importance of the city in Chinese animation has been neglected within current scholarship. Despite the prevailing view that Chinese animation is a medium which deals with primarily pastoral or mythical themes, a growing body of recent Chinese animation — particularly in the emergent field of independent animation — makes it possible to contest this.

    Independent animators make use of a variety of narrative and visual forms, including short film, feature film, documentary, music video, installation and video art, to portray China’s burgeoning cityscapes. Animatedcities range from the reflective and nostalgic to the outlandish and futuristic, by way of gritty realism. While these works stand both in relation and opposition to China’s booming commercial animation industry, they also have important links with other areas of China’s cultural and creative industries. Thus, broad academic terms used for identifying trends across recent Chinese visual culture — such as the “urban/ sixthgeneration” and “iGeneration” — prove useful for situating animated works within largercreative networks.

    Not only do China’s interconnected, global cities play a key role in the narratives and aesthetics of independent animation: they are also crucial to its creation and distribution. Thus, the cityscape forms the backdrop to independent animation on an intra-, inter- and meta-textual level.

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Isabel Galwey
  • Isabel Galwey is an MPhil student in the Division of Humanities at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. From 2015-2019 she studied Chinese at the University of Oxford and Peking University, graduating with a First. Before beginning her BA she completed a foundation diploma in Art and Design, specializing in moving image. Her research interests include animation studies, urban studies and twentieth-century mass media in China.

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, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong SAR

“Assembling the History of Difference: Independent Animation in Postsocialist China,”

  • In 2013, the online release of the Chinese animated short film Forward, Comrades! (Qianjin, Dawalixi) has provoked highly polarized reactions among its viewers in China and Russia, largely due to the way it entails to assemble the history of socialism. The same can be said about the remediation of the socialist propaganda posters in another independent animated film Have a Nice Day (Da shijie, 2017). But how does Chinese independent animation capture the history of socialism? Do they assume a transcendent position to get out of the capitalist history of nation-states?Since animation has long been regarded as the medium that tends to structure the world differently, this paper seeks to reconsider the relation between animation and history by exploring how Forward, Comrades! and Have a Nice Day strive to assemble the history of difference in the context of the internet-based production, distribution, and circulation of independent animation and China’s socialist aftermath. My analysis of these animations will be centering on how the circulation of affective flow forms a space that could not be reduced to China, the Eastern Bloc, or any given territory that assumes a normative understanding of nation-states. The remediation of documentaries, radio, posters, and photography from the socialist past in those independent animation evokes an embodied experience and desire that has a potential to grasp modern history alternatively.

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Hang Wu
  • Hang Wu is a PhD student in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include animation and film, critical area studies, the animal and sovereignty, and Chinese socialism and postsocialism. Her articles on Chinese animation and film appeared in journals such as Contemporary Cinema(Dangdaidianying), and Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Her current research explores the production of special effects (visual and auditory) in Chinese film history in relation to monsters, ghosts, aliens, and supernatural forces, and the question of subject formation and becoming-human.

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, University of Chicago, USA     

“Constant Renegotiation: Understanding the Ecology of Independent Chinese Animation,”

  • While China continues to enjoy its economic success, contemporary Chinese independent animation remains embedded in a multi-layered “mediascape.” The kaleidoscopic array of this art awaits to be addressed with an ecological approachthat reassembles variously dispersed articulations from art/cultural and sociopolitical dimensions. Despite the “evident” constraints, several artists have been pursuing a vigorous line of self-expression to transform current configuration into a sustainable ecology. This article aims to contextualise the distinctive traits of Chinese independent animation, from acknowledging the problematic term of “independence” to highlighting the necessity of media ecology in contemporary China. In detail, there are two case studies anchored with different strategies for negotiation that further clarify the understanding of “Chinese” towards “independent” animation. The first case will discuss Pi San as an exponent of constantly cautious engagement and renegotiation – ultimately succeeding in maintaining a palpable degree of independence. The next, by contrast will explore Lei Lei as an exemplar of a relatively particular mode of engagement based on international connections with animation festivals – thus enabling him to insulate his work from domestic scrutiny. This article also explores how this multifaceted cultural form reveals ambiguities that parallel contradictions in art and society, that further emphasises the process of renegotiation between independent art and the hegemony power in current mediascape are inevitable.

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