April 15 Kristina Kleutghen

Friday, April 15, 4 to 6pm, CWAC156

Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China

Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis

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When European optical devices were first introduced into early modern East Asia, these devices affected not only viewing experiences and ideas about vision, but also the production of art. In contrast to the well-established effects on Japanese art, the Chinese case has barely been explored, not the least reason being that the science of optics did not develop significantly there prior to the mid-nineteenth century. Yet from the seventeenth century onward, Qing domestic production and use of optical devices resulted in significant relationships with art at the imperial, elite, and popular levels. The devices and the viewing experiences that they mediated created varying levels of foreign intervention into Chinese art, vision, and visuality. However, the consistent but diverse methods of Sinification of all these elements and the reliance on domestic products rather than imports offers new insights into how Qing art engaged the West without being limited to either the court or the capital. Through an art-historical case study of several different optical devices and their related works of art that are all linked through one particular type of magnifying lens, this talk examines how the production and consumption of these new objects and images varied with place, format, audience, and social status. 

Friday, April 15, 4:00 to 6:00pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

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