Archive for the ‘self-analysis’ Category

Creative Journal needs a creative mind

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

What is Creative Journal? Creative Journal had a negative denotation for me at the early stage. I took Creative Journal as a piece of homework at the beginning because I did not understand why should I keep writing it every week, and who am I writing for. So I treated it as something that I had a duty to do.

Why I am writing? The uncertainty of writing became my motivation towards writing. Now I have a very positive feeling towards it. I realised that I am not writing for anyone but rather for myself. Whenever I read a good article, come back from a fantastic exhibition or have had an exciting discussion with course-mates, they all become very good resources for it. Gradually, the creative journal became one of my hobbies which records my thoughts, builds up my ideas and also keeps my mind busy with controversial issues within contemporary society.

Creative journal helps me to think seriously about what I have perceived, heard and also when I have given my own opinions towards contemporary issues. It differs from essays, one can write freely without restrictions from particular topics.
However, the fact is that I found all the subjects of which I am interested, actually interact with each other. For example I have been interested in whether Chinese contemporary architecture has been influenced by the Western idea of modernity. Meanwhile, I also keen to research whether Chinese contemporary art has its own identity or if it may be seen as a copy of the Western phenomenon. Both topics are relevant to the study of visual culture, and both issues had obvious effects in the City in China today.

Creative Journals help me to review what I have studied in the past, and make connections with similar contexts. It naturally draws a visual mind map for me, which helps me to analyze my mind and thinking.

Nevertheless, I have also met difficulties through writing. It was difficult to talk about things objectively. A piece of creative journal can be from a very personal point of view. However, I think it is good to not repeat what has been said in history, instead, to develop one’s own thought further based on today’s issues in various situations.

Theories are still very crucial for supporting one’s ideas and also to help to reveal contemporary issues. I also enjoyed in studying thinkers with differing viewpoints. Researching on a very specific subject can lead one into depth in this study area. Moreover, through long-term research, one may gain unexpected knowledge and find more interests. For example I wrote a series of discussions about ‘YCA (Young Chinese Artists) is on its way’, which is quite different from my studies of feminism. These require different style of wiring.

Among various subjects, I have been interested in the Chinese contemporary art market, in terms of how it has dramatically developed through the last 30 years. It has many influences from within and also outside of China. When Chinese indigenous culture suddenly becomes a source of creative motivation for Chinese artists, and their artworks become products, and these products are brought to the international market, afterwards, this market becomes hotter and hotter. I really want to know the reasons behind this.

In terms of Chinese contemporary art history, it is fascinating to see who is making it and how it has been constructed.

With my language advantage, I am also able to compare and contrast different ideas and philosophies towards contemporary art from the West and China. I have found that language plays an important role in terms of exchanging ideas. From many articles in Chinese publications, I have discovered how the Chinese perceive contemporary art. As Chinese contemporary art gradually becomes popular in the West today, many Western critics have had their attention drawn to it. One can easily come across art reviews or critical essays in many famous English-language art and theory magazines today, such as Art Forum, Art in America, Radical Philosophy and so on.

I feel fortunate that I am studying art theory and am able to associate with various viewpoints from both the Chinese and the Western sides towards contemporary art. Since then, I have not been satisfied with just being an observer. I have tried to apply my knowledge to them by using what I have learned through this course. For example, in ‘A Fake Conversation’, I joined the conversation among art critics (in this case Richard Vine and Christopher Phillips) and presented my own opinions. Another example will be ‘ “Aftershock” shocked me’ – a series of criticisms on the YBA British Contemporary Art show which is held in China this year. I focused on the fact that Tracy Emin’s ‘my bed’ was ‘castrated’ when the Chinese version of it appeared, and I reviewed in English in how the Chinese media presented this show. With the aim of encouraging Young Chinese Artists to be more creative and groundbreaking, one may sense the new cultural imperialism is coming in by the back door with the show.

Feminism studies is also one of my favourite subjects. It was quite shocking after studying feminism in art in the West. Women were not included in the Art circle for a long term throughout art history. In my journal, I took the opportunity to compare two compelling thinkers to show the ‘sexual difference’ between Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler. This helped me to obtain knowledge about Western cultural background as well as to look at contemporary art through this perspective.

I believe that creative journal needs a creative mind. A creative mind is not about thinking randomly, it will be developed little by little by continually writing it and being passionate, active and critical about one’s interests.

Sharing experience at the study centre

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Today, I was invited to attend an informal gathering at the study centre where I used to study English language and contemporary culture last year at Goldsmith College. It was nice to meet all the new faces and also my previous tutor and some of the course mates.

The purpose of today’s gathering was to share everyone’s experiences with language studies and academic life at the College. I gave a talk about my personal experience on my current course (postgraduate diploma on contemporary art history) and how I have been developing my English through these studies. I have been thinking maybe it is a good idea to analyze what I have shared with all the new students today, and post it in here as a piece of my personal archive.

Firstly, I talked about how useful summaries are in terms of engaging with new articles and texts. The best way of doing revision is to begin with a summary of all the key concepts that are introduced throughout the academic term. The aim of this is to help one revisit and refresh one’s memory with previous lectures or text materials. I proposed that a good starting point for revision would be to go over the readings again and to summarize them at the end. They help demonstrate theories in a more personalised way, giving one a better understanding of how these theories work in real life. In order to do better revision, one should also consider a broader overview of the academic framework in order to explain contemporary issues in a more interesting way. I suggested that one should not only memorize the context of books, but to also take the ideas from these books and apply them to reality (contemporary situations), in which I think the best way to do so, is to adept theories into a presentation. This is because, presentation is a way of retelling what one has been studying and to analyze one’s thinking at the same time. In doing so, I suggested that one should try to participate more in class and sharing opinions with each other.

I advised the new students to identify their own problems from which they can construct a personal study plan, which suits them best. In order to create an effective study environment, one should also have an ultimate aim to encourage oneself and also to deal with one’s own difficulties and issues. Finally, the most important thing is to be patient and relaxed about the processing of learning.

Understanding theory

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Understanding theory

I question why I temporarily gave up art practise, and studied in art theory.

The aim of this journal is to emphasize what theory is and why studying theory is significant in culture and history studies. Theory is usually defined as explanations, and concepts organized together. Theories help analyze and uncover the veil of phenomena and events that occur in contemporary society.

The study of theory is both crucial and political. For instance, it can be a way ‘to oppose utilitarianism and anti-intellectualism of the government’s approach to education’. The idea is to encourage citizens to be more critical and aware of how the society is composed. According to Gramsci’s concept of the ‘organic intellectual’, everyone is an intellectual but not all possess the function of it. In other words, all men should not only have a role in the market but also be a critical and involved member in the society.

Theories do not exist for the sole purpose of being studied. They are studied because it stimulates critical thinking and because they relate to broader issues that are political, social and historical. Theories substantiated by our predecessors can be related to contemporary issues and thus support current day intellectuals as they speak to persuade the population.

Successful application of theory in one’s argument makes it more reasonable and harder to question and provides evidence of affinity with other academics. A clear understanding of theory can open one’s mind to the very essences of the subjects studied. In order to propose a new theory, one is required to take into account existing theory in order to be substantiated and eventually become persuasive.


Saturday, February 10th, 2007



习惯了城市的喧嚣和吵闹,已不觉得有任何特别的人,反而喜欢郊外淡淡的微风和稻草的清香。但那可能只是一时‘城里人’对现实社会的逃避。每一个住在伦敦的城里人可能都有同感。因为伦敦的魅力已经不仅仅在与方便和时尚。 对于一些人,伦敦是一个让人觉得压抑却又具有推动力变态工厂。

生活在这里的人,常常抱怨,常常愤怒,可与此同时,他们又以种种傲慢而沾沾自喜且心怀满足感。抱怨是因为,这里申请一个固定电话要等至少3个礼拜,开一个银行账户就需要你比等电话更有耐心。所以一些中文极为美妙的学子称’BT'(British Telephone line)为‘变态’。因为那是一种精神上的折磨。没有电话就意味着没有网络,那你就如人间蒸发了一样,会被以前的朋友骂到狗血喷头的。因为他们会说你到了london,人品也变得london了!意为you傲慢you偏见。因为你没有和他们及时联络啊!另一方面, 说道心怀满足感是因为,你常常被身边的小事而震惊。就好像当你发现原来一代宗师Freud竟在50年代的时候就读与与你现在同一间学校。那是一种欣喜,感觉完全不同与你在机场偶遇某个你早在少年时期为之疯狂的Super star。股子里,单纯的你变的虚伪了一点点儿。然后,更有可能告诉后来到伦敦又在为等点话线诉苦的人,说,‘嘿,这就是london啊!u should be proud!’

why do I chose Sexual Poetics as my special subject

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Since I chose Sexual Poetics as my special subject, I have been considering writing about female art in China. Or to be more specific, the application of feminist theory to art in China as feminism is an exclusively western phenomenon.

In order to find more information in relation to feminist theory in China, I have observed some of the websites which introduce this theory to China, especially how Chinese women deal with this western philosophy. Many important philosophers have been introduced to China, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler. However, it seems that the essays that introduced these writers generally attempted to introduce western thoughts directly from translations rather than elaborate them from Chinese perspectives. The critical articles on the subject of feminism in Art are also difficult to find.

I hope I can study this subject matter in depth, to be able to understand more contemporary theories which are happening in the west. However, my aim is not to apply these theories to the Chinese side. Instead, I think one should encourage oneself to be critical toward contemporary issues in order to develop one’s own thoughts.