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Intergenerational Writing Practices in Chinese Fiction for Adolescent Girls

Yan Du

Abstract

The Anthology of Chinese Fictions on Adolescent Girls’ Psychology (2016) is one of the most renowned collections of girls’ stories in Chinese children's literature. Authored by Qin Wenjun, Cheng Wei, and Chen Danyan, it is often associated with the rise of shaonǚ xiaoshuo (girls’ fiction) in China. In this article, I evaluate the collective writing practices of the women authors mentioned above, focusing, in particular, on how their featured stories address intergenerational dissent and explore models of communication between adolescent girls and women. Highlighting how The Anthology traverses the age divide in a time during which both children's literature and the lives of teenagers underwent significant shifts, I intend to further scholarly understandings of Chinese girls’ fiction as a unique literary phenomenon.

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“Like a Dream, an Illusion, a Drop of Dew, a Flash of Lightning”

Buddhist (Un)reality, Thought Experiments, and the “Ecological Dharma Eye” in Lu Yang's Material World Knight Game Film

Livia Monnet

Abstract

This article argues that the conceptualization of the (un)reality of the phenomenal or material world (qishijie) in Lu Yang's animated short Material World Knight Game Film (MWKGF, 2020) at once follows and departs significantly from the Theravada and Mahayana traditions it references. MWKGF's reconfiguring of Buddhist notions of (un)reality is especially apparent in its representation of samsara (cycle of birth and rebirth) and in its questioning of Buddhist wisdom through the lens of neuroscience, psychotherapy, and (popular versions) of quantum theory. The film further suggests that Buddhist philosophy can be effectively expounded and played, as an “executable thought experiment” in/as a video game. The article shows in conclusion that MWKGF also envisions an “ecological dharma eye manifesto” that seems to call for an epistemic-technoscientific-spiritual revolution.

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Lu Yang

An Artist in Transformation

Ari Heinrich, Livia Monnet, and Gabriel Remy-Handfield

Lu Yang (陆扬, 1984) is a critically acclaimed new media artist and rising star based in Shanghai, China, who works across film, games, performance, and installation. His work has been exhibited at numerous biennales and exhibitions in China and around the world, including the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. He has collaborated on videos with high-profile rock bands like The 1975, and one of his videos featured in a 2020 fashion show of the Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning.1 Lu Yang has also won prestigious awards, including the BMW Art Journey Culture award in 2019, and Deutsche Bank's Artist of the Year award in 2022, and the artist was anthologized in Barbara London's critical history of video and the digital arts, Video Art: The First Fifty Years (2020), as well as in Dominique Moulon's Chefs d'oeuvre du 21e siècle : l'art à l'ère digitale (Masterworks of the 21st Century: Art in the Digital Era, 2021). In contemporary art and popular culture, Lu Yang is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

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Lu Yang

Planetary Techno-Orientalism

Christophe Thouny

Where is Lu Yang? Not here nor there; they might well be this new supernatural life form Maupassant could feel invading his everyday when the world became planetary, an invisible entity coming from abroad and unstoppable. Indeed, Lu Yang (LY) is unstoppable, unlocalizable, out of time and space. Planetary being? Asian superhero? Their aesthetics are avowedly Asianesque, with clear references to Japanese otaku culture, Buddhism, Chinese characters. This is 1990s techno-orientalism on speed opening onto what Livia Monnet calls a planetary unconscious.

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Lu Yang's Cancer Baby

Coercions of the Image

Jennifer Dorothy Lee

Abstract

Centering a genealogy of the image 形象 (xingxiang) in China, this article opens up the task of interpreting Lu Yang's (b. 1984) works of animation and sound. To make sense of the artist's scientized preoccupations with disease, neuroscience, and biomedical interventions into brain–body interconnections, I argue that scientific uses of technology become an artistic medium for Lu, inhabiting and encoding his work from the 2010s, in particular Cancer Baby (2014). Framing the digital animation of this piece amid the fraught intellectual history of the image—a concept that carries generations, even millennia, of debate in China—the article offers a set of clues, if not a window direct, to opening up the dynamics of consciousness, materiality, and control in the artist's creative method.

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An Otaku with Chinese Characteristics?

Localizing Japanese ACG Currents in Lu Yang's The Beast

Fred Shan

Abstract

Existing studies on Lu Yang have largely sidelined his engagement with Japanese anime, comics, and gaming (ACG) culture, despite the artist having frequently reiterated the significance of ACG to his upbringing and practice. Nor have they extensively explored what, if anything, is particularly Chinese about Lu's work. This article argues that it is precisely Lu's appropriation of ACG's visual aesthetic and symbolic language that firmly positions the artist within twenty-first century Chinese youth culture. Focusing on The Beast (2012)—Lu's tribute to the cult classic anime Neon Genesis Evangelion—I adopt an interdisciplinary approach synthesizing otaku research, fandom studies, Chinese socio-economic analyses and institutional critique to contextualize Lu's practice within the socio-historical nexus of Sino–Japanese transcultural exchange and the global network of contemporary art.

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Precarious Girls and (Cruel) Optimism

Protecting Sexually Abused Teenage Girls

Rosemary R. Carlton

Abstract

Using data collected as part of a larger qualitative study, I attend to the presence of two seemingly opposing narratives shaped by neoliberal and postfeminist attitudes—a gloomy one in which girls are thought to be at risk of experiencing poor life outcomes and an optimistic one that claims ubiquitous opportunity for all girls regardless of circumstance or experience. I suggest that both narratives combine to contribute to girls’ responsibilization for their future successes (and failures). I consider the potential cruelty of optimistic child protection practices grounded in a fantasy of future success as self-determined and accessible to those sexually abused teenage girls willing to work hard.

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Pushing the Boundaries

Curating LuYang, a Global Artist Embedded in Local Situatedness

Nora Gantert and Malte Lin-Kröger

Abstract

LuYang's first institutional solo exhibition in Germany took place at Kunstpalais in Erlangen in 2022. LuYang is undoubtedly a global artist, yet at the same time, his art is testimony of his embeddedness into an Asian/Chinese background. In his works, he draws heavily from a mixture of religious tradition, pop and subcultural influences from Asian countries, and global post-internet art trends. The presentation and mediation of his works in a German art institution needs to consider preconceived ideas that the local audience might have about art with Asian aesthetics. To avoid the pitfalls of Othering and the reproduction of stereotypes, a deeper understanding of underlying topics, such as religious tropes, is necessary. Therefore, a collaborative, interdisciplinary curatorial approach is the curator's means of choice.

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Solitude in Pixels

Lu Yang's Digital Figuration of Corporeality

Pao-chen Tang

Abstract

This article studies Doku, a digital figure created by multimedia artist Lu Yang. Unlike Lu's previous works that celebrate how virtuality makes possible the fashioning of a formless figure free of bodily restraints and thus of various identity makers, Doku betrays a different take on the potentials of the virtual in relation to the corporeal. By closely examining select videos featuring Doku, I highlight Lu's emphasis on Doku's entangled bodily presence and affective intensity. Contextualized against the backdrop of contemporary digital cinema's engagement with corporeality and of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these features of Doku invite us to reevaluate Lu's figuration of digital bodies.

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(Un)romantic Becomings

Girls, Sexuality-assemblages, and the School Ball

Toni Ingram

Abstract

Popular culture and media often portray school balls and proms as romantic spaces and having a date is perceived as the norm. While gender(ed) and heterosexual discourses continue to shape young people's experiences, girls’ understandings of the school ball do not necessarily conform to dominant ideas. In this article, I draw on a new materialist ontology of sexuality to explore the relations in-between girls, dates, and the school ball. I examine ball-girl-date encounters as sexuality-assemblages comprising bodies, spatial-material arrangements, practices, and imaginings. In this frame, sexuality is conceptualized as becoming via an array of material-discursive, human, and more-than-human forces. I consider how ball-girl capacities and desires become emergent and contingent, opening up ways of thinking about girls and the school ball beyond popular cultural constructions.