12th International Conference on the Arts in Society Research Network:: American University of Paris,14-16 June 2017

Mapping the Meme in China: Online and Offline Signification

In the 21st century access to a fragmented culture through online portals has created a somewhat scattered heteronomy of visualities. The use of gesture in visual culture can be related to an action, a symbol, or solely for the image to have "an effect" on the audience. As these visual gestures grow and propagate through our art galleries, museums and online social media feeds, are we able to read this emergent visual grammar to motivate, move or elevate our ways of knowing? This paper explores symbolism created in Mainland China in 2009 - 2016 and investigates ways of articulating and deciphering these gestures through accessing cultural keys. The creation of the new symbolism is rooted in political relevance and deploys practices and art forms to signal, dissolve and raise awareness of social and ideological change.

The study maps the symbolism to test the claim that over time some symbols may loose potency. Findings will be related through a synthesis of semiotic/compositional interpretation and multimodal discourse analysis. The aim of the study is to deepen the Western perspective on Chinese stereotypes in visual culture by working with, and interpreting cultural flows in the digital age.

Keywords: Visual Culture, Internet Memes, Chinese Art

Stream: Special Theme 2017: Gestures that Matter