Parody and Appropriation: European Art Traditions in the Digital Media Art of China

By Jean Ippolito.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

What motivates contemporary Chinese artists to make virtual parodies of
masterpieces from Western European tradition? Is it a desire to inhabit the
illusionistic space of these paintings, to explore the work from many angles?
Or is it to change the conceptual message, and update a well-known theme?
These questions are explored in works that give the viewer a new way of
experiencing an old image: Theodore Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa is the
prototype for Hu Jieming’s version, which is made from Coca-Cola cans and
Pepsi bottles, with Chinese workers, soldiers, officials and people of all walks
of life as passengers. It raises the question of whether the economic and
political decisions of the Chinese government will keep the country afloat.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp by Rembrandt is the basis for Du Zhenjun’s
Anatomy Lesson, which makes the viewer the medical instructor while the
artist’s own duplicated image appears in multiple, completely engaged,
waiting for instruction, each time the viewer approaches the table. In The
Fountain, the artist, Du Zhenjun, does a parody of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain
of 1917. In the case of Du, the fountain is not a utilitarian piece of porcelain
purchased from a hardware store – it is a videotaped toilet bowl. Miao
Xiaochun’s Last Judgment in Cyberspace does not just parody, but
appropriates exact positions and poses of the original fresco by Michelangelo
in the Sistine Chapel. He interactively includes the viewer in various positions
and perspectives. Many of the works described in this article are interactive,
and for each of the digital media artists mentioned, their personal websites
are cited for the reader to access for illustrating the works described within.

Keywords: Digital Media, Parody, Appropriation, Contemporary Art, Chinese Art

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.183-190. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.282KB).

Dr. Jean Ippolito

Associate Professor, Humanities Division, Art Department, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, HI, USA

Jean M. Ippolito is Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She teaches courses in Asian Art, Chinese Art, and Japanese Art, as well as surveys of Western European Art to a very diverse student body. Her research focuses on art and technology in contemporary Japan, and is recently branching out to include New Media art of China. Her book manuscript, The Search for New Media: Late 20th Century Art and Technology in Japan is forthcoming.

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