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The architectural cinematicity of Wang Shu and the architectonic cinema of Jia Zhangke: Diagrammatically decomposing the ‘main melody’ in monu-mental assemblage art

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Although truly singular artworks emerging from distinct creative universes, Wang Shu’s Ningbo Historic Museum (2008) and Jia Zhangke’s Shanghai World Expo film Hai shang chuan qi/I Wish I Knew (2010) disclose common ethico-aesthetic features and artistic principles. Adopting Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the assemblage allows us to perceive how these outstanding farrago projects, with their rough and broken edges, share homologous ‘abstract diagrams’; which become responsible for introducing discordant mental relations into China’s processual cityscapes. Viewing both works as state-sanctioned vehicles of Chinese ‘modernity’, I explore how Wang and Jia’s affective repurposing of urban detritus or salvaged cinematic material allows their sensational artworks to emit signals that subtly decompose the ‘main melodies’ associated with China’s embrace of modernization. Drawing on a hybrid model of Deleuze’s image regimes from Cinema 1 (2005a) and Cinema 2 (2005b) further permits us to perceive how these macropolitical ‘monuments’ critique the very narratives of progress that their commissioners charge them with celebrating.
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Keywords: Deleuze and Guattari; Jia Zhangke; Wang Shu; architecture; assemblage; cinematicity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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