Cross-currents in the work of Yu-Cheng Chuang : an examination of the Chinese principle of Jingjie and Western idea of the picturesque as parallel influences on site-specificity in land art
This combined studio practice/text thesis analyses links among the Chinese
concept of jingjie, the archetypal patterns of sacred places, the picturesque
movement in European aesthetics, and site-specificity in 1960s Land Art.
In addition to examining site-specificity and the theoretical aspects of my
studio practice, I explore the relationship between my ethnicity and my work in the
context of contemporary Chinese and Taiwanese art environments. Guided by the
principle that "practice and theory inform each other," I restate the significance of
jingjie in contemporary art, especially its connection with the physical and
psychological patterns found in archetypal "sacred places." Jingjie was
fundamental to the spatial fluidity found in Chinese landscape arts, especially
garden design. After demonstrating how Chinese gardens influenced English
landscape garden principles and the 18th-century European picturesque movement,
I argue that similar East-West connections served as direct and indirect influences
on the site-specific work of middle and late 20th-century Land Art artists. I then
describe how picturesque depictions of the relationship between man and nature
influenced 19th-century landscape architecture in North America and 20th-century
Land Art throughout the West.
Finally, jingjie and Chinese gardens are used to explore archetypal sacred
place patterns and their influences on the Western tradition of the picturesque.
These parallel East-West connections served as the foundation for later interest in
site-specificity, and were essential in establishing a historical context for
understanding cross-cultural currents and their influences on Land Art artists.
Using jingjie as my focus, I examine aspects of contemporary art that are not
usually addressed by art critics, and reconsider the relevance of the Western
picturesque tradition through a reciprocal model of cultural influences.