Images Codes

Tang Center Symposium

Images and Codes: The Problem of Reading Art

Graduate Student Symposium in East Asian Art

27 February 2016, 8:30 am–5:30 pm
McCormick Hall, Princeton University

Organized by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art

symposium Program

Both text and image can be seen; the process of interpreting what is seen is often described as "reading." Written language is a learned code, and thus it requires the knowledge of a specific set of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. In the field of art history, the method of "reading art" emerged out of the study of semiotics during the late eighties and continues to the present. By blurring the boundaries between text and image, "reading art" assumes that art objects, like texts, can be decoded and thus read. Moreover, "reading" presupposes that there are those who can read, those who cannot read, and those who determine how to read. Do images, however, require their own code of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary? This symposium aims to explore the intersections between reading and seeing, images and codes in East Asian art history.


symposium schedule

Saturday, 27 February 2016
McCormick Hall


Registration and Coffee, 8:30–9:30 am


Morning Session 9:30 am–1:00 pm

Welcome and Introduction

Mai Yamaguchi, Princeton University


Keynote Lecture

Reading Bijinga: Pictures of Beauties in Context

Julie Nelson Davis, Associate Professor of History of Art

University of Pennsylvania


Panel 1: Authorship


The Power of Ambiguity: Bada Shanren's Personal Marks

Leqi Yu, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania


The Limits of "Reading Art": Methodology and Ideology in the Study of Fu Baoshi's Landscape Painting of the 1960s

Kathy Yim-king Mak, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles


Panel 2: Landscape and Architecture


Landscaping My Mind: New Perceptions on Representing the Idea of "You" in Early-Seventeenth-Century Garden Paintings

Jiaying Gu, Department of Art and Art History, University of California, Davis


The Architectonic Reading of Spatial Representation in "Three Paintings" by Chen Chi-Kwan

Zhenru Zhou, School of Architecture, Princeton University



Discussant: Professor Julie Nelson Davis

Moderator: Mai Yamaguchi


Afternoon Session 2:30–5:30 pm

Panel 3: Objects and Pictorial Representation


Pursuing Antiquity: Chinese Objects in Nineteenth–Century Korean Paintings

Ja Won Lee, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles


Reading Text, Reading Tea

Skyler Negrete, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University


From Kinnara to Kalavinka:
On the Autonomy of Image in Buddhist Transmission from India to China

Guoying S. Zhang, The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation, The Courtauld Institute of Art



Discussant: Professor Julie Nelson Davis

Moderator: Mai Yamaguchi, Princeton University


Concluding Remarks

Skyler Negrete, Princeton University

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