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Traditional Chinese narrative in computational arts

Produced by: Shuai XU

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

Digital media art provides a new way to explore art, and therefore more and more people are paying attention to it. With the development of technology, digital technology is also continually present in daily life. Therefore, for a creator exploring how to combine computer technology and art, it is particularly important to find a good balance between computer technology and computer art.

1.1  Research topics

 The main focus of this project is how to use computational arts to convey narratives of traditional Chinese literature. I pose three questions to encourage deep consideration of the role of computational technology:

1.  How can computational arts enhance traditional Chinese narratives?

2. How can traditional Chinese narratives be conceptualized, visualized and integrated into computational arts?

3. How to use these studies and show them in your work?

 1.3 Theories and Contexts

For my project, I want to choose traditional Chinese narrative to expand my research; the ancient elements of this literature can give me a bridge to create a dream space, which can employ computational technology to immerse people in the space, as well as allowing audiences to interact with the installation and be part of the stories. At the same time, I am looking for fusion of and contrast between Eastern and Western culture, coupled with the collision of ancient and modern art.


2. Traditional Chinese narrative

2.1. What is Traditional Chinese narrative?

According to Anthony C. Yu,(Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR)

Vol. 10, No. 1/2 (Jul. 1988), pp. 1) "

In the study of traditional Chinese narrative it is customary to speak of the developmental dependence of prose fiction on history, or more precisely, on historiographical writing." Yu believes that traditional Chinese narrative is a process that as an exhaustive and complex sociological report and defines the key characteristics of Traditional Chinese narrative as analysis, structure and composition. Chinese narrative is one source of information about China, which includes valuable history and culture and also describes the identity and values of citizens and the ways they conceptualize reality.

2.2 A new viewpoint of Traditional Chinese narrative

As Olga Leontovich claims in his article (The world of Chinese fictional narratives: content, characters, and social impact, (06 November 2015), for traditional narratives, structural narrative analysis is mostly used, with special attention paid to narrative mechanisms, recurring factors, themes, and text patterns. The combination of these patterns affects the character of the entire narrative. Data can be analyzed from three perspectives: time, space and society. Thus, at the same time the reader (or listener), the characters, the sequence of events and the causal relationship between them, the ending and the narrator's attitude towards being mentioned are essential narrative elements. These things are identified and explored as elements that form a complete narrative framework.

2.3 Elements of Traditional Chinese narrative

When we have a good understanding of the narrative itself, then we can extract elements from different types of Chinese historical records.

The first is mythological literature; for example, Shan Hai Jing (The Classic of Mountains and Seas) uses different kinds of texts and images to record a strong narrative of the relationship between the physical world and the mythical world. Many of the myths and legends in Shan Hai Jing are regarded as essential material for religious studies. These myths reveal the activities of the elves and at the same time present the beliefs and ways of worship of ancient peoples.

The second type records traditional Chinese philosophies such as Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. These philosophies were the spiritual pillars of traditional society and have continued to this day, having significant influence on contemporary society. Their spirits have left many records in ancient China, including sculpture, painting, poetry, temples and even dramas recording the daily life of traditional China.

The third type is the traditional Chinese poetry of 5,000 years, whether written by professional poets or created by civilians; it is an essential part of Chinese literature. This poetry has many forms, including the well-known Tang dynasty poetry, Song dynasty poetry, Yuan dynasty opera and Qing dynasty opera.

Next, we have traditional Chinese opera, a form of musical record. The roots go back to the early period in China and gradually advance over more than a thousand years, maturing in the Song dynasty (960–1279).

Opera in China includes many elements, such as music, song and dance, martial arts, acrobatics, costume, and make-up art; these constitute an essential part of Chinese literature.

2.4 Immersive Traditional Chinese narrative space