Author Archives: Yunhongyi Xu

K11: A Good Attempt But Cannot Replace Museum


In the highly commercialized society, art may be regarded as a method to improve commercial benefits. Artistic shopping centres like K11 are examples of this phenomenon. Although this combination can be regarded as a new attempt, we still need the museum to appreciate the real art. The museum is the preservation of human memory and cultural heritage. The concepts of “disavowal” and cultural capital make the art originally distance from the market. By comparing the museum and K11, people can better distinguish these two models and understand the importance of museums.


K11 represents the breakthrough of a new shopping trend; however, the exhibitions in these malls are the methods for attracting more consumers, which are quite different from exhibitions in the museum. This paper will introduce the model of K11 as an example of artistic shopping centres and figure out how it combines art and commerce. And then compare this model with the traditional museum from three aspects: their aim, function and settings.

Exterior of K11

  1. General Introduction to K11

With the rapid development of The Times, people pay more and more attention to the spiritual life and the quality of life. K11, an artistic shopping mall, integrates art resources into the commercial, public space and creates an independent art area in the mall. On the one hand, it retains the independence of art and the quiet space it needs. On the other hand, people come to the mall for art exhibits, which increases the profit of the mall.

Exterior of K11 _2

1.1    Background of K11

Shanghai K11, the first artistic shopping centre in mainland China, was opened on June 28, 2013. Then, other K11 shopping malls in different provinces in China have sprung up. The founder Adrian Cheng said he did not view the K11 as a mall, but rather as a “Museum of the Modern City”. K11 is dedicated to changing life with art, integrating architecture and business, and bringing the new shopping experience to the audience. According to K11, the three core elements of it is art, humanity and nature.

1.2    What they do for art

In the overall design of the K11 shopping mall, there are many spaces for art exhibit and lectures. Taking Shanghai K11 shopping mall as an example, there are three floors used for art exhibitions. The shopping centre has six floors above the ground. They try to create the artistic atmosphere in the shopping mall so that the customers can see sculptures at the elevator entrance, the abstract painting on the wall of corridors, the free book bar and the artistically designed rest area in various spaces. The landscape setting style of the whole shopping mall is unified, and some art pieces of the same style appear in different places for many times, which shows a sense of unity in details. For example, there is a kind of glass lamp with candles, which starts from the entrance of the underground dome and is arranged at regular intervals at the corners of elevators and shops on different floors. K11 makes itself as an art playground where culture, entertainment, shopping and living revolve around art. They allow the public to appreciate art during their shopping and leisure time by providing various multi-dimensional spaces.”

Media-Dali Exhibition in K11

Except for the external art decoration, K11 has invested in providing a platform and opportunities for the development of local young artists. It not only offers young artists works but also holds art exhibitions for them regularly. Backed by financial support, K11 foundation will also continue to promote K11 art space workshop and K11 art village to encourage audience participation and increase the exposure of local artists and art projects. In the aspect of promoting cultural exchange, K11 uses various resources to introduce more works of international art masters, and regularly holds various exhibitions of domestic and foreign masters, which are open free. At the same time, they recommend Chinese artists to Paris fashion week every year and establish a solid relationship between local and international art festivals.

For many young artists, there is difficulty in finance to spread their work in professional venues like art galleries. The integration of art resources and commercial, public space makes it possible for artists to show themselves. Small restaurants and branded shops can become places for artists to showcase themselves. On the one hand, it can reduce artists’ economic pressure; on the other hand, the exhibition in public space enables artists to communicate with audiences of different ideas and types to a greater extent. This communication turns passivity into the initiative and expands the influence of the work of art

  1. Compared with Museum

The museum is serious. It is a place for the public to think about art. Serious curators work there and create a serious place for enabling the audience to have access to art. Museum works as an interface to the cultural interpretation, cultural meaning system and cultural history.

2.1    Different aims between artistic shopping malls and museums

In essence, however, artistic shopping malls advocate what they do for art; there is no doubt that they have to make a profit. By using elements of art, they can attract more audience to promote their brand and benefit. Through the creation of an artistic atmosphere, K11 successfully attracts consumers into the mall and reached expected effect. In K11, art serves a business purpose.

However, the museum is a holy temple for culture. According to Charles Landry, “Museums can tell us who we are, where we came from and where we are going. So we can reconnect our roots along the way.” In a museum, the dimensions of time and space are compressed. The experience of the audience in a museum is like a process of decompression, and its rules are different from real society. Such differences can form a critical or critical experience (the museum, as a heterotopia, can be regarded as semi-idealistic, and the deviation between ideal and reality is the reason for the criticism), thus affecting the development of culture.

Exterior of Louvre Museum

Not only do museums and artistic shopping malls have a difference in their aims, but also their functions and settings are different.

2.2    Different functions and settings between artistic shopping malls and museums

First,the core function of a museum is to define the objects the definition of objects. Museums have realized the classification and naming of things by people, thus influencing people’s cognition of the world. The naming of things completes a level of definition of world order and highlights the authoritarianism of god. At the same time, the influence of typology on the museum is mainly reflected in the construction of the “art community”. Museums of all kinds are constantly producing communities and promoting this identity. This function is both politically influential and socially influential. It is known that the earliest modern museums were like storage rooms, with no concept of the exhibition. Museum later realized they could organize the exhibition according to the classification, completing the “performance” for objects of interpretation. The museum experience can deeply affect people’s understanding of things, to produce a cultural concept. While the understanding of the cultural concept and criticism have the more professional division of labour organizations and personnel to complete, but the influence of museum exhibition can still not be neglected. However, if people see a painting in the mall, they may think it is just a kind of decoration. The dialogue of the artwork in the museum space acknowledges that these artworks are art, not merely something you’d find in a mall. The artworks in the Hirshhorn take on a whole new meaning because they are within the Museum. The Museum itself provides some of the meaning for the art. This symbolic space is especially necessary for works like Mark Bradford’s Pickett’s Charge. Referencing our visit, the Hirshhorn is a container for art.

When it turns into experience in museum visiting, we can divide the behavior of museum visiting into four levels, namely construction, deconstruction, reconstruction and verification. The audience at these four levels has different experiences and social influences. In this way, the diversity of cultural expression is realized, and the museum can be regarded as an important institution for the reproduction of social and cultural diversity. This diversity and the equality of the museum audience in the museum space is generally regarded as an incubator of democracy.  But, speaking of the exhibition in the mall. People will treat it as a way to show personal taste. In 2014, Claude Monet’s first Chinese special exhibition “Impressionist Master Monet”, co-organized by the Monet Museum in Paris and K11 art foundation, is on display. During these two months, according to Businessweek China, this exhibition had attracted more than 260,000 visitors, with a maximum of 6,000 visitors in a single day. Almost half of the visitors said that they just follow the trend on the social account and they are attracted by delicate photos by internet celebrities. To this extent, the exhibition is devalued as a kind of way of realizing the identity on the social platform or setting some online characters. Therefore, it is common that you can see many people just take a selfie in front of these paintings and pay more attention to personal photos rather than artworks.

Third, the museum can help discover the silent information hidden behind the art works. There are two forms of recording past human experience: books and objects. Social development can change all the social rules of the previous social stages, but it cannot avoid the redefinition of the symbols which represent the particularity of human culture, such as experience and tradition. When a museum collects a piece of work, this behaviour can be regarded as symbolizing this work. Even if this object almost loses its use value, the museum can excavate its record value as much as possible. When a museum collects a painting,this painting can avoid being a decoration hanging in the home of potential buyers. And since this painting works as the interpretation symbol of its time, art genre and author, the museum has to shoulder the natural obligation of the excavation of recorded value information. Modern society tends to construct history, present and future as a system. Therefore, the historical material symbols have the value of being reused in the current society, and such utilization relies on the museum. Then the preservation has become a question. Museum has a through the system to keep and repair these precious artworks. In this aspect, shopping malls are quite immatured. They are not built according to the security level of the museum. The transportation channel may not be wide enough, and the drainage system was not complete. Maintenance and security are important issues waiting for artistic shopping malls to deal with.

Forth, museums are classrooms for lifelong learning and important carriers for broadening the horizon. The museum narrows various cultures into a relatively small range, which not only works as a real library but also serves as a useful method for social groups to understand the world through selected works and samples. The museum is a place to display a variety of views and works of beauty. It should be able to touch people’s hearts with beautiful works, either intoxicating, shocking, sorrowful, introspective, touching and affecting your humanity, arousing your love and pursuit of beauty, and thus enabling you to have a broader experience of human nature and ideological realm. Nevertheless, when the art is connected to money or other mundane possessions, the art value will decrease. The concept of “disavowal” explains how artists and the artworld attempt to distance themselves from the commercial symbols and the market. In April 2015, the “Immortal Van Gogh” art exhibition was opened in K11. In the following days, nearly 20,000 people visited the exhibition, ranging from 60 to 70 people a day. In the following days, several restaurants, coffee shops and shops in K11 also launched the corresponding events and services echoing the theme of this exhibition. The art exhibition achieved the expected satisfactory effect in promoting the overall economic development of K11 and enhancing brand awareness. In this case, the art is devalued to serve commercial aims. In the mall, there is no sense of history and something “higher”. Artworks in the mall are beautiful, but this beauty is linked to the material. Thus, the art loses its soul. The essence of shopping malls is to make profits. The exhibition attracts the audience to change the brand image and improve benefits.

  1. K11 is an attempt, but the museum is irreplaceable

In terms of the overall positioning of K11, it aims to create a unique small luxury taste. Through the combination of art, humanity and commerce, the commodities will be turned into artworks for display, and the artworks will be transformed into commodities for purchase. Art is attached to commerce. There is no denying that artistic shopping malls are good attempts for new shopping models.

While, in terms of art value, these new shopping malls are extracting the value of art and they are commercial. Whatever artistic means they use to brand themselves, they are still “shopping malls”.

3.1    K11 has a good intention to make the public more involved in art.

a milk tea shop in k11

Since art and humanity have penetrated every corner in modern society, people do not only pursue material satisfaction but also increase their pursuit of soul and art. Therefore, exhibitions in the commercial centre are particularly attractive. Some consumers may not buy a ticket to go to the museum to see an art exhibition, but through the internal display of the mall, as well as strong publicity, the art exhibition will be more popular. The whole shopping mall is permeated with a strong cultural background, which looks like a museum full of artistic atmosphere. The concept of enjoying shopping and art at the same time, which will naturally attract more consumers to shopping. The K11 shopping mall is different from other commercial centres in that it features its brand and realizes more added value. With the word “art” in its name, it has already been different from other ordinary commercial Spaces. The bold and innovative cross-border cooperation mode overturns people’s traditional cognition of shopping centre and becomes the new lifestyle centre of Shanghai. All kinds of art sculptures are located on each floor of the mall, and there is an art gallery as a transition space in the corridor to appreciate artworks. Beside each work, there is an artist’s introduction and creation intention to understand the artist’s creation background, as well as some interactive installation to reduce the distance between the work and consumers. Although its fundamental purpose is to promote the sales of goods, it is easier to be accepted and recognized by consumers when it is displayed in artistic ways. Consumers are not simply go shopping. They can realize self-satisfaction and identity recognition through such consumption. Art exhibitions make the shopping experience in K11 become more recognized by consumers in terms of cultural communication, and the brand effect is more prominent.

3.2    The museum is irreplaceable whenever and wherever

To some degree, the practical function of museums is similar to that of history. In the 1980s, historians realized that the only way to overcome the challenge of historical skepticism was to connect the practical function of history with the most basic reality of human existence. Since then, some historians have often viewed history as a collective memory. They pointed out that without this memory, the actual existence of human beings is just like the infinitesimal point on the blade of a knife. In these transient moments, human beings can neither know themselves nor understand their relationship with the environment, thus losing the possibility of sober action in reality. It is history, the collective memory of mankind, that combines the narrowness of reality with the vastness of the past, and provides a solid foundation for our practical actions to understand ourselves and observe situations so that we can create reality and future based on the past. Today, when answering the function and social significance of the museum, the museum’s relationship with the basic survival of mankind should be focused. If history is the memory of human beings, then the museum is the preservation of human memory and cultural heritage. Alvin Toffler said that museums expanded social memory beyond the human brain, finding new ways to store it, and thus breaking out of its original limitations. From the perspective of preserving the memories of human beings, the museum is the eternal warehouse, the final form of this information storage, because it is more resistant to the erosion of time, and even the time decay adds its sacredness.

Palace Museum in Beijing


The appearance of the art shopping centre is exactly to stimulate consumers’ desire to go shopping. These shopping centres improve shopping experience through artistic ways. K11 has made a good attempt and has brought a lot of thinking to commercial real estate.  However, this model is not real artistic. It has the appearance of art but the core of commerce. Museum still has its meaning in this commercial wave. Since museums are closely connected to the existence of civilized society, it may never disappear and always occupy the predominance in our culture.


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Benjamin, W., & Jennings, M. W. (2010). The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility [first version]. Grey Room, , 11-37.

Bourdieu, P. (1993). The field of cultural production: Essays on art and literature Columbia University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1996). The rules of art: Genesis and structure of the literary field Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu, P., & Nice, R. (1980). The production of belief: Contribution to an economy of symbolic goods. Media, Culture & Society, 2(3), 261-293.

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Watts, E. (2018). In the age of art: From consumption to Production—Assumptions and realities.

What does the Museum bring to us

Museums will not vanish in the flood of technology. Even with the fast development of technology and increasingly various use of technology, the function of the museum will not be weakened. The museum is the palace of aesthetics, history and culture. It is the core node in the web of society, connecting the history and the future, connecting the progress of beauty, connecting the public and the privileged class.

“We live and think in interpretive communities, and ‘use’information represented in symbolic form so that we can build ‘cognitive maps’ in which meanings and values become interpretable.” The museum helps to form the symbolic meaning and decide what is beauty. It is an interface to the cultural aesthetic.

Wherever and whenever, Museums have their specific meanings.

1) A certain beauty in a certain environment

Just like what we have seen in the Hirshhorn Museum, Pickett’s Charge was installed  in America’s Capitol connects history back to present day, and brings time full circle, much like the shape of the Hirshhorn. It’s so big, which makes me feel like what it has described and depicted was just happened around me. Only by experiencing in the Hirshhorn Museum can we better learn the history and the meaning that it wants to convey.

Took in the field trip Andrea

To this extent, the museum works as the interface to the history. The beauty of such a work can only be appreciate in such a museum. You can have a general view of works of Mark Bradford, however, you may not experience the carriage of history is coming.

2) Understand the artist through the dialogue created by the museum

This winter, I visited the Shanghai biennale. There is an oval hall, with 360 mechanical clocks arcing in a circle, each 4 seconds faster than the previous one, adding up to 24 hours a day. When I entered the bright hall, I could only hear the ticking of the second hand. There is a feeling of breaking into the future world. The oval exhibition hall not only shows the cycle of time, but also highlights the infinite elongation of time. Bright lights and white walls make visitors feel as if they are in a time tunnel and can feel the power of time.When I immerse yourself in the space field of clockwise, I could perceive a synchronicity of everything and a fluid modernity.

Took by Andrea

According to the artist Cristina Lucas , she focuses on dividing and ordering time, thus highlighting the spatialization and standardization of time. She is not telling the audience that time is fleeting, but trying to reveal the modernity and political nature of the rationalized “time” under the background of the development of the mechanical age and information age with this poetic visual expression.

The resonance between ordinary people and works of art is mostly derived from the intuitive visual experience. Seeing the original works in the art museum brings a touch that cannot be reached by reading books or looking at pictures.

3) an interface for the public  to the “uniqueness,” “authenticity,” and scarcity

Why do we visit the museum? To have a luxury experience and luxury enjoyment. Although without art we can still live in the society, we need art to educate ourselves. In the museum, we are the same regarless of our social status, race, gender, age. An ordinary person can have the same power to appreciate art as the richest person in the world. We even have more time and opportunities.

In the art museum, you can participate in a variety of Tours and activities. The instructors include the staff of the art museum, professors and students of the school. Under the guidance of these people, you can complete an art tour and get a lot of new knowledge and ideas.

You’ll also see a variety of children’s projects. Even a 4-year child can have an interesting art trip in the museum. Museum breaks the boundary. The museum allows the public to enjoy the art once only can be appreciated by the privileged class.


  • Martin Irvine  “Making an Interface”: on the next step: kinds of interfaces for artworks and how to design one.
  • Beil, K. (2013). Seeing syntax: Google art project and the twenty-first-century period eye. Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, 40(4), 22-27.
  • Proctor, N. (2011). The google art project: A new generation of museums on the web? Curator: The Museum Journal, 54(2), 215-221.

Redefine the Boundary

  • From the Altar to the Street

Art is full of a sense of sacredness. Every piece of art work has its specific and unique meaning, which has become a historical existence since its birth.  This kind of feature leads to the nature distance between the art and public. In reality, the images are placed in the church instead of in every corner of the family and society. Hymns are performed in the ceremony instead of being randomly sung as pop songs. Another meaning of the distance is sacred inviolability. In the way of receiving art, people adopt a way of “staring”, through which they can achieve rapt attention, meditation and divine power

Technological reproduction makes the objects receiving artistic works reach the level of “Tactile receiving” due to the reduction of natural distance. At the same time, it also makes it possible for the public to change from the object of viewing artworks to the subject of creating artworks. It does not need more professional training to create artworks through technological reproduction, but only needs artistic concept.

Just as in the beginning, artists used photography as a tool rather than an artistic medium for creation: that was, painters often used photos to help their paintings. The recording function made photography as a kind of tool, and the tool, like the painter’s brush and canvas, could not be regarded as a piece of art.

On the other hand, photography, even as a recording tool, posed a threat to painting at its birth. Photography simplifies the process of creation and lowers the threshold. At this time, if photography was regarded as an artistic medium, it had been unintentionally equivalent to lowering the threshold of art. Before photography, for example, portraiture was a privilege reserved only for aristocrats, royals and the wealthy. A good portrait is a test of a craftsman’s skill. Photography suddenly simplifies all skills. Compared with painting, photography is easy to operate. Ten years of painting practice even could not be compatible with the short exposure. At the same time, the cost of the portrait fell sharply. Portraits were no longer a symbol of privilege, and portrait painters faced a great threat at that moment.

The contradiction lies in the relationship between the objectivity and subjectivity of photography itself decides the fact that photography was transferred from a tool of reproducing the reality to the art. Art as an emphasis on subjective expression requires author’s own mark on it. Therefore, although photography itself can well record things, it emphasizes that the way to record things is the subjective embodiment. A photographer does not claim rights to his photographs by signing them, but his personal marks are often reflected in the objects he photographs, so modern photography is limited to “photography of something”. But photography, like painting, can lie, can express, and can have an emotional impact on the viewer.

However, in terms of history, photography actually lacks a complete and unified development direction. Although Pictorialism and Straight Photography were mentioned in class before, it is also difficult to summarize its development. Photography is more easily defined by a group of people. The wide use of photography makes its purity lower than that of painting and sculpture. Photography can be used not only in the commercial way but also in the medical aspect.

  • Cross the Boundary

Imagine if a flower or a tree had grown since the 16th century. How would you feel when you saw it? The same is true for works of art. Work of art is a living thing and no reproduction can take away its experiences and uniqueness.

Mr. Bean and Monalisa

In this age of technological reproduction, however, each additional copy diminishes the value of the original. So they were misinterpreted, and the Mona Lisa was covered in a mustache, photoshopped with strange expressions, bangs and tiaras.

Technological reproduction has dragged the appreciation of art from the temple to thecorner of the street. According to the verification of detection effect, the art viewers have changed their artistic experience from concentration to recreational acceptance. And the function of art has changed from “requiring the public to think it carefully” to “serving the recreational needs of the public”.

Malraux believes that in the modern world, art is achieved through dialogue between works and styles. Conception of art in these days is more inclusive than ever, meaning that the scope of the dialogue is very broad, allowing us to compare paintings in Renaissance and with Chinese vases.

However, this inclusive concept of art also comes with its practical problems. Because the world of art is so vast, composed of so many individual pieces and styles, it is now impossible to even fit a small piece of art into a single museum space. Therefore, the ideal of art dialogue must occur in La Musée Imaginaire, which is a collection of all the major works of art are reflected in our imagination.

In the art world, “expansion” is commonplace. Since the essence of modern and contemporary art is “experiment”, artists themselves are fully aware of this expansion. Therefore, the art world is always forced to respond to the emerging new phenomena and cram them into the “art world”. Minimalism art can be said to be an exapmle. Today, we can completely watch the work of “safeguarding rights” of knowledge for minimalism art after the busy work of abstract expressionism art. This is the best proof of an “augmented” boundary.

But what’s interesting about the art world is that it’s a big world, and the way aesthetics works is a big world divided up into different little worlds by following the action of expanding the boundaries. The boundary and boundary compete with each other, and they have different aesthetic value standards and internal operation means. But boundaries are both fluid and collaborative. They not only compete for sources but also share resources. Their values can sometimes run completely counter to each other. But when it comes an external enemy (such as science), they form a temporary interpretive community and the boundaries become blur.


Benjamin, Walter and Michael W. Jennings. 2010. “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility [First Version].” Grey Room: 11-37.

Bohrer, Frederick N. 2002. “Photographic Perspectives: Photography and the Institutional Formation of Art History.” Art History and its Institutions: 246-259.

Martin Irvine, “André Malraux, La Musée Imaginaire (The Museum Idea) and Interfaces to Art“.

Sontag, Susan. 2001. On Photography. Vol. 48 Macmillan.

A Fraction Of A Second    |H.S Wong 1937

In the summer of 1937, Japanese troops sailed into Shanghai and the bombing caused widespread death and panic. Wong, a journalist, came to the bombed station and saw the crying child. He quickly took pictures and carried the child to safety. The photo, known as “bloody Saturday,” is one of the most powerful news photographs ever taken, and the pain of the baby is thought to represent the plight of China and the bloodiness of Japan.

At that time, Wong saw a man helping two children near the railway track. He first lifted one child off the rail and put it on the platform, and then went to hold another injured child. Acting on instinct as a photographer, wang immediately captured the scene and ran to save the child. Due to the film is not much, finally presented only a dozen seconds. On September 15 in that year, the photo was shown in the United States, causing huge repercussions. At the same time, the major newspapers used “Bloody Saturday” to report the Japanese bombing of civilians. It was said 136 million people had viewed the image. Of those, at least 50 million were viewed through newspapers and 80 million through newsreels. There were only a couple of billion people in the world at that time, and a lot of places still lived primitive life style. We can say that anyone who could read a newspaper or a newsreel had seen this picture.

The response was unprecedented, shocking not only the United States, but the world. Western countries, previously indifferent to Japan’s invasion of China, suddenly changed their attitude, condemning the Japanese army and expressing sympathy for the Chinese people.

To this extent, this photo shows the power of truth and misery.  It is a scene “just ‘out there’ waiting to be taken, captured from nature, or simply a ‘quotation from reality’ requiring nothing but pointing and shooting in the right direction.” (Irvine). The truth value of the picture was displayed in the war. A small picture could arouse such a big social impact. In Bresson’s own words, “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”

In my opinion, the theory of decisive moment can be described in another way: the photographer should be involved in the happening events and summarize the essence of the whole event. For a complete event to occur, there must be an event that can fully represent the center of the overall event. What I do as a photographer is to forget my own existence and integrate myself into the whole event to find this event and shoot it, so as to achieve the expression I need.  |Paul Graham 1984-1985

First of all, many people must feel that this kind of picture is just like a random shot, who can change who. But all of his pictures were taken in large format. And a lot of people have known how troublesome is to shoot a large picture. It can be said that the photographer will be very cautious when shooting. So every single picture of the big picture was taken with a lot of thought. One of the most striking points of this picture is the sight of adults looking to the right and children looking to the left. Adults sat there with dull faces and numbness, while the child in the pram in front and the child on the bench behind seemed to be full of vitality and curious about the world. From the perspective of clothes, it is also like a metaphor. Adults are dark colors, while children are lively colors, like a contradiction of The Times. Back then, the thatcher government used economic measures to rein in wage demands, leading to rising unemployment across England. As a result, there will be a lot of job seekers waiting anxiously. Graham recorded what was happening in the moment.

To this extent, we can say that the picture was made. Graham intended to use the contrastive tension to depict the that period: the Thatcher Government took economic measures to control people’s demand for wages, which led to the increase of unemployment in England. As a result, there were a lot of job seekers waiting anxiously. The photo not only provides a kind of testimony, but also a kind of material for people to imagine. The original country was like this, and the audience would inject their own interpretation into it.

The real life that lens faces is the marble collision of numerous and various events, presenting the appearance of despicable and accidental in every instant. Therefore, it must be a fantasy to assume that there exists a moment that can decisively present the whole event. It is impossible for everything and people in the moment to present the complete meaning. However, some immediate associations can be organized by pressing the shutter and the moment of composition. At the same time, such associations can also present the structure of forms.

This photo was took in this spring break. My friend use an app called NOMO to record that moment. This app can make the digital photo have the film sense. These days, film sense is a kind of nostalgia. People can simply using apps instead of real film camera to create such a photo with graininess. And we do not need to add an additional filter to this picture. And then I posted the photo on my social account to record my spring break.

Nowadays, more and more people love taking pictures whatever technology they use. Some are using cameras, some are using phones. Photography is now the most popular, the most healthy, the most widely involved medium. It is easy to use, to spread and with high viscosity.

It makes the art become public art. People can just use their phone to create a piece of art.

First of all, the economic cost is low. After photography enters the digital age, as a photography lover, you no longer need a special darkroom and do not need to buy a large amount of film and photographic paper. The substantial reduction of consumable investment makes the economic cost of photography reach a very low level.

Secondly, the time cost is low. If I am a painting lover, I need to sit somewhere for an afternoon for a painting. Although this problem also exists in some subjects of photography, most of the time it is very efficient. Furthermore, the technical threshold is low, you do not need to learn any skill at first. You can just press the shutter. And with the fast development of different picture-enhancing apps, people can adjust their pictures easily.

Finally, the threshold for sharing is low, nowadays, I took a favorite photo which can be uploaded to weibo and ins, and then within a few hours, all my friends have seen it, sent to some picture websites to a wider audience.

Besides, one of the most important aspects of photography is the breakdown of concepts. People hate abstract concepts, which are relatively abstract when expressed in words. Picture is a more advanced information carrier than text. It can express the delicate and vivid side, such as people’s eyes. Text is less direct than a picture.

From my perspective, photography expresses an attitude: I am alive at the moment, I love the life in front of me. With taking photos more frequently, people will experience beauty in three levels: ignorant perception of beauty, clear discovery of beauty and skillful creation of beauty.


Alan Buckingham, Photography. New York: DK, 2004. Excerpts.

Cartier-Bresson, Henri and Michael L. Sand. 1999. The Mind’s Eye : Writings on Photography and Photographers. 1st ed. New York, N.Y: Aperture.

Martin Irvine, “Introduction to Photography and the Optical Image

Idea itself really matters

It was said that Rothko gave us equilibrium and Pollock took us to chaos. They are the representative of abstract expressionism. And their new artwork can be regarded as “a reflexive and self-reflexive turn in conceptions of art and the role of the artist which continues to today”.( Irvine, P1)

Both of them used their distinct art style to display their strong personal preferences and their attitude towards art. Action Painting represented by Jackson Pollock used action and gesture as the basis of creation. Color-field painting represented by Mark Rothko relies on large areas of Color to express certain ideas.

Rothko’s painting is really the code word of the art world: “frontality.” No attempt to violate a two dimensional plane — no depth, no Angle; Any concrete interpretation is crudely forbidden (there are no empty beaches, no sky, no clouds). “This style offered him the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea and between the idea and the observer by getting rid of anything that triggered history or memory or narrative or even geometry.” He used colors to express emotions and these emotions and feelings connected observer and painter, which created a dialogue. All the value of this pure abstraction is reduced to the viewer’s response and appreciation of the tone, relationship, and balance or imbalance of the composition of each color block. Through the rigorous conditions it provides to the viewer, the pure abstraction itself is free from error, if properly appreciated. In spired by Nietzsche, Mark Rothko’s art focuses on the expression of spiritual connotation. He tried to reflect the profound symbolism through limited colors and minimal shapes. He believes that western civilization today is rooted in western traditional culture, especially Greek culture. The conflict between human and nature, between individual and group, is the reflection of human’s basic living state. He was trying to create an overwhelming sensory experience for the viewer through monumentality simplicity and stillness many have described standing before a Rothko as a Religious Experience. He said, “If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions – tragedy, ecstasy.” Rothko wanted to make you feel something to encounter the undefinable to stare into the void to confront universal human tragedy; this isn’t painting about nothing it’s painting about everything.

Pollock’s painting does have some sort of “ineffable appeal.” Pollock’s brush never touches the canvas, and the paint drips on it like a raindrop, and it is called Drip Painting. There is beauty in the drop of paint, in the natural curves, in the right color scheme, and pollock elevates that natural beauty, recreates it, sublimates it into art. When Pollock was creating, after he hit the paint bucket with his body, the pendulum movement of the rope and the vibration of the paint bucket made the falling paint produce countless lines with self-similarity in different proportions. And these naturally formed seemingly entangled paintings, but potentially indescribable beauty. Critics of the secret art of masterpieces have argued that Pollock’s work is different from the desultorily scribbled work in that although the pictures seem random, the lines and colors always contain a special attraction Just judging from the first impression, Pollock’s works “dirty” picture, line “mess”, “poor” to the seemed to be spilled paint random canvas, of course, through images and screen has greatly reduced the effect of the original “shock” effect, because the common characteristics of these paintings is a larger picture, and on the canvas in the representational style to express their ideas, through the screen can’t direct perception of giant format and sensory of interaction and experience. Manic appearance, hidden under the exquisite poetry. The crazy picture, no doubt, is from a frenzied mind. Staring at these images for a long time, under the surface of madness, a sense of order and precision arises, as if these works are extracted from the solemn nature and are part of it. Pollock’s works are like the force of nature, with abundant energy. When he closes his eyes, he will never forget it for a long time. His stormy pen is like a black hole in the universe as if it can absorb everything in the world.

Both of them can be viewed as the pioneer of artists who abandon the traditional idea of having concrete objects as carriers. The idea itself becomes more important than concrete objects. In his or their works, you can no longer find the concrete things: people, trees and houses are all gone. Only abstract color blocks, lines, strokes, in their works, the concept has become more important than ever. Of course, you could also say that Pollock and Rothko’s success could not be separated from America’s urgent need to compete with Europe culturally after world war ii. However, we have to admit that they are masters of connecting the past with the future and creating a new era.


Irvine, Professor Martin. Introduction to Modern Art and Modernism: Framework for Case Studies at the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Mus

Laurie Schneider Adams, A History of Western Art. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. eum.

Here attached an interesting pic I found:

How Do We Understand A Painting

The first time I saw the Rothko’s painting, I thought it is a flat canvas of The accumulation of red lumps and you can do it on your own Google. And I asked what is the point of such pictures? There’s nothing to see.

Later, I have learned this kind of painting reflects the emotion in the depth of our heart. It displays pure and strong emotion. From this perspective, I think my learning of the background of this painting is worked as “prior interpretants” (Irvine, Introduction to a Peircean Visual Semiotics, 20). I have learned the meaning of this painting which was interpreted by the previous people and I was framed into this framework.

And my second experience of appreciating Rothko’s painting is similar with the experience describing how people view The Starry Night.  In the Introduction to a Peircean Visual Semiotics: De-Blackboxing Meaning-Making in Art and Visual Media, it was said that the first idea come up to our mind is not the “actual scene“ of a night sky, but is this painting resembles Van Gogh’ s painting. When my second time to saw the Rothko’s painting, I first realized that it was distinct Rothko’s style. And Professor Irvine in this article then maintained that we usually “correlate the features and identity of the artwork with symbolic correspondences in the larger cultural encyclopedia.” (Irvine, Introduction to a Peircean Visual Semiotics, 21). It is true that I then applied what I have learned before to my view of the painting. I started to feel the emotion that it wants to convey. I felt the power of the bright red, sucking everyone in. I just walked slowly towards the painting, my heart beating fast; I couldn’t take my eyes off the picture. I stood staring at the picture for five minutes. There is no way to get that immersion from a book. In this room, all the beautiful paintings containing strong emotions were around us and I realized the significance and beauty of this kind of painting.

This experience made me think of how we appreciate a piece of art. When appreciating a work of art, we should not treat it as a picture in isolation. We should pay attention not only to the work itself, but also to the time and environment in which it is created, and even to the position of the artist who created it. Art appreciation is not just a matter of looking good with our eyes. It is dialogic and the dialogical responses should be took  in the society (Irvine, Introduction to a Peircean Visual Semiotics, 14). This appreciation includes our comprehensive understanding of the artwork itself, the art market, time for this artwork, etc. By putting them altogether, we can get a more complete and profound understanding and experience.

According to Danto, art works exist in the “artworld”. To achieve any kind of status, a work of art must be in an “atmosphere of theory”.

The success of a painting depends the society and culture it belongs to. In the certain context, we can appreciate certain artworks. In the past, people admired La Source by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. This painting is an famous instance of Neoclassicism, using soft and varied colors and soft curves to show the classical beauty of female body. And now Fountain by Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp is accepted.  Because Dadaism is a reflection of the times and of the disruptive power of the first world war on many people’s old values. Since it is difficult to find practical meaning in the disordered world, we simply take this kind of disorder as the nature of the world, and use it to subvert the old aesthetic system that maintains the old order. Although these two paintings have the similar name, they symbolized different culture and thought. They are in their own atmosphere.


To this extent, we can also say that the painting works as “an interface to the cumulative deep Remix that makes it possible” ( Irvine, Remix and the Dialogic Engine of Culture: A Model for Generative Combinatoriality, 20). It’s a meaning system defined by society that defines people’s aesthetics. At the same time, we can learn the culture and history of the society from the painting.





  • Whether the art need to be understood by the public?
  • If an artwork cannot be appreciated by majority (even well-educated ones), then where does its value or even aesthetic value come from? Can we say that these things are just entertainment for a very, very small number of people?
  • How can we understand the relationship between Beauty and Art? Whether a piece of “art” need to be beautiful?
  • What is the boundary of the art? What factors influence the boundary?

Internet Unveils the Mask of the Muse

The Internet changed our life and society a lot in this new era. To this extent, technology shapes our society. The museum, as an important cultural interface in the network of the whole society, is undoubtedly influenced by the internet. Arthur Park once cautioned the museum that they had to change. Otherwise, the unchanged museums were “dead institutions” (Alexander, p.10). Therefore, many museums make full use of the internet and digital media to maximize their value and expose functionality.

On the one hand, the integration of the internet and the museum makes the art more accessible. Museum was originated from the word “muse.” “Muse” is not only the symbol of beauty but also the representative of mystery and unattainability. Internet uncovered the veil of the muse. First, People do not need to spend a lot of time (sometimes some money) on the way to the museum. If Chinese students want to learn some paintings of World War II, they can just enter into key words in Google Arts and Culture and may find Guernica in Museo Nacional Centro De Art.

It saved their time on the trip to Spain. From this perspective, the internet also helps to extend the educational function of the museum, which engages people from all over the world into “a global, international system or network of networks for Art” (Irvine, p.2). Anyone who is interested in art and museum can be connected to the museum node he or she wants to explore. They can both appreciate the art online and register some courses and tours provided by the museum just by clicking the button. Meanwhile, due to the accessibility of the artworks, the establishment of digitization and sharing standards of cultural relics, and the improvement of intellectual property protection system of cultural relics, a new kind of “virtual” museum beyond the space will appear. Different museums can easily get access to each other and hold a virtual online exhibition together. The function of the exhibition is strengthened.

On the other hand, the internet may change the exhibition experience. Take the No.9 painting as an example. We can learn some basic information about it on the webpage of the Philips Collection Museum. By clicking the “Enlarge” button, we can have a clear view of No.9. However, from my standpoint, only by visiting the museum and taking a close look to it can we have a better understanding of this piece of art. Firstly, I found that Mondrian used different black to separate the space. Those overlapping lines which I thought they were of the same color when I watched it online are different regarding their grayscale.

Different shades of color help to construct the sense of layering. Also, how the museum displays this painting also enrich my viewing experience. This work was hung on the latticed wall, completely blending into its background. Although this way of display contradicts the theory of White Cube which focus on removing artworks from any aesthetic context and eliminating the external influences, I still think the immersion experience reduce the distance between art and audience. The latticed wall magnifies the sense of space and unity in No.9. Rothko Room is another good example.

From the webpage, you may think his painting was the arrangement and combination of color blocks. But, if you walk into the room, viewing those painting within different distances, you may obtain an interesting experience. When I first viewed the painting from a far distance, I saw the violent collision between the blocks. Then, I took a close look; I suddenly felt that I was quite small in front of this huge paining and some kind of strong emotion swallowed me. I can feel the purity and the power of the painting. Nevertheless, we could not experience these feeling by watching the online works. The distance between the screen and eye partly negated the connection between the artworks and the audience. People’s online experience was affected by many external factors such as physical distance and computer configuration. From this aspect, the internet diminished the artistry and value of artworks.

The Internet is a double-edged sword for the museum. To what extent the museum use technology and digital media is the main concern. And with the development of digital media interfaces, how does the framework and boundaries of Art and non- Art change (Irvine, p.2)? Whether we can say that the deliberately designed webpage for us to view different artworks just like an online gallery can be regarded as a new category of Art?


Alexander, Edward P., Mary Alexander, and Juilee Decker. 2017. Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Functions of MuseumsRowman & Littlefield.

Martin Irvine, The Insitutional Theory of Art and the Artworld, Georgetown University CCT.

Daniel Buren, “Function of the Museum.” In Theories of Contemporary Art, edited by Richard Hertz, 2nd ed., 189–92. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1985.

O’doherty, Brian. 1999. Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space Univ of California Press.

Photo credits:


Yunhongyi Xu(Andrea)