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From Xu Bing’s Early Works to Dragonfly Eyes

Wang, Tianni (2019) From Xu Bing’s Early Works to Dragonfly Eyes. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Xu Bing is a world-renowned artist working at the forefront of Chinese and global contemporary art. His art addresses some of the fundamental challenges of contemporary society, such as connections between language and truth, and translation across cultural and linguistic boundaries. In his most recent work named Dragonfly Eyes, he directs a poetic and metaphorical film which tells a classic love story. However, what makes this film stand out as an experimental artwork is that, it is produced purely by surveillance-camera footages without any actual actors or shootings involved. This film does not follow a traditional linear narrative; instead, it shows a world seen through the dragonfly eyes of surveillance cameras, and questions people what separates these fragmented footages from what people perceive as “reality.” This thesis discusses Xu Bing’s innovative approach of interpreting the relationship between human and society in the current digital era. It studies the artist’s film Dragonfly Eyes using Jean Baudrillard’s theory of “hyperreal” he explains in his book Simulacra and Simulation in 1981. Baudrillard defines it as a representation so realistic that it cannot be distinguished as a representation but is treated as reality. Today, more and more people are modeling themselves after the digital media, influenced by live streaming and social media, and expose themselves under thousands and thousands of surveillance cameras, whether consciously or unconsciously; but at the same time, the digital media is changing people’s way of thinking and their perception of the world around them. I argue that Xu Bing’s Dragonfly Eyes contextualizes the relationship between human and digital media under a hyperreal context, and challenges people’s perception of truth in today’s society of China.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wang, Tiannitiw32@pitt.edutiw32
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGao, Mingluminglu@pitt.eduminglu
Committee MemberDelgado, Margaritadelgadocreamer@pitt.edudelgadocreamer
Committee MemberQian, Kunqiankun@pitt.eduqiankun
Date: 25 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 August 2019
Approval Date: 25 September 2019
Submission Date: 9 August 2019
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 35
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > East Asian Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Xu Bing, Dragonfly Eyes, film, contemporary Chinese art
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 15:40
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 15:40


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