Chinese Optics: Artful Looking

Harvard University, May 17, 2019

Schedule Abstracts & Bios

Time: 9:30 AM–6:00 PM

Location: Sackler Building, Room 427

Organizers: Harvard HAA (Department of History of Art + Architecture), and CAMLab (Chinese Arts Media Lab)


“Chinese optics” is the first of a series of workshops organized by Harvard CAMLab. It explores ways of constructing optical experience in Chinese art and culture, past and present. It seeks inter-disciplinary perspectives drawing on arts, sciences, and technology. Central issues to be explored include the relationship between eye and hand, the Chinese construct of huan 幻 that is not to be reduced to mere perspectival illusionism, the mediation of technological apparatuses in visual experiences, the relationship between media properties and cultural-historical experiences, and more.  

Participants include:

  • Anne Feng (Boston University), “Crystalline Visions in Medieval China”
  • Chenchen Lu (Harvard University), “The Flower in the Mirror: A Mode of Vision in Medieval China”
  • Jennifer Purtle (University of Toronto), “Optics and the Mathematics of Space in Song China”
  • Heping Liu (Wellesley College), “Shuhua: How Chinese Painting Lost its Optical Magic in the Eleventh Century” 
  • Kristina Kleughen (Washington University, St. Louis), “Articulating Vision in Imperial China” 
  • Hui Zou (University of Florida), “The Atmospheric Perception in Chinese Architecture” 
  • Bing Huang (Providence College), “The Armillary in the Boudoir: What Was It Doing There?” 
  • Kaijun Chen (Brown University), “Mirror Stage: Reflection of Early Modern Desire in China” 
  • Daisy Y. Wang (Peabody Essex Museum), “Imperial Optics: New Perspectives on Qing Court Photographic Portraiture” 
  • Stephanie Tung (Peabody Essex Museum), “Clarity and Blurriness: Theories of Vision in Republican Era Photography” 


Download the conference poster here.

Visit the original posting here.