Friday, January 16, 2009

中国美学意象: 情与景交融 Chinese Artistic Imagination: Fusion of Emotion and Scene

Yi-xiang (literally imagery idea or intentional idea) or Artistic Imagination is another very important aesthetic notion. It is said to be the entrance to understanding the Chinese traditional aesthetics.
Imagination always plays a role in the production and appreciation of artworks. Aesthetic imagination explores the possibilities suggested by the connection of aesthetic experience. For Kant, aesthetic experience involves a free play of the imagination and the understanding. ‘Aesthetic imagination can perceive the ennobling beauty and truth of past art produced in more harmonious times.’
In Chinese aesthetics, Yi-xiang mandates wholeness so an art work should never leave out subjective emotion and objective scenery, but should combine them. The arts contain various relationships between emotion and scenery. To create a Yi-xiang, an artist must in a harmonious relationship between emotion and scenery.
The word Yi as an artistic subject means opinions, ideas, sentiments and emotions that the artist attempts to express through his/her works.
The word xiang in Chinese refers to three concepts: image, symbol or abstraction. The preference of images over words is well known in the Chinese culture. So Yi-jing (The Book of Change) quotes Confucius (551-479 BC) that written words cannot fully express speech while speech cannot fully express ideas. So the sages have established emblematic images to fully express their ideas. However, in Yi-jing, xiang actually is represented by the trigram and hexagram symbols. The word xiang is used to mean both images and symbols, depending on the context in which it is mentioned.
Abstraction is a new term in the Chinese vocabulary, although the concept of abstraction may have been existed in the Chinese mind since the ancient time.
So, when we say scenery in the context of Chinese Yi-xiang, it refers to the free play of images, symbols and abstract imagination.

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