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Title: Cao Fei's imagery of the Chinese female cyborg as a posthuman identity in twenty-first century China
Authors: Seah, Rachel Jia Hui
Keywords: Visual arts and music::Art museums and galleries
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Seah, R. J. H. (2020). Cao Fei's imagery of the Chinese female cyborg as a posthuman identity in twenty-first century China. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: This thesis begins with an exploration of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) to cyborg phenomenon across pop culture, contemporary art and governance. Drawing references from the current AI technology wars between China and America, this thesis investigates; (1) China’s motivations behind this ploy, how it affects the marginalized female gender ; (2) and focuses on Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei’s early twenty-first century works, which responds to the social and urban conditions in China hinting on a cyborg solution to take on contemporaneous China. The research aims to convey the hidden qualities that make up the Chinese female cyborg in Cao Fei’s selected works and discusses the capabilities of this empath heroine for women in China’s Social Credit System (shehui xinyong tixi –SCS) society. Firstly, it investigates Cao Fei’s Brand New Human Beings which includes works like Cosplayers Series (2004), Cos-Cosplayers Series (2005) and Un-Cosplayers Series (2005), highlighting the bricolage of collective experiences from society’s underbelly, powered to fuel the backend of China. These are followed by Cao Fei’s alter ego China Tracy in works like i.Mirror (2007) and RMB City Series (2007) which looks at the transcendence of material self to the posthuman and the effects of “illusioned” free-will in a virtual platform like Second Life. Thirdly, it closely examines Cao Fei’s organic imagery of the posthuman consciousness in works like Haze and Fog (2013), La Town (2014), Asia One (2018), Nova (2019), and The Eternal Wave (2020), which suggests a heightened need for an empath heroine to reclaim “patriarchal image-making" while pushing towards a postpolitical utopia in China. Finally, through the three qualities that make up the Chinese female cyborg, it proposes a material transformation, creating a cybernetic adornment using both fashion biomimicry and feminist design tools to achieve a non-biased design solution.This thesis discusses the body, gender and posthuman politics of the Chinese female cyborg by critiquing the stereotypes it perpetuates and the mind-body to machine ratio that alters the embodied humanness. The discussion concludes with the Chinese female cyborg as “new materialism” that is able to articulate Freud’s “bodily ego” concept and contributes to Haraway’s request for a different relationship for nature/culture that we are faced with. This thesis recognises the patriarchal authoritarian conundrum that will continue to hinder greater equality for women in China and is a call-to-action to consider the many ways art may inform new technologies that can work to the benefit all people.
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Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:ADM Theses

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