Qi-arising Space: The Embodiment of Qi in Taiwanese Hypermedial Theatre
Wu, Yi Chen Jr
Date: 20 November 2015
University of Exeter
PhD in Drama
This dissertation aims to establish a philosophical framework, described from the spectator’s viewpoint, for the analysis of the embodiment process of Qi in Taiwanese hypermedial theatre works, which subtly convey a traditional Chinese aesthetic of Qi. This traditional Chinese aesthetic based on the idea of Qi suggests that the spectator ...
This dissertation aims to establish a philosophical framework, described from the spectator’s viewpoint, for the analysis of the embodiment process of Qi in Taiwanese hypermedial theatre works, which subtly convey a traditional Chinese aesthetic of Qi. This traditional Chinese aesthetic based on the idea of Qi suggests that the spectator participates in the development of certain Qi-energy, which is inherent in and continuously transmitted between humans and various other beings or things. The establishment of the spectator-work relation with respect to Qi-energy suggests that there are potential communication pathways between humans and the cosmos. I explore how the world model based on Qi is realised in Taiwanese hypermedial theatre through the spatial configuration of the spectator-work relation. I argue that this world model based on Qi indicates a mode of existence in which both the spectator and the multiple media used in the work are transformed and become certain beings that are cultivated by Qi and originally merge with each other. The spectator’s reactions to a theatre work emerge, as I contend, as performative acts that interact with and continue the flow of Qi. Furthermore, these acts generate a performative space that corresponds to a spiritual and cosmological aspect of Qi. This framework provides a complement to the phenomenological discourses of performative space in the context of new media and hypermedial theatre studies. In Chapter 2, I examine the correlation between the constitution of performative space and the channelling of agency in contemporary Western theatre. Based on this examination, I propose that in the course of such constitution, three aesthetic actions of agency occur: sharing agency between the spectator and the work leads to the inter-activity between the two sides; meanwhile, it also leads to the spectator’s embodiment and presence in the mixed realms of the physical and the mediated. Chapter 3 elucidates the philosophical concepts, spatial implications, and practices of Qi in the context of Confucianism. I propose a connection between Qi and agency without substituting the latter entirely with the former, as the operations of the two systems respectively lead to different world models. With reference to Chiang Nien-feng’s phenomenological interpretation of the poetic arising of Qi (hsing) and Mathias Obert’s research into Qi’s performative feature in Chapter 4, I explore two issues. First, I examine how the poetic arising of Qi is expressed in the spectator’s performative acts in an encounter with a theatre work; secondly, I investigate how this poetic arising of Qi gives rise to the constitution of performative space through the spatial configuration of the spectator-work relation based on the Qi world model. I then develop a framework of Qi-arising Space for my further analysis of the constitution of performative space in relation to the embodiment of Qi in Taiwanese hypermedia theatre works and discussion of the three aesthetic actions of agency from the Qi worldview. Finally, in Chapter 5, with three case studies in this genre of the theatre, I analyse the similarities and differences between the operations of agency and Qi regarding the constitution of performative space and interrogate the characteristics of the aesthetic actions of agency and Qi. This study proves the value of the knowledge of Qi in the field of hypermedial theatre and offers an intercultural understanding to the existing notions in the field.
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