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In Session: Linking Asia to the World: Asian Urban Culture and Visual Art in the 1930s
2: Modern Tourism and the Visual Representations of Mount Huang in Magazines in 1930s China
Thursday, March 25, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom
The introduction of the tourist industry to China from Europe and Japan reshaped the scope and meaning of travel through the process of commodification in the early twentieth century. For urbanites, traveling to scenic attractions became a fashionable activity and respite from daily routine, which resulted in a surge in demand for travel information. As such, popular magazines published travelogues, photographs and paintings of tourist attractions, which informed readers what to visit and see, constructed the taste and desire for travel, and standardized the way of experiencing picturesque landscapes in modern China. As Bernard McGrane points out, “Travel is essentially a way of seeing, a mode of seeing”. This paper explores the correlation between modern tourism and visual culture with focus on the visual representations of Mount Huang published in magazines in the 1930s. Treating scenic mountains as sites where nationalism and tourism intersected art and visual culture, and where complex negotiations of identity and difference took place, the paper looks closely at photographs and landscape paintings with themes on Mount Huang, examining how traditional landscape preferences and aesthetics were embedded in urban culture and disseminated via magazines, and how Mount Huang was reframed and perceived in the discourse of tourism and nation-building.