My motivation for Chaos Out of Order came from Chinese calligraphy. Chinese calligraphy is a neglected analog art form in modern society, partially due to the wide use of digital typography, with the common use of digital devices, and also because of the art form itself comparatively less valued than paintings and sculptures. There is the lack of knowledge and understanding of the art form itself. It is a cultural practice for the young to learn Chinese calligraphy in my culture. My academic practice and interest has been museum and exhibition design. When I was in Paris for my mobility exchange program at Parsons, I initiated a problem solving design for museums and exhibitions. Since my personal interest has been traditional Chinese art and calligraphy in particular, it came to my surprise that there was a lack of display and deeper understanding in Chinese calligraphy or even calligraphy as an art form in Paris, as Paris is one of the cities that accommodates and promotes a wide variety of art forms. The Musée de Lettres et Manucrits  (The Museum of Letters and Manuscripts) was closed down and there was also a very limited display of Chinese calligraphy in major museums compared with Chinese paintings, sculptures, ceramics and even to Japanese calligraphy. Hence, I have been encouraged to curate and design an exhibition dedicated to it to investigate and promote this art form.


My goal is to introduce a more in-depth perspective in Chinese calligraphy. Through the promotion of Expressionism within Chinese calligraphy as an emotional gesture derived from physical gesture. The interactive installations are modules that will be displayed under a museum and exhibition context.


Chaos Out of Order is a Chinese calligraphy exhibition for Western and non-Chinese reading audiences, with the promotion of Expressionism within Chinese calligraphy as an emotional gesture that is derived from physical gestures, originally envisioned at Musée Guimet in Paris.


My thesis investigates learning experiences in the context of a museum. I am focusing on subjects that are not easily defined, such as language, art, and culture. I study how they are framed and displayed under the traditional structure of museum institutions. My methodological approach for looking into the cognitive science of language learning, that correlates to our learning behaviour and also researches in maintenance of technical sustainability in museum and exhibition at the same time. These methodologies have been reflected in the Chinese calligraphy exhibition I curate and design, which is Chaos Out of Order. Through Chaos Out of Order, I want to introduce a more in-depth perspective in Chinese calligraphy. I hope it renews people’s understanding of writing, especially in our digital modern world. The “chaos” from Chinese calligraphy is very similar to our modern world. Expressionism is highly valued in Chinese calligraphy from the raw emotion the calligrapher expressed. To allow this expression to perform, the calligrapher has follow grids of guidelines as their foundation. This is very similar to our modern day, where we have sets of rules to obey. Yet, we are allowed to express ourselves freely within these boundaries. Hence, the curation of Chaos Out of Order aims to guide visitors to return to the origin of analog writing or art with the simulation of the experience through different interactive installations. In my thesis exhibition, I am demonstrating two installations that illustrates different functionality in a museum context. The first one is Hold Thy Brush in the first introduction section of the exhibition, where it aims to educate visitors in a literal and mechanical way. The second installation, Write Yourself, is in the fourth section of the exhibition after the knowledge of Chinese calligraphy of visitors have accumulated. They will learn more about the physical factors involved in Chinese calligraphy through a kinaesthetic approach with Write Yourself.

With research that supports physical interactivity to enforce learning in museums that is cross-age (Schneider and Cheslock (2003) and Maxwell and Evans),2 the interactive installations that stress hand and body gesture to help as a learning process that de-emphasises the complicated philosophy behind how Chinese calligraphy is a product of the Chinese culture and its language. The curation and exhibition design is based on the curatorial and educational design models of science and mathematics museums, such as Palais de la Découverte in Paris and National Museum of Mathematics in New York; and traditional and modern museums respectively. The intention was to translate the abstract understanding of Chinese language and culture to calligraphy in a museum design context, with historical, psychological and cultural approaches in an engaging way:

* Historical approach: To demonstrate how different writing scripts evolved due to environmental limitations of the period, I use an augmented reality period room.

* Psychological approach: To demonstrate simple formation of Chinese character from a physical posture or gesture, this leads to an actual attempt to draw or write that character with a gesture involving body movement. By applying the connectionist network proposed by Ping Li,1 where a self-organising network with the pairing of a phonological map and a semantic map successfully models the acquisition of lexical and grammatical aspect.

* Cultural approach: To understand the visual presentation of Chinese calligraphy is formed by layers of sediments through centuries in a modern interactive approach. There will also be a demonstration of the cross-cultural influences of work that are derived from Chinese calligraphy, to demonstrate the multi-dimensional influence through time and culture.

Based on these approaches, the exhibition translates the promotion of Expressionism in Chinese calligraphy as an emotional gesture derived from physical gesture. There are six different aspects that explore the relation between expressionism in Chinese calligraphy and Western ideology, from comparing this form of art that stemmed from ancient China to how it could relate to the ancient and contemporary Western culture, and eventually the contemporary physical and digital experience.


/ One : The perfection-ness in modern digital world /

In the modern day, it is very easy to achieve perceived perfection by different editing methods: removing, retyping, correcting and re-correcting, on different digital mediums and tools. Sometimes, we rely on or have positive trust in automatic feedback because of the accuracy machines provide. For instance, one would rely on a scientific result from a laboratory test that is constructed with computer analysis. Scientific observations are given authority because they were to be repeated and confirmed.⁴ However, Joseph Fulda, a teacher-scholar from New York whose fields include artificial intelligence and symbolic logic, has suggested that the easy achievement in making perfect digital copies lacks “analog warmth.”⁵ This means that one could hardly identify if a digital copy was just another generic copy that was being sent out with a simple click or an individual copy. Hence, the first drafts of work are often more appreciated as they express the organic emotion or notion of an artist, poet or author. The act of using sketches are “conversational as opposed to representational”,⁶ they possess an “aura” that in Walter Benjamin’s view was undermined by technologies of mass production.

However, technology can also fail us with bugs, crashes or glitches.⁷ Sometimes for unexplainable reasons, we would see these unexpected dysfunctions as an anomaly of guilty pleasure occasionally with the proof of an imperfectionistic glitch within a supposedly “perfect” machine or system, a chaos out of order. For instance, the wrong suggestions from the “autocorrect” function.

The pursuit of perfection through digital media has affected our physical habits and behaviour. As Nicholas Carr suggests, the adaption of new technologies have been reflected in our metaphors we explain to ourselves. We have started to think and biologically react like a machine.⁸ For instance, by addressing ourselves “running 56k” when we are functioning biologically or mentally slow. Will this cognitive and biological machine thinking restrain us as humans, to react organically with our emotion and even away from our body gestures?

In the following sections, I will explain the importance of Chinese calligraphy, why should it gain more importance in the (art) world, and how its promotion of physical gesture is important to our modern digital world.

/ Two : Chinese calligraphy as a forgotten form of art /

In the history of Western art since ancient Greece, there has been a great emphasis on the appreciation of paintings and sculptures. Calligraphy is under appreciated as an art form with its abstractness, and it is often seen as a practical technique to express ideas in a beautiful form.⁹ Even in contemporary Western culture, calligraphy and writing are not given as much attention as paintings and sculptures, and often are not put on public display in the same way. In Paris, for example, the Musée des Lettres et Manuscripts displayed collections of manuscripts from artists, musicians, scientists, royalty, statesmen and authors, was established in 2004, but was permanently closed on April 5, 2015. One might argue this could not reflect the public interest with its closure, which was due to a bad investment scheme.10 However, it was the only museum in Paris that contributed to calligraphy deliberately. If the public is interested in calligraphy as much as paintings and sculptures, should there not be more museums and exhibitions dedicated to it?

Since the early set up of art museums, the West considered their art as art and non-Western art as artefacts on the basis of their practicality and instrumental values.11 Some museums might also bestow this unfamiliar cultural property with exotic presentations to fuel the Western public’s imagination. For example, the expressive architectural structure and museum design at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris to echo with the African, Asian, Americas and Oceania collection it acquires and displays. Since calligraphy is an abstract art form, Chinese calligraphy does not fall under the typical non-Western artefacts category in Western museums and galleries. Hence, it might explain the lack of display and attention of Chinese calligraphy in Western museums. For instance, as of November 2015, there was a Japanese calligraphy exhibition, “L’Empire de l’encre — Calligraphies contemporaines japonaises” at the Musée Guimet. Yet, there were not any displays of Chinese calligraphy display at Musée Cernuschi, a museum in Paris whose  collection in Asian art is second only to the Musée Guimet in Paris. Although, there are some Chinese calligraphy works displayed at the T. T. Tsui Gallery12 in V&A Museum in London as of October 2015, they are shown in the corner of the room which was easily ignored compared with the cabinets dedicated the sculptures and chinaware in the same room. Moreover, they were hung as decorative items to draw a focus on their decorative quality. Whereas, in the East, calligraphy scrolls are displayed for delicate investigation or hung as artworks for appreciation similar to Western paintings.

Moreover, I did a data visualisation project, to investigate the importance of calligraphy and Chinese calligraphy to the West based on the categorisation of books that are searched by the keywords “Western calligraphy” and “Chinese calligraphy” at the New York Public Library (NYPL). Out of the millions of books the NYPL acquired, there are less than 2000 books in total that are categorised as Western calligraphy and Chinese calligraphy. As a result, Chinese calligraphy is being categorised mainly as “decorative art”, then “language and literature”, then “philosophy, psychology and religion” and “complex subjects”; whereas Western calligraphy is being categorised mainly as “decorative arts” and “bibliography, library science and general information resources”. Hence, even calligraphy is seen as a decorative art with penmanship and craftsmanship, that could be hard to allow the West to connect the historical, psychological and political aspects that Chinese calligraphy embeds due to cultural differences.

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Also, Chinese calligraphy is more than a mere decoration in traditional Chinese painting, where they address as a title and description, or comments made by viewers of the painting. There is a theoretical and technical relationship between Chinese calligraphy and painting, where Chinese calligraphy  serves as an important visual tool in appreciating a Chinese painting. Firstly, the techniques in Chinese paintings are developed from the writing techniques of Chinese calligraphy.13 Hence, in order to value a Chinese painting, one has to judge the Chinese calligraphy in the painting, whether the skills of the writing techniques correlate with the techniques in the painting.14 As William Willetts argues, Chinese calligraphy is an important art form in Chinese culture.15 It represents one of the earliest human civilisations with the Oracle scripts documenting ancient ritualistic narration, on animal bones or turtle shells in Bronze Age China.16 Moreover, the structure and aesthetic of different scripts represent the culture, political and social value of one (or more) dynasty. For instance, the Clerical script was widely dominant in the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) where paper was not yet invented. People of the time were writing on books bound by thin bamboo sticks. With the nature of vertical bamboo fibres on the bamboo sticks, it would be hard to write or draw straight horizontal lines. Hence, the appreciation of the Clerical script was based on the ability and skill to draw a nice horizontal line.17

/ Three : Copying as an Universal Cultural Gesture /

There were schools dedicated to Chinese calligraphy in ancient China.18 Through copying the works of Masters, the practice of learning Chinese calligraphy is very similar to the training at early art academies in Europe during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.19 From copying as a learning method to improve skills, to copying as a result of master production in modern days, the gesture of copying has been more than a physical act. It has became a practice where through copying one can learn and may improve and out perform more than the original. Through this practice of copying from a work of Master, one could make a dialogue with the past, and deliver a physical response that is related to the associated school, which extended its relation and understanding within a culture and tradition. This could be supported by both the Chinese and Western cultures with a high amount of replicas of Chinese calligraphy and painting scrolls and the casts of original sculptures seen in Western art world. Some of these replicas might be  given a higher value than the original work, as they all promote an extended “aura” to what the original work does not hold and went beyond their ability to fulfil cultural and political objective as the book The Classical Tradition suggests.20 For instance, in the sixteenth century, due to Cardinal Grimaldi’s personal admiration of his marble replica of the Laocoön, he suggests that replicas can be admired as much as their antique models.21 Although Cardinal Grimaldi’s marble replica of the Laocoön is not a replica, it holds value because of the analog warmth produced when one creates it. When Wen Fong describes the work of a copyist or forger, he states, “…he easily captures its basic form elements or motifs and compositional patterns, but in combining such elements or motifs to create a new effect or to find the solution to a new problem, he inevitably creates form relationship and visual structures more characteristics of his own time.”22

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However, no matter how great a copy can be, “painters assure us that the object most difficult to imitate is the living human skin,” wrote a contributor to All the Year Round in 1880.23 This suggests that even when it is human made, it is still a replica that is being resisted; even a perfect replica could not replace the original.  To some extent, the practice of copying has evolved into a methodology for mass production in modern terms that digital copies hold less analog aura.

/ Four : Cognitive Learning Differences between the West and the East /

The reason the nature of the Chinese language itself is hard to understand and appreciate may also be due to cognitive reasons. Asians might appeal and react to the pictorial nature of Chinese characters more than Westerners because they are programmed to learn to appreciate the situational relationship and meaning of things and objects. The West is more focused on the frontier subject and object with personal attributes. This is suggested by different eye movement experiments24 that investigate the connection between culture and cognition.25 This might be explained by the phonetic Latin and Romance alphabetic language largely used in the Western language, when compared with Chinese characters, where they largely involve homophony, that on average, eleven characters share a pronunciation. Hence, context plays a big role in selecting a spoken word from among its phonetically similar cohorts (Li & Yip, 1996).26 Thus, the cognitive model of Chinese readers initiates recognition on graphic representation to connect with meanings, then to the phonetic identification that subconsciously trained the cognitive processing of character identification (Perfetti & Tan, 1998).27 This might suggest the ability for Chinese or Asian readers to identify the visual aesthetic of characters or words more than Westerners or non-Chinese readers.

/ Five : Expressionism is High Valued in Chinese Calligraphy /

In the world of Chinese calligraphy, the most highly valued Chinese calligraphy scrolls are usually drafts where cross marks and corrections of words are commonly seen. The objects are prized because they capture the raw emotion and individualism of calligraphers when they were writing or drafting the scripts. For instance, Yen Chen-ch’ing was lamenting his recently deceased nephew in “Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew” in AD 758 (see fig. 7), where the brushstrokes on the work expressed his different emotional states, from calmness to anger and eventually the powerlessness of the event.28 When compared with most of the Chinese calligraphy scrolls, despite the spaces left blank intentionally or subconsciously, they became an expression from Yen of his emotional pause. Hence, the correlation of Expressionism in Chinese calligraphy could be related back to Western Expressionism. The rise of artistic individualism in the the nineteenth century encouraged a number of painting styles that valued expressive gestural brush strokes over highly finished canvases. These included the style of Impressionism, Symbolism and Expressionism. For instance, the work of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, is often seen as incomplete. (See fig. 8) However, the work encouraged the technical and emotional process as an artwork, and imagination from the viewer for conceptual completion of his raw emotion.

"Les Chimères" par Gustave Moreau

“Les Chimères” – Gustave Moreau (1884)

In the words of Kelly Baum, one of the exhibition curators of “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, “An unfinished picture is almost like an X-ray, which allows you to see beyond the surface of the painting to what lies behind: earlier versions, preparatory sketches, all of the underlying architecture which is normally disguised and suppressed. And this gives profound insight into the creative process.”29 The incomplete state of a painting represents moments of real physical and psychological distress that has a greater emotional impact on the painting.

/ Six : Expressionism as an Emotional Gesture Derived from a Physical Gesture /

“Cursive” by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (2009)

Physical gestures influence Chinese calligraphy in different layers, the physical gesture involved when one writes Chinese calligraphy through physical movement is part of the process in learning and creating a piece of Chinese calligraphy. The early creation of part of the Chinese characters in the Oracle scripts are based on the ideographic physical gesture of an object or person. A “correct” physical posture also gives a Chinese calligrapher a good foundation to start off their piece physically. These physical gestures are the fundamental guidelines when learning Chinese calligraphy. There is a similarity between dance and Chinese calligraphy under the counterbalance of order and dynamic as an art of control. With dance as a modern physical expression, a dancer has to learn the techniques, postures and routines as their fundamental guideline. It is then determined by the calligrapher and dancers to add in their emotional touch to the piece based on these guidelines to connect them as an emotionally affluent piece.

According to Lin Hwai-Min, the choreographer of the Cursive Trilogy, a dance performance  from Cloud Gate Dance Theatre based on Chinese calligraphy, the fundamental spiral posture required in Chinese calligraphy is “an endless manipulation of spiral movement”. Similar to qi gong, it largely depends on channeling one’s energy from the ground in spiral movements to the body. This spiralling of Lin’s ballet choreography connects back to Chinese calligraphy as a new form of language to write in the air through dance.31 This spiralling and mediative element in Chinese calligraphy “brings some spirituality to the digital age”, according to Laura Vermeeren.32


《祭侄文稿 》- 顏真卿. Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew – Yen Chen-ch’ing (758)


Through different participatory sections in the exhibition, the visitors will be educated about the Chinese culture and its language, in order to learn to appreciate the aesthetic of Chinese calligraphy. To contextualise and realise these ideas, I am designing two interactive installations, Hold Thy Brush and Write Yourself.

Hold Thy Brush aims to teach the visitor to position their fingers on a Chinese brush correctly, and the technique to write different Chinese strokes. Through the action of imitating the correct position, it acts as a token to access more knowledge. When the fingers are positioned correctly, it will trigger a video demonstrating how a certain brush stroke is repeatedly written and expressed by a calligrapher, Cathy Yat-Ming Ho33. The physical work of that piece will be shown above the tutorial and demonstration video, for other visitors who might not have the chance to try the installation.


Latest navigation flow prototype of Write Yourself

Write Yourself aims to teach the visitor to learn about the creation and meaning of Chinese characters through a non-literacy method, and also of how visual elements are developed in a Chinese calligraphy piece. Through interacting with it individually, the visitor could understand the basic formation of Chinese characters, the learning process, and other processes which accumulate to what we perceive visually today. As part of the Chinese characters are formed by pictograph and ideograph through human gesture or posture, the visitor will pose in front of a touch-screen monitor that tracks his or her body gesture. It will then generate the Chinese character that it translates. With an image of the pose as a comparison and visual explanation, the visitor will then have to write that character and explanation, and will then be asked to put a virtual seal stamp as their signature. After the work has been stamped, the meaning of the character will appear. The characters are either from the original characters from Yen Chen-ch’ing’s “Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew”, or from another piece of his, or from another calligrapher that writes the same cursive script. The written character and captured pose will then be projected outside of the exhibition wall along with other written work. The written characters will be aligned starting from the top right corner to bottom and to the left, the way Chinese calligraphy should be read. Other visitors can view this collage of work from the exhibition wall, or interact with it by adding their comments on it, on the wall or on the web, where a seal stamp will be generated according to their name. This digital process of seal stamping and commenting translates as the modern interaction to the layers of sediments from the Chinese calligraphy and painting scrolls.

These two installations translate the connection between physical gesture and Expressionism in Chinese calligraphy. This connection is made through the hand gestural activity from Hold Thy Brush and the partial formation of Chinese characters through body gesture as a pictograph, as well as the physical movement of writing a character from the visitors through Write Yourself.



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I am inspired by science and maths museums as the precedents of my museum design rather than traditional calligraphy exhibitions. 
If such abstract and complicated concepts of science and maths could be translated to children, then adults could of course be able to understand them.
Hence, I am drawing the simple instructions and installations from science and maths museums for their methodology for abstract content interpretation. Based on the V&A and the Louvre, I recognised the combination of contemporary art and traditional scrolls would draw a dialogue with the past and make a better connection in the influential of the art form.


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/ ONE : Introduction /

This section is an introduction to Chinese calligraphy with its essential items, and calligraphy scrolls and traditional Chinese artworks where calligraphy would be seen. With the aid of a video showing the correct ways to hold a Chinese brush in the installation Hold Thy Brush, visitors will place their fingers in the correct positions of how to hold a Chinese brush, with the buttons embedded in the brush at the installation. With the correct finger position, each visitor could activate different videos about the techniques of writing different Chinese calligraphy strokes. There will be a series of 8 videos illustrating the 8 major brush strokes in writing Chinese. The physical piece from these videos will be shown on top of the video monitor, which is demonstrated by the Chinese calligrapher, Cathy Yat-Ming Ho. She demonstrated the same brush stroke in repetition, forming her own expressive representation.

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The selection of the Chinese calligraphy and painting scrolls in this section also suggests an introduction of official writing script by Yen Chen-ch’ing and other calligraphers to a visual graduation on to their more emotional scripts and paintings. (See fig. 15)

/ TWO : Augmented Reality Period Room /

In the Augmented Reality period room, visitors will visualise the environment and limitation of one or more eras of a Chinese calligraphy script to be formed through a selection of different scripts on an iPad. There will be a static set of “furniture” and walls and visitors will be able to understand the transition from one script to another script.

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The entrance and exit of this room is shaped by the Chinese character “‮$‬J” (entry) and “٪X” (exit) (see fig. 16) , in Oracle script and modern script respectively. (See fig. 17) This design holds the subtlety to allow the visitor to visualise the contrast of the pictorial structure of the earliest Chinese script – Oracle script, to the modern day script.

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/ THREE : Expressionism in Chinese Calligraphy /

This section displays the highlighted piece of Chaos Out of Order, “Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew” by Yen Chen-ch’ing (758). There will also be a display of the piece in standard script, based on the same characters written by Yen Chen-ch’ing for other official documents, as a comparison to this expressive and brilliant piece. Annotation and explanation will be available to help visitors better understand the relation between the expressive brushstrokes and Yen’s emotion.

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The comparison between the original “Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew” and my own creation Top: The original “Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew” Bottom: My own creation of “Draft of a Requiem to My Nephew” generated from the exact characters Yen written in his other standard script pieces

/ FOUR : Write Yourself /

This section is an interactive installation that involves a touchscreen monitor and projection. Write Yourself allows visitors to trace or write a Chinese character based on the Chinese character generated from their own choice of physical gesture, in order to achieve the physical movement Chinese calligraphy and the formation of Chinese character involves. The characters they write will evaporate, similarly to water calligraphy, as a symbol of the fading importance and neglected attention of Chinese calligraphy in the modern world. The work of each visitor will be projected for appreciation by other visitors. There will also be a digital platform for other visitors to interact with, as the modern interpretation of the layers of visual sediment one sees in ancient Chinese calligraphy and painting scrolls.

/ FIVE : The Influence /

This section displays Chinese calligraphy scrolls with modern or contemporary artworks to demonstrate its influence on different forms of art and our world.



/ ONE : Dance Performance /

Cursive trilogy led by Lin Hwai-Min’s dance group, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, will perform a contemporary ballet piece to visualise and contextualise the notion of “chaos out of order”. The dance mimics the expressionism in Chinese calligraphy as a physical artistic form that stemmed from grids as a guideline and foundation.

/ TWO : Chinese calligraphy workshop/

Similar to the Xu Bing’s Square Word Calligraphy Classroom (1994), the Chinese calligraphy workshop is a beginner workshop for visitors to experience how to write with a Chinese brush. Using the English alphabets I have created, These alphabets are derived from Chinese characters’ architectural and aesthetic structure.

At the end of this workshop, there will be an introduction to fontself, a plugin to allow its users to create their own set of font to be used in Adobe application. Participants in this workshop can then create their own set of fonts based on the alphabets they wrote in the workshop!


The Brush is a retractable pen that has a conductive tip in the shape of a Chinese brush that allows the touch screen function to perform with smart tablets or devices. It is a design taken from the traditional Eastern form while using the modern Western technical and practical tool. Hence, as a souvenir, the visitor could either use it with the installations at Chaos Out of Order or for daily use.


Due to the analog nature of the traditional art form, my thesis introduces new forms of communication to promote Chinese calligraphy. Feedback from people in the industry reflects interest in Chaos Out of Order. This interest is due to the approach of applying the cognitive science of learning with physical engagement that seems to be an innovative way of demonstrating and promoting traditional art. The general visual display is very similar to Western painting hanging and display method. With research supports physical engagement in museum that could enhance learning behaviour explained earlier in Preface, the literacy and non-literacy approaches based on the pedagogical format for learning in the museum also attempt to accommodate the diversity of the audience. These approaches are relevant and keep up to the recent trend in China to promote traditional culture and art to the young through the use of technology.

My designs try to avoid the overwhelming use of technology which creates detachment, and distracts visitors from the appreciation and learning about traditional art and the creative process. In Chaos Out of Order, I am embedding technology in Hold Thy Brush so it strikes a balance between the analog and digital aspects as an Internet of Things, which connects objects as a node within a network through augmented connectivity. I have also taken that into account in Write Yourself. Through kinetic learning in Write Yourself, technology has became a transformative medium. The visitors’ body becomes an interface through computer visioning to translate a pedagogical idea.


The data gathered from Write Yourself are drawn characters and gestures of visitors that are being tracked and saved. These data can be accessed through the web, for other users to interact with it as a modern interpretation of the visual sediments in Chinese calligraphy. This data collection fits into the new trend within museum and exhibition design of getting data and creating projects based on the database for future curation or exhibit events, that helps to enhance visitor experience.

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To maintain a good level of technical sustainability has been an intent I have been putting into consideration for all my designs. I have changed the brush in Hold Thy Brush from using Leap Motion to a brush that now embeds button and photocell light sensitive sensors to get accurate finger positions, which serves the purpose of the installation. This challenge has convinced me the idea that technology is my representational medium. It has helped me to realise and prototype my designs. This urges me to develop multiple ways to solve a design problem for museums that might not be financially supported. For instance, there is a potential to connect between Write Yourself and The Brush by adding a bluetooth gyroscope inside The Brush. I have also hacked a PC compatible touchscreen monitor to be Mac compatible. These measures provide an alternative way to realise the installation even when museums or galleries could not afford the expensive capacitive foil for touchscreen function, and the flexibility to install it on both PC and Mac. Moreover, the limitation of the technology has shaped my prioritisation of different aspects in my project. For instance, in Write Yourself, there was a debate on using the touchscreen monitor to maintain the drawing effect without the visual image from kinect that shows the physical gesture of visitors, or vice versa. Before the touchscreen monitor had been hacked, I had decided to display the visual image of the kinect over the drawing ability on a touchscreen monitor because the notion of Write Yourself is to translate the formation of Chinese characters through body gestures in a non-literary approach.These different investigations of different technologies help me to allow my project to have flexibility in geographical mobility.

The journey of investigating a curatorial and exhibition design for a museum has been fulfilling. I have redefined my position under a traditional museum infrastructure. Being the middle person between curator and technologist, who can design and prototype the potential solutions or installations that curators desire. The new methodologies I explored turned out to be unexpectedly supportive to my thesis and investigate more ways to enhance learning experience based on the cultural differences stemmed from language learning. This methodological approach has been useful because it explains some of the reasons why a certain art form has different status over another in different cultures. This is definitely beneficial to my future approach in designing or curating an exhibition for Chinese or foreign art. Hence, this thesis project has definitely laid a foundation for me to prepare for the practical issues that I might come across in real life situations for museums in my future career path.



Calligraphy scrolls
1/ 顏真卿:《祭侄文稿》
2/ 顏真卿:《多寶塔碑》
3/ 歐陽詢:《九成宮醴泉銘》
4/ 八大山人:《 題畫軸》
5/ 顏真卿:《 守政帖》
6/ 徐渭 :《草書詩軸》

Chinese artworks that consists Chinese calligraphy
1/ 石魯:《孔子鲁班之宏台》
2/ 徐渭:《墨葡萄圖》

1/ First Bacteria, Cynthia Lui (2014)
2/ Kintsukuroi
3/ Bruno Catalano
4/ Orchid Pavilion Preface, Jay Choi (2011)
5/ Leave Blank, Ivana Wang (2012)
6/ No Original Research, Evan Roth (2014)
7/ 陳忠建, 顏真卿《多寶塔碑入門》 (2014)




Books and Articles
1/ Yat-Ming Cathy Ho. The Chinese Calligraphy Bible. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2007.
2/ Zhenxia Wang. Paintings sand Medicine. Hong Kong: Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd. 2014.
3/ William Willetts. Chinese Art: Volume Two. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd. 1958.
4/ 蔣勛. 漢字書法之美. 桂林: 廣西師範大學出版社. 2009.
5/ Chu Dan. Chinese Calligraphy. Anhui: Time Publishing and Media Co., Ltd. 2012.
6/ Martin Kemp. The Oxford Museum of Western Art: Art Museums and Galleries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2000.
7/ Hans Ulrich Obrist. Ways of Curating. UK: Penguin Books. 2015.
8/ Ridiculous Design Rules. Never Touch a Painting When it’s Wet. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers. 2013.
9/ Da-Wei Kwo. Chinese Brushwork in Calligraphy and Painting: Its History, Aesthetics, and Techniques. New York: Dover Publications Inc. 1990.
10/ Joseph S. Fulda. ”How Digital Perfection Disempowers Scholars.” Journal Of Information Ethics 19, no. 2 (Fall2010 2010): 5-7. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed November 20, 2015).
11/ C. V. Boyer. 1923. “Self-expression and Happiness: A Study of Matthew Arnold’s Idea of Perfection”. International Journal of Ethics 33 (3). The University of Chicago Press: 263–90.
12/ D. G. Gillham. 1975. “IDEAS OF HUMAN PERFECTION”. Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, no. 45. Berghahn Books: 13–27.
13/ Frans A. Janssen. “The Rectangle in Typography.” Quaerendo 40, no. 1 (Spring2010 2010): 1-25. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 20, 2015).
14/ Alexandra Martin.“Quai Branly Museum and the Aesthetic of Otherness”. St Andrews Journal of Art History and Museum Studies, Vol. 15. 2011.
15/ Hillel Schwartz. The Culture of Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles. US: The MIT Press. 1998.
16/ Hans Ed. Meyer. The Development of Writing. USA: Alphabet Press. 1984.
17/ Canadian Craft Museum. Karma of the Brush: an exhibition of contemporary Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. Vancouver: Chinese-Japanese Calligraphy Exhibition Committee. 1995.
18/ Megan Garber. “When the Forgery Is The Art”, The Atlantic,. January 12, 2016. (accessed January 13, 2016).
19/ Anna Kenoff. “How You Record Ideas May Impact Creativity.” Fast Company, November 30 2015. (accessed December 5, 2015).
20/ Nicholas Carr. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, The Atlantic, July/August 2008 Issue. http:// (accessed December 10, 2015).
21/ D. Harris. Calligraphy: Modern Masters – Art, Inspiration, and Technique. New York: Crescent Books. 1991.
22/ Anthony Grafton, Glenn W Most, Salvatore Settis. The Classical Tradition. US: Harvard University Press. 2010.


Academic consultation and support

Alessandro Ludovico
Barbara Morris
Béatrice Quette, Musée des Arts Decorative (Paris)
Benjamin Gaulon
Dr. Bin Zhou
Cathy Yat-Ming Ho
Christiane Paul
Christine Sugrue
Dr. CY Huang
Prof. Daniel Chak-kwong Lau, Member of China Calligraphers Association
David Carroll
Dr. Stephanie Nadalo
Franz Hoffman, founder of fontself
Gigi Yu, Bonhams (Hong Kong)
Lei Ping
Vincent Wu, Bonhams (Hong Kong)

Artistic consultation

Charlene Man
Janice Lai
Kyle MacDonald
Mite mite

Technical consultation and support

Christine Sugrue
Gene Kogan
Hok Shun Poon
Saman Rezazadeh Tehrani


Robin Hsieh

Sketchup and Rhino:

Aaron Lehr
Kevin Chan, candidate of Association of Architecture ’18


Amaury Remusat
Bonnie Leung
Flora Cheung
Henry Lam
Ivan Twohig
Jerome Saint-Clair
Johan da Silveira
Martin Debie