From Writing to Calligaphy: A Consideration of the Phenomenology of the Body

Vol. 40 No. 3   09/2010    


From Writing to Calligaphy: A Consideration of the Phenomenology of the Body 


Ng, Chon -ip









Key words

aesthetics of calligraphy, phenomenology of calligraphy, bodily aesthetics  


    Chinese calligraphy is a very distinctive semiotic and artistic phenomenon. It seems to be neither figurative nor abstract; it consists of characters that express meanings which are ideal, but at the same time it is composed of perceptible forms which call for the viewer's full attention to their individualities; phenomenology draws a sharp contrast between “expression" and “indication," but calligraphy seems to be both at once. The ambiguity of Chinese calligraphy makes it a perplexing theme for traditional aesthetic theories.
    In this paper, I analyze calligraphy from a phenomenological approach. My analysis is divided into two parts. The first part is a static and structural analysis. I describe the “noetic-noematic" correlation of the calligraphic experience, contrasting it with similar art forms as well as with writing in general. In the second part, I analyze the phenomenon of calligraphy dynamically and genetically. The construction of the meaning of calligraphy will be traced back to the unity of calligraphic actions on both temporal and historical levels. It will be shown that the genesis of calligraphic art is a movement aimed at the emancipation of the "gestural meaning" embodied in the phenomenon of writing.



Author: Ng, Chon -ip
Genre: Article