One Genealogy, Two Makers, and Many Replicates

Lillian Lanying Tseng, New York University

 

This paper investigates a pictorial genealogy of Chinese philology produced in the late eighteenth century. It reconsiders three crucial issues in the creative process. First, what is authorship? How should we deal with the competition between two intelligent makers in a friendly collaboration when the commissioner (Gui Fu, 1736-1805) and the artist (Luo Pin, 1733-1799) each had an equal say in formulating the image? Second, what marks the completion of a work of art? How should we address the active participation of a scholarly community whose members initiated the debates over visual representation by leaving their lengthy colophons next to the image? And the third, how does replication figure in the creative process? Does replication take the creative life of its own? How should we put into perspective the replicates of a pictorial genealogy through ages and across mediums?