In Chinese performance arts, one thing that was largely abandoned in the shift from traditional drama to motion pictures was the suppositionality of Chinese operatic performance, and the transition to digital cinema, particularly in the case of big‐budget blockbusters that compete for mass audiences in greater China as well as abroad, raises the question of if and how an aesthetic of suppositionality is related to the emerging virtual realism enabled by computer‐generated imagery (CGI). The concept of suppositionality not only helps us to evaluate how contemporary Chinese animation and CGI blockbusters remediate premodern cultural narratives but also provides an analytical measure for approaching the growing phenomenon of motion capture and composited performances. The “virtual realism” of CGI frees Chinese filmmakers to reject the ontological realism of photography and instead favor an aggressively animated style of visual effects while returning actors to a reprise of the suppositional performance style of traditional opera.
Suppositionality, Virtuality, and Chinese Cinema
Jason McGrath is associate professor of modern Chinese literature and film in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, where he also serves on the graduate faculty of the Moving Image Studies Program. He is the author of Postsocialist Modernity: Chinese Cinema, Literature, and Criticism in the Market Age.
Jason McGrath; Suppositionality, Virtuality, and Chinese Cinema. boundary 2 1 February 2022; 49 (1): 263–292. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-9615487
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