Diverse artifacts in contemporary Chinese visual culture—from urban screens to architectural models, art exhibits, and viral media—share a panoramic breadth. This article suggests, however, that we should regard panorama not as a preordained form but as a discursive construct that posits an imaginary vantage point. Panorama as method notes the use of scale, recording of the skyline, and mediation of the cityscape. The article asks what material conditions and ideological circumstances allow for the existence of the images at hand and what brings us to identify them as panoramic. The implications reach far beyond specific artifacts: panorama as method challenges accepted paradigms about the relationship between the modern subject and urban space, including the distinction between cartographic vision and street-level immersion. The article focuses on what may be called the panoramic imaginary in contemporary Chinese urbanism: a visual emphasis on expansive space by scaling the built environment up and down, thereby recalibrating social relations and relocating civic engagement to virtual spaces.

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