This introductory chapter begins with an analysis of the reinvention of the Chinese script during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It suggests that the performance of Chinese writing during the Beijing Olympics was not a reinvention of the script but rather an attempt at changing the ways in which we visualize its medial form. The chapter then sets out the book's purpose, namely to analyze how the Chinese script, the sinograph, has been imagined in recent decades in literature and film, visual and performance art, design, and architecture, both within Chinese cultural contexts and in different parts of the “West.” By tracing the most recent part of a long, multifaceted script history, the book uses the sinograph to analyze what binds languages, scripts, and medial expressions to cultural and national identity. It is a case study of the ways in which the confluence of the digital media revolution and the reshaping of global power structures impacts our understanding of the Chinese script in particular and of writing in general. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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