Pierrick Porchet Abstract, July 2017 Conference

Circulation of kinesic practices and representations in Chinese martial arts

Martial arts, designated by the generic term wushu 武术 in Mandarin, can be observed in various forms in China nowadays. They can sometimes be observed as popular and/or professional sport practices, sometimes as political rhetoric, or in the entertainment industry through an imagery mobilized by literary and cinema productions. Recently, this multiple presence can also be observed in new media such as video games, cartoons or online videos. It is characterized by a plurality of referents, as the combined use of body movements and as an explanatory model reflecting on various implications, which vary from one production mode to another. This research focuses on how representations of martial techniques and gestures, whether being executed by real practitioners or fictional characters, circulate from one medium to another, creating, conserving or dissipating their contents, according to particular modes, where the very idea of martiality appears in very different manners. What are the implications of this “body rhetoric“[1]? What are its modalities? Using the theoretical and methodological framework of Guillemette Bolens on the kinesic approach[2] and the concept of circulation of forms defined by Basile Zimmermann[3], this research will focus on the modes of production and circulation of Chinese martial arts representations.


Biographical note

Pierrick Porchet is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the University of Geneva. His current PhD project focuses on examining kinesic aspects of Chinese martial arts. He is particularly interested in meanings embedded in body movements as they circulate through popular, institutional and artistic contexts. He has practiced Chinese martial arts since the early 2000s and has participated in various national and international competitions (in the discipline of taolu).




[1] MAGUET Frédéric, 2006, « Les films d’action : une rhétorique corporelle en régime d’utopie », in : Culture & Musées, n°7, p.28. (Translation by the author)

[2] BOLENS Guillemette, 2008, Le Style des gestes. Corporéité et kinésie dans le récit littéraire, Lausanne, Editions BHMS.

[3] ZIMMERMANN Basile, 2015, Waves and Forms : Electronic Music Devices and Computer Encodings in China, Cambridge, MA : MIT Press