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Traumatic Bonding: An Interdisciplinary Discussion about State Stockholm Syndrome

A program of
Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology

Wednesday, July 20, 6pm–8pm
Online on Zoom 

Watch the recording here

Artist Miao Ying calls her relationship with our highly censored digital environments a form of “Stockholm syndrome,” a condition in which hostages develop a psychological alliance—a traumatic bonding, in her words—with their captors. In Miao’s exhibition A Field Guide to Ideology, she humorously unpacks the architecture of this paradoxical condition by collaging digital rhetoric and fabricating counterfeit ideology. Taking Miao’s work as a point of departure, this panel brings together scholars in Psychology and Media Studies—Paul Bloom and Yi Gu, respectively—in discussion with the artist. Together, they will explore the complex, often contradictory, human emotions and collective psyche induced by the contemporary digital sphere, in McLuhan’s words, “the psychic and social consequences of technologies.” Moderated by Yan Wu, curator of Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology 

The event is co-presented with the Critical Digital Methods Institute, a research group affiliated with the Department of Arts, Culture & Media at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 

About the Panelists

Paul Bloom is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, and Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University. Paul Bloom studies how children and adults make sense of the world, with special focus on pleasure, morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of six books, including his most recent, The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning (Ecco Press, 2021). 

Yi Gu is an associate professor of Chinese modern and contemporary art and visual culture at University of Toronto. Her current research focuses on the agrarian imaginary and various extractive regimes, including those of historical socialism. Her previous work examines epistemic shifts and perception, landscape, and nation-building, and Chinese photography. She is the author of Chinese Ways of Seeing and Open-Air Painting (Harvard University Press Asia Center, 2020). 

Miao Ying is part of the first generation of Chinese contemporary artists who grew up with the internet, in the era of China’s one-child policy and national economic reform, and received education in both China and the West. Miao is best known for her projects and writings around the Chinese internet, online culture, and the Stockholm Syndrome in relation to authoritarianism. Her most recent solo presentations include Pilgrimage into Walden Twelve (Art Basel, 2021), Hardcore Digital Detox (M+ Museum, 2018), Miao Ying: Chinternet Plus (New Museum, 2016), and Holding a Kitchen Knife to Cut the Internet Cable (China Pavilion in Venice Biennale, 2015). 

Title and Page Image: Installation view: Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology, February 8–April 2, 2022, Art Museum at the University of Toronto. Photos by Toni Hafkenscheid.

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