Transnational China Project Image Archive:
"Contemporary Consumer Culture in Chinese Cities:
Subway Ads from
Beijing, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei"
(661 Images)

Beijing Subway Advertisement

Kaohsiung Subway Image

Shanghai Subway Image

 Singapore Subway Image

Taipei Subway Image

Introduction to the Archive:

An emerging visual culture is transforming Chinese urban landscapes: the advertising of products and businesses both domestic and foreign. These new visual media disseminate economic information for a distinctly commercial purpose, but in doing so they may also -- directly, indirectly and even unintentionally -- create a means of rhetoric involving new sets and combinations of values, ideals and norms.

Scholars of contemporary culture often refer to this rhetoric -- particularly its transnational and transcultural aspects -- and these transformations in identifying the communication mechanisms of social change in China and other Chinese socieies. But examples are not always easy to come by, and both selection and identification are persistent problems in empirical work.

Students and those who have not yet had the opportunity to stroll through Chinese changing urban vistas may find it particularly difficult to visualize these transformations and the play between images and messages.

To facilitate the visualization and discussion of these changes the Transnational China Project presents here 661 digital images systematically taken from a complete survey of the Beijing (inner ring) and Shanghai municipal subway line stations in 1998 and 1999, and from the Kaohsiung, Taipei and Singapore subway line stations in December 1999. We hope to provide annual surveys of these complete sets of subway advertising images so that scholars can see how Chinese consumer culture is changing across time. We also plan on extending the survey to Hong Kong and Tianjin in December 2000. And for comparison with other Asian societies we plan on surveys of subway advertisements in Seoul and Tokyo in December 2000. Finally, we will also construct and make available a dataset of information about the content of these ads to facilitate more systematic comparison across Chinese and Asian cities.