Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Chang Gao

PhD Work

Using Supernormal Stimuli to Create Public Artworks: An Experiment in Countering Cultural Hegemony and Postcolonialism in Chinese Urban Space

Many major cities in China, such as Beijing or Shanghai, are designed without considering the feelings of local citizen. The Chinese government prefers instead to invite Western famous architects and artists to install artwork and architectures. These implanted artworks and architectures subconsciously influence people's mind and create alienation between residents and public art. Chang Gao defines this effect as a 'Post-colonial Phenomenon in Chinese Public Space'. Meanwhile, living in a political sensitive environment, people are restrained from expressing critical opinions in China, which intensifies social anger and anxiety among Chinese public audiences. 

Chang Gao’s research topic: Supernormal Stimuli, Post-colonialism, and Public Sphere Theories: Addressing the Post-colonial Phenomenon in Chinese Public Space is a practice-based PhD research project. By utilising the Supernormal Stimuli theory in the production of artworks, her research aims at exploring the tension between the very personal matter of the human bodies and its relation to the postcolonial phenomenon in Chinese public space. By triggering the public’s emotions and desire when they encounter the public art, her research wants to release the suppressed social tension and to provoke new ideas, perspectives and identities among Chinese public space. Her approach tries to disrupt the Chinese obsession with blue chip global artists and offer an alternative path to address the pressing issues of postcolonial phenomenon in Chinese public space.


  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Arts & Humanities Research, 2018–2022

  • Chang Gao is a visual artist using multiple media in her practice production, like sculpture, hologram installation and photographic languages. As a public art researcher, her work overlapped with the field of psychology, aiming to trigger audience’s desire and bodily responses. By exploring the relations between the very personal matter of the human body and the public space, her artwork serves as an alternative method to address the pressing cultural issue in Chinese public space.

  • Degrees

  • MA Sculprure, Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, 2014; BA Sculprure, Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, 2010
  • Experience

  • 2020, January 20th, Giving presentation at PhD topic and 1:1 tutorial to undergraduate students at Liverpool Open University, UK; 2019, Talk about the PhD topic: Supernormal Stimuli, Public Sphere Theory Addressing the Post-colonial Phenomenon in Chinese Public Space, Collision 2019, Royal Central Academy of Drama and Speech, London; 2015–18, Research Associate, Public Art Research Centre of China; 2016, Teaching public art courses, School of City and Design, Central Academy of Fine Art China, Beijing; 2015–18, Research Associate, Public Art Research Center of China – China Academy of Fine Art; 2008–12, Editor, Academi Department of Sculpture, Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University; 2009–10: Curator: Exhibition: Reconstruction of Academy —Moon River Contemporary Art Exhibition, Beijing
  • Exhibitions

  • 201, The Distribution of Wealth Most Conductive to Human Happiness, Coventry Biennale Contemporary Art 2019, Meriden, Coventry, England (collaboration with Dr Melanie Jordan); 2019, Hologram installation Emotional Encounter & Prints Organic Access will be presented in Collision2019, Practice-led Research Conference at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London; 2019, Emotional Encounter-3, Transformation: Art<>Cities<>Mobility<>Products<>Services<>Technology Research Conference, Royal College of Art, London; 2019.3.15-2019.3.23 work Emotional Encounter exhibited in MPhil/PhD research exhibition “There is something lurking in the shadow that might be interesting” in Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art, LONDON; 2019.2.12-2019.2.15 Work Organic Access exhibited in Exhibition Backward Reading, 508 King’s Road Gallery, Chelsea London, Britain; 2019, Work Organic Access and Emotional Encounter, Entanglement: The Opera, Royal College of Art, London; 2018, Art Must Take Side, Partsan Social Club, Beaconsfield Gallery, London; 2011, Beauty, National Junior Fine Arts Exhibition
  • Awards

  • 2019–22 Chinese Scholarship Council PhD Full-tuition Scholarship; 2014, “Lin Huiyin” won the first prize at National Exhibition of the Graduate Works; 2011, Design “Future 20 years”, Honorable Price for the indoor sculpture of Beijing Volkswagen Incorporation; 2010–11, Tsinghua University Alumna Dc.Yang Scholarship; 2010, Works Good Memory, Excellence Award, First Chinese Marble Sculpture Competition; 2008–9, National Scholarship & Tsinghua University First-prize Comprehensive Scholarship; 2007–8, National Scholarship & Tsinghua University First-prize Comprehensive Scholarship; 2006–7, National Scholarship & Tsinghua University First-prize Comprehensive Scholarship
  • Conferences

  • 2019, Collision, 'Supernormal Stimuli, Public Sphere Theory Addressing the Post-colonial Phenomenon in Chinese Public Space', Royal Central Academy of Drama and Speech, London; 2019, Emotional Encounter-3, Transformation: Art<>Cities<>Mobility<>Products<>Services<>Technology Research Conference, Royal College of Art, London; 2016, Ted talk, 'Your Vision Isn’t Shielded Only By Eyes', Tsinghua University, TED TALK-Tsinghua; 2011, CO-COR Exhibition in Seoul(Korea), Hongik University Japan Tama University Alto University Helsinki; 2009, Chinese National Scholarship Prize winner at Parsons New School for Design, New York
  • Publications

  • 2016, From Theory to Practice in Chinese Public Art, Interview with Du Dakai, Zhuangshi, 2015 11th Edition; 2016 , subject member of National project, National Social Science Youth Artists Project, Development of China’s Public Art History Research; 2016,  Art Critic, Mural In Capital Airport in the Development of Public Art in China, Documentary: ChinaPublic Art Thematic Exhibition; 2016,  Art Critic, Research on The Value of the Work, Yellow River Mother in the Development of Public Art in China, Thesis Collection of 2nd China Design Exhibition and Public Art Thematic Exhibition; 2012, The Ethical Bottom Life of Art, published in Public literature, 8th Edition No. 314; 2010, Work  Gender: Not Defined, Published in the catalog:  I call the Shot of My Youth Giant Cup Collection of Today Art Student Annual ART Awards,  First Edition, 2010; 2010,  work Gender: Not Defined, published in the Collection of Graduation of Works, Academy of Arts &Design Tsinghua University; 2014, Work Lin Huiyin published in Work Collection of Sculpture – The Twelfth National Exhibition of Fine Arts, China 2014; 2014,  Work Lin Huiyin, The 8th “Shengfa Yishu Cup”, Nation-wide Sculpture Specially Graduates; 2009,  Art Critic From Dunhuang to New York published in Academic Sculpture, No 4. Edition, 2009