This "tree-form" timeline offers an alternative way of periodizing the history of advertising in modern Shanghai. It is designed to supplement the multiscalar timelines based on the concepts of timeslices and timescales built with the web applications "Chronozoom" and "La Ligne du Temps" (see "related data"). Because of its "rhizomatic" structure, it cannot be properly refered to as a "timeline" stricto sensu.
This unusual "timeline" offers an archeological view of the history of advertising. It is inspired by the concept of "assemblage" (Deleuze) or "configuration" (Foucault) - that is, a timely specific association, grouping or clustering of elements. Capitalizing mostly on the findings of chapters 4 and of my dissertation, but also in other chapters, this rhizomatic timeline precisely aims to associate three main categories of elements:
- Mediums (chapters 1, 2, 3, 6): in the press (daily newspapers, magazines and other periodicals) as well as in the streets of Shanghai (posters, billboards, flags, street-cars, and other "eccentric" mediums).
- Actors (chapter 4): on the professional side, advertising agencies or departments of major companies; on the production side, a certain "assemblage" of products, resulting in a specific grouping of business sectors, as well as clearly identified generations of brands and companies; on the consumption side, consumers and markets.
- Representations/discourses (what was refered to as "landscapes" in chapter 5 of the dissertation), that is a specific "assemblage" of copy models, discursive styles, appeals and related devices.
In contrast to previous multiscalar timelines, this tree-form periodization essay mostly relies on press advertisements - that is, the "visible" face of the advertising business. Although press advertisements constitute the main - if not the only - focus of the mainstream of cultural studies in the field, none of these works have made a serious attempt to classify and periodize advertising styles, discourses and representations, as well as brands and companies. As we have already noticed, scholarly works on the topic usually do not go beyond giving a more or less organized list of branded goods and visual patterns.
In lieu of such confused, a-temporal inventories, this tree-form "timeline" eventually offers a strong periodized typology of products and representations, anxious to establish connections between actors and representations, and to reveal patterns of succession or overlapping:
In return, this rhizomatic timeline may prove a powerful tool to date, locate and identify fuzzy and bad-documented materials - such as street photographs - by simply identifying a brand, a company, a type of product, a style or a visual pattern, and by refering to the related part of the tree-form timeline.
For creating this rhizomatic "timeline", we use the mind-mapping tool "X-Mind". To cover the entire period, it proves necessary to make six timelines of this kind. The first one aims to modelize the notion of "assemblage." The five folllowing trees are mere applications of this model based on our five usual samples of the Shanghai-based newspapers Shenbao and North China Daily News (1914, 1924, 1934, 1941, 1949).