Mengge Cao is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in Chinese art history. Supported by the Mary Hyde Fellowship and Princeton Institute of Regional and International Studies Fellowship, his dissertation examines the development of painting formats in the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). He argues that small-size paintings, measuring less than 25 cm (9.8 in) in both width and height, gained medium specificities at the turn of the late twelfth century and facilitated interpersonal communication among emperors, imperial families, and courtiers in the imperial court. This dissertation incorporates a quantitative analysis of nearly 1,500 entries from the “Song Dynasty Painting Database,” a digital project supported by the Center for Digital Humanities graduate fellowship.
Throughout his academic career, Mengge developed a long-standing interest in the material and conceptual processes in the making and perception of art objects. This extends particularly to understanding the historical significance of reprographic technologies. His master’s thesis examines how the printed images of plum blossoms functioned as visual analogues, promoting the central principles of the “Learning of the Way,” a Song dynasty intellectual movement that profoundly shaped the literati perspective of the world. Mengge also stands as the co-founder and co-principal investigator of Museumverse. This graduate student-initiated startup aims to increase access and comprehension of under-represented histories using the latest technologies. The Museumverse team collaborated with local institutions including the Historical Society of Princeton, Drumthwacket Foundation, the Morven Museum and Garden, and Princeton University Art Museum. Mengge has given technical workshops on 3D scanning, as well as augmented and virtual reality, hosted by the Department of Art and Archaeology.
Mengge received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from McGill University in Canada. He has presented his research at the Middle Period China Humanities Conference, Keystone Digital Humanities Conference, and Harvard East Asia Society Conference.