Ting Zhang grew up in Manchuria, studied in London, and married her Indian husband who grew up in Libya, so East meets West meets East is her everyday reality.

Ting is an experienced anthropologist and strategist who leads projects across China and APAC. Beyond anthropology, she collaborates with storytellers, filmmakers, and artists. Clients include LEGO, Disney, Estée Lauder Companies, and Vice Media diving into projects like “Decoding Seduction” and “Imagining an Alternative Future for Cyber Art.”


Charise Mita

Charise grew up between East and West in the middle of the Pacific and as a child spent time with her aunt at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center – totally not appreciating its significance. After 20+ years as a strategist in New York, she rediscovered semiotics and now enjoys collaborating with other semioticians. She recently led a team from seven countries to explore the world of tools. Charise and Ting began their joyful collaborating over a 3-hour lunch in Mumbai at Semiofest 2018!


Topic: When East Meets West Meets East: The Resemiotisation of Ambiguity


Since the ‘70’s, as China embraced economic development, foreign investment, and technology, Western codes of design and marketing came along with those investments. China embraced them as the playbook to success. By the ‘00’s when the Attention Economy demanded clarity, global marketers were on a mission to eliminate ambiguity.

But recently, along with China’s rising China pride, emerging Chinese brands are constructing new visual systems and communication codes. A significant spark comes from philosophical/artistic/poetic expressions of ambiguity in Confucianism and Daoism.

We will explore dimensions of ambiguity — that it is not an absence of clarity but rather, there is deep emotive power and agility in ambiguity and show how it is evolving in China and how it might emerge in the West.