Buddha on the skyline

Buddha on the skyline
The Buddha of Baguashan seen from the streets of Changhua City.

Today I placed a deposit on an apartment in Changhua City 彰化市 in central Taiwan 台灣. While out on this errand I also shot a few new photographs from the streets, this one included. Looming overhead is the Great Buddha of Baguashan, perched on top of a hill overlooking the downtown core. There are much bigger Buddha statues out there, of course, but I like how this one adds a little magic to the city’s skyline.

A sun-kissed ruin in central Changhua

An abandoned home in Puxin
An abandoned home in Puxin, Changhua.

Today I went out for an exploratory ride through central Changhua 彰化. I was hoping to get as far as Xīhú 溪湖 to check out the sugar factory but took too long getting there as I was distracted by various sights in Puxin 埔心 of all places. It’s just as well, for I later found out the sugar factory is only open to the public on weekends.

At any rate, I stopped to explore a couple of abandonments on the way, this being one of them. Nestled in a small copse, the ruins of this brick and mortar home were notable only for the fact that there were otherwise no signs of human habitation. No artifacts remained, nothing to indicate that people had ever lived in this place. Most abandoned homes in Taiwan 台灣 are cluttered with the personal affects of the former habitants. Not here—only the growing forest has left an imprint.

Badouzi shoreline vista

Badouzi shoreline vista
Keelung Islet off the northern shore of Taiwan.

The rugged northern shore of Taiwan 台灣 is magnificently scenic. Pictured here is the view from Bādǒuzi Coastal Park 八斗子海濱公園, located on a rocky peninsula on the eastern outskirts of Keelung 基隆. To the right is Keelung Islet, a volcanic island that can be seen from many vantage points along the coastline, much like Turtle Island 龜山島 can be seen from most of Yílán 宜蘭.

Being And Becoming album artwork

For the cover of Being and Becoming…, the debut album from Jeremy’s Aura of Montreal, Canada, I rifled through my archives to source an abstract and asymmetrical image that communicated a sense of movement and timelessness. I quickly gravitated toward this photograph of a rock formation at Yeliu in Wànlǐ 萬里, which I had been meaning to use in a design project sooner or later. Working closely with the artist we devised a suitable colour scheme to match the mood of the album.

Jeremy's Aura - Being and Becoming... 1

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The world inside the security camera

The world inside the security camera
A window into another world.

Last spring I captured a few of the scrambled signals produced by my friend’s archaic videophone. A day after returning to Taiwan 台灣 for the winter I dropped in again to say hello—and, out of curiosity, tapped the button on the videophone to see what would happen. This time around a more coherent picture formed of what I would assume is the entrance to my friend’s building.

The world inside the security camera appears strange and indistinct, almost as if it weren’t a part of our own. Were it not for the foreknowledge that this is a prosaic, everyday sort of thing, I might wonder if these signals were being sent back by a robotic probe trundling along the surface of an alien moon somewhere out there in the universe.

Broken pipe

Broken pipe
Debris litters a junkyard in rural Dacun, Changhua.

Junkyards and recycling depots are a regular feature of the rural landscape of Taiwan 台灣. Apparently it is big business, though this small operation in rural Changhua 彰化 doesn’t look like much. If you’re interested in the state of the Taiwanese recycling industry consider perusing these articles from The Diplomat, the New York Times, Geopolitical Monitor, and Taiwan Today.

I captured this photograph while walking back with a coffee from the local 7-Eleven out here in Dàcūn 大村. The title is a sly reference to an error I sometimes experience when I am working on my web server for too long.

Traversing the liminal zone

Tilted Spheres at Toronto Pearson International Airport
Gazing back through the passageway from one world to the next.

This was the last image I captured in Toronto prior to boarding a long haul flight to Taiwan 台灣 little more than a week ago. Pictured here is Tilted Spheres, a massive steel sculpture by Richard Serra, installed 2002–2004, prior to the opening of Pier F at Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2007. The building was actually constructed around this imposing monument to the ritual disorientation of international air travel.

The airport is a movement processing machine, which directs the passengers through its spaces to the aeroplane (and back out). It channels and directs the flow of passengers through both security and retail spaces. Serra’s Tilted Spheres requires an act of passage, the walls all tilt inwards as well as curving, creating a looming pathway to be traversed.

The sculpture slowly comes into view as the traveller descends the escalator from the mezzanine. After reaching the floor, a decision must be made: pass through one of the three channels or go around. I decided to pass straight through—and stopped in the middle to test the acoustic properties of the piece by clapping my hands together. Sure enough, there was a strange, reverberated echo, an alien sound ringing in my ears.

With an odd smile I continued on my way. 17 hours later I landed in distant lands.

An amusing Changhua City campaign banner

An amusing campaign slogan seen in Changhua City
“Yes, we can”, the campaign banner reads. It’s a good thing there’s no marks for originality in elections!

It is election season in Taiwan 台灣—and it’s way crazier than I ever could have imagined, especially here in the middle part of the main island. Trucks and scooters are constantly doing the rounds, blasting out pre-recorded messages over tinny loudspeakers. Small armies of vested volunteers roam the streets, handing out pamphlets and drumming up support. Campaign offices have sprung up all over the place, proudly emblazoned with the flags and emblems of their candidates. And then there are the flags, billboards, banners, placards, adverts, and signs, displayed in such overwhelming numbers that I am continually dumbstruck wonder that so much human energy is being expended for such a prize.

Today, while wandering around Changhua City 彰化市, I noticed one particularly amusing sign that I’d like to share here. “Yes, we can”, this candidate proclaims. Hmm, I wonder where I’ve heard that before. Well, there are no marks for originality in elections, are there?

In case you’re interested in the electoral dynamics of Changhua 彰化 for some weird reason, Frozen Garlic offers an insightful English language analysis here. Additionally, both Frozen Garlic and Michael Turton have good posts demonstrating the madness. I’ll probably get around to posting a few more of my own captures before this election is done.

The urban landscape of Wenshan, Taipei

Last year I had the good fortune to move to Wénshān District 文山區, the southernmost part of Taipei 台北. In late September I was nearing the end of my first round-the-island bicycle tour and put a call out on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a place I could stay for a month or so. That call was answered—and I ended up staying with a couple of cool European guys for six months before heading south to Tainan 台南 in April 2014.

A bend in Jingmei River
A bend in Jingmei River near my old place. I used to take this bikeway to head downtown.

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PULL/PUSH 拉推

Pull/Push
An old set of doors in back alley Jingmei.

Flashback to one year ago: I went exploring the alleyways of Wénshān District 文山區 with an eye for grit, grime, texture, and decay. I found this set of doors along a crooked hillside laneway somewhere off of Xīnhài Road Section 7 辛亥路七段, a street named after a revolution in neighbouring China.