Recently I moved to Xinyi District 信義區 in Taipei 台北, home of the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper, probably the most commonly photographed thing in all Taiwan 台灣. I realize it is a terrible cliché for me to be sharing photos of 101 but this is inevitable given that it is now in my backyard. With any luck I’ll be doing so in my usual idiosyncratic way.
This self-portrait was captured in an abandoned temple in Keelung 基隆 and lightly edited in Photoshop to create the illusion of a figure at two different scales. I appear as a ghost in a mirror that probably hasn’t seen any use in quite some time—the temple itself is easily one of the most haunting sites anywhere on the island and people go to great lengths to avoid the place.
While exploring the many abandoned buildings of Taiwan 台灣 these last few years I have taken a number of similar photos in dusty, broken mirrors. Eventually I hope to gather up some of these images and publish them here on this blog. I will update this post whenever I get around to it—but I’m publishing this one in advance as it involves some post-processing that I don’t plan to expose the other images to.
This is the view from inside the front door to my new apartment in Changhua City 彰化市. The doorframe is fitted with an interesting piece of grass that refracts and transforms the city streets into geometric abstractions. There is an instant before I slide the door aside when everything looks curiously unhinged—but then reality snaps back into order and my day begins.
I briefly switched on my new television to see if it was working and a political advertisement heralding the new train station in Yuanlin 員林 flashed before my eyes. The timing—immediately before the last election—was no coincidence. Incumbents all over Taiwan 台灣 had been rushing their keystone projects to completion, not that it helped them much.
At any rate, something about the lo-fi grittiness of the image I produced with my smartphone really appeals to me on some level. It reminds me of times long ago—but still alive wherever I am, for I remain an avid collector of rare, old music, and regularly dive deep into the archives. Here I am, lost in the concrete jungles of Asia, perhaps the only human being in my vicinity who continues to celebrate these arcane wavelengths. Hopefully I needn’t explain the sly reference I was making in the title!
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.
While stopping in on a friend not far from Guting Station I noticed an archaic device affixed to his wall: a videophone system for screening visitors! I was immediately curious, asking whether it worked or not, mashing buttons to see what would happen. Unsurprisingly, given the age of the device, it was not operational. Nevertheless, the scrambled patterns displayed on the monitor immediately appealed to me on some level, and I whipped out my phone to capture a few images.