In The Act Of Decay

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A rusty door in the back alleys of Zhongshan District. Taipei.

I found this rusty doorway around the back of an old red brick home somewhere around Zhongshan Station 中山站. Despite being in the middle of it is not an area I am familiar with but I am doing my best to remedy this oversight. When I pass through I do my best to wander down new roads and explore alleyways I don’t recognize. Sometimes I capture an intriguing scene like the one you see here. This is a mass-produced door I have many times before—but the exact pattern of decay is unique.

Have You Seen Him

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A series of stickers referencing the events of the Sunflower Student Movement.

Today I wandered by the former American embassy, now the Spot Taipei Film House 光點台北電影院 in , and noticed this series of stickers on the electrical transformers across the lane. In bold lettering it says: HAVE YOU SEEN HIM. I wondered what it meant—and it seems I’m not the only one. Turns out the man in the photograph was one of the police officers involved in evicting people from the Executive Yuan 行政院 in the early mornings hours of March 24th, 2014, during the Sunflower Student Movement. He was caught on camera beating protesters and, when student leaders demanded the police identify the officer, they initially claimed to not know his name or whereabouts. Later it was revealed that the officer was not even relieved of duty in the aftermath of that violent night.

Time Is Not Reversible 時間是不可逆轉

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“Time is not reversible. When time is gone, no power can ever recover it, and it can only be kept by camera.”

I spent about an hour in the library at Shih Chien University 實踐大學 in not so long ago. Among tomes unshelved and perused was Chieu-Feng: The Mountainous Town 山城九份, a collection of photographs by Wong Ting-Hua 翁庭華 documenting everyday life in over the course of four decades.

This quotation immediately jumped out at me. It succinctly articulates one of the main reasons I do what I do (in terms of photography and blogging). I am similarly concerned with documenting the prosaic, everyday moments, the sort of things that most people overlook. Photography allows us to explore the past, to consider what happened from a different perspective, in a different light. All these scenes vanish the instant they are captured.

Snapshots from the Taipei Biennial 2014

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Formosa Decelerator, OPAVIVARÁ!.

The Taipei Biennial 2014 was held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum 臺北市立美術館 in from September into the early part of the new year. I introduced the exhibition here on my blog and posted a brief follow-up here but haven’t gotten around to compiling this small gallery of photos until now. Better late than never, right? Much like the Xu Bing retrospective it was an inspiring experience so I’d like a record of it here on my blog even if it seems kind of pointless to post long after the fact.

I am no art critic but I certainly appreciate thought-provoking art when I see it. Since I haven’t any expertise in this area I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves, however incomprehensible that might be. If you find your curiosity piqued I suggest perusing the official guide book (PDF), this interview, or this review (with more photos) to get a sense of what it’s all about. What follows are a bunch of photos from both my regular camera as well as my cruddy old smartphone that capture something I found interesting as well as links to more information where available.

The Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店

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The awe-inspiring Grand Hotel of Taipei… and a tourist doing her best flamingo impression.

Yesterday’s impromptu ride around the riverside bikeway network delivered me to the palatial Grand Hotel 圓山大飯店 (pinyin: Yuánshān Dàfàndiàn), a famous landmark in . Located on a hilltop overlooking a bend of the Keelung River 基隆河 in , it was established in 1952 at the behest of generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek 蔣中正 to provide the ruling elite with a luxurious place to host and entertain foreign dignitaries. The distinctive building seen in these photos was completed in 1973 and was the tallest building in the Free Area of the Republic of China until 1981.

First Light at Liaoning Night Market 遼寧夜市

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The neon lights of Liaoning Night Market.

Yesterday I finally got around to purchasing a new phone, a Galaxy S6. Ordinarily I would not even think of splurging on shiny new gadgets, these being lean times and all, but with the passage of my birthday and Christmas my family sent over a chunk of change for something big and practical. I knew that meant a phone given that my existing device, an antiquated Galaxy Note 1 purchased in 2012 and still teeming with Canadian telecom bloatware, is a dysfunctional, inoperative mess most of the time. I have to give my old device some credit—it survived years of heavy use and more than one attempted drowning—but I always chafed at the lousy quality of its camera, particularly since I have become something of an Instagram junkie. If you have been reading this blog in depth for any amount of time you have no doubt seen me whinge about my “cruddy” smartphone camera. All of that will soon be a thing of the past.

Tunnel Vision in Taipei

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Peering through a pipe on a construction site in central Taipei.

This is another image I captured during my first visit to in the early springtime of 2013. Unless I am mistaken this is a picture of the final stages of the construction of the Songshan Line 松山線 of the Taipei MRT somewhere near Nanjing Fuxing Station 南京復興. The aboveground Wenhu Line 文湖線 is visible in the distance.

Zhongshan Tenement Blues

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A high-rise in central Taipei.

This photograph is among the first dozen or so that I captured after setting foot in for the first time in March 2013. Here you can see a typical concrete and tile apartment block in central , one of the great vertical cities of East Asia. I previously wrote a little more about my initial impressions so I won’t say more than that.