On my way to Fugang Old Street 富岡老街 in Yángméi 楊梅 I noticed something peculiar jutting out of a building high above the street. A closer look revealed this to be a vintage teal shelving unit still attached to the wall, a reminder that someone’s home once stood here. No doubt the building that formerly occupied this space had been demolished as part of a road widening project—proof of which seemed evident in the presence of a sidewalk below my feet, an unusual sight for a small town in rural Taiwan 台灣. Thanks to the magic of Google Street View’s history feature I was able to confirm this hunch and even identify the name of the shop out front, Jiāfāng Restaurant 嘉芳飲食店, which was still there as recently as 2012. These figments of the past, much like the shelf on the wall, remain just out of reach.
I snapped this photo in haste while wandering around Dàtóng District 大同區 a few hours ago. It is, in some sense, an utterly ordinary scene: a street light illuminating an emptiness in the otherwise cluttered urban landscape of downtown Taipei 台北. There is no story to this photograph, only a feeling to convey—a cinematic quality, a silent scream in the concrete matrix.
Last year I shared a photo from outside Tiānwàitiān Theater 天外天劇場, alluding to the possibility of gaining entrance at some future date. I have since been inside and will be posting a full exploration sooner or later. In the meantime, here’s a quick greyscale preview of the distinctive radial rooftop reflected in rainwater.
Now that I know how to find and identify military dependents’ villages in Taiwan 台灣 I tend to stop off and check out any new ones I see in my travels. Last week while roaming around West Taichung 台中市西區 I made a quick visit to Shěnjì New Village 審計新村, an unusual military community not far from where I found that lilac mailbox I recently shared. Rather than the usual bungalows this village consists of almost American-style homes, most of them still in surprisingly good condition. This set of vintage windows on the upper levels caught my eye—and for this reason I’ll leave a small note here along with links to Chinese language blogs with more information here, here, and here.
The elevators leading up to the Taipei 101 observatory are the world’s fastest, propelling passengers at more than 60 km/h from the 5th to the 89th floor. The precision-engineered steel cables used to hoist those high-speed lifts are subject to incredible strain and, as a result, are regularly decommissioned. Rather than sell them for scrap, these discarded cables were given to Taiwanese artist Kāng Mùxiáng 康木祥, who began shaping them into a series of provocative and unconventional sculptures.
The first of these works of public art is Infinite Life, “a steel embryo reborn from the towering structure from which it came”, to quote the official Taipei 101 web site. The artist notes that the cables “carried 6.6 million visitors during their six years of operation, so there seemed to be millions of lives wound up in them…”
I lazily captured this in a small laneway somewhere in the bowels of Sānchóng 三重 on the first day of 2016. It isn’t entirely in focus but I like it anyway.
The main Chénghuáng Temple 城隍廟 (City God) in Pǔlǐ 埔里 has been undergoing a massive reconstruction project this year. The work is nearing completion and all of the gods have been gathered on the ground floor behind towering stone columns still wrapped in plastic from the factory. Immediately outside the temple stone guardian lions have been installed, their eyes blindfolded with red cloth. They will be unwrapped at during a ritual ceremony known as kāiguāng 開光, literally “open to light”, and until then are wèikāiguāng 未開光, or not open to light.
I captured this incandescent light bulb at Pica Pica Cafe 喜鵲咖啡 in Taipei 台北 the other night for no other reason than it reminded me of the album artwork for Download’s III. This is really pushing the limits of what my cruddy smartphone camera is capable of. I’d love to get better gear for casual snapshots like this but it’s out of the question at the moment. These are lean times.