Erenlai - Image and Imagination 亞洲的想像花園
Image and Imagination 亞洲的想像花園

Image and Imagination 亞洲的想像花園

Artists teach us how to look at the world anew as well as into our own hearts. Here you will find a selection of artworks and art criticism that goes transcends the spectrum of fashionable trends. In this section we also feature a series of guided tours of the site, showing our best features!

從古至今,亞洲的創作力源源不絕。亞洲人的眼界究竟觀察到什麼與他方不同的事物呢?這裡刊登的藝文創作與評論不是遊竄在古老與後現代之間的一場秀,而在呈現亞洲藝文多元的文化交融。這些文章將帶領我們以新意探究世界,以真摯凝望內心。

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Tim Yip and Chinese Art

Tim Yip discusses the avant-garde art scene in China, and how globalization and the desire for a quick buck can affect the core values of traditional culture in societies.

Friday, 25 February 2011

那些國外紀錄片影展教我的事

因為自身志趣使然,自2005年起,我開始走訪多個國際紀錄片影展,包括日本山形國際紀錄片影展(YIDFF)、瑞士真實影展(Visions du Réel: Nyon International Documentary Film Festival)、阿姆斯特丹國際紀錄片影展(IDFA)。每次走訪不僅大開眼界,欽佩他們影展的規模和成功,也漸漸瞭解不同文化、不同國度的人們是如何透過「影展」的型態,去表達自身對紀錄片、對真實、對文化的探索、看法和期待,同時也試著和「地方」產生連結,帶動紀錄片環境的進一步發展,提升觀眾對紀錄片的認識,以及透過紀錄片創造一個議題與觀點可以互相對話的場域。


Friday, 25 February 2011

影評:凝滯的青春夢

我的足跡遍佈全球

看到歡笑的童顏最讓我開心

吸引我的孩子都有共同點

他們獨立自主

不需要成人的認可讚許

——關野吉晴

Monday, 21 February 2011

Ocean, waves and literature

*2011 Life Sustainability Awards Recipient*

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Syaman Rapongan is from the Tao minority on Lanyu (Orchid Island) off the southeast coast of Taiwan. He writes about the intimate relationship between his people and the ocean.

My people, my heart

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Sakuliu Pavavalung, an indigenous artist of the Paiwan minority in Taiwan, comes from the Dashe Community in Pingtung, Taiwan.

His name 'Sakuliu' in Paiwan semantics has a connotation similar to “arrowhead”- when two sides confront each other in a standoff, the person to whom the Paiwan people bestow this name, is destined to strike first. This name perhaps draws an analogy to how Sakuliu's devotion to communication and sometimes even conflict between indigenous and mainstream culture.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

難以言傳的愛情---《為愛遠離》

片名:《為愛遠離》(Partir
導演:凱薩琳‧科西妮(Catherine Corsini)
出品年份:2009年
台灣上映時間:2011年1月(傳影互動發行)

關於外遇的電影不計其數,然而在呈現人性的嫉妒、謊言與背叛外,《為愛遠離》更關注人在中年後自我認同的追尋,與未來愛情的面貌。

Thursday, 20 January 2011

影評:時代風暴或天才宿命?---《風暴佳人》

片名:《風暴佳人》(Agora)
導演:亞歷山卓‧阿曼納巴(Alejandro Amenabar)
出品年份:2009年
台灣上映時間:2010年12月(CatchPlay發行)
身負巨大創造使命的傑出學者,有無可能與自己的時代和平共處?海芭夏(Hypatia)之死既是宗教衝突下的憾事,或許也是天才過分忠於自我的悲劇。

Monday, 06 December 2010

Whiskers in space

Kerstin Ergenzinger was invited as an international artist in residence for the '5th Digital Art Festival Taipei 2010'. Similar to cats' whiskers, her work brought together polypropylene, muscle-wire, silicon, steel an air currents sensor, hot-wire anemometer and her custom electronics to create makeshift 'whiskers' connected to sensors measuring fine air currents in the room, which transforms their position before they feed the impulses back on to the surroundings, creating a loop in which the installation is both affected by and affects the surroundings.

Monday, 13 September 2010

An ear for Chopin

Among all the versions of Chopin's first ballade I have listened to, Rubinstein's interpretation sounds to me the most convincing one. There are other pianists who play this ballade with more passion or elegance... But only in Rubinstein's rendition do I hear something that must be very difficult for an instrumentalist to express - effort.

This is best exhibited in the middle of the piece when the climax is reached. Most pianists play this part with the intention to show liberation or success, thus notes are often hit with ease, smoothly, sometimes even elegantly or joyfully. But in Rubinstein's, the peak is not reached without effort, hesitation, and even fear. Rubinstein gives one the impression that this climbing is supported by great courage and firm belief, and it really radiates once it's unfolded. But one also hears discernible efforts, great strength being poured into it - and the fear behind this calls for such strength.

Out of fear and hesitation, courage and strength are born - yes, this is what I hear. It is amazing that the expression of such state of mind actually can be achieved. And, in less than one minute, it tells more than one thousand words can say.

Rubinstein surely can play it with ease, like many others do, but he plays it this way. At the highest, most exalting point he shows how difficult it really is. So difficult that it can even be noticed! This reminds me of Maria Callas - she once talked about how hard it was for her to "appear to be as tired" as she does when performing La Traviata. How do you sing with a voice that sounds as being on the verge of breaking away at any second while making the entire opera house hear you clearly? Callas describes it as "a dangerous work."

Both Rubinstein and Callas did such a treat beautifully. The intended imperfection in no case damages the musicality. On the contrary it gives it a real human touch. And this is exactly what moves me so much.

Photo: C.P.

 

 

Monday, 13 September 2010

The San Ignazio frescoes

These two short videos take you to a guided discovery of the San Ignazio frescoes.

"The light of the Trinity inflames the heart of saint Ignatius then spreads to the entire world through the grace of many mediators ; such is the theme of the ceilings of the San Ignazio church in Rome.

Brother Andrea Pozzo completed the paintings in 1685, in accordance with the requirements of the Council of Trent: artists were asked to guard against the excessive influence of ancient mythology and to exalt the truth of Incarnation with an art capable of demonstrating the vanities of the visible world. : pictures are nothing by themselves and it would be unwise to rely on them."

"The second sequence highlights the spiritual struggle of mission : The fire of the Gospel and its action are confronted with the infinite perversity of passions and all kinds of violence and idolatry. The ogres and monsters painted by Pozzo do indeed illustrate the diverse heresies of the Reform but we can interpret them today as images of a spiritual struggle that takes place essentially in the innermost being of every believer. Once again, the huge frescoes of this vaulted ceiling tell first of the magnificent way the Word of fire enters the hearts of men, spreading into different cultures, a Word that penetrates all that is really human, joyfully transfiguring the body of believers. Divine love begins to speak to the hearts of the pagans who knew nothing of it and it renews the courage of all those who stumble along the path of faith."

 

 

Tuesday, 07 September 2010

Georgia Crawl with Lotus

In 2009, I joined a butoh troupe.  During that year we went to many different natural settings where we filmed our performances. In August 2010 I went with Yuyi to Anping Village, near her home town in Tainan County, where she performed her last dance of the summer.  This video is my homage to her, and includes my first musical score.

Thursday, 05 August 2010

George Psalmanazar, the famous fraud of Formosa

One of the more entertaining characters I’ve run across in my studies of Taiwan has been George Psalmanazar, one of the famous hoaxers of all time. Born around 1680, nothing factual is known about his early life, even his country place of birth, although he later claimed it to be somewhere in southern France, which was allegedly corroborated as likely by those who had heard his French dialect, while doubted by those who were familiar with his ability to impersonate such dialects.

Regardless of where he spent his early years, upon completion of his education Psalmanazar began traveling around Europe, attempting to scam his way to Rome by impersonating an Irish pilgrim. Upon realizing that Ireland was neither exotic enough to elicit much interest from potential marks nor far enough to be entirely unfamiliar, he began instead impersonating a rare pilgrim from the distant land of Japan, and later to the even more exotic and lesser-known island of Formosa, which we now usually call Taiwan.

His wild tales of alien customs and bizarre foreign lands were popular, and after a detour through Rotterdam he arrived in London in 1703, where he became a minor celebrity. Banking on his fame, in 1704  he published a book entitled An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan. “Originally written in Latin by Psalmanazar, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa was translated into English and quickly went through two editions. A French translation appeared in Amsterdam in 1705 and interest in the book was high enough a decade later to prompt a German version, which was published in Frankfort in 1716. By this time, however, Psalamanazar’s fraud had been revealed in England and he lapsed into relative obscurity.”

This book provided a detailed description of the island of Formosa, including its history, geography, flora and fauna, religious customs, language, and so on. And virtually every single word of it was completely fictional. Psalmanazar knew all of this, he claimed, because he was himself a native of Formosa. Having been named after the great Formosan “Prophet Psalmanaazaar, who delivered the Law to the Formosans” as well as their writing, Psalamanazar was bringing knowledge of his exotic homeland to the credulous and curious people’s of Europe. In fact, not only had he never been to Formosa, or Asia at all, he knew nothing about it.

Although there were a handful of Jesuits who had been to the real Formosa, their denial of Psalamanazar’s fantastic claims were largely ignored due to the anti-Catholicism prevalent in England at that time. While it might seem absurd to us today that people would have believed such outlandish tales, consider how unreliable information on foreign lands was in the days before the photograph, the telegraph, and even regular long-distance trade to many regions. We may find it unbelievable that the English believed that a man with Western European features similar to their own could have been a native of the East Asian land of Formosa, but how many Londoners would have ever seen an Asian face themselves?

He not only created fanciful, entirely invented, accounts of Formosa all the while portraying himself as a native of that exotic island, but also invented a Formosan language, in what must have been one of the very, very few pre-Tolkien attempts at such an endeavor. Psalmanazar’s creation of a fictional Formosa was actually very Tolkien-esque, not merely in the way that it included a fictional language, but in the way that the development of the language was linked to the invented history. Although the fantasy island was named after the real island of Formosa, and the title of the book claimed that it was “an Island subject to”  the very real island of Japan, the descriptions of the customs, geography, history, and language of these real places was very nearly as invented as that of Rivendell or Gondor.Psalmanazar describes the language of Formosa as follows:

The Language of Formosa is the same with that of Japan, but with this difference that the Japannese do not pronounce some Letters gutturally as the Formosans do: And they pronounce the Auxiliary Verbs without that elevation and depression of the Voice which is used in Formosa. Thus, for instance, the Formosans pronounce the present Tense without any elevation or falling of the Voice, as Jerh Chato, ego amo; and the preterperfect they pronounce by raising the Voice, and the future Tense by falling it; but the preterimperfect, theplusquam perfectum, and patio poft futurum, they pronounce by adding the auxiliary Verb: Thus the Verb Jerh Chato, ego amo, in the preterimperfect Tense is Jervieye chato, Ego eram amass, or according to the Letter, Ego eram amo; in the preterperfect Tense it is Jerh Chato, and the Voice is raised in the pronunciation of the first Syllable, but falls in pronouncing the other two; and in the plusquam perfectum the auxiliary Verb viey is added, and the same elevation and falling of the Voice is obsery’d as in the preterit. [...]

The Japan Language has three Genders; all sorts of Animals are either of the Masculine or Feminine Gender, and all inanimate Creatures are of the Neuter: But the Gender is only known by the Articles, e.g. oi hic, ey hoec, and ay hoc; but in the Plural number all the three Articles are alike. [...]

The Japannese wrote formerly in a sort of Characters most like those of the Chineses; but since they have held correspondence with theFormosans, they have generally made use of their way of writing, as more easy and more beautiful; insomuch that there are few now inJapan who understand the Chinese Characters.

 
Anyone with even the scantest knowledge of Japanese will instantly realize the absurdity of every word quoted above. In fact, the Formosan languages of his time (before it was extensively colonized by China) were the Austronesian languages still spoken by Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples today, which have no relationship with Japanese.

He also provided a more significant sample of his Formosan language, amusingly in the form of a translation of the Lord’s Prayer. Here are the first five lines.

Lord’s Prayer
Koriakia Vomera

OUR Father who in Heaven art, Hallowed be
Amy Pornio dan chin Ornio vicy, Gnayjorhe

thy Name, Come thy Kingdom, Be done thy Will
sai Lory, Eyfodere sai Bagalin, jorhe sai domion

as in Heaven, also in Earth so, Our bread
apo chin Ornio, kay chin Badi eyen, Amy khatsada

daily give us today, and forgive us
nadakchion toye ant nadayi, kay Radonaye ant

our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers.
amy Sochin, apo ant radonern amy Sochiakhin.

(A longer excerpt of the chapter on language, including the full Lord’s Prayer, can be found online here.)

To get an idea of how famous Psalmanazar actually was in his time, consider that he was referenced very prominently in Jonathan Swift’s famous satirical essay A Modest Proposal, in which Swift uses him (albeit spelled a bit differently, perhaps due to imperfect memory and a lack of handy reference) as part of his case for the encouragement of cannibalism.

But in order to justify my friend, he confessed, that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Salmanaazor, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London, above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country, when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality, as a prime dainty; and that, in his time, the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the Emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty’s prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at a play-house and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for; the kingdom would not be the worse.

The fact that must be remembered here is that not only was George Psalmanazar a famous public figure in Swift’s time, but that by the year in which A Modest Proposal was published, 1729,  Psalmanazar’s account of Formosa was already been widely known as a fraud, the author having had confessed as much in 1707. While Swift’s essay is still widely read, virtually no modern readers will have any clue to what he is referring in this paragraph, and even fewer will realize that much of the basis for the humor in this section is due to the fact that the essayist is attempting to prove his case by referring to a a source that, at the time of publication, would have been recognized by Swift’s audience as not merely fraudulent, but famously and comically so.

While Jonathan Swift may be the most significant literary reference to Psalmanazar’s imaginary Formosa, it is not the only one. Many readers may be familiar with Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s wonderful comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and hopefully not the abysmal film based on it), in which they spin a version of our world in which every fantastic story, character, and geography is integrated into a single tapestry. While the story proper is mainly told in the form of comic book panels, Volume Two  contains, in the form of  a lengthy appendix, a sort of gazetteer of this fantastic geography, which contains the following text.

We passed east of Zipang, or of Japan as it is these days called, and went south by way of Formosa, which possesses of its coast another smaller island of the same name, where the women and the men go naked save for plaques of gold and silver.
 
 
 

Zipang is in fact one spelling of the Shanghaiese reading of “Japan,” formerly used by some Europeans and thought to be the origin for the modern spelling. Moore here is obviously referencing Psalmanazar’s Formosa, as we can see from page 225 of the Description (first page of PDF Part II). By describing this Formosa as “another smaller island of the same name”, Moore is cleverly leaving room on the map for both the real and fantasy Formosa.

The great difference between the Japannese and Formosans, consists in this, that the Jappanese wear 2 or 3 Coats, which they tye about with a Girdle; but the Formosans have only one Coat, and use no Girlde. They walk with the Breast open, and cover their Privy parts with a Plate tied about them made of Brass, Gold, or Silver.

Incidentally, Moore’s reference to Formosa is located just above a large illustration of Laputa – which readers may remember from either theeponymous Miyazaki Hayao film, or its original source: Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift. When one considers that Swift was clearly a fan of Psalmanazar’s imaginary geography, it actually seems quite reasonable to wonder if perhaps the Description of Formosa was an influence on Gulliver’s Travels

Following the end of his career as a hoaxer, Psalmanazar used his celebrity to start a career as a legitimate writer, producing such works as The general history of printing: from its first invention in the city of Mentz, to its first progress and propagation thro’ the most celebrated cities in Europe. Particularly, its introduction, rise and progress here in England. The character of the most celebrated printers, from the first inventors of the art to the years 1520 and 1550: with an account of their works, and of the most considerable improvements which they made to it during that intervalpublished in 1732. As a now-respectable man of letters, he became friends with such luminaries as Samuel Johnson.

Although he revealed his fraud as early as 1707, details were not revealed until the year after his death. Naturally, this was in the form of a book, which is wonderfully entitled: MEMOIRS OF ****. Commonly known by the Name of George Psalmanazar; A Reputed Native of Formosa. Written by himself, In order to be published after his Death: Containing An Account of his Education, Travels, Adventures, Connections, Literary Productions, and pretended Conversion from Heathenism to Christianity; which last proved the Occasion of his being brought over into this Kingdom, and passing for a Proselyte, and a member of the Church of England.

The one thing that he never revealed, even in his posthumous memoir, was his real name. As far as I know, no details of his early life have ever been verified.

(Images: Wikimedia Commons)

The table of contents, as well as some all too brief excerpts of Psalmanazar’s first book, An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, can be found here, but until earlier this year it was very difficult to get one’s hands on a copy of the English version of the book, at least outside of certain libraries. Although it was published in Taiwan a couple of years ago, that was a Chinese translation, which even if I could read well would hardly be as entertaining. Original copies are very expensive, with the English first edition going for US$1426 on a rare book site, and the French version selling at an even less accessible $1900! Copies of his memoirgo for a technically more affordable, yet still entirely unaffordable $600 or so. Luckily, not only has an affordable reprint edition of both his Description of Formosaand his Memoirsare available for purchase online. However, even better, just the other day I managed to locate a scanned electronic edition of both books, freely available in an archive of the British Library. As the online version only seems to be accessible from licensed institutions, such as libraries and universities, I am providing both of them for download as PDFs. Since their PDFcreator can only generate files up to 250 pages in length, both of them have been split into two files. Scans of 300 year old books, these files are as public domain as they get. Feel free to spread them far and wide.

George Psalmanazar: Description of Formosa: Part I

George Psalmanazar: Description of Formosa: Part II

George Psalmanazar: Memoirs of ****: Part I

George Psalmanazar: Memoirs of ****: Part II

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