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週五, 16 三月 2012 12:40

Tradition versus Modernity

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Taiwan's culture draws on many different sources, stemming from traditions from the different parts and ethnic identities of China, the Pacific and its Austronesian peoples as well as its colonial legacy from Spain, Portugal and Japan. These traditions in the 21st Century engage in dialogue with the globalized world and The artists in this section

 

“If comic books didn’t exist, I would have been dead by primary school…dead of boredom.”

CHIU Row-Long was born in 1965. Due to all the small nudges received and encouraged by having both a father and a grandfather who were illustrators, his younger brother and him both grew up to be comic artists. CHIU Row-Long excels in the realist style of design and writing, and is particularly inspired by the history and culture of the Taiwanese aborigines (his wife is a member of the Seediq tribe). He has participated in the creation of numerous aborigine language educational textbooks. He spent several years conducting research and compiling all sorts of documents relative to the revolt by 300 Seediq aborigines against the Japanese colonialists. This revolt is the most heroic, albeit tragic, that has occurred in the modern history of Taiwan.

 

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“I always wanted to explain the world, and comic books are the tools heaven has given me to do so!”

James HUANG was born in Taipei in 1966. After completing his studies, he started working in animation. In 1987, he published his first, 16-page long comic book, The Blue Side, in the journal Huanle (Joy), under the penname Red Army. His humour is famous for being very sharp. For the next few years he published a few more books until 1996, when he edited a long comic book, The Little Boy Kui-hsing, before diving into the world of animation and video games. In 2003, he was recruited by the biggest Taiwanese online gaming company, Gamania, where he worked in the department of design and the creative centre. Through Gamania, he participated in the creation of the animation film “108 heroes”, which was broadcast on an American animation channel.

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週三, 28 十二月 2011 14:35

Micronesian Memories of War in the Pacific

Lin Poyer is a professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming. Her recent work focuses on the Micronesian experience and history of the Pacific War, during the Japanese colonization and afterwards. In December 2011, she was invited to Taipei by the Taiwan Center for Pacific Studies to give a series of lectures presenting her research. We had the opportunity to meet her beforehand and learn about the impact of WWII in Micronesia and the specificities of its oral history in the region.


週六, 10 九月 2011 00:00

Shakespeare's Songs for All Seasons

Former teacher at the College de France, translator, essayist and poet, Michael Edwards is a specialist in Shakespeare's plays; he's also very keen on classic and modern theater (Molière, Claudel, etc..), poetry and spirituality.

He's written many books about such topics. This interview was inspired by an article published in the French periodical Etvdes (may 2011) and insists on the human and spiritual aspect of the tragedies and comedies of Shakespeare. This interview shares with us the capacity of wonder in the comedies of Shakespeare as well as the great sense of human passion displayed in his tragedies: the songs let the spectator enter into another world within the present tense, a world made of marvels, irony and pains. In the world of Shakespeare, there is no time for idleness; the language of songs tells what can't be grasped within the imperishable movement of voices and dialogues.


This first video introduces  the main features of songs in Shakespeare's plays : the musicians who worked for him, the instrument used, the way the songs were integrated to both tragedies and comedies and the kind of distance it introduces within the narration.

Alternate for readers in China


This second video insists on the genuine "mirth" displayed in the comedies of Shakespeare. The celebration of carpe diem by the lovers expresses a trust in what love means for both man and woman. It opens people to the plenitude of the "now and here" while suggesting with a tender irony a transcendantal dimension of human life.

Alternate for readers in China


This third video speaks of the notion of "atonement" : it signifies a deep and secret correspondance between things, even if remote at first sight. It illustrates the passion for "oneness" at work in the heart of the poet. It points also to the depth of reconciliation that music is able to demonstrate, going beyond contradictions of life and enmity.

Alternate for readers in China

 


週二, 02 八月 2011 14:53

Listen to The Moment: Minkoku Hyakunen

You-sheng Zhang and Da-wang Huang met each other in 2010. Both of them had their own noise sound works circulating among their friends and on the internet. They got tired of most political news, especially those about so-called “100-year-old ROC”, so they decided to organize a duo and to disband it after this year (2011 is the hundred year of ROC). 百年, pronounced in Japanese “Minkoku Hyakunen”, doesn’t talk about politics but performs with some ideas of politics. No stable tempo and pleasant melody, only fools playing fool noise.


週一, 01 八月 2011 16:57

Usi AJ: From the Ganges to the Pacific Coast of Taiwan

Usi AJ has apparently been called "The biggest protogenesis fusion artist" (We're not so sure what that means either). He says that he got familiar with traditional Indian sitar music and World Fusion Music when he accidentally bought the wrong CD, and so it was by this random chance that he immersed himself into the research and development of Asian music. He hopes to continue the legacy of Taiwan's Kebalan tribe's culture and music. In order that people can get in touch with his music, Usi AJ assembled many Taiwanese musicians to form "Siyu Sitar", and through continued creative projects and performances, he hopes that everyone can come to a deeper understanding of the charm of Asian culture.

 


週一, 01 八月 2011 15:04

A Moving Sound: A Different Approach to The Tradition

In A Moving Sound’s music traditional Taiwanese, Chinese and neighboring Asian music forms are fused in new original song compositions. Instruments such as the Chinese erhu , the zhong ruan (Chinese guitar), an assortment of western instruments, and the transcendent vocals and dance of lead singer Mia Hsieh, transport listeners on a journey. The group is intensely passionate about how it presents the use of traditional instruments in its contemporary sound. Their approach is to be holistic – combining art, spirituality, social awareness, and a universal love of humanity play key roles in the creative process.


週五, 26 八月 2011 00:00

Viba Brings 80's Sound to World Music

Photo courtesy of Craig Ferguson

Viba hails from London but is a long-term resident of Taipei. Original inspiration stemmed from the Human League, Depeche Mode and other synth bands of the 80s, which led to the formation of several bands based around an array of Roland synthersizers.

Viba left the UK in 93 to become a resident DJ in Taipei and was at least partly responsible for bringing many of the house techno tunes of the London underground at the time to these shores. Viba started writing material again in the early naughties and has had numerous commercial releases since 2006; most notably, the solo album, East-West Relations, which clearly showed influences of more than a decade in Taiwan.

The most recent two years has seen the formation of ElectroFunk band Space Funk and work on several projects for film and video. However, 2011 has seen the return of much more solo material from one of the most prominent electronica artists on the island.

Interview by C. Phiv, edited and subtitled by Lisa Lo.

Viba's Music

 


Viba participates in the in the 2011 Renlai World Music Compilation, he'll perform in Taipei on September 16th, more info here.

 

 

 

 


週五, 08 七月 2011 17:07

Ka Dao Yin: The Flowing Improvisation

Pronounced "Ka-Dao-Yin"(卡到音), the group's Chinese name represents the sound characters of "to be caught up in", which indicates that the co-existed danger and unexpected threat-turned-excitement is lurking throughout the whole music making process when it's exclusively improvised. With Shih-Yang Lee on piano, Chih-Po Yang on Sheng, Jun-De Liu on Guzheng, and Klaus Bru on Saxophones, the avant-garde sound experiment is tinged by the delicate charm of oriental ethnic, formulated with the western classical music's deliberation, and geared towards radical jazz-rock like motion, and intentionally, together all these elements are manipulated by these four Cats to urge a fused new style of music derive that is challenging to define.

Lee Shih-Yang - Piano
Klaus Bru - C Melody Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone
Liu Chun-De - Guzheng
Yang Chih-Po - Sheng

Ka Dao Yin's website


Ka Dao Yin participates in the in the 2011 Renlai World Music Compilation, they'll perform in Taipei on July 9th, more info here.

Watch the band perform at the Zhongshan Hall in Taipei (2009)


週二, 28 六月 2011 17:58

Flâneur Daguerre: An Alternative to Modern Jazz

Formed in June 2009, the group brings together some of the island's finest improvisers from diverse musical backgrounds, both foreign and Taiwanese. Flâneur Daguerre was founded on the belief that modern music, especially that which is so-called "avant-garde," can be enjoyed and accessed by the same audiences that find comfort in today's mainstream pop. The band explores free jazz, Eastern European and Balkan music, but they often subject pop and rock + roll forms to the improvising methods of jazz and Indian musicians.

週三, 22 六月 2011 15:37

At the Confluence of World Music

Meet Fao, one of the instigators of the Renlai World Music Compilation released in July 2011 with the issue #84 of the magazine.

I hail from Bogotá, Colombia and have been living in Taipei for two years now. I compose music in which I like to use contemporary elements, electronic generated sounds and traditional music from South America and Asia.

After teaching sound engineering in Colombia, I was able to save enough money to fulfill my goal to travel and learn traditional instruments from other parts of the world. I went first to Japan, where I did several collaborations with contemporary noise musicians and also got initiated to traditional Japanese music. Then I moved on to India to learn classical Indian tabla music, before finally arriving in Taiwan where I practice the guqin and Taichi.


週二, 15 三月 2011 17:04

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.


週二, 02 十一月 2010 00:00

Bad kids: Leaving a message for their future selves

Yau Ching (游靜) is a documentary filmmaker and professor based in Hong Kong. She was present at the Taiwan Documentary Film Festival this year where her film We Are Alive was nominated for the Asian Vision Award. Since it was one of my favourite films at the festival, both stylistically and in mission, I was delighted to interview Yao Ching about her documentary film and her own youth experiences.
 

What were you trying to show about these ‘bad’ kids? Was there a message you were trying to give?

I didn’t really show the kids, to be exact. The kids showed themselves. I basically did a series of workshops in these so-called reform institutes or detention centres in three different places. Hong Kong, Macao and Sapporo, Japan. At the workshops I gave the kids access to a bunch of video cameras, still cameras and audio recorders, for them to express themselves through these media. I gave them some exercises and themes as a means to talk about their feelings and thoughts. Through the exercises they were able to talk about their dreams, their fantasies, to write letters to themselves – their future selves; to talk about their families and most memorable memories. They were able to show a ‘self’ which is normally ignored or dismissed by mainstream media and institutions because they’ve been labeled as bad kids by society. Basically, in these very moralizing environments, these kids have lost quite a lot of their dreams and hopes for the future. I hoped that through these exercises they could regain some of this sense of self-recognition and self-confidence, so they could value their differences with other people and be able to think of themselves as having meaningful lives, not just the life defined by the legal institutions.

Is this why you asked them where they wanted to be 5 years in the future?

Actually that was a question about what kind of video you would write to your future self. I was hoping that through this exercise, they could see themselves as having a kind of continuity in their lives, not just that they were being segregated in this system, and this is the end of your life. Then you restart completely from nothing. This kind of amnesia doesn’t really make people recognize and learn from their past experiences. What I value for my own self growth for example, is how I can make sense of my past experiences as something I can use to improve myself, to grow and expand my vision for the future. Building that continuity through media and video, I was hoping they could think like people who had a future and past and could come to terms with things.

Have you ever been incarcerated?

No. That’s a very good question. I was a very good studious kid in my childhood, but then in my adolescence I was suddenly labeled a very ‘bad’ kid due to my gender and sexuality. This dramatic shift from good kid to bad kid has constructed me very deeply, in that I was forced to rethink some of the assumptions behind these constructions and labels. So, this project was also a way for me to rethink some of these values, such as what it means to be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ kid in society.

Are there ways you think the penitentiary system in Asia can be improved on and how would you go about it?

From my limited experience, dealing with some institutions in limited places, I think that the whole youth reform system has to reconsider what education for youth is, rather than simply shutting them off from society or incarcerating and isolating them – even in terms of information flow, so that they are denied access to mainstream society and so that mainstream society doesn’t have to see them; as if this would make society much more safe and civilized. We have to actually rethink our priorities so that society can help these kids grow up and be useful for society and we could even learn a lot from them. There is a lot to be learnt by society about diversity in East Asia. A lot of the youth problems that we are facing these days, could be coming from the inability of adults to cope with diversity.  Our children have been growing up very fast with a lot of access to different kinds of information; thus they grew up being a lot more diverse than we were in the old days. So we adults have to learn to look at some of these, to register, to consult and to learn from these kids. Not just to erase them.

Do you think that any of the kids got some useful inspiration by the documentary process?

It wasn’t really a documentary by me, but a collaborative process between me and the workshop participants. Thus, from the exercises they did themselves and with me, you can see that they have grown over the course of the workshop. I have learnt a lot from them. I think that they have learnt a lot too, not necessarily from me, but more from their own process of making the works, of having that freedom, however temporary it was, to tell these stories about themselves. I always think that telling your own stories to someone else is therapeutic. You can see through the workshop how every time they recount the story it is a little different. So, just through that process of telling, they are already learning.

 

 


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