Taiwan Colour Code

by on Thursday, 29 October 2009 Comments
I arrived in Taiwan in 1992. Among all the things that struck me at that time, and which still speak to me in a most special way, were the richness, the strength and the variations of colours. The tropical light was shadowed by the clouds and haze, typical of the mountains and sea. To the sharp red of the temples or the intense green of the palms responded vague mixtures of grey, pale blue, pink, and orange shades on gas stations, signposts and commodity stores scattered along the roads. An oncoming tropical storm reflected off a helmet, when a motorbike stopped at a crossroad. Sunrays falling on a metal roof would suddenly strike a strident note against the misty vagueness of the hills. The language of townships and cities seemed to arise from a continuum of colours, paler or more incandescent according to the hours and to the seasons.

As years passed, the landscapes and the scenery of the island became even more intimate to me, as if embedded in my own channels of perception. I am unable to recount the stories or words of wisdom that shapes and colours instil in me, but they seem to arise in patterns and codes that work their wonders throughout my body and soul.The photographs taken from 1992 until now, of which some are shown here, are testimonies to my ceaseless attempts to capture Taiwan’s spirit in a nest of colours that displays its essence and its variations. At the same time, this set of pictures is aimed at deciphering the inner journey undertaken while living, travelling and dreaming in Taiwan. And, ultimately, the spirit of the place and the recollections of a pilgrim are mixed into one and the same colour code.

(Photo taken by B.V. in Chiayi, 2005. "The mute dialogue pursued between yellow and red always seems to suggest a treasure hidden nearby… Is not Taiwan ’Treasure Island’?")

Benoit Vermander (魏明德)

Benoit Vermander lives in Shanghai. He teaches philosophy and religious anthropology at the University of Fudan.

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