Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: city
Friday, 01 November 2013 17:25

Taipei, Water City

 Leftover Nature by Pinti Zheng

 Text: Nick Coulson 

Connectedness to the chaos of nature, or lack of it, is inextricably linked to the modern human condition. The flow of water is a stream of consciousness running through the human psyche and a basis for spontaneous action. Yet, the modern city has tried to overcome nature, pushing it to its margins. However, nature is always rediscovering, reoccupying the human city. The flow of water is ceaseless, through, around, over and under, seamless in its passage through streams, springs, rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, a dancing brush swiping its calligraphy throughout the human city, leaving dynamic traces of natural and human history along its way. Like the creative flow, it can be diverted, guided, hidden, buried, yet it is always there flowing underneath and ready to emerge like a stream of consciousness.

Taipei, Water City, a new book by local author Shu Guo-zhi's, gives a historical topography of the transition of Taipei from water city to land city. It follows the alleys and lanes of the city on a journey back through time, re-exploring the canals, ditches and other stretches of water that used to cover much of the Taipei basin. Nowadays the twists and turns of Taipei's lanes and alleys mark the former routes of the canals and streams, which have been buried under tarmac and concrete. Signposts indicating former dykes, natural reservoirs and mounds are clues to tracing Taipei's forgotten heritage (The 'po' from Zhongpo for example indicated that there was once a natural reservoir there). The loss of water from the face of the city is a spatial manifestation of a city in transition, one that went from being a water-world, to a concrete industrial and commercial city.

The frolicking children and old men fishing have been removed from the river cityscape. When we see that most children in Taipei don't even know how to swim, we realize there is a general amnesia about the former water city. Taipei children may know the words to the idyllic children's song "In front of my home is a stream, behind are mountain slopes" (我家門前有小河,後面有山坡), but it is unlikely to mirror their own experience of Taipei. The Liugong Canal, gradually buried under the city in the 1970's, is perhaps the best example of this amnesia. Though there seems to have been a rupture between the generations who knew and who never knew the water city, there are still lucid memories left over amongst the older generations. For some people the name of the Liugong Canal strikes fear into their hearts as they remember it as the site of a dismembered body in a murder case, or the site where collectors of wild animals would dump their oversized crocodiles. While delivering a speech at an international Chinese literature conference, Cheng Tsun-Shing (陳傳興), an author with a background in psychoanalysis­ and head of the Flaneur publishing house, recounted, without further explanation and to the gasps of the audience, that when he walked along the Liugong Canal to school in the mornings, he would see people prodding fetuses with sticks to check if they were alive. At the time abortion was illegal. Sometimes he would smell bodies burning at night as he lived near the funeral parlour and would be left wondering if the stench was the fetuses. For others, the memory was slightly less extreme but encapsulated their fear of the filth and sewage of the hidden underworld. However, for many who lived in the age of the water city, it reminded them of their youth bathing and playing in the river, catching clams; of older men fishing, working men washing themselves at the end of the day and mothers washing the clothes in the river. It reminded them of a lost community space.

From these memories, we began shooting a short documentary, edited by Pinti Zheng, first exploring the recollections of various residents before looking at ways to reconnect this memory to contemporary Taipei, by bringing water back into the city.

 

 

Leftover architecture small
Leftover Architecture by Pinti Zheng


Monday, 30 April 2012 11:04

A World Falling Apart

The Huaguang community (華光社區) is one of the last mainlander villages left in central Taipei. This old community retains the mood and traditions of old times. Its inhabitants, civil servants from the Ministry of Justice, mainlander families and others Taiwanese, have been living here for more than 50 years. By the end of 2012, this community will be demolished to give way to a financial centre called "Taipei Wall Street". Inhabitants are calling for justice and decent relocation solutions. Through this documentary, a collection of nocturnal colors photography, the presence of the inhabitants is suggested but not shown outright, their anger and frustration is just acknowledged but not emphasized. The wall and windows, the alleys and the vegetation, where you can feel the sweat of their existence, are all photographed by night to underlie the unreal mood that will follow the demolition. No digital retouchings have been made to the photos; all shot with a Kodak Ektar Chrome 100.

 


Friday, 13 January 2012 12:23

University Life: Freedom or Responsibility?

University students Lisa Lo and Yu-Tang Hou (侯昱堂) tell us about their feelings and impressions on university life in the following two videos. They represent the youth of Taiwan, and have both had very different university experiences, but both agree that university is a place where one can simultaneously feel more mature but still enjoy the carefree hapiness of youth.

Lisa is a student of Graphic Communication at National Taiwan Normal University. She comes from Taipei and has found in university a sense of freedom and emancipation, in addition to an opportunity to meet lots of new people from all walks of lfe, which had previously been difficult due to her all-girls school upbringing.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011 11:37

Sleeping people in Shanghai

Adrien Roger is a young French photographer living in Shanghai. He is featured this month on the virtual art gallery: Ipagine.com. He comments and explains his series entitled "sleeping people in Shanghai"  (Watch it here.)

"I was born in the suburb of Paris, and I live now in Shanghai. I always liked cameras but I realized rather late that it could not be a job. I started working in a studio specialized in fashion, and, at the same time, I did some traveling, mainly in Africa.


Thursday, 30 June 2011 16:37

A Flâneur's peek at Shanghai

The term flâneur comes from the french verb flâner, which ever since Baudelaire appropriated the word and gave it the extended meaning as a way of truly experiencing, appreciating the city as one walks. Indeed when we have a bit of time to explore the world we are all flâneurs, and not least of all the eRenlai team are certainly flâneurs without frontiers. But rather than Baudelairean strolls through Paris, the old eRenlai team and their sister organization AZ Cultural Enterprise spent much time over the last two years going back and forth to Shanghai. Their adventures, however, were more than just aimless strolls latching on to pretty thoughts; the team came back to Taipei having completed not one but three outstanding documentaries on Shanghai which are excusively offered to you in this Focus - A Flâneur's peek at Shanghai.

Liang Zhun first takes us on a stroll down Lane 1025, Nicolas Priniotakis looks for the rarest pearls of Chinese ethnic music and instruments in Seaside Seranade and Benoit manages to get a way from the hustle and bustle of central Shanghai and finds the ultimate spot for peaceful contemplation in Suzhou’s gardens.

Ida also feels the nostalgia of a 21st Century flâneuse, in a state of liminality between her years of studying and appreciating the language, arts and glory of France and the French, and a return to the lost Mainlander heritage in Shanghai, where paradoxically, the glory of the France is reduced to magnificent leftover architecture in the French concession. She was moved, but confused in the melting pot of people and architectures that is contemporary Shanghai. Similarly, Mei Fang-tsai had many identity questions to face during her time living in Shanghai as a so called "Tai-ba-zi".  Even Paul was left with identity questions during the 2010 World Expo-lent Australian adventure as he observed his country's pavillion as a semi outsider, looking at people, looking at Australia, the way Australia wanted them to look...

Photo by Ida Yang


Thursday, 30 June 2011 15:27

Nostalgia of a 21st Century Flâneuse

Wondering the streets of Shanghai is sentimental, whoever you are. If you are a tourist or passenger who has visited Shanghai several times, you might sigh that this attractive city is developing too fast, and every time you visit, you can’t recognize what it used to be. If you are a resident, you might be proud of this modern city, but also regard this city with other complex feelings concerning Shanghai’s tumultuous history. If you are a worker from other provinces of China, this huge city might bring you deep nostalgic feelings. The second and third conditions are my imagination, because I am only a tourist from Taipei who is neither resident nor worker. I am also a 21st century flâneuse tribute to Baudelaire. Loafing around in this city, surrounded by the parasol trees (梧桐樹wutong shu), I was under the impression 19th century French flâneur reincarnated in Shanghai. The French concession is mainly in Luwan and Xuhui Districts. I visited no.319 Yueyang Road (岳陽路), where the Former Consulate of France (法國領事館) (pic.1)(pic.2)is situated. On the same road, at no.145, is a French-style garden residence, which is the former residence of T. V. Soong (宋子文). Besides these European residences, there is also some modernist architecture. Most of these buildings were built by Hungarian architect L.E.Hudec.(pic.3) who lived in Shanghai for about 30 years.

This city is a melting pot for an enormous amount of different styles. It’s blissful, but also confusing. Strolling through different areas, it seems like travelling around in different countries. In The Bund, I can see a row of beautiful architecture from different cultures.  It’s an embodiment of different imperialist powers, which let Qing government cede some territory in order to pay off its indemnities. Yet, Shanghai’s ignominious history, just makes the city more glamorous.

ida_shanghai_flaneuse_2

 

ida_shanghai_flaneuse_4

(Photos: Ida Yang)

 


 

[1] T.V.Soong was at a former Chinese Premier in 1930 and was in a highly influential position throughout the Nationalist era. His three sisters were married to presidents Chiang Kai-shek, Sun Yat-sen and China’s former richest man H.H. Kung.

 


Wednesday, 28 April 2010 12:44

A postcard of Taipei

Taiwanese conceptual artist Nat Niu introduces us to his two videos concepts: The Line and Postcard.

 
Published in
Focus: City and Poetry

Wednesday, 22 April 2009 20:12

Global and Compact: the Future of Metropolises

In 1991, a book by Saskia Sassen, The Global City, signaled the coming of age of metropolis as key actors of the globalization process. Information technologies, intimately linked to the globalization process, were producing a phenomenon of “metropolization”, i.e. an accrued concentration of services and decision centers in giant cities that form together a “global network.” London, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai… Such metropolises are indeed the places where the future takes shape – they are also those that provoked and nurtured the current financial crisis…

Nowadays, more than half of the world population lives in cities, and a growing number lives in very big ones. The ills that come with it are well known: slums are growing, the countryside sees its vitality depleted; the accumulation of powers in metropolises erodes the power of nation-states and international organizations; the fierce competition between giant cities may generate useless investments; and finally, even in democratic countries, local governments (especially the ones managing metropolitan cities) are not always fully accountable.

At the same time, global cities can be agents of sustainable development, and thus lessen or even reverse the social ills they are creating, if they become at the same time compact cities. Compact cities are the ones that invest in state-to-the-art public transportation systems, water sanitation and green housing projects. Compact cities are also places where the integration of populations from different background is fostered through educational, social and cultural policies. Finally, compact cities design developmental strategies with an integral and humanist outlook. Amsterdam and a few other cities are tentative model to this approach.

Besides, global cities show a propensity to learn from each other. “Good practices”(lease of bikes, green building techniques, patrimony conservation) are observed and reduplicated from one metropolis to another. The networking between cities can thus become a positive aspect of global governance. This will also mean that cities will progressively enlarge their outlook, paying more attention to the impact of their policies on their fragile hinterland.
If metropolises become at the same time “global’ and “compact”, there is a chance that urban development will be sustainable indeed. The fact is that giant cities have already become driving forces of globalization. The challenge remains to assess and to shape the model of globalization that they will eventually impose on all of us.

{rokbox}media/articles/Cerise_metropolis.jpg{/rokbox}

Friday, 29 August 2008 00:00

Local Democracy and Climate Change

Urbanization has spread to the entire planet: the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban areas versus only 14% in 1900. This is not necessarily bad news: in fact, the city, say many analysts, can become a privileged place in the fight against climate change; the streamlining of the systems of transportation, water sanitation, energy distribution provide evidences of this fact. The experimental construction of "green buildings" that produce the energy they consume is another step forward. The city is also a place where information flows, a place of inventions, of collective discussion, and, as such, it can generate a number of innovative measures.

Actually, when it comes to the relationship between city and global warming, much will depend on ourselves, on the moral and political environment that policy makers forge for urban dwellers and on the collective conscience that we will develop. In this regard, the role of locally elected officials is essential. The development of downtown, the connections between downtown and suburbs, the method of garbage collection and recovery, the renovation of the systems of water sanitation... Each time, these issues prove to be partly technical, partly political, for it is always necessary to challenge vested interests and viewpoints so as to build a city at once more hospitable, more balanced and more human. Local democracy helps to introduce clearly the choices and issues at stake, giving people information and criteria that will allow them to understand, taking into account the diversity of their viewpoints, how to meet the "general interest". Yes, it is through local democracy that will emerge responsible, compact and united cities, carrying an innovative environmental project.

When it comes to environmental issues, should not the cities of the world hold more local referenda? Without doubt this is a good way to settle in difficult situations, when the fight against global warming requires sacrifices (use of automobiles, water prices, choice of such investment rather than another ...) It is up to the citizens then duly informed, to state the scale of their priorities and their values… and to draw the consequences of them. So, let us make local democracy become a decisive factor in the global struggle against climate change!

(Photo: B.V.)

Tuesday, 25 March 2008 23:08

Time and Numbers

In the dusk of early summer days, the ’Light of the Sun’ spreads its magical power upon the busy city during rush-hour time. The whole urban life is bathed in sun rays. Regardless of the human activities, the busy traffic or the senseless height of the skyscrapers, the sun light is travelling from one corner of the city to another.
Light, you always travel hand in hand with the sounds of the city: sounds of cars speeding up, rustling sounds of the branches, busy paces of people commuting to work...With a touch of light, you empower every creature amd object on your way

Day after day, night after night, you come and go, again and again. Your routinely constant visit, however, is neglected. The public has ignored you; the city has forgotten you. But this will never stop you from your coming back again and again. Your warm presence, witnesses everything, caresses everything.
You follow the tick-tack-tick-tack of Time. It is this senseless, at a first sight, tick tack which connects places, signs, symbols and people. Light, you lead time, and you aroused the awakening of my Soul, and your power is reflected in the depth of my eyes.

{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/stories/austin_chang_thumb.jpg|}media/articles/Austin_rhythm.swf{/rokbox}

Help us!

Help us keep the content of eRenlai free: take five minutes to make a donation

AMOUNT: 

Join our FB Group

Browse by Date

« February 2019 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28      

We have 3669 guests and no members online