Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: interview
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 00:00

Volunteering Experiences in Vietnam and Taiwan

Leanne McNulty is originally from Ireland and she is currently living in Taipei where she does volunteering work besides her job as an English teacher. Since she's been residing and travelling in Asia, she's been volunteering in various places and organizations in Australia and Cambodia. Last year she spent three months in Vietnam helping first at a shelter and also at an ecological and educative center. While preparing her trip, she realized the scarcity of information in English about volunteering in Vietnam and decided to start a blog to present the main issues she encountered: Volunteer in Asia.  In the following interview she raises the problem of orphanage tourism and suggests pragmatic ways to volunteer in South East Asia while avoiding the 'gap year' cliche.

Please, visit her blog for more detailed articles on trafficking, street kids and orphanage tourism.

 

leannemcnulty-harmonyhome

In Taipei, Leanne McNulty has been involved with the Harmony Home Association, a non-profit organization that shelters and supports children and adults affected by HIV/AIDS and migrant workers. She tells us about her work there, the challenges and the way HIV is still stigmatized in Taiwan. 

For more info about the harmony Home Association, visit: http://www.harmonyhometaiwan.org/


Read Making your Time Count as a Volunteer by Leanne McNulty
http://www.erenlai.com/en/focus/2014/living-it-down-abroad-travel-as-vocation-not-vacation/item/5887-making-your-time-as-a-volunteer-count.html

 


Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:00

Art for the Park: A mural in Taipei's MRT

 

French artist Yvan Mauger tells us of his experience designing a piece for the newly opened Daan Park MRT station in Taipei, also touching on why he enjoys painting his particular style of art and on the way the Taiwanese government has been promoting "public" art.

 


Friday, 08 March 2013 13:19

A visitor's glimpse into life in Taiwan

Maddy King, a Pacific Studies student from ANU learning Chinese in Taipei gives her opinion on a variety of topics related to her stay, such as what she has learned from it, how experiencing Taiwan has shaped her view of the Pacific, and what she misses most about home.


Friday, 02 September 2011 18:02

Hi-Life Wedding's hope and heart

We met Kate (US) and Davos (Australia) who form the band Hi-Life Wedding. They now live, work and create their music in Taipei. The band’s main influences range from the pop-music of Hot Chip & The Beatles, the electronic production of German Paul Kalkbrenner and the literature of Franz Kafka. Hi-Life Wedding believes that music and all art is a form of expression that can help us create a life where we are more free of the constraints of our modernity.


Tuesday, 28 June 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.

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 14:15

Will my Friends come out Today?

 The old men at Huanmin Village have lived there all their life. Every day, they meet to chat about things, as old friends often do. Their peaceful existence, however, is being threatened by the plans to demolish the houses which hold so many memories for them.


Friday, 11 January 2013 15:29

M2 and the manga-anime link

 

M2 tells us of her role models and the artists that inspired her to star drawing manga. She also goes on to discuss a particular way of storyboarding a manga which is similar to that of movies.


Friday, 11 January 2013 15:30

Min-Xuan Lin and manga as relaxation

Min-Xuan Lin discusses what constitutes her ideal kind of manga. She talks about the need for making manga as a light form of entertainment for stressed people who need to unwind.


Monday, 14 January 2013 13:57

Ah Tui and the need for originality

 

Ah Tui compares the different approach towards manga of Asian and European manga artists in addition to exposing what he believes to be a big problem with Taiwanese artists: their lack of individual style.


Monday, 14 January 2013 13:59

Chiyou and eco-manga

 

Chiyou talks about his inspiration behind drawing, what manga means to him, and why other artists or the public don't always share his opinion on what constitutes "interesting" manga.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:45

Chang Sheng and the science of creating sci-fi

 

Chang Sheng talks to us about his first-love relationship with Japanese sci-fi manga, the age of his audience, and exactly what goes into the creation of good sci-fi.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:55

Nicky Lee and the rise of "girly" manga

Nicky Lee discusses the appeal of manga made for girls, explains how a youthful crush on Jon Bon Jovi served as inspiration for her earlier works, and how the emphasis should always be on the characters.


Friday, 27 September 2013 11:53

Learning Chinese the Traditional Way

In this video we talk to different students of Chinese about their experiences learning it, what the hardest aspect of it is, and the aides and help they have found along the way.


Monday, 23 December 2013 14:17

The "Minuit" Sonata

Photographer and journalist Hubert Kilian shares his experiences documenting the side of Taipei behind the glitz and the glamour in black and white, a side of Taipei that is often forgotten.


Friday, 03 May 2013 13:29

Focus Response: Father Jacques Duraud, SJ on 'My God?'

Father Jacques Duraud made this reflection on his own faith in response to the eRenlai focus on faith and god in April this year. How do you conceive of faith and god, or even of a world without belief? Feel free to share with us!

Published in
Focus: My God?

Thursday, 21 November 2013 15:14

Universal Citizenship: A Utopian Possibility?

David Flacher, Vice-President of the Organization for Universal Citizenship, talks to us about their Universal Passport, which they have issued to a group of high profile individuals (amongst them former Portuguese president Mario Soares, former French footballer Lilian Thuram and Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen) to raise awareness of their goals to bring freedom of movement and settlement to the people of the world.

For more information on the movement, please click here.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013 13:33

An Interview with Liz Hingley

Liz Hingley is a British photographer who holds a first class BA Honours in Photography from Brighton University. Her work has been recognized with many international awards, including the Prix Virginia in 2012. She is currently living in Shanghai and working on her new project in the city. On an interview with her over Skype, we discuss her experiences in Shanghai. 


Tuesday, 15 October 2013 13:18

Seeing through the haze: The truth about smoking

 

"...but as the world grew more and more affluent, laws and restrictions multiplied, discrimination increased, and somehow we lost our freedom. Why did this happen?"
Yasutaka Tsutsui, "The Last Smoker"

In Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui's 1987 novel "The Last Smoker", he depicts a fictitious Japan in which the anti-smoking movement has become powerful, leading eventually to the extermination of smokers. Even though this piece is classified as science fiction, the descriptions found in the novel, such as the unwillingness to understand smokers, their plight of being loathed, and the general state of discrimination against them are all too present in the real world.


Friday, 27 September 2013 14:12

Teaching the "New" Modern Language, Chinese

In parallel to the interviews made with different learners of Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan, we decided to ask various teachers about their experience teaching in Taipei but also abroad, such as Mexico and France. Shufan, for example, has been a teacher of Chinese as a Foreign language for more than five years, her favourite experience being teaching to College students. She also lived in Mexico two years where she taught young children. Feajuar is a slightly less experienced teacher who has now switched to teaching English as a second language in Taiwan. Leo, or "professor Zhu" (朱老師) is one of the rare male teachers of Mandarin in Taipei, we met him at the Tianmu branch of the infamous Taipei Language Institute. Emmanuelle is French and she has been teaching Chinese to junior high school students in France for two years, at Perigueux, she was then in Taiwan for a workshop on teaching Chinese a sa foreign language. 

For our viewers in mainland China, please click here.


Monday, 16 September 2013 14:53

A Message from the Sun

An interview with Max Savage

Max Savage is a young French musician living in Taipei. He received us in his little studio, nested at the top of one of those 70s buildings, surrounded by plants and flowers, closer to the sky and the god Ra. He has just finished recording his first EP named "heliogram" and soon to be released free for download. In the meanwhile, discover a radiant artist who will take you far from the roaring city. 


Monday, 02 September 2013 11:18

Taiwan as a Source of Inspiration

At the end of her six weeks spent in Taiwan animating a workshop about Samoan dance, choregrapher Tupe Lualua reflected back on her trip and her rich experience making connections between Austronesian cultures.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013 15:13

Sailing on the Blue Canoe

Setareki Ledua, whom we generally just called "Seta", is 22 years old and he is from Fiji. Between 2010 and 2013, he spent two years navigating on "Uto Ni Yalo" ("Heart of Spirit" in Fijian), one of the canoes from the Pacific Voyager fleet that roam throughout the Pacific ocean using traditional navigation methods. During June and July 2013, he was invited to Taiwan by the Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies for a 6-weeks workshop in order to share his knowlegde and his experience as the youngest Chief Officer ever on the Pacific Voyager fleet.

In this first interview, he had just arrived to Taipei and he shyly introduces himself and traditional canoe sailing:


Wednesday, 07 August 2013 18:20

Does the way you hold your chopsticks influence the way people see you?


We asked around the office, asking both foreigner and Taiwanese people how the way people hold their chopsticks influences the way they feel they are perceived or the way they perceive others - we got a range of responses, some which contradicted one another, others which seemed to have been fabricated out of thin air.


Tuesday, 06 August 2013 11:15

The Faces of Radio Taiwan International

---- A photo exhibition in Taipei

On August 1st 2013, Radio Taiwan International celebrated its 85th anniversary. For the occasion, Aurélie Kernaleguen and Xavier Mehl, the hosts of the French language programming, presented a series of portraits in black and white, featuring their colleagues from different departments of the organization. In the following video they introduce their two year project.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013 18:46

Coming Back to Nature

--A conversation with Mike and Dawa Bochnia of Seven Generations Outdoor School

On the evening of April 26th, 2013, I met up with Mike and Dawa of Seven Generations Outdoor School, along with their trusty intern, Wanderer (蕭健宏), to talk a bit about the school, and what they hope to accomplish here in Taiwan.

Emily: So when I signed up for your Natural Living Basics I course last month, I didn't know what to expect. But I have to say, Mike, you had me right from the opening speech. You spoke about what you hoped to achieve through the course, and you talked about building a deeper connection with nature, a relationship of respect and love. Can you give us a bit of that speech now?

Mike: Well, when you talk about respect, if it's not a part of you, if it's not a part of who we are, it's almost fabricated. Then nature becomes a place to visit, nature becomes a place that we entertain ourselves with, but it doesn't become a part of us. Whereas, as soon as people integrate and understand that nature is the one thing that everything on this planet has in common, and if we can integrate that back into our lives, there is no fabricating, there is no, "Oh, I should do more to save the earth", there is no trying to be a conservationist, you just are. And that's what I aim to accomplish through our courses.

Emily: Yes, that was just as powerful as I remember it. Now, before we get into what 7 Generations (7G) is doing here in Taiwan, I would like to ask you a question, Dawa. You were General Secretary of the Society of Wilderness in Taiwan, and I imagine this must have given you a pretty good picture of the environmental situation here in Taiwan. What would you say the state of the general public's awareness is now, in regards to the environment?

Dawa: You know, before I went to tracker school in the US and gained a deeper connection with nature, of course I knew there were problems and issues here and there, but really had no idea how deeply rooted the problem was. But after coming back from the US and seeing it from a completely different perspective, I realize now that it's a part of our culture and personality, which has developed here that is causing the problem on the island, and it's actually getting so much worse! It's an awareness that people are really lacking, and I'd say it's so much worse than what I would have admitted a few years ago. But I'm also very happy to see that there are counter actions going on. Because I'm in the field now and helping people connect with nature, more of this information is coming my way. If I wasn't doing what I'm doing, most of this information would just pass me by and I wouldn't know that there were so many people who are concerned about the environment and working to help it. So it's a blessing for me to be walking on the path and seeing so many more problems, but at the same time seeing so much more effort being done. Even though this effort is not enough yet to counteract the damage, I still see hope in it. You know, it really is the government and the structure of this society that needs to be changed, but for that to happen you need to go back to the role of the people and look at what kind of politicians they are electing, and their knowledge of what kind of actions they can take to make a fundamental change, otherwise it's not possible. Going back to the grassroots is very important.

Emily: I was going to say, working for a group like the Society of Wilderness (SoW), where you were dealing with government authorities and the general public on a more political scale, had you found yourself frustrated with the amount of impact that you were achieving?

Dawa: Actually, the Society of Wilderness kept themselves away from politics as much as they could. I mean in the past. I've been away from it for a while, but when I worked for them, it was their policy and they were very proud of the fact that they would not take a cent from the government, and that all their donations or funds were coming from the people. I mean they would rather have one thousand people donate $100 dollars each than having one person donate a hundred thousand dollars. So, that's their mentality, they want to work with the general public rather than the government. I haven't worked with them since 2000 and I don't know how much they've changed, but at that time they were more grassroots and even now, they are still the biggest conservation group in Taiwan.

Emily: With 7G you're working with people more on an individual level. Would you say that this is just as effective, maybe even more so, as far as raising awareness and making change?

Dawa: Yes. There is a fundamental difference between SoW or any other conservation groups and what we're doing here at 7G and that is that other groups provide more of a flash experience, in that they go in and out. You've attended some 7G activities and you know that it's not just a superficial experience, it goes inside, you know, into the heart. We provide people with the ability to look inside further, rather than only having an interesting, exciting and fascinating experience. It's an experience that allows you to go inside and to see your relationship with nature, and that is very rarely achieved by other methods or activities provided by most environmental or outdoor groups.

Mike: That's the reason why we only have 5-10% lecture, so that I can have you guys get more hands on and active within different types of skills and activities, because in the end, sitting as a bystander is not going to give you any sort of immersion in nature.

Emily: I agree. When I look at the efforts of many environmental groups working to make change, whether it's through campaigning or educating people in different ways, you're flashed with images of nature and slogans of why it needs our protection, but you're not really experiencing it within yourself.

Mike: Of course. Photos are beautiful, but they're 2 dimensional and it's disconnected from you. I'd much rather sit somebody down in the grass and even if a spider has to crawl across your leg, that way you're a part of your surroundings. It's much more powerful to feel, taste, hear and smell life and learn that way.

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Children learning to use their Owl Ears.

Dawa: There is one thing that is very powerful in our belief and that is, we are not the teachers, not even the guides, the real teacher is Mother Nature and all the elements in it, and we have full confidence that the teaching will come through to each individual. We allow nature to do the teaching, because we know how powerful it is and we have the firm belief that it will be accomplished.

Emily: Right. But at the same time, I was blown away by the amount of information and skills that you have. Do you think it's this practical knowledge that people are attracted to and initially draws them to the courses?

Dawa: I think that why people are drawn to us, apart from the knowledge and skills that we can provide, is for the connection to nature and that is what we truly want to offer. A lot of people don't know that that desire to connect with nature exists or that it's is what they want in their hearts; but when they see that that's what we can offer, and through things that are more tangible, rather than just what people would call spiritual growth like meditation, they are drawn to us. Well, we do sit you down and do some meditation, but in a different way. But that connection is really what is bringing people in and that's what modern society really needs and craves, without necessarily being aware of it.

Mike: If you get to know your neighbours and you sit down and have tea with them and laugh with them and have food with them, cry with them and truly share with them, that's a powerful bond. Whereas if you just look at your neighbour, and know that I should be respecting my neighbour and say Hi to my neighbour, but never talk to him, you have a disconnect and it's much easier to create a dislike or prejudice towards him, or even a hatred. So what it is, is that you have that connection, that you aren't disassociated from it, but a part of it. Nature, it should feel like our bedroom or our living room, it should feel that comfortable. We shouldn't be there simply because we know it's pretty, or is good for us and offers a nice bike route, it should be, part of us. It actually is, it's just we aren't aware of that.

Emily: Yes, and as Dawa said, people may think that they're coming to your courses because they want to learn how to track animals or make a fire from scratch, but realistically when is your average person going to use these skills. I think that it is more the connection that they're looking for, rather than survival skills, and I believe that this connection is the number one survival skill that we do truly need for our survival on this planet and for the survival of the planet itself. This is what I got out of your course, and that's why it had such an impact on me. But as far as the skills that you offer, I guess they are a tool to building this connection...

Mike: It's one of the mechanisms. To have a balanced connection, it should be physical, mental and spiritual. If you are growing in only one direction, you become imbalanced, you become too heavy, if you will. You need to have a strong foundation. So, if you want to go out in nature and meditate, that's great, please do! You know, it quiets the mind and the body, but at the same time, there's a physical aspect to life. So if you can understand that by taking those pieces of wood and shaping them the right way by using your hands, being part if it, smelling it, having a little sweat from the brow and then rubbing them together... I mean, we all enjoy sitting in front of a fire, but knowing that you can make it from the wood that you just looked at; not only is this spiritually uplifting, but it's also physical. You're actually physically bonding with those pieces of wood. And so these skills, which our ancestors created and developed, well we wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. And some people look at them as primitive skills, but they're so beautiful! And functional! These physical acts also help us, in a way. For many people, it's hard to meditate, especially with kids. It's hard to tell them to sit down and fold their legs and be quiet with their eyes closed, for an hour. They think they're being punished. But if you can sit them down with a couple pieces of string in their hands or cord and teach them how to braid it, make a necklace, and interlace it with flowers and pine cones and leaves, that they found on their own, and it smells good and feels good – they've turned it into a form of meditation. They've got that connection because they've quieted down and are working with their hands. Even with adults, there are a lot of adults that can't sit still today, in this society. So these are ways to help us get grounded and connected. That's what these skills are.

Dawa: And what the physical aspect is doing, is not only training you physically to do the skills, but through all the elements that you are using, the materials, you often learn more about your self than you learn about the different substances. You know, the wood will teach you that you are not patient enough, or that you need to find different ways to work around difficult parts, or that you need to find some ingenuity in making things work. Discovering how little patience you have or how you react when faced with different problems are some of the teachings that the materials show you when learning the skills. So that in itself is a powerful form of therapy.

Emily: Well, yes. The interaction is such an important part, and the course made me realize that I don't get a lot of this sort of interaction with nature. I mean, I've always considered myself an outdoorsy sort of person, I like camping and hiking and love nature, but I'm not really interacting with the elements.

63100 489870251052779 1963622678 nMike: You're not the only one. That's the way I was some fifteen years ago. I was a hiking, camping enthusiast. I thought the ultimate was getting out of my car throwing my backpack on and slugging it up to the top of the mountain, and being like – I camped on the top of that mountain, I'm bad-ass. But between the car and the top, I didn't connect or know very much. I didn't even really look at very much to tell you the truth, because I was just so focal visioned on the task of getting to the top.

Dawa: The beauty about working with nature is that it will teach you whatever you need to learn in that moment and however much you are ready to learn at that moment and there is no judgement. No one is going to say you are doing this wrong or you are stupid, it's just self learning. And that's why it's so comforting to be in nature, allowing nature to be the teacher.

Emily: You know, after the two day course, I got back to Taipei and I felt so good, better than I can remember feeling in a long time – mentally, physically and emotionally. I was full of this strong positive energy and it reminded me that nature really is the best medicine, an amazing cure for our modern day ailments.

Mike: That's great to hear, and it's so true. I say it often in my lectures – we would put so many therapists out of business if we re-immersed ourselves in nature as regularly as we possibly can.

Emily: Yeah, I believe it. So, as for what's to come -it seems like the response so far has been pretty good.

Making fire with a handmade bow drill.

Mike: Yes, the response has been great. We've had up to 80 -100 people show up at lectures and in the last few months we've had waiting lists for some of the workshops here. The only thing that is holding us back now is finding the right piece of land.

Dawa: Right now, because of the lack of a permanent site there are a lot of things we cannot do. For example, having a sweat lodge.

Mike: We can't do more advanced courses. We wanted to teach people how to make shelters that they could live in or adapt to their home, more advanced skill like these, but you need a more permanent location for that. So it's frustrating, but it's out there, it's just a matter of finding it.

Emily: Right. Well, I hope you find each other soon. Before we end, Wanderer, can I ask you a couple questions? You've been with Mike and Dawa, what, almost a year now?

Dawa: Yeah, it'll be a year in June. The first workshop was in June.

Emily: So, you came to do a workshop and then never left (laughter)?

Dawa: He wrote us an email telling us that he wanted to walk China, and that he didn't have enough skills yet, but didn't have enough money to come to all our classes; so he asked if he could volunteer and in exchange he would do labour work for us. And so we let him participate in the first workshop, that was All About Fire, which is a very labour intensive course (laughter), and he's been with us since.

Emily: So, I'm sure you've acquired a lot of information and skills to help with the walk to China, but what would you say is the most profound piece of knowledge or experience you have gained from being here at 7G?

Wanderer: The biggest part of my learning experience, apart from the skills, has been how to "be" in nature and that, even when I leave in the future, I am confident that I will be able to continue to learn from nature.

481823 489870237719447 1684203386 nWanderer nestled deep in nature.

On the way back to the train station the next morning, I had the chance to talk to Dawa a little more about Vision Quest, an 8 day course, of which 4 days are spent alone in the wilderness.

Dawa: The vision quest is an eight day course, with 2 days preparation, then the sit, which is four days and then there are two days after the quest to help you reintegrate back into daily life. The first day of the course is very relaxed, as you may have had to travel a while. The next day you go out and find your site and I will give a little lecture about the things you can do and what not to do during a quest and stuff like that.

Emily: I would guess that it's more practical preparation, as there's probably not much you can do to prepare mentally, is there?

Dawa: It's actually both – preparing mentally, physically and spiritually. In fact when you register, which needs to be a few months before, I will give you homework. In the time before the quest, I ask that you practice how to fast and how to be alone. If you can get accustomed to doing this in your daily life, you will not find it to be such torture. That is definitely not the purpose of the vision quest.

Emily: I know that I can be alone and I've done some fasts before; what makes me nervous is the thought of sleeping outside with no shelter, with the mosquitos and snakes and this feeling that it's going to be a battle. But I imagine you just have to get to the point where you let go and surrender to the elements rather than fight it.

Dawa: You're right, surrender will happen. It's either surrender to the fear or you surrender to nature. You surrender to the journey, or maybe you surrender to the fear and you come out crying, but either way it will be what you need at that time. What I'm try to say is that you can prep all you want, but you still won't know exactly what the lessons will be. That's what makes the vision quest difficult for people today, is that we are so far away from nature, whereas in the past indigenous people, walked out their door and were in nature. So this one step for us is a much bigger step now.

Then, in the two days after the quest, one thing is to break your fast, that is a very important part after the four days. We need to help you come back and integrate into society, not only mentally and spiritually, but physically as well. And there are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration. There are also lessons taught on how to understand the visions that you received in the four days. This isn't all that easy either, as there is a lot of symbolism and the visions are not always clearly interpretable, they come in many different shapes and forms.

Emily: I thought it would be more like a sort of meditation practice. With the time spent alone and without all the usual comforts and distractions, you would have no choice but to look inward, but I guess you also have nature as your teacher.

Dawa: We always say that vision quest is a very long (ninety-six hours) and very slow meditation, but meditation is mostly in the mind, whereas here when you are sitting in nature, what you are doing is allowing the mind to be quiet enough to receive the visions. Like I said, the visions come in all shapes and forms, they can come in your dreams, from things that you learn, or your encounters with the animals. For me, one of the biggest teachings that I received during a vision quest was from the trees. In the traditions and beliefs of the Native Americans all things have their own spirit, and they are all capable of teaching and all of us are creators in ourselves, so allowing that part of you to be in communication and communion with that is a very important part. So, it's a bit different than a meditation course where you solely concentrate on quieting the mind. When you sit in nature, a solo sit in nature and it doesn't have to be a vision quest, it has such power because you allow yourself to be open to all teachings. This is especially strong with the vision quest, as you are fasting from everything familiar, including food and everything that gives us a sense of security or comfort zone. This allows you to go into a different dimension and make a much quicker jump forward spiritually.

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Seven Generations Outdoor School is run by Mike and Dawa Bochnia, and has been helping people reconnect with nature through workshops and classes in Taiwan for over a year now. Mike has been practicing primitive skills for about 14 years. He studied with the Tom Brown Jr's Tracker School and 6 years ago, he held a position with the school, in which he lived primitively in the woods for one year. Hsiao-Ping, also known as Dawa, was born and raised in Taiwan where she worked for the Society of Wilderness for many years. She also worked as a translator, which brought her to Tom Brown Jr's Tracker School to translate two of Tom Brown's books. She has studied primitive living and skills with the Tracker School and became a vision quest facilitator under the guidance of Malcolm Ringwalt at The Earth-Heart Institute of Vision and Healing. Mike and Dawa met at the Tracker School and were married in 2009.

 

More about Seven Generations courses and how to register can be found at their website 
http://7generationsoutdoor.omei.net/en/main.htm


Tuesday, 18 June 2013 16:09

A Centre for the Middle Country

The Beijing Centre for Chinese Studies (TBC) opened in 1998 and is located on the campus of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. 

In this interview with Father Thierry Meynard SJ, director of TBC, we learn of his story leading up to being named director, his thoughts on the importance of learning about China, and a detailed explanation of the services that the Centre provides.

Programs and contact: http://www.thebeijingcenter.org/


Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:04

Recapturing Memories: Social Protests as a Way for Taiwanese Youth to Reconnect with the Past

In this video, Charlie speaks of electronic music as the language of a new generation in Taiwan and its effect in social protests. He also points out how the youth in Taiwan are engaging in social activism in part to recapture a memory that has been made blank for a few decades as a result of its turbulent political history.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:01

The Demonstrative Power of the Carnival: Fun as a Form of Protest

Photo by 廖培恩

In this video, Zijie recounts his first encounter of anti-nuclear awareness during the Ho-Haiyang rock music festival. Being the founding member of the anti-nuclear group NoNukes active around 2010-2011, he also goes over past experiences of incorporating rock music and electronic music into social protests. In the end of the interview he gives an interesting observation on the function of social protests.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:00

Art and Social Activism: Mutually Beneficial?

In this interview, Betty Apple attempts to delineate the different modes of interaction between art and social activism. In the end of the interview she reflects on the tension between her identity as a modern, solitary individual and and the collectivism that is required in social activism.


Friday, 26 April 2013 18:56

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect and Struggle: The Taiwanese Theatre of Party

In the following video Chen Xiaoqi, a theatre student at National Taiwan University of Arts, discusses the concept of rave parties both as a form of theatre and as a form of protest and how the interactive and decentred nature of parties affects the social aspect of the art of DJing. 


Friday, 19 April 2013 14:47

The Soundfarmers: Electronic Music Composes Anti-Nuclear Statement


In Dec 2012, A DJ collective called "Soundfarmers" from Taipei released an electronic music compilation "I Love Nuclear," which has been reviewed in Paul Farrelly's eRenlai article A Sonic Meltdown: A Review on "I Love Nuclear!?"

Listen to the concept behind the album. For more information, check out their website or buy the album on the Green Citizens' Action Alliance webstore.


Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:23

(Dis)belief in Taiwan

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the experience of people from different cultures of faith or lack of faith in Taiwan is explored.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:19

(I believe therefore) I'm moral

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video we look at what role faith and religion has in the formation of our morality whether directly or indirectly, and whether or not morality goes beyond a utilitarian social contract.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:14

The form of (In)divinity

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video we explore the different images people have of god, and how this changes with time and with the progression of our journey through life.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:09

Divine In(ter)action

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the way different people conceive of the way in which any god might interact with the world and with humans is explored as well as the different ways that people try and communicate with their god.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:04

Living (Dis)belief

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the trials and doubts undergone by those who have already committed themselves to a belief or life without belief.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:42

(Dis)ordered World

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video we look at how different people structure their world in relation to or apart from their belief system, and the link between the two.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:39

I Believe(d)

This series of videos explores the diversity of personal beliefs that lie under the way we declare our beliefs (or lack of beliefs). In this video the personal journey that people living and working in Taipei undergo to determine whether or not they have faith is examined and discussed.

Published in
Focus: My God?

Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00

A School in the Solomon Islands

During the summer of 2012, while filming for the documentary Writings that Weave Waves, I had the chance to spend ten nights at the St Joseph Tenaru school dormitory. The St Joseph Tenaru Secondary School is located in the outskirts of Honiara, on farm land, and is managed by Marist brothers mostly coming from Papua New Guinea. The school now boasts 425 students majoritarily between 13 and 17 years old. At the eve of the start of school, we interviewed the then principal, Brother John Tukana who told us about the educational and cultural challenges he encountered during his three years spent at St Joseph. 


Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:30

The Immanence of Culture: An Interview with Prof. Jon Tikivanotau Jonassen

In this interview, Cook Islands cultural specialist/drummer prof. Jon Tikivanotau Jonassen shares with us a variety of topics on the different Pacific Asia cultures in terms of indigenous music and language. He starts from a very special story about his own name, signaling us to the hidden force of traditional culture in our modern era, and ends the interview with solemn advice to the indigenous people on how to gain autonomy in a globalizing world...


Wednesday, 23 January 2013 17:49

A Hand-Drawn Map of Taipei

Tom Rook was born in in Exmouth (England) in 1988. After he graduated from the geography department of the University of Nottingham, he moved to Taipei where he makes a living as an English teacher. He shares with us his passion for maps by introducing us the map of Taipei he meticulously drew for more than 100 hours.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:55

Nicky Lee and the rise of "girly" manga

Nicky Lee discusses the appeal of manga made for girls, explains how a youthful crush on Jon Bon Jovi served as inspiration for her earlier works, and how the emphasis should always be on the characters.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:45

Chang Sheng and the science of creating sci-fi

 

Chang Sheng talks to us about his first-love relationship with Japanese sci-fi manga, the age of his audience, and exactly what goes into the creation of good sci-fi.


Monday, 14 January 2013 13:59

Chiyou and eco-manga

 

Chiyou talks about his inspiration behind drawing, what manga means to him, and why other artists or the public don't always share his opinion on what constitutes "interesting" manga.


Monday, 14 January 2013 13:57

Ah Tui and the need for originality

 

Ah Tui compares the different approach towards manga of Asian and European manga artists in addition to exposing what he believes to be a big problem with Taiwanese artists: their lack of individual style.


Friday, 11 January 2013 15:30

Min-Xuan Lin and manga as relaxation

Min-Xuan Lin discusses what constitutes her ideal kind of manga. She talks about the need for making manga as a light form of entertainment for stressed people who need to unwind.


Friday, 11 January 2013 15:29

M2 and the manga-anime link

 

M2 tells us of her role models and the artists that inspired her to star drawing manga. She also goes on to discuss a particular way of storyboarding a manga which is similar to that of movies.


Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:39

Ash's puppet world

On August 28th 2011, eRenlai went to Taipei's Wolong29 theater to see a puppet show directed by Ash. On the spot, just after the performance, we interviewed Baptiste, an actor and a puppeteer in the show about his first impressions of being in an experimental play.


Friday, 27 April 2012 18:14

White Eyes: Overcoming Gender Stereotypes in the Rock Scene

The controversial lead singer of 'White Eyes' (from the Chinese meaning someone who doesn't respect the other people's face), Gao Xiao-Gao talked to eRenlai about her experiences touring in Texas, U.S. as well as discussing her resistance to the certain monikers pressed on her by the Taiwanese media, like 'girl group', as well as the demand by audiences for her to stick to the 'screaming banshee' style which she started out with:

Photo courtesy of The White Eyes


The White Eyes are performing at Zhizou Cafe in Taipei on Saturday May 12. More info soon.

 

A song "Dead Boy" by The White Eyes


The White Eyes 白目樂隊:
http://www.thewhiteeyes.com
http://www.facebook.com/whiteeyeslove
http://www.indievox.com/thewhiteeyes


Tuesday, 27 March 2012 14:29

Returning from Abroad

The artists in this section have all been inspired in their work by travels or study abroad. Tpcat spent several years in England, where she started to re-evaluate the role of religion in society and gained an insight into the cultural divide between 'East' and 'West'. Iron tells of his return to Taiwan after a sustained period abroad, and how some of his manga is based on the Taiwanese ex-pat community in Shanghai. LI Lung-Chieh describes how a trip to cambodia gave him a new perspective on the different problems people face, those that are more basic 'animal' problems, like feeding oneself and surviving and the more 'human' problems, like creative freedom, self-expression and the pursuit of happiness, all of which inspired his manga RoachGirl.

“For me, comic books are the best tool for telling stories”

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Tpcat is very passionate about drawing and comic books. Her specialty is depicting all sorts of small furry animals. She studied graphic design in a Taiwanese university, before getting a Masters in illustration from Kingston University in England. In order to make a living, she spent the next two years showing her work in different comic book Expos around England; she also had a stand in the Brick Lane market where she sold her comic books. Tpcat’s style is completely different from that of other members of the new generation of Taiwanese authors. She doesn’t follow the Japanese ACG (animation-comic-game) style, but rather takes her inspiration from England, with a style rich in details. Whilst her illustrations are certainly very cutesy, the content is much deeper than most of the other comic books that are popular nowadays. Tpcat is a specialized author swimming against the tide.

Readers in Mainland China can watch here

“The intrinsic purpose of comics is to tell stories. I believe it is our duty to draw comics and tell stories to each other. It is a simple reciprocated duty between individuals. If I still had faith in anything in this life, it would be in this.”

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Iron, whose real name is CHO Yi-pin, was born in Taizhong, in the centre of Taiwan. He graduated from the design institute of the National Science and Technology University of Taiwan. His talent was revealed in 1995, when he won the Gold prize in a comic contest organized by China Times newspaper. In 1998 he started to publish his comic book series Nezha in the magazine Dragon Youth. Nezha has also been compiled into a book. This comic, halfway between a mysterious world and a dark style of drawing, is a perfect example of Iron’s creative style. In the last two years, Iron has participated in the publication of the TX (Taiwan Comix) compilation, which showcases a new creative style, free and independent. Iron currently lives in Shanghai.

Readers in Mainland China can watch here

“ I believe that one day, thanks to comic books, even bald people will be beautiful.”

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LI Lung-Chieh is a discrete, mysterious and melancholy illustrator. He graduated from the department of interior architecture of Shih Chien University. In 1998 he won the award for the best first creation from the Ching Win comic books contest, thanks to his story The white gun. In the next few years, he won in the Ching Win contest again in addition to the Dong Li contest which he won in its third, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth editions., after which he started publishing his short comics. His first individual work, Roachgirl (the cockroach woman), was edited after he won the first prize from the GIO in 2008. In 2010, he self-published Animal Impact, which was chosen for the Golden Comc Awards in the category of youth comics, and then participated in 2011 in the International Comic Book Competition of Algeria.

Readers in Mainland China can watch here


Friday, 16 March 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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Wednesday, 28 December 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.


Monday, 21 November 2011 00:00

Between the Horror and the Sublime

Daniel Arroyo is 29 years old and he is a Spanish painter. He studied Fine Arts at Barcelona University and Ecole National Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. He has been living in Taipei for 7 months where he is currently learning the Chinese language and where he hopes to exhibit his work soon. He is very interested in seeing how his work will evolve in contact with Asian culture and Asia's approach to the sacred and the everyday, the dialogue between these two being a major driver of his artistic creation.


Saturday, 10 September 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

 

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Tuesday, 02 August 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.


Monday, 01 August 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.

 


Monday, 01 August 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.


Friday, 26 August 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.

 

 

 

 


Friday, 08 July 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)


Tuesday, 28 June 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.

Wednesday, 22 June 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.


Tuesday, 15 March 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.


Tuesday, 02 November 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.

 

 


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

The crazy thoughts of silent lightning

An interview with Kidlat Tahimik, a movie director, writer and actor born in 1942 in the Philippines.
 
 
Is referring to your work as “documentary film” justified?
Tahimik: For a long time I never really thought of genres. I did my first film Perfumed Nightmare and then my second and third. Then in 1989, suddenly, I was invited by the Yamagata documentary festival to show a certain film I’d made, and I said “You mean I’m a documentary maker? But my films are not like the BBC!" I always thought that that was the mould for documentary. Over time the documentary has relaxed what its outer shape and inner shape is supposed to be. So I guess I am a documentary maker, documenting my crazy thoughts.

What do you think is the most common misconception of your work?

Tahimik: My works are very open ended, so I don’t know. I think for a close-ended world that’s where most misconceptions will occur. I like it if there are 200 spectators and 201 interpretations.
 
Tahimik Junior: I think one of the things is that they sometimes perceive my father’s work as anti-western and I think it’s not so much anti-western as pro-indigenous. The other side.
 
Tahimik: Our side. Like for example my mother watched my first film and asked me “Why did you make such an anti-American film?". And then I said to her, “Ma, it’s not anti-American, it’s more oriented towards finding our own inner strengths. We have been subdued by American education, maybe in a certain sense we’d never been aware that we were overly Westernized because of our Western curriculum, and because Hollywood’s curriculum. American idol has been in our country long before American Idol became a TV program.
 
 
In your film Turumba, you make reference to the nativization of Western religions. What do you think of the massive influence that the church plays in the Philippines today?
 
 
Tahimik: I look at Catholicism as a circumstance rather than an enemy. I have a feeling that it has contributed a lot, although its ideals, like many great religions are quite lofty and worthy. But because it doesn’t really belong to our people, it tends to be interpreted at our convenience. So when you read about all the corruption in the Philippines, I think it is linked to the Catholic idea that you can live a completely sinful life, and at the moment of your death you have an act of attrition and you just go to heaven. So Marcos is in heaven. So it may have interfered with our cultural brake mechanism. Maybe that’s why there is a seeming anarchy in our country.
 
 
Do you think that the term “The Third World” has transformed in meaning in recent years or been reclaimed?

Tahimik: I didn’t really understand that it was a dichotomy, as opposed to the first and second world. I guess it’s mainly economic nomenclature. An indigenous chieftain in one of my films. He always mispronounced the word “indigenous” saying "We indi-genius peoples have been trampled upon, our indi-genius culture is looked down upon”. And I said “Wow! It’s a really cosmic mispronunciation.” to combine the “genius” with the indigenous culture. I think that third world juices can be harnessed for economic development. There is a lot of indigenous wisdom that can balance this world which has lost its brakes.
 
Listen to the interview here:   
 
 
For a review of three of Kidlat Tahimik's films see Conor's article: Documenting his own reality: The films of Kidlat Tahimik
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Cinéma du Réel by Jean Perret

To show its commitment to documentary film, Taiwan allowed the necessary conditions for an exchange of knowledge from the best documentarists around the world. One particularly fruitful scheme was the DOCumentary DOCtor project, which invited young Taiwanese directors to present their projects and be given tips and advice by the experts. Alongside Janne Niskala and Min-chul Kim, Jean Perret completed the panel of experts. Jean Perret founded the Swiss documentary festival Visions du Réel in Switzerland and he is now the director of the Cinema Department of the Art Institute at the Geneva University of Arts and Design.

When Ida and Nick caught up with Jean in the VIP suite, he was delighted to tell us more of his missions in the documentary, against the flux audiovisuel (audiovisual flow) andthe inebriation of information.

Photo: Liu Lu-chen

 


Sunday, 31 October 2010 00:00

Transcending conventional reality: An interview with CCD Workstation’s Wu Wenguang

At the 2010 Taiwan International Documentary Festival, CCD Workstation, an artist space in Beijing had their own very own program. Wu Wenguang who founded the workstation was invited over to the festival as a special guest to give his judgements on the Taiwan award. In between his arrival and his humorous conducting of the audience at the awards ceremony Nick and Shinie Wang caught up with him to find out a little more about The Villager Documentary Project.

 

Nick Coulson: How did The Villager Documentary Project come about? 

Wu: It came completely by chance in 2005, when I was wondering how the villagers would use a DV camera if given the opportunity. Would they be able to make the documentary they wanted? Ten villagers came up to Beijing and after basic training; they all made a short film related to village self-governance. After this plan finished, those willing to carry on, did so. Ten became four. The films My Village 2006 and My Village 2007 were completed, without restrictions; what they wanted to film, they filmed.

 

N.C.: Were the villagers able to ‘bare their stuff’ and bare their past memories through this project? Was there any discrepancy between your initial aims and the final outcome? 

Wu: Initially, the title of the film Bare Your Stuff, was questioning whether we are able to release ourselves, to honestly confront and get rid of our doubts, to trust each other. The big problem over the past five years is that none of us trusted each other. These trivial matters made it very difficult to work together, as that requires revealing yourself, understanding and respecting others. I discovered that the problem wasn’t whether or not they could film. The facts have already proven they can film and very well. China doesn’t lack people who can make documentaries. Villagers filming documentary is more about civil consciousness.

 

Shinie Wang: You have been filming since the late 80s, have your creative or technical ideas changed since then? Your latest film Treating, documents the life of your recently deceased mother, does this indicate a change style?

Wu: The biggest change is in method. Towards the end of the 90s I changed from large professional equipment to a small DV camera. I adopted an image diary style: no topic, no materials, no plan, no budget. I just filmed what happened to be there and then edited it. For example, Bare Your Stuff was about the behind the scenes process of the Villager Documentary Project. Then, in Treating I edited over 10 years of collected images as a form self-treatment. Next I want to make a film about my father, through history and memory, a film that will deal once and for all with the relationship between my father and this family - this is also self-treatment. I won’t film societal documentaries again. I’m bigger than the Palace Museum, there are many things inside myself that I don’t understand. How can I understand others if I don’t understand myself?

 

S.W.: What documentaries are you most interested in? What are the ingredients of a good documentary?

Wu: I have different hobbies at different times. I like all sorts of documentary, but recently I prefer personal images more than recording workers, the repressed and the suffering, which used to fascinate me. How can these personal images transcend of the normal? Documentaries should not merely show the truth, but they should be able to show through things, like X-ray vision.

Zhou Xueping’s The Starving Village records the last two years of her grandmother’s life including several other old villagers; they talk about the famine fifty years back. It’s very subjective, she wanted the village she knows, not the reality of the village, yet it all comes from reality. While it leaves objectivity slightly, she creates the reality that she knows, that of a ‘starving village’, one that is dying, a ruin. This is transcending conventional reality. This is “the creation of reality”.

 


Wednesday, 27 October 2010 00:00

Directing Intuition: When you are making a film, leave the window open

In October 2010, Taiwan International Documentary Festival welcomed Heddy Honigmann as their special guest. eRenlai & TIDF interviewed her under the watchful eye of her own camera.

Born in Peru to Polish Jewish immigrants, Heddy Honigman moved around the world a lot before eventually settling in Holland. She went from literature, to poetry, where she realized she was writing her poem though a series of images and that what she really wanted to do was make films. Yet even in film Heddy has alternated between fiction and documentary. Added to the various languages she speaks, her lifestyle has always had a nomadic touch: “It sounds cliché but I am from everywhere. If I had been in Taiwan and young, I would become Taiwanese. I can root anywhere; I call it a gift for film”. For Heddy, film is closely related to memory. Her family members were great story tellers, especially the women. Her mum said “the world is full of horrible things,” but that “you can’t cry about everything in life”. You have to approach everything with a degree of humor and irony. “You have to live and smile a little, or die.”

Heddy says: "When you are making a film, leave the window open." The art of improvisation is more important when your making documentary. You have a dialogue, not an interview. For example when asked: How do you capture their inner reactions? She retorted: How do you kiss a woman? It’s different every time. It either works or it doesn’t. For example the former Bosnian War soldier in Crazy. He had sweaty hands. He kept looking down. He told me once that he had tried to commit suicide. He was willing to tell me this. Why? I was talking to him like I talk to a person, I only film people, I had tears running down my face because of some of the stuff he told me. Of course I stopped myself making any sounds. But I was listening to him because I was genuinely interested in him and what he was telling me.

Do you observe people for a while before deciding to interview them? Have you already built up a relationship with your subjects?

It depends. Most of the time, I research. I make sure the supporting pillars are in place. I make sure the film is possible. I then search for 3 or 4 characters that are so strong that they will always remain in the film, even if it gets difficult. I might find them in the street, or the cemetery; it’s intuition. I am looking for ‘film characters’. Some people may have interesting content but when they communicate there is no emotion. Some of the people in my films rival Robert De Niro. For example in Crazy, it was very important which music the soldier was listening too; I maintained a veto on Mariah Carey. I dream up my characters. In my dream they would be playing Janis Joplin’s Summertime. In a way it is at type of casting, but the process is open and while filming you can find many new beautiful characters. For instance, in Forever, I randomly encountered a woman in the cemetery. We were eating apples in the tree shade, she walked by and said “bon appetit”, so we caught up with her and asked her for an interview. In it, she revealed that her husband, who was twenty years younger than her, had died from a bee sting, just three years after their marriage. It was a very strong story. All I knew was that she had been visiting a tomb; my intuition told me there was a story there. I am very curious by nature; I never have a complete plan. I hate documentaries where you feel the questions are already prepared. For example the interviewee says her father is dead and then the next question you ask is: “How long have you been in Taiwan?”

In the work Crazy, you ask the interviewee to play a song, which seems to be an emotional medium to trace back through their memory. Meanwhile you continue filming them until near the end of their song.  If I were filming you about your life or a memory, what would be playing?

The film would definitely be full of Bach. He is a master, a genius in joy. Wherever I go, Bach is my home in exile. Also, recently when I was frustrated and all was going wrong, I opened an old file about 10 years old. It had Madonna, George Michael, and the Rolling Stones. So now I have a cocktail of music on a file, which always brings my sprits back and makes everything better.

How do you deal with strong emotional reactions from your subjects? In Oblivion for example you persisted in questioning the shoeshine boy despite his apparent discomfort.

With the shoeshine boy, reality was giving me a slap. He had no dreams, nothing, it was blank. So in a natural way, you respect the moment, the silence, but you know you have to continue – you cannot leave the person alone with his problems. For instance with the women whose husband died, there was no second thoughts; I reacted in the most natural way possible. I said “C’est terrible” because it simply was horrible. In the end, she looked at me and I looked back. She understood that it was the end and simply left. It was a beautiful moment. When the soldiers in Crazy hear the music they love, some would eventually look at me in a way that says “Please, stop the torture” and as soon as I see that, I immediately turn off the camera. I just have to stop. Sometimes when you film, you trespass over the frontier. You see that you went too far. I’m very much aware, that when you make a documentary, you use people. So you need to respect them a lot, you can’t squeeze them.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 00:00

Simply Filming Yanting

An interview with Taiwanese Director Chu-chung Pan (潘巨忠), co-director of the 2010 documentary "Green's 284 Blue's 278", which was featured in the 2010 Taiwan International Documentary Festival. The film portrays the daily life of an autistic young person, and in this clip the director discusses the difficulties encountered and the rewards of filming this particular subject matter.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 00:00

Improving the archives

In this audio file we interview Yael Hersonski, director of the groundbreaking new holocaust documentary A Film Unfinished. She talks a bit about her mission to look at wartime holocaust footage in an alternative way. Below is the transcript.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 00:00

Free Memory!

What is the difference between our memory's reality and the reality recorded in images. How can we transform, release and liberate our memory, allowing us to view the things we remember from a different perspective?

Memory is formed by history. The blind spot of memory lies in its ability to remember only that which it wishes to remember. Even so, Edward Said once said: culture is simply memory struggling not to be forgotten. Through these documentaries, which supposedly record reality, are we able to explore and understand the depths of memory, the past that has been blinded so by our prejudice? And are we able to breed understanding and concern in the wider world and to free our memory. Furthermore it is due to the presence of a camera that we bravely decide to talk of our experiences and memories. This is another level of meaning in the theme 'free memory'. Liberating our memory, does not only concern itself with objective history external to ourselves, but is also concerned with thorough retrospection on our own life and memory. Here, festival director Angelika Wang gives her own explanation of Free Memory, the main programs in this year's festival, the state of documentary and gives a few recommendations of films to look out for:

To match the theme of "Free Memory" this festival featured a memory wall - My Photo, Our Wallpaper - where you could choose a picture that meant something to you, then be photographed holding the picture which would eventually stuck on the wall. While Angelika had put up the first photo,  the opening ceremony was concluded as we all watched the proud parents of Angelika put their own picture on the wall, a tribute to the passing of memories through the generations. Perhaps by exploring this festival, you can come closer to understanding the significance and importance of documentary.

 

 

Monday, 04 October 2010 11:26

Reducing the digital divide in Taipei County

Jason Wang, Chairman of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission for the Taipei County Government, elaborates on their policy to bridge the digital divide in their area.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 00:00

The Dancing Prince

A Portrait of Li Wei Chun (李偉淳) aka Prince Lee, a Taiwanese dancer and choregrapher who started his career as a member of the Cloud Gate dance company.

You can also visit his blog (in Chinese).

(Video edited by Pinti, subtitled by Conor)

For readers in mainland China:

 

 


Wednesday, 14 July 2010 00:00

When hip-hop meets traditional Taiwanese music

Kou Chou Ching is a hip-hop band formed in Taiwan in 2003. They blend rap lyrics sung in Taiwanese, Hakka and Mandarin with musical samples from diverse traditional Taiwanese sources and live Eastern instruments such as suona and bong-ze.

In this interview with eRenlai in Chinese, Kou Chou Chin's two MCs, fishLIN and Fan-Chiang, introduce their very singular conception of hip-hop, detail their interest for Taiwanese musical traditions, and evoke the very diverse reactions to their music.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010 17:46

Yuan Dancers: return to the source of aboriginal dance in Taiwan

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The 1980s saw in Taiwan the emergence of the Taiwanese aboriginal movement. In 1991, the “Yuan dancers” company was established in response to the demand for aborigines to be able to perform their own dances.

Before that, aboriginal dance and music were performed in Taiwan by non-aboriginal dancers who were unable to capture the true spirit of the dances. Faidaw Fagod, founder and artistic director of the Yuan dancers company, said “Most dancers apply the feet position they’ve already learnt to the aboriginal dances, with the toes outwards for example, but to aboriginals, it is not the right way to dance!” Also, these so-called aboriginal dance troupes were originally meant for tourists: they were using electronic music, changing the dances styles and improperly mixing music from different tribes. So, among the aborigines, some started to think that they should rediscover the real essence of aboriginal dance “using pure aborigine sound, using aborigine own breathing and dancing with aborigine own rhythm”.

The Yuan dancers asked the elders of the tribes to teach young people how to dance the original aboriginal dances. But it is very difficult when you are far away from your land to make people understand the essence of this art. So the elders changed their way of teaching and they decided to take the students to the tribe to make them experience the aborigines’ reality onsite. The most important aspect of aboriginal dance is to feel the vitality and the energy of its ‘wilderness’. Faidaw Fagod said “Yuan dancers have a different practice of dance to other professional dancers. In fact, there is not a specialized way of teaching. We would like the dancers to learn and understand the dance by repeating the chants and the movements such as ‘feet-tapping’. It is through practice that they will find the right way to dance”. Repetition and practice also allow oneself to familiarize with the dance movements and dance partners. When they hold each others’ hands, the dancers can feel each others’ breath and emotions, and then harmony emerges through the tacit understanding is developed.

Faidaw Fagod also likes to make fun of himself by saying that he is the “ancestor” of the company, as he’s been dancing for 19 years: “Since the foundation of the company until now, I have participated in many shows but I still do not feel tired of it because the people I dance with always have different feelings. When I dance, I like to feel the mood of the person next to me and try to guess what the person besides me is thinking about. Does he feel comfortable? Is he worried about something? I can feel all these things while I am dancing”.

Dancing is mostly a matter of moving and feeling, so the Yuan dancers welcome all aborigines without distinction of age or sex; thus they have members ranging in age from 10 to 48. Faidaw Fagod also says that for the dance company’s survival and development, Yuan dancers are now cooperating with other artists who help them to write scenarios, direct the plays or train them in a more specialized way. Thus for example, the professional training schedule includes a 3 or 4 hour practice of calligraphy to develop patience and concentration.

As the Yuan dancers extended their collaboration with choreographers and stage directors of all origins, including non-aborigines, might they lose their group spirit and cohesion? Faidaw Fagod is very optimistic and says with confidence: “No, we do not fear such a phenomenon because the aboriginal people will keep repeating and reproducing the rites of the aborigines. We wish to offer even more new creation and, regardless of the further changes to come, we will keep the spirit of the aboriginal people alive”.

Adapted to English by Marie Delaplanche

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Photos by Huang YuShun

 


Thursday, 20 May 2010 00:00

Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit in the realm of the dragon

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In celebration of the 400th anniversary of the passing of Matteo Ricci, Gjon Kolndrekaj was commissioned by the Society of Jesus and the Italian diocese of Macerata, the birthplace of Matteo Ricci's birthplace, to direct the documentary on the life of Matteo Ricci. In  filming the documentary he would journey along Matteo Ricci's path, starting in Ricci's home town of Macerate. Taipei's own Ricci Institute also thought it fitting to invite the accomplished director to Taiwan's first screening of the 50-minute documentary at the National Central Library in Taiwan, before which he was interviewed by eRenlai.  The on-site interpretation was provided generously by Antonella Tulli of Fu Jen Catholic University.

Gjon spent his early years in Albania. His inspiration to focus on directing documentaries came from Mother Teresa, a cousin of his mother. He once asked Mother Teresa to come with him for a couple of hours to a special place. He took her to a place where they would be drawn by a reknowned holy artist. Whilst they were being drawn, Mother Teresa told him that if he wanted to do God's work he should count on his fingers every morning on awaking, five things that he would do for humanity. By night he should count how many of these he had accomplished. Each good deed for humanity would be considered a deed done for God. From then Gjon put all his efforts into documentary, where he perceived his mission to lie.

Eventually Gjon tried to progress to a prestigious film school in Rome. At the time Albania had a very closed off regime (whose few allies included China) and no one in Europe had much information about the situation. Gjon took advantage of this to proceed in his mission, recounting some tales about the situation at the time in Albania. Fascinated by what he told them, the competitive school decided to enroll him. In this school he was exposed to some of the greatest documentary and filmmakers to ever embrace the world, amongst those he was influenced by, learnt from and worked with were Valerio Zurlini, Micros Jankson (Autumn Sonata) and Jon Evans.

Gjon has made documentaries of two particularly great people. They were of different eras and their missions were in different countries. He has already made a documentary of Mother Teresa and says that she and Ricci both managed to raise awareness of the struggles and poverty of the common people to the leaders of their respective countries. However they started from different paths: Mother Teresa initially acquainted herself with the leaders and worked her way down to those with the worst hardships; Ricci started off with the common people then worked his mission into the sympathies of the gentry class and then all the way to the emperor. His achievements go without saying, he was the first person to really introduce Chinese civilisation to the west.

When asked about the future Gjon talked with the confident optimism of a man who is constantly in the process of accomplishing his mission and with the knowledge that he is at least  contributing . Regarding the situation in his own homecountry of Albania he said "Clever people, will find a clever solution. The path to democracy is a slow process. They're on the right path". On his own future, he will be returning to his own hometown this summer. Furthermore, he has another project in the works, another Saint - Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini - who helped Italian immigrants in the USA when they were one of the most marginalised and maltreated groups in the country. Later Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and other prominent Italian Americans later set up a foundation in her name and her honour. Once again, hers is a case that has huge relevance to the modern day where there are still innumerous groups of immigrants suffering persecution and racism all over the world.

Gjon explains that he began to understand the achievements of Matteo Ricci when he had the opportunity to travel to Beijing in 1976: "Focusing so much on researching Matteo Ricci, this Catholic missionary, this Italian scientist who met with eastern philosophy and ideology, was an undertaking that fascinated me. I hope that through this documentary I have contributed to the understanding and recognition of Matteo Ricci, not just those for those who worked on the project but to give many others the chance to know him"

"Because he fascinated me as a person; first as a man, secondly as a man of faith and this insight in knowledge that he wanted to transmit. His magnanimity that all men of good will can have" -Gjon Kolndrekaj 

To see the official trailer for the documentary click here.

 

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010 15:03

Tabla, Tala and the Universe (Part 2)

Born in Japan, Waka is now based in Taipei where he teaches and performs the tabla, a well known Indian drum.  He has spent much time in India learning the tabla and now travels throughout Taiwan and Asia performing with all types of musicians, from Indian classical to rock.

In this fascinating interview Waka introduces the tabla and proceeds to elaborate on the philosophy of classical Indian music.


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

Thursday, 11 February 2010 13:02

Butterflies and amusement parks

Self, the other and fantasy. Ida contrasts Taipei New Year, an Aboriginal tribe's New Year and her vision of an ideal Chinese New Year.


Sunday, 29 November 2009 00:00

Awaken your Inner Guerrillero

Here, Alfie talks to us about the movement that he founded: ’Guerrilla Movie’. Due to his upbringing in Nangang which was going through all the contradictions of a poorer area in development, his work is influenced by this upbringing and has an ironic and idealist flavour. His group Guerrilla Movie was originally set up to give his own films a chance to be shown and a chance to survive. Later, they used their experience to help other young and first time directors, who had neither the resources or following to be shown at bigger cinemas. They enlisted many cafes in a project - 1st Film Festival - which showed 30 first time directors’ films in cafes, which allowed their low budget filming, despite its lack of advertising to get some feedback. He refers to his group as ’Punks of Film’ who use ’cameras and lights to make graffiti and guerrilla warfare.’ When they all started using High Definition (HD) GM started using webcams. Its the act of making art and displaying it, not the medium that counts.

They want to keep their projects original, thought provoking and underground. For example, before they started showing the films in cafes, they would use more underground, alternative locations: they projected one film onto the underside of Banqiao bridge in Taipei, under which a part of the film had indeed been shot. To make the projection possible, they ’borrowed’ the local electricity by connecting cables from the streetlights. Then they drunk beer and chewed betel nuts along with the slightly confused locals as they watched their own film play.

Alfie avoids conventional forms of media for advertising, preferring to alternative techniques such as graffiti and blogs. Thus Guerrilla Movies would to the largest extent possible, not spend any money on these projects. Just doing whatever necessary to allow the films to exist. Of course everyone must do what is necessary to survive, but he feels the ’system of responsibility’ and ’overtime culture’ is excessive and reduces independence and the ability to think. People shouldn’t forget their ideals, dreams and give up all the things they wanted to achieve simply because society tells them that they should compromise and conform to the ’inevitable’ norms of society.



Tuesday, 09 June 2009 01:10

On Sport in Taiwan

"Sport is a subject that people do during their lifetime"

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