Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: video
Thursday, 11 December 2014 11:09

An Interview with Peter and Anne Venton

Peter and Anne Venton are both researchers from Canada, they are respectively concerned with economic inequality and human rights from an environmental point of view. In November 2014, they were on a tour in Taiwan, giving speeches in various cities about "the Radical Changes in Canadian Democracy for the Ecology and the Public Good" and "The Environment, Women and Human Rights".

We caught up with them at the end of the tour of Taiwan for a brief interview. 

Anne Venton talks about the necessity of enshrining the right to a clean environment in the Constitution.  

 

Peter Venton addresses some of the weaknesses of Canadian democracy.

 

Read the paper Peter Venton presented at the Global Ecological Integrity Group International Conference in June 2014:
Radical Changes in Canadian Democracy for Ecology and the Public Good


Sunday, 01 December 2013 21:03

Journey to the Karaoke Temples

In Taipei the mountains are never far away. How easy it is to escape from the city and discover a different pace of life.  Human voices rise above the roar of the traffic, and in the safety of the mountains people form communities and express themselves in ways that could not happen in an urban setting, for all its apparent conveniences and freedoms. Filmed around Tiger Mountain, 2013.


Monday, 30 September 2013 15:41

The Temple and The Mosque

Abdullah is from Yemen but grew up in Saudi Arabia.  He came to Taiwan to travel and to discover a new culture and way of life.  Here he shares his experience of Taiwanese religion and spirituality and compares it with his religion, Islam, on a walk around Longshan Temple.


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 16:14

A Video Diary from the Pacific Workshop

In June and July 2013, the Fijian navigator Setareki Ledua and the Samoan dancer Tupe Lualua toured Taiwan for a cultural workshop designed to enhance the exchanges and links between Taiwan Austronesians and other cultures from the Pacific. Here are some videos filmed, compiled and edited by members of our team and participants in the workshop.


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.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013 11:19

After the Quake: Rituals in North Western Sichuan


Rituals organize and symbolize a way of living together. Through the enactment of rituals, a community expresses its fear, its solidarity and its longings. In traditional societies, performing rituals enables people to organize time and space into a meaningful universe, to renew their commitment to the group to which they belong, and to cement an alliance among them, with nature and with the supernatural.
The variety of ritual forms is astounding. It reflects the richness of cultural forms, artworks and humane inventiveness. Among the ethnic minorities who, all together, account for almost ten percent of China's population, those living in the southwest may offer the widest repertoire of ritual performances. Caring for the souls of the dead, exorcising ghosts so as to cure illnesses, rejoicing at marriages, New Year or at harvest time. The four rituals mentioned here all take place in Sichuan province, among people of Yi, Qiang and Ersu ethnic origins.


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.


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, 16 January 2013 16:29

Historical Resonances: War, Colonial Experiences and Peace-Making

The following video is a recording of the Q&A from the second session of the International Austronesian Conference 2012 - Historical Resonances - War, Colonial Experiences and Peace-Making.


Friday, 21 December 2012 14:46

Two Atayal villages on Taiwan East Coast

Jinyang Village

In February 2012, during the Chinese New Year Holidays, I went with Benoit Vermander and my brother to two Atayal villages on the East Coast of Taiwan: Jinyang village and Wutah. There I met again with two of the aboriginal students I accompanied to Canada for a cultural exchange in September 2011. We asked them to take us to the places and people which would represent and explain the best their Atayal traditions. 


Wednesday, 22 August 2012 11:33

When in Rome...

A lesson of etiquette by Adrien Liu from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan.

 

Published in
Focus: Living Together

Thursday, 29 December 2011 10:45

Deflower

This is the trailer of the film I realized last summer.

"Clasping your consciousness
your back turned to the beast, 
you hide in a dark, dank hole.

Wake before the rotting of the flesh,
Deflowered."


Tuesday, 27 December 2011 16:59

Flowers of Liberty

On October 3rd, 2011, I embarked with dancer Kao Yu-i and musician Yang Zijie on a theatrical tour to Marseille, France. We gave five performances in five different parts of the city. Here is a video excerpt from the fourth performance which took place at the Alcazar library on October 14th:

"Segments from two separate dreams create a beautiful moment shining through lucid shadows
Heading towards an unknown, far away destination, the people gradually disperse
In the dream, everyone has already passed away, gathered in the tranquil darkness;
when an object is stripped to its essence, the only thing we can see out from the darkness, is light
Dead branches protrude awkwardly from the lifeless beaches, yet sprout new roots
I hope you will come and be with me, in the existing and happening present."

(Photo by Yurasleepless)


Monday, 21 November 2011 16:58

Totems, Canoes and Sisiutl Serpent Spoons

Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

After receiving the lecture at the Department of Anthropology, we were guided through the Museum of Anthropology, founded in 1949, which houses over 38 000 ethnographic objects. Of particular interest to our students is that MOA is a world leader in collecting Aboriginal artefacts and there are approximately 6,000 objects from B.C's First Nations in MOA's collections, from totem poles, to canoes and carved boxes, bowls, and feast dishes. Furthermore the museum has an innovative storing methods and interactive software and hardware allowing one to explore the collections from the touch-screen computer or from the Internet. Visiting the MOA was an excellent opportunity for us to see how they run the museum to inspire curiosity, understanding and respect of other world cultures, while promoting innovation and inclusiveness. With the historical and anthropological background it was also a chance for our troupe to explore and share the similarities and differences between their Indigenous cultures.

For readers in Mainland China:

Filmed by C. Phiv, edited by Nick Coulson, subtitled by Adrienne Chu

"Despite not being huge, the Museum of Anthropology, UBC, made excellent use of space, using a system of wooden drawers, which could pulled out be viewed as flat exhibitions. They also made excellent use of new media, with a network of Macs with touch screen systems and practical, easy to use MOACAT digital library database system. As the ‘technology’ island, does Taiwan not have more potential to progress in this area?"
Yahu Kunaw (Department of Indigenous Languages and Communications, National Dong Hwa University, Atayal Nation)

ubc_museum_inside

Photos: Shuching Hsueh


Monday, 29 August 2011 00:00

Traces of time

In the South-East of Paris, on the 22th of June 2011, at the exhibition hall Les Voûtes, three taiwanese artists submitted their work to the public eye:

- Dialogue remixé de style FF (The remixed dialogue of two "FF" type face) by Li-Ming Cheng
- 40 by Charlene Shih,
- La lumière dépasse le temps, n°2 (Light Overtakes Time, no.2) by Chi-Yang Chiang

They chose a common theme, 'The traces of time', but each offered us a different and original approach to this theme.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011 16:11

Our youngest volunteer

On July 12th, 2011, Joshua Carroll, 12 years old, spent one day at the Taipei Ricci Institute to fulfill part of his community service for his boarding school in Australia. He shares with us his impressions of Taipei and his experience as a young volunteer:


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)


Wednesday, 01 December 2010 00:00

Matteo Ricci, spiritual resources and partnership

At the conference "Dialogue among Civilizations and Global Challenges" held in Shanghai in 2010, friend of eRenlai and former managing director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus, provided the starting point for a discussion on intercultural dialogue,  inspired by Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi. He first gave a speech on the secret of Matteo Ricci:


 

Professor Choong Chee Pang from the Oxford Institute for Asian Society and Religion gave a response to Michel's wise words, particularly focusing on the importance of China's cultural and spiritual resources in contrast to the factors economic, political and military might that are usually focused on:


Thursday, 28 October 2010 00:00

Family box vs video art: Homesick

Yang Hsin-he was one of the advanced students from the first season Gosh Foundation ‘Fruit Camp’. The three advanced students Family Story vs. Video Art installations, which were displayed in the middle of gallery street, the quintessence of their family story into one box; their huge boxes/makeshift homes to play with life-size toys from their childhood and with their video art works being shown in the middle. They had initially been asked to bring their works to be selected and refined previous, with the most talented young artists receiving one on one instruction from top artist in their chosen field. Yang Hsin-he's instructor for this project was Yao Jui-chung.

I was born in Kaohsiung but now live in Yilan. So far my life has been divided into two parts: I am now in Yilan, but my childhood was spent in Kaohsiung. There were so many things that happened in Yilan that is hard for me to make it clear right now. But I am sorry to say that most of the things I remember in Kaohsiung as a child have already disappeared now. I created this work just to get back to those places that were meaningful for me in my childhood and to visit the lands I was once family with.

Images by Liu Lu-chen


Thursday, 28 October 2010 00:00

Family box vs video art: Squash Family

Li Pei-tzu was one of the advanced students from the first season Gosh Foundation ‘Fruit Camp’. The three advanced students Family Story vs. Video Art installations, which were displayed in the middle of gallery street, the quintessence of their family story into one box; their huge boxes/makeshift homes to play with life-size toys from their childhood and with their video art works being shown in the middle. They had initially been asked to bring their works to be selected and refined previous, with the most talented young artists receiving one on one instruction from top artist in their chosen field. Li Pei-tzu's instructor for her 'Family box vs video art project' was Shih Ming-hui.

They call me the shorty, because I am short and fat and with short legs… you must have heard the song about a short guy. Those 'squashes' (a phrase that used in Taiwanese dialect to refer to the short persons) you find in my works are all my family members. Why did I choose squash? Because like squash, I am also fat, short and have short legs. This animation has recorded some of the interesting things that happened to my family. I hope the animation can remind you of all the precious moments, including those funny ones you shared with your family. I don’t want to spoil the fun for you so just watch it yourself. Ha Ha~~


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

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.

 

 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 00:00

TIDF 2010

Last month saw the 7th biennial Taiwan International Documentary Festival held in Taichung. eRenlai was omnipresent at the festival; working in collaboration with the festival, providing festival snaps, videos and cutting-edge interviews with the best in the lonely, but precious art of documentary. The festival showed its continued prestige inviting some of the biggest names in the documentary world from North America, Europe and Asia including producers, directors, editors and cameramen whilst not turning its back on Taiwan's own documentary trade with its many workshops, lectures and the Taiwan Award. This focus will take this occasion to look at the power and importance of documentary in the contemporary world of overloaded, abused information and the flux audiovisuel and explore the festival's main theme of 'Free Memory'. This freeing of one's memory was best incorporated in He Si-ying's fantastic bubble head design, yet the festival also included the Memory Wall, a space where the public was invited to bring a picture that meant or signified a lot to them then the proceeding pictures taken, holding their pictures, joined the wall.

tahimik_kidlateRenlai caught up with the festivals special guests including some of the biggest names in documentary, both Taiwanese and foreign. But before any of these we interviewed with the festival director who gave us some background information about the projects and participants. They included the academic and founder of the Swiss Visions du Reel, Jean Perret; emotional and intuitive director amongst the most celebrated in the field of documentary, Heddy Honigmann; Beijing's biggest documentarist/curator since the Great Reform in China, Wu Wenguang who brings with him the documentaries produced for The Village Documentary Project and of course the king of Third World film, the dancing indo-genius Tahimik Kadlit. Furthermore we have podcasts with director of a very different type of holocaust movie, Yael Hersonski, Hong Kong director Yao Ching and Tahimik's son Kidlat.

Yet TIDF is more than just a showcase for international documentaries and a rubber stamp for multi-thousand dollar prizes. It is also a place for young aspiring directors, filmmakers and artists to learn from the experts. As such they incorporated 'family box' installations from talented children which had their origins in Sylvia Chang's GOSH Foundation. The three young winners of the competition from the year before were delighted to have their stunning video art works displayed in the MOFA gallery as well as being showcased on eRenlai. Please sit back and enjoy the works from Liu Min-chieh, Li Pei-tzu and Yang Hsin-he.

Finally, nothing can truly match up to the visual arts experience and equipment at Taichung's NTMOFA, so if you couldn't make it to the festival we bring you a taste of the cinematic experience you missed, whether it be the techplex media art centre, with its experimental screenings or the wondrous outdoor 'starlit screenings'. Indeed, it was on the 22nd October 2010 at 7pm when the helium filled balloons were released flying from the net that was our brain, way into the skies and as such we could begin with the release of these memories from all around the world hundreds of movies beginning with the first film Doc Taichung, a montage of 6 different films, made by six different directors especially for this year's 2010 festival.


To see the award winners please click here

 

 

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:

 

 


Tuesday, 07 September 2010 16:10

Georgia Crawl with Lotus

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


Tuesday, 29 June 2010 20:54

Josh Homme and the rise of manufactured mystique

I have watched two seemingly distinct phenomenon over the last 15 years with considerable interest: the growth of the internet from a niche tool of academics and geeks to a brobdignagian digital life form; and Josh Homme’s transition from cult desert guitarist to supergroup-worthy rock god.  As people around the world now begin to ponder the long-term influence of the internet on society, I believe that analysis of Josh Homme’s career and can help shed some light on this evolution, in particular with regard to the mystique of artists.

Fifteen years ago, I was a curious high school student, who, among other teenage pursuits, was discovering the world of rock and roll.  Having dipped my toes into grunge, g-funk and somewhat mystifyingly, grindcore, I was trying to find my way in the mid-90s alternative music market.  In 1995 I bought a heavy metal compilation that featured One Inch Man[i] by Kyuss, a short-lived rock band from Palm Springs California featuring the then 22 year-old Josh Homme on guitar.  I was instantly transfixed.  This bass heavy track rode a groove that got my head bobbing while at the same had heavy enough riffs to make me feel tough.  Vicarious toughness through music was important to me at that age.  As my funds permitted, I bought all four Kyuss albums and listened to them endlessly.  In fact, 15 years later I still listen to Kyuss quite frequently.  They were that good.

In an odd turn events, only one week after discovering Kyuss, I read in Hot Metal magazine that they had just recently broken up.  At this stage I was still about 18 months away from using the internet.  Information on Kyuss was almost non-existent.  I found a band profile in a second hand copy of Hot Metal from a few years prior but other than that, nothing.  Apart from albums in record stores, an underground band that died in 1995 had little chance of maintaining any sort of profile.  With that being the case, to me Kyuss was nothing more than a well-orchestrated collection of highly listenable sounds.

 

In late 1996 I graduated from high school, eager to enjoy a summer of parties and cricket.  As events transpired, the only guy I knew who had internet access was having a party and I was invited. Sambucca and Southern Comfort were drunk up on the roof, girls were kissed and garden furniture was broken. I even have hazy memories of watching the clip for Wannabe by the Spice Girls. Wiiiild times, let me tell you my friend.  Early in the night I managed to get in a session on the internet – something to me that up until that stage was nothing more than a nebulous idea that media pundits liked to talk about – either as some whiz-bang medium of the future or as a dangerous forum for disseminating The Terrorist Handbook.  None of these options took my fancy.  For me, the internet was there to find out about Kyuss.

I discovered a website lovingly put together by a Kyuss devotee and printed off some fan-made guitar tablature.  At this party I also saw Kyuss film clips for the first time.  The band was a strange looking bunch, swaggering around the California desert belting out psychedelic metal riffs.  In the Green Machine filmclip, Josh Homme cut a very unfashionable figure – shorts and boots worn together have never been very rock and roll[ii].

Three months later I was enrolled at university and the internet was suddenly at my finger tips.  None of my lecturers had worked out how to use the internet as an educational tool and most of the content on it was made by amateurs.  In spite of this, the internet was a revelation to me (like it is to most) and I spent many an hour using Hotbot to scour the neighbourhoods of Geocities, as one did on the Information Superhighway in 1997.

Over the next two years I eagerly checked Kyuss fan sites, hoping for news on upcoming projects.  Occasionally there was a tidbit – Homme and his mates were jamming in the desert, the singer had a new band, the bass player had opened a pet store in Palm Springs, the old drummer was playing with Fu Manchu and so on.  But these stories were rare, and there appeared to be no system for digitally disseminating them.  It was more or less gossip or info culled from Californian street press and then uploaded on to fan sites.  And there were only a handful of these sites on the whole World Wide Web where I needed to look to find out anything, most of which were not much more than digital versions of zines.

Following Kyuss riding off into the sun, Josh Homme re-emerged in 1997 with Queens of the Stoneage, dropping the first track on the silly genre-naming compilation Burn One Up: Music for Stoners.  For those in Australia and without the internet, this event would likely have largely gone unnoticed.  When their debut album appeared a year later the only clue that Queens and Kyuss had some sort of connection was the sticker on the CD case – “Featuring ex-members of Kyuss”.  At this stage there was very little promotional material about Homme’s new band, who were dragging themselves around Europe playing small clubs and festival side stages.

Queens of the Stoneage toiled in the musical underground over the next 5 years.  Another album, R[iii], was released in 2000 and despite getting some play on alternative radio stations in Australia, it seemed that most of the band’s followers were all Kyuss fans first, Queens fans second.  Queens were still yet to cross over into the mainstream.  This changed in 2002 when ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and ex-Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan came on board. Queens released Songs for the Deaf[iv] and then became alterna-rock royalty.  For the rest of the decade the band chugged along, releasing albums, enduring personnel problems, all the while maintaining a solid fan base through regular tours and a generally positive critical response.  This success made Homme a bonafide star and brought public attention to his previously underground side projects, such as the Desert Sessions and the Eagles of Death Metal.  While it would appear in the eyes of most critics and many casual listeners that Queens will never top Songs for the Deaf, the band has still managed to somehow straddle the line between commercial acclaim and critical success, all the while producing a distinctive sound.

Of course, over the duration of the 2000s, the internet swelled with more and more folks getting online.  As magazines and newspapers shifted their content into digital format and tried to work out how to keep making a buck, music blogs grew to become the arbiters of trends and memes.  And then there was the explosion in social media (mySpace, facebook, youtube, twitter et al) that, theoretically at least, allowed people across the world to access media with ease that most of them couldn’t conceive of 15 years earlier.  I certainly couldn’t have predicted this digital landscape when I first heard One Inch Man and wondered who Kyuss were and how they could make such transcendent music.

Now I can log onto youtube and watch Kyuss performing live in the Californian desert at one of their legendary ‘generator parties’[v].  Once upon a time I knew that these videos existed but not being familiar with the obscure world of tape trading (what tapes did I have to trade?) these gigs stayed a mystery to me.  As did the performance at the Bizarre Festival in 1995[vi] or the Italian TV gig from around the same time[vii].  For my friends and I, the unattainability of these shows created an aura of mystery.  We certainly weren’t at the shows and had no chance of watching them.  This let our imaginations run wild.  We already had the soundtrack – then we just had to dream of the desert, the drama and the drugs.

Now I can watch all these videos from the comfort of my sofa.  Beyond the initial investment of a laptop, modem and internet access, the world of Kyuss is at my fingertips.  My Taipei apartment couldn’t be further from the shifting sands of California’s Sky Valley but the internet has knocked down that time/space barrier.  That Kyuss’ history has been uploaded is fantastic and in some ways I wish it had happened 15 years ago when my curiosity was at its peak.  But then my appreciation of the band might not have become what it did.  My imagination had to fill in the gaps.

From the few interviews that I was able to read back in the day, I built up an image of Josh Homme.  He came across as chill, and didn’t seem to have the agro that is part and parcel of the metal world.  Then when Queens first started getting press, he claimed to want to create music that makes girls dance, a noble desire in the sweaty dude-filled moshpit that is the world of rock.

Now I can find out almost anything I want about the man.  From Homme’s collection of weird guitars[viii] to the somewhat infamous footage of him loosing his cool at a concert in 2008[ix].  Everything is there, pixellated and ready to download.  Fortunately Homme has maintained his sharp sense of humour and while he has developed something of a rock star attitude, he generally comes across as a likeable guy, someone you could sink a beer or two with.

What does this mean?  Without his ever-growing web presence I think it would be harder for Homme to maintain his career. The music audience has come to expect a steady stream of interviews, live footage and miscellanea to sustain interest in an artist.  Fan-made clips and shaky camera phone recordings augment the glut of professional digital media available, padding out an already large cyber presence.  But by no means has Homme saturated the market.  In the current climate of Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber and their ilk he still remains on the fringe, even with Them Crooked Vultures, his latest project where he has reunited with Dave Grohl and rounded out the band with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin.

TCV hit the ground the running and over a period of months went from nothing more than an intriguing concept flagged on a blog post to headlining venues and festivals around the globe.  Tantalising fans with a well-conceived drip feed of studio footage and live clips, TCV (and their management) cleverly used modern communication channels to drum up interest prior to their album’s release.  In a world where illegal downloads threaten the livelihoods of all those involved with recorded music such an approach is now necessary.

This manufactured mystique captured the public’s attention but ultimately left me feeling a bit hollow.  Yes, I watched a bunch of youtube clips and got the gist of what was going on.  But of all Homme’s many projects over the last 15 years (he is a truly prolific collaborator) this one left me the least intrigued.  The whole gestation of TCV had been manipulated to the extent that when the band finally entered my world, I didn’t really care.  There was no magic.  Despite the behind the scenes spontaneity that Homme, Jones and Grohl undoubtedly experienced, I felt like the whole product was being force fed to me.  Not that TCV is a bad band – their tunes seem to be more or less worthy given the group’s much heralded genetics – it’s just that they somehow seem to lack that magic that Homme’s earlier recordings have.

As it becomes easier to build up an extensive archive of an artist, where every recording and performance can be downloaded, where every interview and blog post can be scrutinized, artists have become more accessible than ever before.  Fans have almost instant access to the minutiae of their idols.  It is easier for established artists to step away from this trend.  Their fanbase is already established.  But struggling artists seeking to make a name for themselves need to harness the digital media machine to get their ‘product’ out there.  To do this and somehow maintain an aura of mystery seems to me to be a challenge.  With over-exposure it is easy to tire of an artist and move on to the next emerging sound, of which there will be always be a dozen emerging micro-genres to pick and choose from.

Who knows, Homme is an artist who fortunately shows no sign of burning out after two decades of recording.  There will no doubt be much more to come from him.  And sure enough, I’ll be at my keyboard, waiting for news of the next project he has up his sleeve.  I just hope that it blows in like a cloud of sand from the desert rather than appear on my twitter feed as a micro-managed meme.

(Photo by Craig Carper, source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/giarc80/3976623459/)


[i] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAXGu81Rk1g - ‘One Inch Man’ from And the Circus Leave Town (Kyuss, 1995)

[ii] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc-7FXzbeA0 - ‘Green Machine’ from Blues for the Red Sun (Kyuss, 1992)

[iii] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAXPUN2z2CE - ‘Feelgood Hit of the Summer’ from R (Queens of the Stoneage, 2000)

[iv] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s88r_q7oufE - ‘No One Knows’ from Songs for the Deaf (Queens of the Stoneage, 2002)

[v] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPFhyd3fabs - generator party in the Californian desert (Kyuss, c.1993)

[vi] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pMfqZGg-FA ‘Gardenia’ from Welcome to Sky Valley, live in 1995 (Kyuss, 1994)

[vii] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j4A2iGgQQk ‘Asteroid’ from Welcome to Sky Valley, live on Videomusic (Kyuss, 1994)

[viii] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY_O3eo1m1Q ‘Josh Homme’s cathedral pipe guitar’

[ix] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfZm32tpWY8 - ‘Josh Homme (QOTSA) pissed off @ Norwegian Wood’


Wednesday, 23 June 2010 11:26

Project 2304 + 1

 
Shih Wei-Chieh is a young taiwanese visual artist. One of his many projects combining modern technology and software with traditional arts was in this co-operation with Li Jiexin. In this piece he uses his musical background and objective art to rebuild a new story with no preconceptions as the movements of Jiexin's body interplay with and change the music and image.

 

Watch below a video of the 2304+1 performance

 

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

{gallery}stories/July_2010_Focus/Formosa_Aboriginal{/gallery}

Photos by Huang YuShun

 


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 13:17

New Year as a time for self-reflection

Li-chun highlights some absurdities generated by the conflict between tradition and modernity, between one's duty and one's desires.


Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

Treasure and Treachery

Poetic exploration of a treacherous island.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009 21:23

Prayer with Salt and Pepper

Jerry Martinson, S.J., shares with us his ways of praying and meditating.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008 00:00

One day at KPS

9-minutes documentary directed and produced by the eRenlai team (2008).

 

 


Thursday, 19 October 2006 20:39

The unhappy ending of the misguided philantropist

There is a lesson to be learned in that story...

This is a fable about a man named Joe who dedicated his life to the poor and the oppressed but he always insisted on doing it his on way...

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Monday, 09 October 2006 00:00

Confucius meets Euclid

Some say, that without a Xu Guangqi, there would be no Matteo Ricci. What follows is the script and video of part 2 of a DVD produced conjointly by Kuangchi Program Studios and Jiangsu TV. The present excerpt deals with an important episode in the spiritual history of China: the encounter between the Confucean Minister Xu Guangqi and the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci...To purchase the full version of the DVD  《Paul Xu Guangqi, China's man for all seasons》 contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Kuangchi Program Service of Taipei. Also available are educational documentaries on Matteo Ricci, Fr. Adam Schall vo Bell and Fr. Francis Xavier.
 
 

It is a clear morning in Macerata—a small hillside town in Eastern Italy.

In Europe, one sees many villages like this, ancient and peaceful.

Being in Macerata seems like living in another age.

An exhibition is taking place in one of the oldest buildings of the village. The topic is The History of Discovery and Science in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

On this world map, dated 1508, the outlines of the eastern world are still quite vague. 500 years ago, the maker of this map referred to the far-off and mysterious land of China as “Cathay.”

Marco Polo’s discoveries had caused a sensation in Europe. But in order to clarify this still very fuzzy picture of the world, more Marco Polos would be required.

This burial tablet, located on the left side of the exhibition room, commemorates just such a person.

In November 1610, the Chinese Emperor Wanli decreed that the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci would be granted the extraordinary privilege of a true Chinese burial.

Tian Sen Doctoral Student, History of Natural Science, Chinese Academy of Science

Some people asked the scholar Ye Xianggao why Matteo Ricci was being given a Chinese burial. For foreigners, this had never been allowed. Ye Xianggao replied that Ricci’s translation of Euclid’s Elements alone warranted this honor.

At that time, this classic work on mathematics was regarded with the highest esteem. It remains a witness to a remarkable period in the history of East-West cultural exchange.

The heroes of this story are Matteo Ricci and his Chinese student, Xu Guangqi.

In 1601, the year after Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi met for the first time in Nanjing, Ricci received news that created great excitement throughout the entire Jesuit community. The Chinese Emperor had summoned Matteo Ricci to the Forbidden City for an audience.

Zhu Weijing Professor of History, Fudan University

It was through his alarm clock, through his map, through his western paintings—these things had already won the admiration of the Wanli Emperor. When he arrived, Ricci had not foreseen that he would one day use these articles to open the Palace gates. But he was also somewhat constrained by them. When Ricci was in Beijing, although he had unlocked the door to the Imperial Court, he was given a major assignment. He became an Imperial Clockmaker!

We have no way of knowing Ricci’s feelings in accepting this appointment. But fortunately, this monotonous and tedious existence only lasted for three years.

One morning in 1604, a familiar figure pushed open the door of the Nantang Church in Beijing. The arrival of this person marked a happy day for Matteo Ricci . . . and an even happier day for the entire country.

Xu Guangqi, now 43 years old, had finally passed the jinshi Imperial Examination. Although his score was not outstanding, his senior classmate, jinshi Huang Tiren, transferred to Xu his membership in the prestigious Hanlin Academy. This position required that Xu Guangqi remain in Beijing.

Now after a three-year separation, Xu Guangqi finally had frequent opportunities to study with Matteo Ricci.

By this time, Xu Guangqi was already a devout Catholic. He assisted Ricci in publishing several books on religious doctrine.

But these books alone were not enough to satisfy Xu Guangqi. He had an urgent desire to know exactly where China was situated among the earth’s territories. He also wanted to know whether China was ahead of or lagging behind Ricci’s Europe.

Xu Guangqi discussed with Ricci his questions and quandaries. Ricci said to him, “When I came from Europe, I passed by a hundred countries on the way. Compared to all of them, China’s Confucian Rites and Music System is the most brilliant in the entire world.”

Then why is China at the mercy of natural disasters, Xu asked. Why do famines still occur?

Ricci suggested that the main reason was that scientific skills were still not sufficiently developed in China.”

Ricci’s answer opened the eyes of this high ranking official to the Empire’s weakest area.

Xu Guangqi suggested that they publish some books on European science. Matteo Ricci accepted this suggestion. It did not take long for them to decide which book to translate. Ricci made it clear to Xu Guangqi that unless they first translated Euclid’s Elements, translations of other works would be meaningless.

Why was Matteo Ricci so convinced of the importance of the Elements?

St. Ignatius Church in Italy is named after the founder of the Jesuit Order, Ignatius Loyola. For several centuries, the sound of the bell emanating from this church has influenced Jesuit missionaries all around the world. The Roman College, where Matteo Ricci studied, is located behind this church.

On the roof of the church, the stone foundation of an astronomical telescope can still be found today. This moment reminds us of the eminent and sacred position this church college holds in the history of natural science.

400 years ago a new subject just introduced into the college curriculum attracted great interest among the young seminarians. The textbook for this course had been arranged and compiled from Euclid’s Elements by the famous European mathematician, Fr. Christopher Clavius. This work ignited the enthusiasm of many students for science. Among them were Galileo and Kepler, later to become known throughout the world.

Christopher Clavius taught Matteo Ricci mathematics based on this textbook.

In 1577, when the 26-year-old Matteo Ricci left Rome for the East, the textbook was packed in his trunk. But compared to his world map, reproduced so many times from its stone tablet, the Elements did not spark that much interest among the Chinese.

In 1592, a scholar named Qu Taisu had collaborated with Ricci in the translation of the first volume of Euclid’s Elements. Why didn’t their collaboration continue? Some say that it is because at that time Ricci was dealing with certain obstacles to his mission, and had little interest in continuing the translation of this work.

Qu Taisu was only doing the translation to benefit his own studies and to demonstrate his talent and learning. After completing the first volume he made a grand exit.

Later while Ricci was still in Nanjing, a man named Zhang Yangmo tried repeatedly to translate the Elements, but did not receive support from Ricci. Why did Ricci refuse to continue translating the Elements with Zhang? The answer is still uncertain. Ricci, in his diary, confirms Zhang’s intelligence and eagerness to learn and states that he was studying Euclid’s first volume on his own without a teacher. But he also writes that Chang Yangmo refused to discuss with him how to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ. Perhaps Ricci was waiting for someone who was both sincerely devoted to Jesus Christ and also naturally gifted.

Going back to the winter of 1606, Xu Guangqi was beginning to increase the frequency of his trips between the Hanlin Academy and Nantang. Several hundred lis from there, war broke out in Liaodong. For a time this development did not affect Xu Guangqi too much. He appeared promptly each afternoon at Nantang. Here, a teacher of wide learning and great talent and a school of broad and profound scholarship awaited him.

For this diligent and studious Eastern pupil, the early stages of the translation went rather smoothly. This is because Xu and Ricci adhered to the original order of the Elements. First they translated definitions, axioms, and formulas, and rarely dealt with logical deduction and proving theorems. Furthermore, they were able to refer to Qu Taisu’s and Zhang Yangmo’s earlier translations of the first volume. But after that, translation became more and more difficult.

Dr. Filippo Mignini – Professor, University of Macerata

Ricci himself said that Xu Guangqi moreless compelled him to translate this book. In the book’s preface, Ricci states that they worked four hours a day for a year and a half without interruption researching Euclid’s Geometry.

Ricci translated the original text into Chinese and simultaneously explained its subject matter to Xu Guangqi who wrote it out in Chinese. Xu Guangqi expended great effort in understanding Euclid’s Geometry, which was actually the logic of the West.

At that time in China, no one understood western logic, making Xu’s task extremely difficult.

Altogether, they translated the work three times. Ricci said that only two Chinese were able to master geometry. One was Xu Guangqi; the other was Li Zhizao. All the rest, although they tried hard, just could not grasp it.

This was a way of thinking very difficult for Chinese of that age to comprehend. Matteo Ricci’s verbal explanations and Xu Guangqi’s written accounts built a bridge of East-West cultural exchange that crossed the language barrier.

But to change from thinking in terms of images to logical thought required a thoroughgoing revolution of the reasoning process.

This revolution was taking place quietly and attracting more and more participants. Besides Xu Guangqi and Matteo Ricci, Chinese scholars such as Yang Tingyun, Li Zhizao, Ye Xianggao, and Jesuit missionary priests Diego de Pantoja and Sabatino de Ursis were among them.

By spring of 1607, Xu Guangqi and Matteo Ricci finally completed their translation of the first six volumes of the Elements. The final text was already their third version.

In Miscellaneous Discussions on the Elements, Xu Guangqi reveals his overflowing excitement after successfully completing the translation:

He who understands this book can comprehend all books.
He who masters this book can master all learning.
Only through geometry can one fully understand the rest.
Remaining closed to it closes oneself to everything else.

Dr. Filippo Mignini – Professor, University of Macerata

Whenever, I think of the two of them meeting and engaging in research and discussion of Euclid’s Geometry, I am deeply moved. Their problem was not just to achieve a superficial understanding of each other. Their problem was to translate two different systems of logic. That meant going beyond the translation of words, sentences, and equations, and translating the logic they were based on. This was a truly magnificent achievement—one of their most outstanding accomplishments. It was one of the greatest gifts that Matteo Ricci gave to China and also one of the greatest gifts Xu Guangqi gave to Europe. In completing this monumental task, each one’s contribution was equally great. Without either one of them, it could not have been done.

Mao Shuzhi Professor of History in Late Ming, Fudan University

Xu Guangqi, in his preface, states that this book could bring about a method of scientific thinking beyond geometry. He also says that he believes that after a hundred years, the book would be widely used. And that is exactly what happened. Xu opened the eyes of the Chinese to a new world of mathematics.

Ricci was delighted with the successful translation. He was full of praise for Xu Guangqi. But as for Xu Guangqi’s suggestion that they continue translating the remainder, Matteo Ricci then approaching his sixtieth year tactfully declined. It is an historical fact that when Ricci left the Roman College he had only studied the first six volumes. The mathematical horizon of the Chinese people was thereby limited to those six volumes for many years to come.

About this same time, Matteo Ricci’s former classmate Galileo was receiving acclaim for producing the world’s first astronomical telescope.

This had directed the attention of all Europe toward the depths of a much wider universe.

In spring of 1607, knowing that they would not continue translating the remainder of the Elements, Xu Guangqi printed the first six volumes. Shortly after the publication, Xu’s father died. Xu left Beijing and returned to his ancestral home in Shanghai. Xu always regretted being unable to translate the remainder of the Elements. He realized that this was a loss, not only for himself, but for the entire country.

In spring of 1608, when Xu was in Shanghai, he received the final edition of the Elements, approved and authorized by Matteo Ricci. Ricci hoped that he could print another edition of the Elements in the South.

Xu Guangqi also used this time at home to finalize another work that he and Ricci had translated together—Principles of Measurement.

Although one of them was in Beijing and the other in Shanghai, their cooperative translation projects were never interrupted. It seemed as if all this was only the beginning of their collaboration.

But 1610, in the 38th year of the Wanli Emperor’s reign, during the third and last year of the mourning period for his father required by the Imperial Rites, Xu Guangqi received word that Matteo Ricci had died in Beijing.

The dramatic opening movement of their joint symphony had come to an abrupt end and had become instead its final movement.

Matteo Ricci, at age 57, had lived for years in the dry, cold climate of the Imperial Capital. From the day he left his home country at the age of 26, he would never again enjoy the bright Mediterranean sun and its cool breezes. This Jesuit missionary spent the latter half of his life sharing his knowledge of modern western science, technology and thought with Chinese, enabling them to explore new horizons. At the same time, he was the first one to present Chinese moral and religious thought to Europe, laying the foundation for future Chinese studies.

Fr. Thomas Reddy, SJ - Director of Archives – Jesuit Curia, Rome

This is the bone of Matteo Ricci. It was sent to us after the excavation in Beijing where he is buried, as a sense of ‘relic.’ We call it a relic. For the Catholics, it is a symbol of holiness. Matteo Ricci has this thing of holiness for what he did for China and for the Society of Jesus. That is why we have his bones here with us here in the archives.

Matteo Ricci died on May 11th. In December of the same year, Xu Guangqi completed the required three-year mourning period for his father and returned to Beijing. He arrived too late to bid farewell to his old friend.

During summer of the following year, Beijing experienced many days of heavy rain. In his home, Xu once again returned to the Elements. Together with Jesuit missionaries Diego de Pantoja and Sabatino de Ursis they reviewed the translation, made various corrections and additions, and published it again.

At this time, Xu Guangqi knew that, due to Ricci’s death, he would probably never be able to complete the translation of the remaining nine volumes of the Elements. His feelings were far from the elation he experienced at the first publication of the Elements. He wrote a new preface to this edition recalling the entire process of translation and ended it with a lyrical lamentation:

The completion of this great work—
Who knows when it will be done?
Who knows who will do it?
The book lies waiting.

Opening the Qing Dynasty edition of the Elements, in the library where it is now preserved, on the first page of the seventh volume, one finds the signature of the translators—Andrew Wylie from England and Li Shanlan from Haining.

In Chinese history, this took place during the reign of the fourth to last Emperor—Xian Feng.

At that time, since Ricci’s and Xu Guangqi’s translation and publication of the first six volumes of Euclid’s Elements, exactly 250 years had gone by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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