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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Observing indigenous peoples in Japan and Taiwan, Taiwanese Indigenous Poet Monanung talks about the common plight of indigenous peoples around the world and gives a pessimistic prediction of the future of Taiwanese aboriginal culture...
Marco Casagrande is now principle at the Ruin Academy at the JUT Foundation's Urban Core Arts Block as well as professor at the Department of Architecture at Danjiang University, Taipei. After his group was given a studio on the block, his group built the Ruin Academy, and even produced a whole magazine on the groups theory, practice and projects - Anarchist Gardener - the rest of which can be viewed here. Their conception of space are wildly beyond the current mainstream practice bent on urban development, beautification and modernization at all costs. Here, Marco lays out some of his main ideas in Taipei.
Acupuncture is the procedure of inserting and manipulating needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes.
Urban planning integrates land use planning and transportation planning to improve the built, economic and social environments of communities.
Urban design concerns the arrangement, appearance and functionality of towns and cities, and in particular the shaping and uses of urban public space.
Environmental art is art dealing with ecological issues and possibly in political, historical or social context.
Sociology is a science of human social activity.
Anarchy is acting without waiting for instructions or official permission. The root of anarchism is the single impulse to do it yourself: everything else follows from this.
The community gardens and urban farms of Taipei are astonishing. They pop up like mushrooms on the degenerated, neglected or sleeping areas of the city, which could be referred to as urban composts.
These areas are operating outside the official urban control or the economic standard mechanisms. They are voids in the urban structure that suck in ad-hoc community actions and present a platform for anarchy through gardening.
For the vitality of Taipei, the networks of the anarchist gardens seem to provide a positive social disorder; positive terrorism. They are tuning the industrial city towards the organic, towards accident and in this sense they are ruining the modern urbanism. They are punctual organic revolutions and the seeds of the Third Generation City, the organic ruin of the industrial city.
Corners are windy
Claude Lévi-Strauss believes in the beauty of the human nature as part of nature. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno lost all the hope for the industrial development and said it has failed the promise of the Enlightment - it had corrupted humanity. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalke (Mosfilm, 1979) is taking sophisticated people into the Zone, where their deepest wishes may come true. The Zone which is the organic ruin mirroring the surrounding mechanical reality. For the Strugatsky brothers (Arkady & Boris) the Zone was a Roadside Picnic (1972, Moscow).
The community gardens of Taipei are Roadside Picnic. Grandmothers can take us there, like Stalker. The honorable Lévi-Strauss could be happy to start new ethnographical research between the parallel realities of the cultures of the urban compost gardens and the surrounding city – the reversed modernization and focusing in Local Knowledge. Horkheimer’s & Adorno’s graves should be moved in one of these urban acupuncture spots of Taipei. Here even they would find hope, surrounded by the valueless modernity and hard industrialism. Prof. Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila has said: “The valueless void of the society of today will be filled with ethics: the corners are windy.” With the recognition of the urban farms and community gardens Taipei has found its corners.
What is the ethics then pushing through these corners into the city? It could be called Local Knowledge, site-specific reactions building a bridge between the modern man and nature. The gardens of Taipei, these acupuncture points, are penetrating through the industrial surface of the city and reaching the original ground. The self organized community gardens are the urban acupuncture needles of Taipei. Local Knowledge is in connection with the first generation city, when the built human environment was dependent on nature and regulated by nature. Now the anarchist gardeners are regulating the industrial city.
Dominate the no-man’s land
The community gardens are taking over abandoned construction sites and ruined housing areas, empty city-blocks waiting for development, flood banks of the rivers and even grave-yards out of fashion. In many cases the gardens are flourishing on spots of land where the land-owner issues are unsettle or complicated. Sometimes the garden will stay in the spot for only a couple of years, as in the cases of soon to be developed areas and sometimes the urban farming has decades long traditions as with the river flood plains or on the island in-between Zhongxiao and Zhongshing bridges. The smaller urban farms are flexible and eager to overtake the empty spots of the city, eager to dominate the no-man’s land.
Treasure Hill in 2003 (Photo: Stephen Wilde)
One of the more famous urban farming communities of Taipei was the Treasure Hill settlement, originally an illegal community of KMT veterans. During its legitimating process Treasure Hill became so famous that eventually the original community was kicked away by the city government and the houses were taken over by artists and art related organizations. All the farms were destroyed on the process. Sounds like urban warfare against urban acupuncture. Treasure Hill was powerful and self-sustained when it was illegal. The community built its own houses and its own farms and it made its own rules. The official city wanted to eliminate this unofficial organic rival. NGOs found the issue sexy and stepped in to protect and legitimize the settlement. In the end the NGOs and artists took over the now-famous community and hooked up with the city government. The original urban farmers didn’t fit the picture anymore and had to leave. Now you can listen gansta-rap in a yellow plastic tent where the gardens used to be. Local knowledge died.
But Treasure Hill is not alone. Urban farming happens through different social classes and through out the city. The socially disordered citizens are ready to occupy land and start the community farms over and over again. Some acupuncture spots get hot and benefit the surrounding urban tissue while others fade away. The industrial surface of the city keeps constantly being broken up and herbs and vegetables are planted into the cracks. People are ruining the industrial city. Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature.
Compared to Western cities Taipei plays in quite different rules. The aesthetics of the city is dominated by the functionality of a big collective machine and the urban mechanism is constantly being edited and rendered as with changing the micro-chips or other parts of a super-computer into more powerful ones. The urban data is people and this is what the machine needs to process. Mostly it goes smoothly, but also people get viruses – they get together to spontaneous demonstrations, they do tai-chi in improvised city-corners, they launch ad-hoc night markets or under-bridge sales on temporarily occupied streets or city corners. And they do farms – they are squeezing organic material into the machine like a creeper crawling into an air-conditioning box. Why they do this? Why does the nature want to break the machine?
Developers are the true urban editors. They are linked with the city authorities and necessary political powers and they make the urban editing. Architects are in a secondary role – something like the hyenas after the lions have made the kill. Money is a good consultant and the generating force of the developer run urban editing process. This is not urban acupuncture though; it is more like a western style medical practice – operations on the body removing, changing or maintaining parts – or even plastic surgery. (Oh, Shanghai has bigger tits than Taipei.) The body is not necessarily seen as one big organism.
In this rough editing process the anarchist gardeners seem to act as micro-editors, parasites benefiting of the slow circles of the big-scale development. They occupy the not so sexy areas of the city and they jump in the more sleepy parts of the development cycle. For example – the developer buys a whole city block with originally many land-owners. The process is slow because he has to negotiate with all of them. While the process is dragging behind the urban farmers step in and start farming the area. The developer doesn’t want to cause any more fuss and let it happen. It takes 3-5 years before the developer has got all the area to his possession and those same years the site acts as the community garden. When the actual construction starts the gardeners have already occupied a next vacant spot in the city.
Third Generation City
First generation city was the human settlement in straight connection with nature and dependent on nature. The fertile and rich Taipei basing provided a fruitful environment for such a settlement. The rivers were full of fish and good for transportation and the mountains protected the farmed plains from the straightest hits of the frequent typhoons.
The second generation city is the industrial city. Industrialism claimed the citizen’s independence from nature – a mechanical environment could provide human everything needed. Nature was seen as something un-necessary or as something hostile – it was walled away from the mechanical reality.
Third Generation City is the organic ruin of the industrial city. The community gardens of Taipei are fragments of the third generation urbanism when they exist together with the industrial surroundings. Local Knowledge is present in the city and this is where Ruin Academy focuses its research. Among the urban gardeners are the local knowledge professors of Taipei. Third Generation City is true when the city recognizes its local knowledge and allows itself to be part of nature.
The 101 Community Garden besides the Taipei Word Trade Center. Photo: Isis Kang.
Photos courtesy of M. Casagrande
第六站 - 溫哥華島 - 維多利亞市 - 維多利亞原住民友誼中心 (Victoria Aboriginal Friendship Centre, VAFC)
「在維多利亞原住民友誼中心接待我們的Mr. Bruce Parisian，便提到保留地原住民從部落到城市工作的艱辛歷程，這何嘗不是台灣都會原住民遇到的問題？我們的政府因都市更新將城市內的部落強制拆除，對此我們要如何因應？此中心是由不到十位的都會原住民創立，他們在一間不到十坪的辦公室，自發性地寫企畫、向民間團體與政府單位申請經費，在一番努力之下，政府與民間團體紛紛願意投資合作，我覺得這樣的耕耘相當值得借鏡。」
Filmed and edited by C. Phiv, subtitled by Vica Zhuhan
Photos: Top: Richard Chen Down: Shu-ching Hsueh
第五站 - 溫哥華島 - 維多利亞大學 原住民衛生研究中心 (Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, CAHR)
── 陳平 Rimuy Watan - 陽明大學臨床暨社區護理研究所碩士班二年級 - 泰雅族
── 陳至宏 Gyusi Meihua - 國立東華大學民族語言與傳播學系三年級 - 泰雅族
── 李慕凡Wilang Watah - 陽明大學醫學系四年級 - 泰雅族
Filmed by Cerise Phiv, edited by Nick Coulson, subtitled by Yenching Chu
Photo by C. Phiv
第四站 - 溫哥華 - 英屬哥倫比亞大學 第一民族學習中心
教育問題是目前全世界原住民運動的核心。除了介紹第一民族中心在促進原住民教育方面的角色，Rick Ouellet 和 Debra Martel也告訴我們，加拿大教育體制如何因應原住民的文化處境來運作，又有哪些政策、計畫成功地被執行。譬如英屬哥倫比亞省開創先例的政策─所有該省的教師都必須修習原住民研究課程。第一民族中心也正在一些原住民區域推展一項工作，讓想要獲得學位的人，能在他們畢業 後能夠回到他們的社區，且仍有足夠的就業機會。
「在UBC裡的第一民族學習中心裡，擺設與建築物外觀均夾帶著第一民族的濃厚味道，但對我們來說那正是最真實、活用的教科書。教授說，畢業的 學生一定要有一個畢業成品，因為走出這個學習第一民族文化的地方，代表你學習到了自己的文化，那樣的意義多麼深重啊！... 再者，因我讀的學校是有著台灣第一所原住民族學院的大學，可是就跟上面的問題一樣，其實是相當薄弱的，只有一個院碑就象徵了民族學院似乎不夠。我們是不是 可以思考有甚麼更好的想法去裝置這樣一個學院，讓人家更看得到我們呢？」
「在民族學習中心的訪談對話中，我了解到第一民族的教育體制及福利制度，迥異於台灣將民族教育及一般教育分開執行，政府根據學 校或地方提出申請欲實施的民族教育，撥預算幫助實施。 整個行程裡，從自治、公衛、教育、文化產業行銷四個大方向，瞭解及探討加拿大第一民族。從中，我反思到台灣是個多元族群的社會，雖早已倡導尊重多元文化， 政府在制度上也給予原住民許多福利及補助，像是加分機制、推展鄉土文化教育、補助金等等，然而根據文獻資料顯示，仍未見良好績效。或許是因為政府用的是主 流文化思維在幫助原住民族群，卻很少以原住民族的文化思維、生活習性等立場去看待問題。例如中小學的教材裡，未曾出現任何原住民族相關知識，使得原住民孩 童在學習上因文化差異，顯得較主流族群孩童處於弱勢。在維多利亞大學公共衛生研究中心時，他們說：『現在你們年輕人就是一群很強大的力量。』這句話提醒 我，應該多重視原住民族的教育問題，特別是文化教育，這關係到一族群的消逝危機。」
Video filmed by C. Phiv and D. Chen, edited by N. Coulson, subtitled by Yenching Chu
Photos by C. Phiv