Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ABC Wednesday: F is for a Fine Day; Sky Watch Friday; Weekend Reflection; Today's Flower

Some of you may notice that I have posted another "F" for ABC Wednesday, but Grace thinks that one is too sad and heavy, so I post a happier one here. Sunday, February 14 was Valentine's day but it is also the first day of Chinese New Year. This year, it is the year of tiger. Both China and Taiwan has 9-day holiday. But the weather in Taipei was cloudy, rainy and cold (15℃). After two days holed up in Taipei, Grace and I decided to take the High Speed Train to Kaohsiung, the Southern port city of Taiwan. It is 250 km from Taipei and the train ride was about 1 1/2 hour. We left early in the morning of Tuesday, February 16.

The cold front had moved south with us, the weather in Kaohsiung was also not ideal. The first place we visited is an old temple by a lake. There are two towers on the lake and connected to the temple by a zig-zag bridge. The special things of the towers are the tiger and dragon in front of it.

We walk in through the mouth of the dragon of the first tower and come out from the second tower through the mouth of tiger. Since both Grace and I are dragons in Chinese zodiac, and this is The Year of Tiger, it was fitting that we visited this temple and hope it will bring us luck this year.

We then had a fabulous lunch in a Spanish restaurant. The chef is a real Spaniard. It is located by the River of Love of Kaohsiung. Both the food and decor are very authentic.

After lunch, we went to visit the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art. The museum is in a new development district of the city. The modern architecture is located in a very large park. A lot of kids were in line to view the exhibition of "PIXAR 20 Years of Animation", which we skipped.

No camera was allowed in the museum, so we show here the beautiful lotus and water lily in the pond of the park.

It was a long day already, we had a three-hour rest in a Motel. Taiwan's motel has nothing to do with the motel by the highway in the US. Each motel room is like a film set, often with swimming pool in the private garden. After we have fully rested, we visited again the "Dome of Light" at the main station of Kaoshiung Rapid Transit. It was created by Italian Maestro Narcissus Quagliata. We have visited it last year with Grace's father.

Here you can see Grace was photographing the Dome. There were musicians playing under the Dome, the acoustic was fantastic.

It was late when we finished photographing the Dome. We went to the famous night market by the station to have some dinner/snack. There were so many people that we were totally squeezed. But the food was delicious and it was time for us to catch the train to go back to Taipei. Although the weather was not too cooperating, overall it was a fine day out.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.
To see mor skys from around the world click here.
To see more flowers from around the world click here.
To see more entries of Weekend Reflections click here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

ABC Wednesday: F is for Farmers

Continuous with our last blog, we are showing here another "creation" of Cai Guo-Qiang. Again, this work is not his usual dynamite and fireworks, and it is not even by him strictly speaking. The original piece is called "Rent Collection Courtyard" was an art/propaganda piece created during the Chinese Culture Revolution to highlight the horrors of Chinese feudal past. In 1996, for the Venice Biennale, Cai brought in dozens of Chinese academically trained sculptors to recreate the piece, which consisted of 100 life-size figures. It won the Leone d"Oro Prize.

The figures were sculptured by clay and they were not baked, thus not permanent. Many of the figures were cracked or disintegrated due to drying and due to assembling and disassembling. This situation added another dimension to the exhibition.

The gentleman in the first picture seems to be benign enough looking over three women. From the front, his mean facial expression is shocking. He represents the agent of the land owner, he is holding a bull-wip in his hand with a mean looking dog on his side.

Here is a farmer. He is crushed (literally) and totally bending over by the heavy weight of the bag that he carried on his back. Does the weight of the bag represent the weight of thousands of years of the past of China's rural community? But look at his expression, he does not show any resentment or hatred, just blank.

But he looks sad, from his hat, he should be a communist party member. But why does he look sad? Was he caught by the KMT officials?

He looks helpless, he has the typical costume of a clerk working for the land owner. He is caught in the struggle between the land owning class and the working mass.

Here is the revolutionary, handsome, determined man who is filled with hatred.

Finally the land owner, looking distracted, seems to be pondering on the end of several thousand years of the Chinese rural life ending under his watch. He is about to be marched to the village courtyard to be publicly prosecuted, sentenced and executed. A local hooligan is watching behind his back.

This is the most haunting figure. Half of the boy's body is already disintegrated and is let on the ground in the courtyard of the museum under the rain. His empty glass eyes staring at us.

The original exhibition in Venice set off a prolonged debate on Culture Revolution, propaganda, art and originality. Twenty to thirty of the figures are exhibited now at a special exhibition of Cai Guo-Qiang at Taipei Fine Art Museum.

I normally do not like to photograph art work. If I photographed a painting and worked on it in the Photoshop, should I say that I created an even better image than the original? But for this exhibition, I do feel differently. Did I catch the meaning that the original sculptors tried to convey or did I infuse my own feeling of the era into these images?

Be sure to click on the images to enlarge them to see the details of the sculptures.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Camera-Critters #98: Head On

"Head On" is an artwork made by Cai Guo-Qiang for his exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany in 2006. He is world famous for his use of dynamites on his large scale paintings and fire works. One of his more famous work is his fireworks for the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony in 2008.

In this piece, he used 99 wolves marching toward an invisible glass wall and crashing down. One interpretation is that it symbolizes the reunification of East and West Germany. Although the physical wall had come down, the rushing of the unification movement crashed with the unseen wall of social and cultural differences between the East and West.

My personal interpretation is to do with the more recent movement in China of referring Chinese not as the descendants of dragon as in traditional mythology, but as the descendants of wolves of the Central Asia plain. Historically speaking, this may be true, even the very first dynasty of China was formed by the invading barbarians from the Central Asia. Genetically, human race also migrated from Africa through Central Asia to reach China. However, the wolf movement has more to do with asking Chinese to be more aggressive. Is this "Head On", an interpretation of this movement?

There is a major exhibition of his work in the Taipei Fine Art Museum during the past several months and it is where I took the picture. The figure at the left hand side of the picture is Grace.

To see more Camera-Critters from around the world click here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

ABC Wednesday: D is for Sailee's New Dress

For the Christmas, my sister gave our granddaughter, Sailee, a pretty new dress. As the kids now go to kindergarden either in sweat pants or jeans, the opportunity of putting on a proper dress is not that often. But, on the other hand, they grow so fast, in no time, they will out grow their clothes.

My daughter and I were determined to put the dress on her and took some photographs. She loved it so much and keep on saying, pretty, pretty.

But, for some reasons, she refused to keep steady to let me photograph her and I had to chase after her all over the house.

To see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Reflections: New York City

I (Grace) was in New York City two weeks ago. I finished my business meeting in the morning and had a few hours before leaving for the airport. It was a chilly but sunny day. I started out from my hotel on the 42nd Street which is next to the Grand Central Station. You can see the contrast of the modern glass building and the classical landmark.

This is the impressive interior of the huge hall of the Grand Central Station.

Well, it was time for a late lunch. You can see the window reflections onto two bold-colored vases.

Here is the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral on the 5th Avenue. Its delicate stone work and the clouds reflect onto the modern glass building.

Finally I passed by a shop window. You can see the reflections of St. Patrick's Cathedral and me on the window. The "life model" was in the middle of arranging the display.

To see more entries of weekend reflections, click here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Skywatch Friday: Connecticut Coast

Continued on my trip to Connecticut on November 2, 2009, after photographing the red maple tree in front of the Grace Episcopal Church at Old Saybrook, I drove on Rt. 1 along the Atlantic coast and passed by many interesting small towns. My day trip to Connecticut was coming to an end, a glorious sunset on the Atlantic ocean was saying farewell to me, it was time for me to get back on Interstate 95 and head home.

To see more sky from around the world click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

ABC Wednesday: C is for Connecticut

After the photographic tour of Yosemite and Eastern Sierra last October. I flew back to Cape Cod to spend two weeks at our US home. After the fall colors of the Sierra, I was quite determined to photograph some fall colors of New England. The fall season already came almost to an end, I thought in order to get fall foliage I need to go south instead of north. Thus, I took the trip to the farm land and Atlantic coast of Connecticut.

On November 2, I drove south on Highway 95 from Massachusetts toward Connecticut. Just as it crosses into Connecticut, I turned onto Rt. 46 toward north and drove through some of the oldest farm land in the country. Some of them have been in the same family since before the revolutionary war.

I then turned west on Rt. 14, which took me to Canterbury. I crossed this unused old railroad track just before I reached the town.

After Canterbury, I took Rt. 169 to join Interstate 395. On Rt. 169, I passed by this old water mill. It is a private home now, but the view is so old New England.

A yellow maple leave floated on the brook by the mill reminded me of the end of fall season. After Interstate 395 joined 95, I took Rt. 9 to make a detour to visit the old Essex village.

The red and yellow maple trees, which provides the true color of New England fall foliage, do not grow naturally in abundance in the Connecticut countryside. After the Essex Village, I drove toward the Atlantic coast and arrived at Old Saybrook. Here I finally got my perfect Red Maple in front of the Grace Episcopal Church of Saybrook.

A red maple tree at the peak of its fall color in front of an old New England Church, what more could I ask.

Too see more entries of ABC Wednesday click here.


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