Sunday, March 28, 2010

A photograph says a thousand words...but to whom?

Greatness is thrust into the open world for all to see, but only at times, can the perspective eye appreciate such awesome wonders. I've spent a good time looking through past photos of my venturings here in Taiwan and while they are great to look at and bring back memories of old, I think I am left with a stumped feeling. For I think, why am I looking at these pictures of experiences that were rather than experiencing the now. I think photographs do an okay job at taking in the experience and sharing it with others. People who want to know that I'm safe, that I'm having fun, that I'm still Brandon can look at these pictures as proof of relying on such introspective ideas. In a broader scope though, the photograph really doesn't explain a whole lot, the photo leaves the viewer with only a glimmer of the true experience.

A single image can say a thousand words, but to whom? These words are meant for the one experiencing them, not for the viewer to decide. That's what I find most haunting about a photograph, is that it can be the most mesmerizing thing, yet at the same time, be the most deceivable. It is impossible for a photograph to take on the job of representing the day-to-day depth of being in the moment and living up to the breadth of that moment, the intricacies behind the smells of cedar, the layers of mountain tops, the feeling of sunken grass beneath the feet, or the still-subtle taste of milk tea on my lips. And while I'm smiling in this photo expressing happiness, maybe I'm really lonely. Or while I'm making a goofy face in that photo, maybe I'm just aiming to be excepted by this new and different culture by the only means in which I know how. Then again, maybe it's all what the viewer sees, that I'm smiling because I'm happier than I've ever been or I'm making a goofy face just because I'm a goofy kid.

I find that while living here, I try to avoid the stigma behind a guy trapped behind a camera and try to open myself up to the experiences of the now. While in places unknown, I observe and try to the best of my ability to match my observations, become a mirror in which to imitate the life surrounding me. Being in this new environment, with fresh views to explore, a new language to develop, and new rules and laws, allows me in some ways to be a kid again, to take it all in and live it like it was my first and last day. To breathe in the orange fragrance ('hen xiang') as I try to fit as naturally into the space I have found myself in. I try the things that were once unusual in hopes of gaining a further understanding of the people I surround myself with. That instead of capturing them with a lens, a photo that welts inside a memory bank, I am rather able to take in the behavior of the people, really try to understand their movements and their way of life, in order to capture them individually as a whole. I was once told that I was the type in which "while in Rome, does as the Romans do". It's hard for me to disagree with this statement because I am wanting the life awaiting behind the curtain after I step onto a new stage of experience. And as I balance the individual self with that of a new discovery of being, I step into a place of understanding and learning. I acknowledge that it is through self trial and sacrifice that great things form.

I'll continue the picture postings and the sensical data in hopes of creating a picture worthy of a thousand words whispered softly into the ears of the ones I love in hopes that they catch a glimmer of a moment here. But know that it's just a moment.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seeking color in Color Village

I'm left in a village of color. The signs of fruitfulness fall upon my lap. For I'm here among the colors and the colors are smiling back. I'm matched with the sky above and the ground below. Walking among the painted ceilings and mismatched palette of a brush upon the cement mass of walls. It's among the peace signs and the poses that I recall the greatness of color. The way it soothes the colorless pupil. The way it exposes the normalcy of a grey wash-can or a rust-stained sink.

I wonder if the artist behind the color knew where to start
the color and where to end it. Without the color, is life dull? Does the artist find himself in a muted world full of greys and whites? Does the color brings attention to the muted, the solemn, in hopes of greater sense of illusioned happiness? Maybe he wants to bring attention to the color escaping the paintbrush and dripping into the air around him, as I pictured it. That color can follow me to the most unexpected places. I'll allow the green to chase me from the fields of grass or the orange to eat up my skin and make it brown. I'll let the red pour from my lacerated elbow as the purple replaces the body's punctured spots. The blues can play among the whites in that big place up there and I'll watch on, wishing I was a part of the party. The clear of the rain can splash upon the peach of my brow while I sing songs of yellow. I'll dance among the leaves of pink and wash myself in the turquoise. Ah the turquoise! I could go on and on forever like this.

"Paint me and I'll paint back" I'll say.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Familiar travels and new discoveries

Hello world, It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm finally reached a place here of familiarity. Where things have become routine and the newness has worn down. I'm comfortable with the eateries I find most fulfilling, the daily Chinese lessons and the teaching. The newness will never be gone completely because I'm still discovering it every day, whether it be the whistling of an unidentified bird or the hidden alleyways which maze the streets. I guess it's just becoming more routine...which all and all is a pretty cool thing in a place once considered so far away.

I travelled to the township of Ershui (二水鄉, meaning two waters) to hike among the monkeys. They came right up to me while gorging in the food among the treetops. A sign clearly labels that food should not be thrown to the animals, although some Taiwanese did it anyways.

I was left with an amazing view, as I often find myself in while wandering Taiwan. The trees outgrow each other here. I climb higher and higher just to see the tops of them all.

A few teachers and I found ourselves among a festival. There were god-uniformed puppets and sound-making pulling carts. A local told me that it was a festival for a particular god of that mountain. The sights and sounds of the festival were an unexpected surprise.

Smaller puppets were also there to greet us at the festival. All of them resembling a god of Chinese ancestry.

The black smoke bellows out of the furnace. The paper money and goods are combusted by fire and rise to the heavens. I was talking to my friend Thomas about this practice and was told that the government is asking for fewer people to burn such things in hopes of preserving the air quality, yet, with the traditional symbolism behind it there seems to be many oppose to the new suggestions. It's an interesting balance act between new and old thought.

The Formosan Rock Macaque Monkeys pry attention away from everything else on the hiking trail. They are most definitely an attraction of the area.

This little restaurant in Taichung, Taiwan called Modern Toilet brings a whole new meaning to the term "potty humor". Everything in the place is inspired by nothing less than the bathroom. I ate a delicious curry via toilet bowl while my friend Ray ate out of a miniature tub. The chairs are actual toilet bowls as well. It's an interesting novelty idea and actually not as gross as it seems. The Taiwanese are a lot more open about their bowel movements.

To finish up the meal, my friend Ray and I had some ice cream from some urinals. Yum!

These are two of my friends in which spend a day with me every week (Mondays) to practice my Chinese language. On this day we ventured to a temple in the downtown area of Fengyuan to "bie bie" or pray to the gods. We also had some lunch and window shopped.

No week is complete without a bike ride with Thomas. On this week it was up an old village trail to these awesome tunnels that were carved a half century ago by the Japanese in hopes of hiding from the American bombings.
It ran alongside the Han River (I think that's the name of it) although it was more like a stream. Crane-like birds inhabit the area by the river. A beautiful sight for the exhausted.