Art in Taipei!

Last weekend I went to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum to see the “Arena” exhibition, and I was not disappointed.

From the official website:

Arena brings together dance, the human body, theater, music, sound, image and text, exploring a synergetic relationship arising from the convergence of exhibition and performance. Crucially, the way an art exhibition is mixed with performance, whether it be bringing the two in close proximity or intermingling them, can be seen as a form of creative “symbiosis.” At the level of meaning, live performance dovetails with the concept of exhibiting “living objects.” Fundamentally, when this kind of work is placed within the structure of an exhibition, the participants perform repeatedly throughout the exhibition period, serving the function of continuous and cyclical display. The main distinction is that they use non-visual forms of expression and an immediately present mode of performance.

Within such a context, this exhibition combines static display with live art. The displayed portion encompasses an exchange exhibition between Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the Gwangju Museum of Art. The Taiwanese artists seek to “interpose the viewer,” causing a structural transformation to take place in a single subject (work), to engender a real experience for the viewer, and not merely an experience existing in the viewer’s consciousness. Meanwhile, the Gwangju Museum of Art presents seven Korean artists at the height of their careers. Through a variety of art forms such as painting, installation and video, they demonstrate the diversity and value of Korean art. Through this “Arena,” both the Taiwanese and the Korean artists endow their works with a distinctively present-tense significance, engaging in a dialogue on the societal level in conjunction with the Summer Universiade currently taking place in Taipei, and seeking out a highly hybridized social milieu, either outwardly manifested or lying latent within contemporary existence.

Set against the backdrop of the displayed art, a series of live exhibitions penetrates the many different levels of exhibition and performance. Within the frameworks that are made possible, the artists create a spectrum of performance forms, from participatory art, webcast and lecture performance to puppet theater, documentary theater, dance, music, sound, performance art and video, comprising a single collective theme. Ultimately, the effect this exhibition aims to achieve through consciousness of form (exhibition and performance) is to stir up visitors who have long been in the habit of leisurely viewing exhibitions, jangling their nerves and their spirits, and placing them in a state of unease, excitation, suspension and bemusement. It aims to pose questions regarding the media and materials of contemporary art, the relationship between viewer and artist, and the social and public nature of art environments.

The exhibition will be open until September 17th.

 

Do please take a moment to check out some photos of my favorite works at the space, in particular the collaborative performance space in which people can dress up and pose in bizarre outfits:

Collaboration was a consistent theme, with various pieces involving wading through a world within digitized curtains, strange installations that change depending on what angle they are seen, and even a cutting-edge VR painting set.

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Dream Community – Art Center in Taipei, Taiwan

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Recently, I took a trip to the Republic of China — also known as Taiwan — to visit the great city of Taipei. There comes a time when we all need a break from the mainland.

My girlfriend was invited to participate in a workshop at 夢想社區 // the Dream Community, and do check out the link. So I tagged along for the holiday weekend. She is a glass-blower, and relished the opportunity to use their studio for which to work on various creative projects. I was very lucky to be there to observe.

The Dream Community is a fascinating place, inspired by the aesthetics of Burning Man (recall I’ve been there) and full of amazing structures. The have a camp called Burning Mazu at the festival and it was quite cool to see how it gets built all the way on the other side of the world. The models, the building of parts, the planning and the labor. It sure takes a lot of work.

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The entire space was filled with glorious wonders…

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The space consists of several buildings with workshops inside. You can go there to explore, soak in the atmosphere, and even drop by while people working on projects.

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A lot was going on. From the glass furnaces to feats of art car engineering. For one thing, here’s a tile project:

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Pearl River Drama: A Memoir

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQQIA26

 

I have now completed my memoirs, in eBook form.

You may be familiar with the Dating in China blogs already, but there’s more to the story…

I have decided to edit them, and put them out there as an eMemoir of sorts on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Press.

Yet, this is not just a simple copy-paste and proofread for typos. Since this version isn’t all out there online for free, I have written more to the story. Certain personal, more graphic details. Certain things left unsaid that would be unbecoming on a public forum.

Not to mention further chapter continuing where the blog left off, and an epilogue.

If you’ve enjoyed my writings this past year, you may enjoy taking a look. And if you’d like to write a review on Amazon yourself, I will happily forward you a copy!

Even if you only have fond memories of reading the previously-blogged edition and prefer to leave it at that, it would be very considerate if you shared some thoughts. Positive or negative, tell the world what you think. Link above.

Thanks very much to all you readers out there!

 

 

— —

When one nerdy, young American moved from California to China in the autumn of 2008, he had no idea what was coming. He knew there would be an adventure and it would have its challenges, but he didn’t know it could get that bad.

From the deserts of Black Rock City, Nevada, to the towering metropolis of Hong Kong, this memoir takes our humble writer all across the globe in search of love. Well, maybe not always searching for love, but in search for something.

It starts on a psychedelic trip in Burning Man, and continues in the “overnight city” of Shenzhen. That’s in the Pearl River Delta, among the densest megacities on Earth. In breakup after breakup, one lonely expat struggles to understand the Chinese mystique. Featuring an ensemble cast of international girls, he had many experiences and leaned a few lessons along the way. The story continues to further exotic locations: Beijing, Canton, Bangkok, Manila, Ohio, the ruins of Cambodia, and Seattle.

Once or twice, he may have even found love. And lost it. Hearts were broken. Minds were mended. All in a haze of romance encounters, online dating, and travel.

This is his story. Complete with travel photos, and quotations from “Seinfeld” and Mo Yan.

DATING IN CHINA

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DATING IN CHINA


(Table of Contents)

Firstly, from 2008 on:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

GUANGZHOU YEAR
In the city… the city of Canton…

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/
the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

OCCUPY MORE!

Another amazing experience in Admiralty. The movement is still going strong a month later, with no signs of letting up. Perhaps it will be a permanent fixture in Hong Kong, wouldn’t that be amazing!

Another amazing experience in Admiralty. The pro-democracy/Occupy movement is still going strong a month later, with no signs of letting up. A substantial community of sharing and donations, an authentic anarcho-commune collective in a modern metropolis. It is truly working. In some ways it actually reminded me of Burning Man, yet it is even less regulated and more organic. An inspiration. Perhaps it will be a permanent fixture in Hong Kong, wouldn’t that be amazing!

At 6:00 p.m. sharp I witnessed the umbrella-opening ceremony. I wandered and learned a lot. I saw tens of thousands of campers, infinite yellow ribbons, inspiring post-it’s along the Lennon Wall – You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one – and recorded some more video which I hope to edit soon and share. I was blown away by the creativity. T-shirts, banners, sculptures Umbrella Man ad Spider-Man and more, with cute paper Totoros. Even a library. The KFC sign amused me. And I like the setup in the bathrooms, with toothpaste ad shaving cream and even has volunteers to clean up. Very nice. The most solemn moment was the ‘Dark Corner’ area where a recent incident of police brutality took place. Finally, the umbrella tree.

Recently, I’ve been reading the book “Why Nations Fail” and while I am not smart enough to understand economics on a complex level, the book explains in layman’s terms that civilizations tend to be extractive or inclusive economies. Extractive are always unsustainable and damage a country, but the elites prefer it because it is good for only them. It is very hard to change this. Throughout all of history, development in human rights (which in turn helps growth) never comes because elites politely give it away through their bureaucratic laws, but because the masses of people demand it. Period.

CY Leung’s recent comments about how democracy is bad because it will give poor people too much political power… That is straight out of the thesis of this book. Let me just say, in my own layman’s terms, fuck this guy and this system.

Meanwhile, the latest propaganda from the mainland purports that it is all a scheme from Western governments. I scoff at that, because if it was so easy for outsiders to start movements than why are the PRC-funded counterprotests so pathetic?! They keep coming up with new narratives, from it’s only bad for business to pretending it’s all about rule-of-law to now this. Of course, it is truly a matter of the elites…

Things will change. I know they will. It won’t be easy, and it’s always a struggle because an entrenched system cannot even comprehend positive change, but it does come eventually.

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Burning Man, announcement

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Over the past week, I happened to notice these ‘Top Searches’ in my dashboard of this blog:

burning man naked, lsd at burning man, burning man 2014 art, is there lsd at burning man

If you look to the right, under ‘Top Posts,’ you can see my old Burning Man blogs are trending at the moment:

(And do feel free to read up)

How I Came to China: Burning Man

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man

 

Why now? Well, this year’s famed anarchic music & arts festival in the desert has just concluded and everyone is interested again .

Not to repeat myself, but I went in 2007 and 2008 and at the risk of sounding cliche I must say it; yeah it changed my life.

Much has been written about what this weeklong fest truly is, and I won’t repeat myself here but I’ll share some pictures and the above links and trust anyone new hear to look it up.

And yes I know it sold out over the years, it’s not as good as it used to be, all the evil rich people have ruined it, blah blah etc. That’s all probably true but I still believe it’s one of the best things going on in the world.

Here it comes… I’ve become one of those people making obnoxious announcements…..

Ready for it??

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to state that I wish to attend next year in 2015. It’s been too long. I’ve met a lot of great people in the intervening years, and I’d like to catch up with some Burners too, and I’d also like to invite old friends to go with me. Check out BurningMan.com for details, look up crazy pictures online and crazy videos on youtube, be inspired and let’s go.

Save up money, get into debt a little it’s no big deal, buy camping supplies, make costumes if you like, make a plan, and meet me on the American West Coast next August. I’m still working out whether I should make Southern California or Northern California the homebase, but plenty of time to figure that out in the coming months.

I mean, we’ve waited all our lives and it’s the Back to the Future year! 2015. Although we don’t have hoverboards, let’s celebrate making it this far!!

As soon as the next bout of tickets are on sale I’ll be reminding you all.

Who’s with me?!?!!!!

Let’s go home… …

 

 

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DATING IN CHINA – MEGAPOST 1

And now for your reading enjoyment. In case you missed it before. Allow me to lay it all out.

Megapost of my personal dating memoirs, covering the time span of August, 2008 to February, 2011

Links, from the beginning:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

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Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man

Part 2, the continued story of How I Came to China: Burning Man

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After my amazing week of sights and sounds on the Black Rock desert scene, the amazing people I met and the beautiful visuals and even a few hookups, it all culminated in the final night – in which they Burn the Man – and then I got to take LSD.

Now, the psilocybin mushroom is my drug of choice. I have the most experience with it, I am a big fan of Terence McKenna’s spiritual theories on the subject, and I believe that the therapeutic aspects of these experiences literally saved my life during a sensitive time in my upbringing. It’s natural, healthy [aminita muscaria is the shamanic poisonous mushroom, psilocybin is completely nontoxic, I do know what I’m talking about on this subject], and extremely powerful. It’s a psychedelic and obviously non-addictive (come on, a psychedelic trip is something to do once every few months at the most), and I’ve never even come across any law enforcement official who gives a shit about mushrooms. Something I certainly recommend for everybody, and hey to each their own.

I heard there were shrooms going around the Burner community, but I wouldn’t like to do it in a party atmosphere. It’s unfortunate that entheogens tend to turn up when you’re around loud noises and crowds, better to do it in times of quiet contemplation. Set and setting, very important.

Anyway, the twilight of the event and there were parties of dancing naked people around the periphery of the immense burning statue and I wandered as much as I could to seep in each and every sensory perception. I met some nice Australian couchsurfers and they mentioned acid and we actually did the barter economy thing. I traded my indie comic for a tab—how cool is that?

This was my first and only time with LSD, at least with good LSD. I’m not opposed and would very much like to try it more often but it’s just been so elusive for me. I’m just not that cool to have the proper vibe. Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something. That’s okay, I’ve had plenty other.

These days, South China tends to have a lot of party drugs, the kind that are more shallowly fun and dangerous. Sadly it’s not a psychedelically-inclined place. That’s Rising China, nothing deep of substance here. But I’m not complaining, the nice economical thing about true psychedelics is you can take it once every few decades that that can be plenty.

This was a plentiful dose indeed. I found the lysergic acid diethylamide chemical to be far more euphoric than psilocybin. Not scary, no bad tripping episodes. The hallucinations were more subtle, things bending and stretching and amazing colors when I close my eyes but not quite the intense melting sensations of organics. Less nausea-inducing than my other psychedelic experiences as well, such as ayahausca.

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Back to the story at hand. For the next twelve hours I was gleefully rolling around on the sandy playa. Kind passersby would ask me if I was okay, and I’d say I was fine and had no self-conscious issues at all. I looked up at the stars to see one of the most stunning sights of my life, as you can see the real sky when you’re in the desert, and suddenly I understood how the ancients conceived of constellations. I saw infinite UFOs connecting the dots of star points with streams of light dancing upon infinity…

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How I came to China: Burning Man

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Me

The time has come for these posts to get autobiographical. I do have a few stories worth telling, and now’s the time to tell them.

Let us start at the relative beginning. By the beginning, I mean the beginning of my expat life. Not that it wasn’t interesting before that, but let’s have some continuity.

It’s like this: Whenever you go to a party and meet someone, after the obligatory questions of “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” are over with, one common question is to be asked is “How did you get to China?” It’s a fair query and I’ve asked it myself. My story is a bit complicated and concerns a desert rave festival. So here it is…

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It was the summer of 2008 and I was a tad anxious. I’d lived in Long Beach in Southern California for three years, a cool city part of greater Los Angeles County, and I’d just finished a run at a lame office job. Before that, the proverbial server gig and college credits. Somehow my goals of becoming a famous screenwriter hadn’t come to much fruition. I was a bit in between things and trying to figure out my next step. Meanwhile, I was all set to go to Burning Man!

I had already been to Burning Man for the first time in 2007. If you don’t know it, google pictures of it immediately. There are already plenty of writings out there about this extreme music and arts festival, and now it is my turn to have a go at my own “this one time at Burning Man” story.

Firstly, one needs to know the basics. Continue reading