I never knew about Zhaotang Zhang from Taiwan until last visit in Taiwan. When wondering around Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, I was suddenly absorbed by ads on sides of the road. There is a young, vague and humanistic figure that directly walks into your sight from vague to clear almost covers all banners of ads. Beside the figure, accompanied four traditional Song type—Times of Zhaotang (Sui Yue Zhao Tang) which indicates an exhibition street. These pictures, all nothing but vicissitudes and years I saw. They are so vivid and humanistic that encourages viewers to seek memory from vague to clear, to remind the past.
In his photo exhibition of Taipei Fine Art Museum, I found myself know little about Zhaotang Zhang. This master in photography watches his camera life calmly. There are topics such as “Inner Landscapes”, “Time Proof”, “Faces in Time”, “Social Memory”, “Images of Youth” and “Existential Voices” in the exhibition which recites his whole life. It’s a delicate show not only express an improved camera movement, but equips dark room and some image devices. His art is like a gun hold by excellent warrior that aim niche at society and aging faces—heart shaking.
After visiting the whole exhibition, I increasingly felt pictures are properly selected. pictures for decades life reviewing—review of youth melody. The vague youth figure and looking back to early days shows all humanity and elegance.
Times of Zhaotang by Zhaotang Zhang. Salute to the grand master.
The reason why I design bitter bamboo room is to build a place like no other from the very beginning. The room tries to avoid spatial texture. For me, designing is a spiritual practice, and a psychics experience with arching pleasure that gives no respites, which leads to peaceful enlightenment; to casting off affectation, trifling, elegant and proud; to quiet sincere by dropping down ambitions. Besides, I always wish to explore a possibility of the lowest limit that could turn everything back to be simple and natural, to real state of space of no laws. We’d like to choose simple and natural skills, plus extreme delicate materials to a revivification of origin, no matter from the stand point of emotion or skills, all are like a newborn—re-entry to earth. In this society, desire makes us so trifling and proud. Only back to where it begins, can we find the road passed.
Therefore, we choose simple and fragile bamboo skins of low cost to show spatial texture. Bamboos’ soft flesh and nature of delicate and humble are the very merit fit in this design. Besides, we also use simple Chinese traditional folk skills to perform the basic visual sense. The design deliberately avoids advanced professional skills, but pursue a kind of delicate and amateur presentation to see the sincerity and gain the true ego. Actually, the world is not complicated, including designing. What really makes complicated is people in the world who abandon the emotion and real spirit to pursue a kind of excess mystery and complication. Then, humanity, emotion, ego and sincerity are fading away.
Bitter bamboo room is aimed to convey a kind of environmental protection with low cost and low-tech. The selected bamboo skins and bamboo patterns are fixed by white bars depending on their original shapes. It is a nature-admiring design without any artificial adjustment and adhesive. In fact, it’s common decades ago. However, we the line gradually is gradually far from land when indulging in the science and economic progress. So here we are promoting and specializing in affordable low-carbon green.
Now, the suffering, miserable humanity is obvious contrast to booming economics. In a no humanistic belief age, we should think and experience what’s happening in the world.
This space with lots of collected folk articles and household items expresses old spirit of place and reflects continuous humanistic flavor.
Bitter bamboo room is implying the soul in the whole in bamboo--be modest and humble. A great mind from a humble ego, a true art from a solitude soul, this is the very bitter bamboo room spirit.
a+a：The design deliberately avoids character of space. Is it an art display space or functional space?
Feng Yu: This is a space both for work and leisure. The actual function is a design studio, a design studio for convenient communication and relaxation.
a+a：Were you involved through the process from design to construction? How long did it take?
Feng Yu: Of course. It took me a total of three months. It’s not completed continuously.
a+a: This design used carbonized bamboo skins and bamboo boards which are seemingly basic materials. Are they actually easy to manipulate? Did you have any difficulties in the phase of construction?
Feng Yu: Of course. We’ve been studying the basic structure of Chinese traditional civil engineering, and strove for low-tech, low cost and low-carbon. So there were basically no design difficulties, but easiness and convenience. In the end, several cleaners accomplished the project on one move by applying the bamboo skins.
a+a: Which problems did you pay special attention to concerning lighting design in this project?
Feng Yu: Lighting of this project was designed to perform the most basic function. We aimed for a plain presentation and revivification of the spatial texture.
a+a: Lights on the table that are extended to steps are unique. Are they specially designed orselected for this project?
Feng Yu: These lights are called “MaDeng”, a traditional Chinese folk item. We prefer to choose traditional plain and old items to express the Chinese spirit of places.
a+a: There are a few candlesticks on the floor in one of the spaces. Are they used for meditation? Which kinds of material are made from?
Feng Yu: It’s indeed a meditation space. And it’s a multifunctional space, you can also adjust its function as you like. The candlesticks are reinforced concrete columns made from remains of engineering materials.
a+a: What do you expect users to find in this space filled with self-thinking?
Feng Yu: To find the “true” and “sincerity”. To find arousal of self-awareness and self-enrichment after abandoning decorated sincerity.
Nowadays, cell phone has seduced our living society deeply. Have you ever found cellphone-ization in public places? People all glaring their own cell phone in parking lot, station, shopping mall and café etc. even places like gym are not immune where people are alternately doing exercise and watching cell phone. As we can image, what people are doing at home.
Finally, millions of hearts beat as one doing the same thing in China. How marvelous it is! There are office workers in the morning looks pale and emaciated, energetic dispirited. The reasons used for explanation such as overtime, bar-hopping and night life seem unconvincing now; cellphone-ization is the kingly way. This is a magnificent picture brought by e-age which never seen after Cultural Revolution in China. However, Cervical Branch should recruit more feldshers to make preparations for future popular disease—cervical spondylosis. Oh, plus ophthalmology because there will have more and more eye disease too. After all it’s a country lack of bodybuilding.
No one can stop the development of time and the progress of e-technology. It’s the mainstream of historical development and had better extend a friendly welcome to it. The topic here is Cultural China, but we all know culture and knowledge are different. It’s not right to accumulate mountains of knowledge but abandoned our culture that should be slowly settled down. Do not you see everyone seems know better about what’s happening of the world than others, no matter from regimen to current affairs, to any thing. In turn, take a look at our culture, how many people could calm down to study accumulated culture? Only those could afford the fruit of dripping water wears through a stone, can they reach the state of enlighten and uplifting. It is no doubt that a quick understanding of knowledge will make you more knowledgeable and experienced, but don’t left behind the soul of culture, it needs slow settling.
While cell phones are sending us information rapidly, how much private time can be spared to our own? Let alone the whole world is summoning you to “brainstorming” together. Through history, how many great idea and arts source from independent and concentrated thinking? Do not you see the society of us is ballooning with cultural default and emotion absence? After absorbing lots of knowledge by cell phone, why our living society is becoming worse in culture and emotion? Without listing examples, information in cell phone is obviously narrating dying culture and worsens humanity.
What cellphone-ization brings us, convenience or low opium? Time and social state will tell us. Besides, any real great masters will be written into human history in fields of future China? Not sure now, let’s wait and see.
Everyone is walking on his own life road. It could be a road of mid-life switch, of life force, even of dream drifted. My humble opinion here is for comrades who have kept forward in their own road more than ten years, twenty years, thirty years or even more.
Having years of social experiences, you may success or fail a time. Meanwhile, you may feel elegant and happy, or upset and depress at that moment of your life. Whatever your attitude to life is, I think reviewing the road regularly you’ve passed is important so as to have a more stable, strong and confidence walk in the future. Only that road the best mirror is that could find a true ego. Only that road is always honesty with you. Only that road keeps loyal to you.
If regarding yourself as a member in culture and art, you have more reason to review the road. Thinking back in youth time, you pick up a pen with full ambition and vigor for painting, writing and design etc. for that moment, you must be an ardent youth obedient to your will. And that will in the ardent mind is directing your life road for ten or twenty years as a day—which is a true mirror for your own.
This will, the beginning of your life road, only by it could you stand the trial of social change and economic shock; resist the pointless temptation in social life; avoid being nothing and fade away in your own field; adjust your physical and mental condition to face and pursuit the meaning of breathing, the value of living. So do take a review of your own road, which use to embrace an ardent mind.