Archive for January, 2010


January 19, 2010

Taichung City have set up TTJ (or Taichung Traffic Jam) Bus, supplying five free bus routes to various areas of the city.

I assume this is to try and relieve some of the congestion by encouraging more people to get off their scooters and cars and onto public transport. I recently travelled on the Blue Line (#58) and the Yellow Line (#56).

You can pick up a map of the routes (in Chinese only) at the Taichung Train Station information centre or click here for an online version. You can find a useful English outline of the major stops for each route here.

I used this system to catch a ride to Viewpoints and Viewing Points, the 2009 Asian Art Biennale exhibition currently showing at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. You can read my ramblings on the exhibition here.

TTJ Bus routes map


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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

write up: viewpoints and viewing points – 2009 asian art biennale

January 17, 2010

I had two objectives in mind today. One: take a gander at Viewpoints and Viewing Points, the 2009 Asian Art Biennale, currently exhibiting at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Two: try out a couple of the awesome new free bus routes that Taichung City have kindly supplied public transport users with.

Yes, you read it right, tons of art combined with free public transport. What a day! You can read all about then new free bus routes here.

So, onto the exhibition.

It was just wonderful to start my day knowing that I would soon be surrounded by artwork spanning three galleries, created by 56 of Asia’s best artists. And what a show it was. Every sense was stimulated as there was every kind of art form on display, from painting and sculpture to film and photography and everything in between.

Viewpoints & Viewing Points - 2009 Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

My favourite pieces, in no particular order, included: Takehito Koganezawa‘s Propagation of Electric Current, all the works by Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, a Taiwanese artist, and Bloated City and Skinny Language by Hung Keung.

The latter struck me with its beauty when I first entered the space and looked across to see what I assume to be stylised Chinese characters floating across the wall via projection equipment.

However, it became a whole new experience when a man and his very small daughter realised that if you stand at a certain point in the room the characters gently swarm around you and move with you as you move. It was beautiful to watch them interacting with the piece.

He picked his little girl up and they swung around the room together; she was giggling away the whole time. Then, as she was placed back on the floor, she reached up both her hands until they were just visible at the bottom of the wall. The characters clustered around her hands and she grasped for them like they were bubbles floating in a park.

Hung Keung


Propagation of Electric Current left me gasping for breath. A huge wall was covered in evenly spaced fluorescent light tubes; all were lit up when I came upon the piece. I stared at it, wondering if the few bars that weren’t lit had some significance.

Suddenly, there was a slight hum and all the lights shut off. It happened so quickly that I was left gasping for breath, my heart pounding, waiting. Again the short hum and the lights flicked on, not quite simultaneously, and I basked in the safety of that neon light once again.

Being plunged into semi-darkness is unnerving.

Takehito Koganezawa, Propagation of Electric Current, 2009


Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu‘s pieces were numerous and delicate. Wheels or circles, both large and small and constructed of folded Guggenhiem Museum tickets, revealed patterns and body parts which shifted in shape and design as you moved around the pieces.

From what I could tell, the patterns were created entirely by a folding and cutting process, ensuring the words on the tickets matched to create lines and shapes. Tiny hands and feet made, I assume, from white paper, stretched out from the folds ghoulishly and beautifully.

Her works reminded me of those snowflakes you can make by folding paper and cutting shapes into the folds. When you open the paper out again after cutting you find you’ve created your very own snowflake. Not to belittle her work in any way as her pieces were far more intricate and outstanding than any snowflake I made when I was seven. I did enjoy the nostalgia, however.

You can watch a video interview with Mia Liu Wen-Hsuan here.

The piece I found most disappointing was Australian artist Jon McCormack’s Eden. It promised in its description to be a work detailing the minute goings on of a self-generating, artificial ecosystem at a biological level. With its smoke machine fumes, soft projections of cellular structures and banal sound technique it was reminiscent of a mediocre VJ show.

I have read Impossible Nature: the art of Jon McCormack and found his work stimulating but this piece was a bit of a let down. Looking at the photographs on the Eden page of the Monash website I feel distinctly cheated. Why couldn’t I have had that experience?

Perhaps the virtual creatures were not very healthy or happy today. Would you be, with a ton of people a day watching you grow and develop?

Eden, Jon McCormack


I found the work of the Korean artists represented in the show reflected what I have heard stereotyped about Korean society. Their pieces seemed to contextualise the hypermodernity of Korean life or utilised it directly.

For example, Airan Kang’s The Space of Book – the Sublime.

The Space of Book – the Sublime, Airan Kang, 2009


I had actually seen a couple of the exhibited films before.

I really can’t remember where I’ve seen The Chess, a stop motion creation by Taiwanese filmmaker Po-Chin Chen. Perhaps it screened at Show Me Shorts? I wonder if the artist lived in Australia or New Zealand at some point? There was nothing in the credits to suggest this.

And a real treat for anyone who hasn’t seen it is the 90 minute film Waltz With Bashir. I saw this about a year ago at my friend’s cinema in New Zealand so I didn’t watch it again. However, it is an incredibly moving film that I would suggest everyone takes the time to go and see.

Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, 2008

I found myself viewing the exhibition from an outsider’s perspective, which of course is the way I view much of my daily life here in Taiwan.

It was a strange feeling, as most of the art I’ve been involved with in the past has been produced by my peers or artists from my own culture or one similar to my own. Therefore, I feel I had a greater cultural connection with their work.

Here, I felt somewhat alienated from the pieces that related directly to Asian cultural heritage and the changes Asian societies are currently undergoing. Of course, Asian society can’t really be bunched into one entity as the Asian region is hugely diverse. I’m sure there were other visitors that felt the same way while viewing works in which the motivation was outside their realm of experience.

I really appreciate and value highly this new insight and could also recognise international themes in many of the works. The organisers of the exhibition are living up to the expectations brought about by the title of this year’s biennale and highlighting the fact that everyone views the world differently and has different “ways of seeing.”

“…[this] encompasses our faculty of understanding, empathy, thinking and judgement, a complex process of using various senses to experience the world and make interpretations. The angle of seeing is always selective.” (source: museum exhibition pamphlet)

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

news: changes are afoot

January 15, 2010

Just like the scrumptious treats I post about in baking teensy, there are some creations in the Internet oven.

I am now writing for Art Radar Asia and as a result have less time to spend on my beloved jar of buttons. However, this does not mean I’m deserting this space for greener pastures.

It does mean that I will be changing some of the content on the site, namely the weekly fixture get to it. From now on I will list one event in the categories of music, art and other, events that I would choose to go to over no other. This will cut down my posting time and, I think, it will also be better for you, the reader.

I am also going to revamp the look of JoB over the next few months. A new look is always a good thing. Suggestions are, of course, always welcome. Send your thoughts through to or leave a comment.

So is there anything for you, the reader, to look forward to? Of course there is.

  • I will be posting a new edition of baking teensy this weekend – a tasty vegetarian treat designed to get you toasty during these chilled winter months.
  • I hope to visit this on Sunday morning so should have a review up just after.
  • If you do need some reading material before the weekend, you can check out the new articles on Art Radar Asia.
  • Or peruse the lovely use of internet space that is The Renegade Bean.
  • If you want to get out of the house and explore the culture settings of your current hometown, take a look at Taiwan Culture Portal‘s list of events.
  • For the more adventurous of spirit, perhaps you fancy a hike in the snow? The pics in this story are amazing!

Whatever you do, I hope you have an absolutely awesome weekend. Don’t forget to check back soon.

JoB x

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January 11, 2010

I bought these from Relay at the Taichung THSR Station. I needed something to read while I travelled.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was made into a beautiful movie of the same name in 2007. I recommend you hunt it down and watch it.

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January 11, 2010

This Sunday was just a beautiful day. I have never seen the sky so blue and clear here in Taichung. I spent the day wandering the parks and the city with friends, soaking up the rays.

The view.

Fields of tropical plants adorn the gardens of Taichung.

City agriculture is all over Taiwan.

A wooden house perched atop an apartment block.

Creme brulee. The perfect end to the day.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: FREE FOOD

January 8, 2010

I was reading in the latest Taiwan What’s Up newsletter that Taichung has it’s own Chinese New Year shopping street. And it’s just down the road from my house. I visited Dihua Street in Taipei in 2009 and I was over-awed by the sites, smells, sounds and tastes. Particularly the tastes, as you can sample different traditional and international snacks from pretty much every vendor. I’m excited that I’ll be able to check out Taichung’s equivalent this time round.

Visit Tianjin Road (Section 2) in Taichung’s Beitun District during 5-16 February. The bonus about this market is the opportunity to purchase cheap clothing, as I did earlier in the year on a visit to the street.

Dihua Street, Taipei

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January 3, 2010

I have been holed up in my apartment for two days suffering from an awful cold. I had had enough of watching movies, putting on the washing, hanging out the washing, wearing my dressing gown, washing the dishes, eating soup… and today decided I needed to hit the bush (or jungle in Taiwan, I guess).

So, I worked out how to catch the bus to Dakeng Scenic Area. I caught the 15 on Beitun Road near where it crosses Wenxin Road and the 21 back to roughly the same spot. And it only takes about 15  minutes by bus to get into the mountains. I can’t believe how close lush rainforest is to the city.

We didn’t look at any travel brochures before we went and I really believed the trails would consist of leisurely strolls through manicured shrubbery. So I dressed accordingly – wearing a silk dress, white cardy and black leather boots.

Here’s a picture of the actual trail.

It was truly a hike and I was constantly in fear of slipping over. But, I hitched up my skirt and dug in and we got to the top of the trail and came across a Buddhist temple complex sprawling over the top of the mountain. The views were wonderful, even through the smog.

Thankfully, as the temple sat atop the mountain, the walk back was pretty much all downhill. We stomped down and strolled past a river, home to tons of tadpoles, a flock of geese and one of those white crane-like birds you see everywhere in Taiwan. It was just lovely.

We then wandered around the township at the base of the trail. There seemed to be one shop that was super popular with all the visitors but we couldn’t work out what was being sold. Possibly a soup of some kind.

We also stumbled across a tourist attraction which housed a DIY shop called Carton King with an attached museum exhibiting, yep, many different kinds of cardboard containers.

Most of the merchandise was pretty average, stuff I’ve seen before and don’t really like, but there was a whole lot of cardboard furniture that was pretty cool and I really liked these cardboard bags.

But the best thing about this tourist attraction was the Honey Museum which wasn’t actually a museum at all but a shop selling locally produced honey products. Among these products was this honey ice cream.

I can with all honesty say it was the yummiest ice cream I have tried in ages. Creamy with no icey bits and just a subtle honey flavour that mixed beautifully with the vanilla. And it only cost NT$90 for two tubs.

Dakeng Township seems to have a weird fascination with toy windmills, the ones that as a kid you would run around with on the end of a stick and blow it to make it twirl. They’re everywhere. I’m not sure if they’re up all over town for some kind of festival or if they’re always there. Anyway, they made for great photos.

After looking at windmills and eating our fill of sublime ice cream we jumped on the number 21 bus and rode it back to Wenxin Road.

When we got back to our apartment I looked up the area on Google maps and saw that there are a ton of trails to explore and a million other things to see. So I’m going back, more suitably attired, in the weekends to come.

All up, for two people, the trip cost us NT$170. NT$80 return for the bus and $90 for the two tubs of ice cream.

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Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.