Taipei Street Art

In January 2020, I visited Taipei for a few days and took photos of some of the street art there. Here is a video featuring those photos:

You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos

There are graffiti and simple throw-ups all over Taipei, but many of the more interesting pieces are in Ximending, a popular shopping and entertainment district. The street art in Taipei seems to have been created in roughly equal measure by local artists like Candy Bird (Han Chun-yueh), guest artists from overseas like INSA and MADSTEEZ and expatriates living in Taipei like fleksone.

1. At Tatung University

Mural by INSA and MADSTEEZ

There is a large street art mural at Tatung Unversity by British artist INSA and American artist MADSTEEZ. The mural combines MADSTEEZ’s four-eyed WEENT!LL!AN character (but with her hairstyle and make-up apparently influenced by Peking Opera) with INSA’s GIF-ITI technique. This technique involved re-painting the mural a few times with the stripes, coins and flashes being painted in different positions, photographing the whole process and then later creating a GIF image (which you can see here: streetartnews.net/2014/06/insa-x-madsteez-presents-largest-gif.html) from the photo. Some of the colors have faded a lot since it was created in 2014 for the POW! WOW! Taiwan street art festival. The face used to be purple and the eye-shadow was ruby red (I prefer the faded version).

2. Corner of Zhanghua Road and Hankou Stree

Taipei Street Art: Mural by Bounce

Not far from from the main site for street art in Ximending is a large Star Wars themed mural by BOUNCE that re-imagines Darth Vader and and imperial stormtroopers as bunnies.

The mural continues on the other side of the structure.
Detail view of BOUNCE’s mural: an all-terrain walker firing spray-paint and emitting love.

3. Ximending

One area in Ximending is filled with street art: the area around the intersection of Lane 96, Kunming street and Wuchang Street and the adjacent Taipei Cinema Park. A lot of the murals there were created under the supervision of CITYMARX (citymarx176.wixsite.com/citymarx/news), a kind of street art promotion company.

Facing Taipei Cinema Park are two giant murals that take up entire walls: a Suicide Squad (plus transformers) mural, which was a collaborative effort that CITYMARX was involved with, and a portrait by Girenhao.

Suicide Squad mural: Taipei
Taipei Street Art: Suicide Squad mural at Taipei Cinema Park, Ximending
Detail view of the Suicide Squad mural
Mural by Girenhao

Nearby is this mural inspired by the 2019 Joker movie and painted in a series comic strip frames. This is a collective effort by a team that was led by VASTAR.

Mural inspired by the movie Joker
Detail view of the Joker mural

There are also several eye-catching portraits in this area.

An anime-inspired design
Detail view of a mural
Mural by candy_statuskuo and MANWITHPENCIL
Detail view of a mural by candy_statuskuo and MANWITHPENCIL
Street art in Ximending
Street art in Ximending (detail view)

There are also several wildstyle murals (Wildstyle refers to the street are based on intricate text designs). I particularly like the vibrant colors in fleksone’s piece and the 3D-effect in the piece by orb1taround.

Taipei Street Art: detail view of wildstyle by fleksone
Detail view of wildstyle street art by orb1taround.

I didn’t see many overtly political pieces when I was there, but I did notice this one mural in support of the the anti-government and anti-Mainland protests in Hong Kong.

Mural in support of Hong Kong protesters.

In Ximending, there are also a lot of smaller and more whimsical street art works such as this Batman barrel.

Batman barrel in Ximending
Taipei street art: hooded figure
Sushi time! A cute little girl holding a big cleaver.

The street art area of Ximending is a popular photo-taking spot.

Photographers taking pictures of a model at Taipei Cinema Park, Ximending

There is a lot more street art around this area of Taipei; you can check out more of those images in the YouTube video and photo galleries I linked to at the top of the page.

Taipei street art by DiSK

4. Treasure Hill Artist Village

Treasure Hill Artist Village is a collection of studios, artist residences, galleries and shops located in a former army village on a hillside. In 2011, artist Hsu Che-yu created a series of black and white works, entitled Hidden Stories, based on news articles about the neighborhood’s history and development.

Taipei Street Art: part of a series by Hsu Che-yu entitled Hidden Stories
Hidden Stories
Hsu Che-yu’s Hidden Stories

The Treasure Hill artist village is also home to this mural by Candy Bird. My interpretation of the artwork is that it represents the dehumanizing pressures and drudgery of modern life (with the child-like figure on the far right trying to climb out of that mess).

Taipei street art: Mural by Candy Bird at Taipei Artist Village
Detail view of a mural by Candy Bird

The relatively low-key street art within Treasure Hill itself does a good job of integrating with the architecture of the area. At the base of the hill is an area for practicing tennis, and those courts are filled with more vibrant pieces.

Tennis practice area at Treasure Hill
Facing of against a robot by fleksone at the tennis practice courts near Treasure Hill Artists Village

A detail view of a retro-futuristic cityscape by fleksone

5. Skatepark near the Huashan 1914 Creative Park

If you are in Taipei, the Huashan 1914 Creative Park is worth a visit. It is a former winery that now houses boutiques, galleries and cafés. Beside the site, is a skatepark filled with graffiti and street art.

Skatepark near Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Skatepark near Huashan 1914 Creative Park

The wall at the front of the skatepark is interesting. It is covered with electronic components.

Detail view of the skatepark wall

6. Other Places

On the side of the Taipei Artist Village building is this large mural by Candy Bird (who is also featured in the Treasure Hill section.

Mural by Candy Bird
Detail view of the mural; the exhaust vent has been turned into a periscope

While walking around, I would sometimes come across murals on random streets.

Taipei Street ArtL Lane 97, Tongan St.

When I went to view the winter cherry blossoms around Pingjing street (I was a few days too late, but some trees were still in bloom), I came across this vibrant mural on the side of an elementary school.

Mural on the wall of an elementary school on Pingjing Street

Interestingly, when I returned home and was checking the location on Google Maps, the street view showed two artist doing the preliminary sketch on the wall.

Artist at work (Google Maps)

More Photos

You can view the entire series of photos (134 images) at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365) at Flickr or Google Photos or view the YouTube video.

Three Questions

  1. Which artwork featured on this page do you like the best?
  2. How can street art benefit a community?
  3. Many of the murals were based on commercial properties from Western culture (e.g., Joker, Suicide Squad, Batman, Star Wars). What are the benefits and drawbacks of basing artworks on big pop-culture properties.

Art Challenge

Sketch a wall near your home, school or office. Design an artwork that would go on the wall and add it to your sketch.

~photos and text by


More Street Art Galleries

Taipei Street Art
Street Art in Ottawa, Ontario
Street Art in Shoreditch London
Street Art in Shoreditch, London
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Hongdae, Seoul
Street Art in Vancouver, Canada
HKWALLS 2018: Part 1 (Hong Kong)
HKWALLS 2018: Part 2 (Hong Kong)
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Living Sculptures at Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018

I shot the above video during a visit to the MosaicCulture Gatineau exhibition in Quebec, Canada. The giant living sculptures featured at the exhibition were created by growing thousands of annual bedding plants on steel armatures. The steel from provides the basic form of the sculpture. Like topiary, mosaiculture is a kind of horticultural art (i.e., art made from living plants), but it is this use of metal frames that makes mosaiculture unique.

The themes of the exhibition were heritage (with a focus on indigenous culture) and nature. The 45 sculptures at the exhibition were made made using 5.5 million plants.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Polar bear and howling wolf

One of the centerpieces of the exhibit was this stunning sculpture: Mother Earth — The Legend of Aataentsic.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Mother Earth, the Legend of Aataensic

The goddess Aataensic is the most important figure in the creation myth of the Huron people, but she is quite a dark deity. It was one of her two sons, Iouskeha, who sought to aid and nurture humans, making rivers and lakes and teaching humans to grow crops, hunt and use fire. Aataentsic, in contrast, brings death and disease, and she and controls the souls of the dead.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Mother Earth, the Legend of Aataensic

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Mother Earth, the Legend of Aataensic

The following two sculptures present traditional trades.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Lobster Fisherman

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Prospector

Two large sculptures celebrated Chinese culture. One, of a lion dance, is shown below (this photo only shows one part of it).

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: Joyful Celebration of Nine Lions

The sculptures are surprisingly heavy. For example, each of the 56 birds in the Bird Tree sculpture, another centerpiece of the exhibition, weighs between one and three tons (unfortunately, I didn’t get any great shots of the whole tree).

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Bird Tree

The living sculptures were created by teams of landscape architects, engineers, horticultural mosaic artists and sculptor-welders. As many of the plants are seasonal, the appearance of some of the sculptures will change according to the season.

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Raven Mask

Click on the image to view a higher resolution version on Flickr
MosaiCulture Gatineau 2018: The Canadian Horse

The event was organized by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal and was was held in Jacques-Carter Park (just across the river from Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings) from 25 July to 15 October 2018. The sculptures featured in the video are, in order of appearance:

  • Mother Earth — The Legend of Aataentsic
  • Wisakedjak and the Creation of the World
  • Born with the Sun
  • The Raven and Moon Masks
  • Bison (part of the Mother Earth display)
  • The Voyageur
  • Cellist and Ballerina
  • Jos Montferrand: A Giant from Gatineau
  • The Bird Tree
  • The Man Who Planted Trees
  • Canadian Horses
  • Chief of the Undersea World — Bill Reid’s Killer Whale
  • Polar Bear and Howling Wolf
  • The Lobster Fisherman
  • Three Ships from France
  • The Prospector
  • The Muskoxen
  • The Puffins
  • Joyful Celebration of Nine Lions
  • All Aboard! Engine CPR 374
  • The Winning Goal, Summit Series of 72
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police Horse and Rider
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • The Muskoxen
  • Snowy Owls
  • The Drum Dancer

Go Further: Website

Go Further: Video

  • Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time: What’s Mosaiculture? A short video from the Atlanta Botanical Garden that shows shows how mosaiculture sculptures are made.

Three Questions

  1. Which of the sculptures is most attractive to you? Why?
  2. What are some advantages of creating art from living plants?
  3. What are the disadvantages?

Art Challenge

Create a mini-mosaiculture!


~video, photos and text by

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teamlab Planets (Tokyo): An Amazing Interactive Art Experience

I shot the above video during a recent visit to the teamLab Planets TOKYO exhibition. Planets TOKYO is an interactive exhibition put together by teamLab, a Japanese art collective who combine digital art, music and technology to create interactive installations that encourage visitors to explore relationships between humans and nature and between the individual and the world. The Planets TOKYO exhibition runs from the summer of 2018 to autumn in 2020.

The members of teamLab include artists, programmers, animators, musicians, mathematicians and architects. Regarding the group’s aims, teamLab’s website states:

Digital technology has allowed art to liberate itself from the physical and transcend boundaries. teamLab sees no boundary between humans and nature, and between oneself and the world; one is in the other and the other in one. Everything exists in a long, fragile yet miraculous, borderless continuity of life.  (www.teamlab.art)

I first came upon the collective’s contemporary art at an event held in Kyoto a couple of years ago: Resonating Spheres and Resonating Trees. That event was magical and inspiring, so I was excited to see their latest exhibition.

The teamLab Planets TOKYO exhibition consists of seven installations.

1. Waterfall of Light Particles at the Top of an Incline

In this first installation, you walk up a ramp against the flow of the water that is cascading down from a small waterfall illuminated by light (there are a couple of installations that require you to walk through water, so you walk barefoot though the whole exhibition). This initial installation serves as a kind of preparation. As you walk up the incline in a very dark corridor with water flowing down over your feet, there is a sense of mystery and you start to excitedly  anticipate what is ahead.

2. Soft Black Hole – Your Body Becomes a Space that Influences Another Body

teamLab Planets TOKYO: Soft Black Hole – Your Body Becomes a Space that Influences Another Body

When you enter the Soft Black Hole room, you sink into a cushioned floor, your weight changing the shape of the environment, which in turn impacts other visitors.

In modern life we are surrounded by flat hard surfaces, so that in our daily lives we we have lost consciousness of our bodies, we have forgotten them. In natural forests flat ground does not exist. This installation is a space to remind us of the body that we have forgotten in everyday life, and to make us more conscious of our body mass. (planets.teamlab.art/tokyo/ew/soft_black_hole)

This was a fun experience that also served as a kind of mood-setter for the exhibition. As you stumble, crawl and sink into the surface, you become aware not only of your ‘body mass’ but also that this exhibition is interactive and participatory, that you are not only a viewer, but also a kind of co-creator of the experience.

3. The Infinite Crystal Universe

teamLab Planets TOKYO: The Infinite Crystal Universe

This installation is one of the highlights of the exhibition. The room features mirrored walls, floor and ceiling. Suspended from the ceiling are thin plastic tubes that contain over 300,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These LEDs change color and brightness, producing three-dimensional patterns of light and movement.

Jade standing on the mirrored floor of the Infinite Crystal Universe

The mirrors create an illusion of infinite space—with the points of light spreading out in all directions representing the universe.

Looking up towards the mirrored ceiling: The Infinite Crystal Universe

The LEDS respond to music and the movement of visitors as well as a special smart phone app that you can use to introduce elements into this universe.

Staff (far left) and visitors

According to founder teamLab’s founder, Toshiyuki Inoko, The Infinite Crystal Universe took five years to create. It is wonderful union of art, imagination and technology

Jade silhouetted against the LEDs at the Infinite Crystal Universe

4. Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity

teamLab Planets TOKYO: Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity

In this room visitors, wade through knee-deep water onto which is projected digital images of swimming koi that leave behind trails of light. The work is rendered in real-time, with the movement of koi being influenced by the presence of people. When the fish collide with people, they turn into flowers and scatter.

Light projections of Koi

Jade wading through the koi pool (Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity)

5. Cold Life

teamLab Planets TOKYO: Cold Life

In an alcove beside the pool of digital koi is a seven-minute 3D animation. The animation starts with calligraphy representing the Japanese word for life (生). The calligraphy transforms into a tree from which a variety of lifeforms slowly emerge as the seasons change. This work deals with the cycle of life and death and the cycle of the seasons.

teamLab:  Cold Life

 

6. Expanding Three-dimensional Existence in Intentionally Transforming Space – Free Floating, 12 Colors

teamLab Planets TOKYO: Expanding Three-dimensional Existence in Intentionally Transforming Space – Free Floating, 12 Colors (photo by longzijun)

In this room, large spheres lit from within fill the room. They change color when people come into contact with them or when they collide with other spheres.

When they change color, this change resonates out in three dimensions and affects the colors of the other spheres. This  effect was also used in the Resonating Spheres installation in Kyoto.

teamLab Planets TOKYO: Staff member re-arranging spheres

The twelve colors are based on traditional Japanese concept of Kasane no Irome (襲の色目(literally meaning “layers of color”). This was the system of color schemes that dictated the layering, colors and order of robes worn at court during the Heian period.

The 12 colors of the spheres in this room are: the basic colors of blue, red and green as well the colors of light in water, sunlight on water plants, plum, iris, sky at twilight, morning sky, morning glow, peach and spring maple.

7. Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers

teamLab Planets TOKYO: Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers (photo by longzijun)

In the final room, you sit or lie back on a mirrored floor as digital projections of flowers and butterflies sweep past on the dome overhead. As with the Koi projection, the images are rendered in real-time and are affected by the presence of visitors.

Flowers grow, bud, bloom, and in time, the petals fall, and the flowers wither and die. The cycle of birth and death continues for perpetuity. The universe at this moment in time can never be seen again. (planets.teamlab.art/tokyo/ew/fitfuof)

 

About the Experience

Three of the main installations—the crystal universe, the koi pool, the room of spheres— evoke feelings of wonder and joy. When in these rooms, adults and children tend to react to the art in the same way—gazing spellbound at shifting patterns of light, giddily chasing after the digital fish projections, leaping up off the ground to head spheres to bounce spheres. The installations bring out the child in everyone.

The way the installations were sequenced was very effective, with the first two smaller works setting the tone. In the final room—the room of falling flowers—people just collapsed on the floor and chilled out, letting the music and digital images wash over them until they were ready to get up, put their shoes back on and re-enter the world outside.

The teamLab group does a good job of managing visitor numbers. You enter as part of a large group and have enough time to fully experience each of the installations.  Of course, you won’t get an entire large room to yourself (as in the promotional photos), but you won’t get a crowded feeling. In the larger rooms, crowds tend to gather at first before people disperse to explore the different parts of the installation.

For this exhibition, it is better to book in at least a week in advance to ensure you can get in.

Unlike most artwork, teamLab projects work better when there are people ‘in the way’.  This is because other visitors are not obstacles; instead, they are your co-participants, your collaborators in an amazing experience.

Go Further

  • Video: How TeamLab Builds Incredible Techno Art Exhibits (by Bloomberg)

Three Questions

  1. Which of the installations is most attractive to you? Why?
  2. What are some of the benefits of creating art that is affected by the viewer’s actions or movements?
  3. What technical difficulties do you think teamLab faced in producing works like the pool of digital koi. For example, what would be required to make the fish turn into flowers when they collide with people? You can watch the Bloomberg video in the Go Further section to find the answer to that specific question.

Art Challenge

Create an artwork that is affected by the movements and/or actions of the viewer.


~video, photos and text by

artjouer

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