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Phantom Shanghai

Canadian photographer Greg Girard has spent much of his career in Asia. As a result, many of his works are candid and stunning documentations of the social and physical transformations that have taken place throughout the continent. Some of his most well-known photo series capture moments and places that are now long gone, washed away with the changing times. Recently, Neocha spoke with Girard about Phantom Shanghai, a hauntingly melancholic photo series that documents the city’s jarring and rapid transformation into the skyscraper-filled behemoth that it is today.


加拿大摄影师Greg Girard在亚洲度过了他职业生涯的大部分时间,因而他的很多作品都直接并生动地记录了发生在这片大陆上社会和实体的变迁。他最负盛名的一部分作品捕捉并记录下那些在时光流转中模糊和淡化的时刻和地方。最近Neocha与Greg Girard围绕《Phantom Shanghai》进行探讨,这组萦绕着忧郁色彩的摄影作品,呈现出上海——这个如今摩天大楼林立的现代大都市,快速发展背后的突兀与激进。

Neocha: Urbanization happened rapidly, and even violently at times, in China. House demolition has always been a very controversial and sensitive topic in China. How did you feel when you first saw these ruins in the centre of the city?

Greg Girard: What struck me was less the ruins themselves, but more so the fact that people were still living amid them as buildings were being demolished—sometimes even the very building they lived in. The occupancy wasn’t always apparent during the day, but in the evening you could see the lights in the windows of the still-occupied homes, signs of life amidst the rubble and half-demolished buildings. Those scenes suggested defiance at one extreme, and obliviousness at the other as this wave of demolition and construction swept through the city.


Neocha: 中国的城市化进程在是非常激进且暴力的,拆迁在中国也一直是个非常具有争议的话题,当你第一次亲眼看到这些城市中心的废墟时,有什么感想?

Greg Girard: 最让我震惊的并非这片废墟,而是看到人们还住在这些因为拆迁而变得残破不堪的建筑(有些是自家的房子)里。白天其实是看不出来的,只有晚上的时候你还能看见住家窗户里的灯光,在残砖破瓦和一半被拆掉的建筑里,展露着生命的痕迹。这样的场景也好像在反抗着,嘲笑着这一轮极端且无知的拆建对这座城市的清扫。

Neocha: The idea of house demolition is a familiar yet unfamiliar occurance for me and many people who grew up in a Chinese middle-class family. What makes it familiar is that we constantly see news report about demolition disputes on TV, but most of us actually never experience it. From a perspective of a foreigner, how do you feel about these demolitions?

Greg Girard: China was more or less isolated for three or four decades (from 1949 onward). The familiar churn of urban development for profit didn’t take place in the gradual way that it does in most large cities in capitalist societies. It started happening all at once, which was during the 1990s in Shanghai’s case, after Deng Xiaoping declared that Shanghai should “catch up”. And so the city experienced urban demolition and construction that usually might take place gradually, over decades, happening on a scale and at a pace that had never been seen before. It was terrifying, and fascinating, and to some extent sad. Clearly there was an opportunity to preserve individual buildings, and entire neighborhoods even, that were architecturally significant and historically valuable; an opportunity, it turned out, that would be ignored on a breathtaking massive scale. So, on one hand there was a sense of a squandered opportunity and on the other there was the sense that it was an accident that the buildings and neighborhoods, preserved by indifference and neglect, had survived as long as they had.


Neocha: 对于很多像我一样成长于中产家庭的人,对于拆迁这个概念既熟悉又陌生,熟悉的是我们经常在新闻上看到关于拆迁的纠纷报道,陌生的是我们似乎在现实中又不曾经历过,站在一个外国人的角度,你对这拆迁这个事是怎么看的?

Greg Girard: 因为中国在过去的三四十年(从1949年开始)里基本上是与世隔绝的,所以它并不是像大部分资本主义大型城市那样逐步的发展,而是一次性的爆发了,拿90年代的上海举个例子,在邓小平指出上海应该“赶上”后,这座城市经历了本应是循序渐进却实非如此的拆迁和建造,在过去的几十年里,用一个前所未见的速度和规模发展着。这是令人恐惧也是惊奇的,在某种程度上也让人感到悲伤。显然是有机会能够保存某些独立的建筑甚至整片居民区,但遗憾的是这个机会被大规模的忽视掉了。所以一方面,很多机会就被这么白白浪费掉了,另一方面很多建筑和居民区意外地被忽视掉,从而被保留下来,才至今得以幸免。

Neocha: Because of the rapid urbanization in China in the last few decades, for many locals, their memories on many things is disconnected. Part of this series seems very intimate, such as the shots of bedroom or bathroom. When you went into their very private space, did you talk to the people who live there? When facing this rather vulnerable group who are unable to fight back against the massive strong arm of the government, it almost feels like their memories are being erased. Are you attempting to capture a certain sense sadness in your work?

Greg Girard: I was fortunate that people were, for the most part, willing to allow me into their homes, including bedrooms and bathrooms, when requested. The shared nature of domestic life was one of the elements I was trying to show. For example, homes built for one family that had been subdivided to accommodate multiple families. What does that look like and how does it work? In other cases, I simply wanted to see the choices people made in terms of how they lived and what they saw when they went to bed at night or woke up in the morning, knowing in many cases that these homes were of the verge of being demolished. So, I think it’s not wrong to say, as you do, that memories are being erased. As for sadness: Yes. Helplessness in the face of the unchecked power is of course tragic.


Neocha: 因为中国过去的城市化,很多中国人的回忆是断层的,这个系列中的有些作品是非常私密的,拍摄于卧室或者厕所,甚至是一些老照片。当你在深入这些住家时,你是否会与他们交谈过?面对着这些城市巨大变迁中的弱势群体,他们的一些回忆似乎也被一起抹去了,你是否在你的作品中尝试去捕捉这种悲伤的感觉?

Greg Girard我很幸运,大部分人都愿意让我进他们家中去拍摄,当我要求进入厕所或者卧室时,他们也欣然同意了。中国人乐于分享的本性也是我想要去展现的,举个例子,一家人居住的房屋已经被改装成了可容纳多个家庭的内部结构。我也是单纯地是想了解人们在知道自己住的房子马上就要被拆掉了,他们做的选择,怎么居住的,晚上睡前或早上刚醒时会看些什么。所以,你讲的也没有错,很多记忆都被抹掉了。对于这种悲伤,是啊,面对这种盲目力量的无力是悲剧的。

Neocha: The houses in your works almost looks like an island on top of ruins. To me, it seems to represent both persistence and resignation. Many people forced to relocate have mixed feelings about house demolition; some people are actually thankful since it allows them to move into a much nicer apartment and receive monetary compensation from the government. Others rather stay in the place where they grew up. What’s your take on this? What are some of the more memorable moments of shooting this projects?

Greg Girard: During the beginning of the project (2000-2001) when I set up my tripod and camera and was photographing in a neighbourhood, I was often asked by residents if I (or someone) was planning to buy the property. Because, as you noted, this could mean that the tenants (those with residency rights rather than actual ownership) would be entitled to resettlement in a self-contained apartment. Most of these older buildings were not meant to house as many people as they did, which meant that residents had to share a kitchen, a bathroom and toilet facilities. These places looked quite grand—in a faded sort of way—from the outside, but on the inside they were very difficult to live in. Most of them, in their public areas, hadn’t received a coat of paint in forty, fifty years, or more. Photographing inside one hallway, I remember thinking that the peeling paint on the walls had probably been applied at some point in the 1930s.


Neocha: 照片中的楼房看上去像是废墟上的一座座孤岛,在我看来暗示了一些坚持与放弃。拆迁对于很多拆迁户是个悲喜交加的事情,有的人可以借此机会分配到很好的住宅或是费用,而有的人则十分保守,不愿意离开陪伴自己一辈子的土地。在你的拍摄中是否也碰到过类似的事情呢?令你印象最深的是哪件事?

Greg Girard: 在创作这个系列最初的时候(2000-2001年),当我在居民区里摆好三脚架和相机进行拍摄的时候,周围的居民经常问我(或别人)是不是要买这些房产。因为就像你讲的一样,这些住户(有居住权但是没有所以权的人)能够有机会被重新安置到独立的公寓。很多老的建筑不是为了居住大量人口而设计的,因此住户必须共享厨房,浴室和厕所。这些地方退远从外看是很不错的,但是内部是非常不适宜居住。大部分这些建筑,公共区域墙上的油漆已经四五十年没有更新过了。我记得我在过道中拍摄过的一张照片,当时的想法是到墙上剥落的油漆应该是在20世纪30年代刷的。

Neocha: Urban redevelopment has always been a major goal of Chinese urbanization. However, the interesting thing is that old Shanghai’s architectural style is extremely complex, being a mixture of European and Chinese style, which gives shikumens their unique character. But after the redevelopments, they’re becoming more and more modern. The unique character of the city also seems to be fading away alongside. What is your take on this?

Greg Girard: I think it’s quite rare for a government—whether in China or wherever—to make enlightened choices about architecture or public space or understand the projected experience of being a city dweller. So I’m not surprised when a union of government and property developers produce ghastly results. Having said that, I am surprised when something decent and human comes out of that, as it occasionally does.


Neocha: 旧城改造一直是中国城市化建设的重点,而有趣的是上海的老城区中建筑风格极为复杂,欧式与中式的混杂使得石库门里弄格外特殊,而改建后的现代建筑则少了些许韵味。这个城市一些独特的特征也在逐渐的消失,你对此是怎么看的?

Greg Girard: 我认为,无论在中国还是在其他国家,政府要在考虑建筑或公共空间与理解居民的生活体验之上做出明智的选择是相当罕见的。所以当看到政府和房地产开发商联合推进下产生的可怕后果也并不感到惊讶。而回过头来,当我从中看到了一些偶尔出现的恰当和充满人文关怀的措施,反而感到有些意外。

Neocha: We can see the demolished building is next to the modern skyscraper, one side is the scene of the broken and destruction, another side is a fancy shopping mall. This contrast is often seen in your work, is it intentional?

Greg Girard: As much as those sorts of contrasts can result in boring clichéd pictures, the scope of what was happening in Shanghai meant that those contrasts were inescapable. The challenge was how to show that without making a cliché. But at the end of day, if the pictures manage to escape being clichés then it’s only because the demolition and construction was happening on such a scale that it doesn’t make sense for the photographer to frame things artificially to illustrate a tired cliché. That scene was the absolute reality. And so, to make these pictures without showing this historical moment of “contrast” (by showing, for example, only intact, romanticized, historic neighborhoods) would have been unthinkable, artificial, a lie.


Neocha: 我们可以看到有很多拆迁的建筑边上便是新建的商业化区域,一边是断壁残垣的破败景象一边则是金壁辉煌的购物商城。这样的对比在你的这些作品中也经常出现,你是否是刻意安排这样的构图?

Greg Girard: 虽然那样的对比一多就会陷入无聊和平庸的构图,但要记录上海正发生的画面,这样的对比不可避免。最大的挑战在于如何呈现这样的对比且不沦为老套做作。但如果摄影在最后都在想办法避免平庸老套,那只能是因为如此大规模的拆迁和建设超出摄影师的理解,从而无法通过讨巧的构图去诠释一个俗套的主题。那样的场景也绝对存在。因而,没有展现历史进程中“对比”(例如只表现出完整的、充满浪漫色彩的历史街区)的图片是难以想象的,也是带着人为角度的谎言。

Neocha: This series of work was completed almost ten years ago, have you revisited these locations you shot? When you see it has changed to skyscrapers, how you feel about that? Did you ever wonder where are all the people who live there? How their life was?

Greg Girard: I still visit Shanghai fairly often, though I tend not to seek out the locations I photographed when I worked on the project between 2001 and 2006. Sometimes I come across them by accident though. Visiting a new museum, a restaurant, a friend’s apartment, or driving on a new road, I might realize that something looks familiar and think, “Didn’t this used to be here…?” But then the moment passes and you’re back in Shanghai’s latest version of itself.


Neocha: 这系列作品是拍摄于十年前,后来你又再去这些地方看看吗?当你看到这些在这片废墟上拔地而起的高楼大厦时,你内心又是怎么想的呢?你会想知道那些曾经住在这里的人们,他们现在过着什么样的生活吗?

Greg Girard: 我到现在都时常去上海,但我不会刻意去重访那些在2001年至2006年的摄影项目里出现过的旧地。不过也有时候会偶然遇到它们。参观新的博物馆,光顾一家餐厅,去一个朋友的公寓,或在一条新修道路上开车……我都有可能会意识到这是我曾熟悉的场景,然后思考:“这个曾经在这里吗?”但那样的恍惚转瞬而逝,旋即又回到了这个当下的上海。

Neocha: You works seems like a documentation of memories of city, compare to other city that you shoot or lived before, such as Hong Kong, Hanoi or Vancouver, is there anything that makes Shanghai feel different from the rest of these cities?

Greg Girard: I first visited Shanghai in 1983, and at that time the city’s built environment was almost completely unchanged from 1949. It was like arriving in a city that had been frozen in time, in terms of its surface at least. Only the street signs, having been entirely renamed after 1949, appeared to have changed. Much later, in 1998, I moved to Shanghai from Hong Kong, and amidst the vast redevelopment taking place, I still had this memory of being in the city not too many years ago and realized how much had changed since then. I knew that I didn’t want to make something nostalgic about “disappearing Shanghai”, but at the same time, I felt that what I was seeing was unprecedented. Already there was a growing sense of loss at the disappearance of so many historic buildings. But from what I’d already seen, taking photographs inside some of these buildings, I felt that it was more than the buildings themselves; it was a whole way of life in Shanghai that was disappearing: living in close quarters in lane housing and in individual buildings, where neighbors had to share more of their lives than they might necessarily want to. In other places, I’d always photographed the “now” without thinking too much about “then”. But in Shanghai it seemed I was photographing right inside the rapidly closing gap between “now” and “then”. That gap was actually there and photographable, though it was clear that it wouldn’t be for long.


Neocha: 你的作品似乎都在记录某种城市的记忆,和你作品中的其他城市,像是香港,河内或者温哥华相比,你觉得记录上海有什么与众不同的吗?

Greg Girard: 我在1983年第一次来到上海,那时这里的建筑与1949年相比几乎没有什么改变。至少从城市外观来说,感觉就像来到了一个被时间冻结的城市。只有一些街牌因为在1949后全新重命名而看上去有些变化。很久之后的1998年,我从香港搬到上海,见证着这个城市重新开发的进程,我仍然记得这个城市几年前的样貌,然后意识到这里从那时开始就已经发生了如此之大的变迁。我知道我并不是想对“消逝的上海”表现出一种怀旧的情绪,但当下我感到自己所见所闻史无前例。当诸多带着历史记忆的老建筑拆迁之后,那种失落感就已经在日益膨胀。不过就我所看到的,以及通过拍摄建筑内部的生活场景,我想失去的不仅仅是上海建筑的本身,更是上海曾经的一整套生活方式:里弄住宅和独栋建筑里的狭小生活空间,邻里不得不共享一些可能并非出自他们本愿的生活空间。在其他地方,我在拍摄“此刻”的时候常常不愿意去考虑太多“过去”。但是在上海,我觉得自己就像是在拍摄“此刻”和“过去”之间正在快速退场的距离,那个距离是如此真实,可供拍摄,但有一点也很清楚,它不会存在太长的时间。

Websitegreggirard.com
Instagram@gregforaday

 

Contributor: George Liu Zhen


网站greggirard.com
Instagram: @gregforaday

 

Contributor: George Liu Zhen

Organic Farm

Having previously completed impressive architectural and interior design projects throughout China such as Beijing’s Rongbaozhai Coffee Bookstore, Arch Studio was commissioned to design Organic Farm, a 6000 square meter compound located in the outskirts of Tangshan City’s Guye District. The distinct architectural design stands out amongst the sprawl of villages and private residences in the surrounding area. As the name suggests, the main purpose of the building is to function as a processing workshop of organic food. Raw materials are sent from organic producing regions across the China are processed and packaged to be retail-ready. Many of the organic products here are then transported to homes and supermarket all throughout China.


建筑营在国内有着诸多令人惊叹的建筑和室内设计作品,像是北京荣宝斋咖啡书屋。这次建筑营在唐山古冶区设计了占地6000平米的有机农场。被村落和房屋环绕的这座独特建筑更显独树一帜。如其所名,建筑的基本功能是有机粮食加工作坊,原料来自于分散全国各地的有机粮食原产区,在这里完成粮食的收集、加工、包装流程,再将成品运送到各大超市和家家户户。

The design concept behind this building is inspired by siheyuan, a traditional residential design where a large courtyard is flanked by buildings on all four sides, a design commonly sees in northern China. Organic Farm’s skillfully executed this traditional architectural style on a much larger scale. In doing so, they’ve create a natural atmosphere and a functional workspace that allows flexibility. The self-contained compound is at the same time able to harmoniously coexist with the surrounding natural environment.


这座建筑的设计理念来自四合院,四面民居中心庭院,一个在中国北方较为常见的传统民居设计。有机农场巧妙地把这种传统建筑风格放大。用这种方法,他们创造了自然的氛围和灵活多变的工作空间。实现自给自足的同时又与周围的自然环境和谐共处。

The entire compound is split into four enclosed, relatively independent buildings: a material storage, a mill, an oil pressing workshop, and a packing area. The inner courtyard is the grain-sunning ground, and a convenient work cycle line is formed around the inner courtyard. The exterior of the buildings are corridors that connect the four areas and leads to the food processing workshop.


整座建筑可以细分为四个相对独立的建筑,分别是原料库、磨坊、榨油坊、包装区。内庭 院作为粮食的晒场,围绕内庭院形成便捷的工作循环流线。建筑的边界是联通四个分区的外部游廊,也通向粮食作坊。

The central courtyard spans out around the Organic Farm unintentionally, forming a multilayered area that fulfills the need for natural ventilation, natural lighting and views of a workshop. The organic relationship between the courtyard and each building creates functional areas of various sizes: small corridors, medium-sized rooms, and large workshop are all able to fit under one big roof, allowing for even more flexibility while meeting the functional needs of the building.


中心庭院向建筑四周错落延伸,拓扑组合成为多层次的庭院空间,满足厂房的自然通风、采光及景观需求,保持良好的室内外空间品质。院 与房的有机联系使得建筑在一个完整的大屋顶下产生多种跨度的使用空间:小尺寸的走廊、 中等大小的房间、大规模的厂房,可以弹性的适应加工作坊的复合使用要求。

Lightweight, easily processed, and easily installed, wood was the main material of choice. Because it sits on a 60cm cement base, the building appears to floating above the ground due to the 60 centimeter cement base that it sits on, which also allows the wooden structure to be moisture proof. At the same time, this design choice hides pipelines and various fixed equipment, allowing for a cleaner visual presentation to visitors.


由于木材的轻质,快速加工安装的特点以及自然的材料属性,设计选择了胶合木作为主体结构。建筑仿佛“漂浮”于地面之上,坐落在60公分高的水泥台基上,以使得木结构与室内地面产生更好的防潮性能,同时可以隐藏一些固定设备管线,给观者带了视觉上更清新简约的感觉。

The thoughtful designs employed by Arch Studio, such as the material choice and structural shape, all flawlessly work together and has resulted in a warm, natural, and comfortable working atmosphere.


建筑营带来的细致的设计,从材料的挑选和结构上的考究,相辅相成。空间、结构、材料以及层次性的室外庭院共同塑造出这个农场温暖、自然、内外连续的工作场景。

Website: archstudio.cn

 

Contributor: George Liu Zhen
Photographer: Jin Weiqi
Images Courtesy of Arch Studio


网站: archstudio.cn

 

供稿人: George Liu Zhen
摄影师: 金伟琦
图片由建筑营设计工作室提供

Echoes of Solitude

Gurgaon-based visual artist Pragya Bhargava believes that nature is intrinsically linked with culture, and that these are two major components which have shaped our society and way of life. Through observing the natural elements that impose their influence on landscapes over time, she endeavors to explore the vital connection between the connection between the two, a connection that has become largely overlooked and ignored. In attempting to fully visualize and present this vital connection to her audience, her art often blurs the boundaries between photography, printmaking, and drawing. Recently, we talked to Pragya about her work and some of the underlying themes behind it.

Neocha: How has living in India influenced you as a photographer?

Pragya Bhargava: Being based in India has had a significant impact on me as a photographer. The diversity in landscape and the richness of history and culture prevalent in Indian society is an anchor for my photographic practice. With the knowledge that human history has been written several times over on the same piece of seemingly uncluttered land, the resolved nature and settled wisdom of the land around me grounds my practice and leaves me in awe.

Neocha: How long have you been doing photography and how would you describe your photographic style?

Pragya Bhargava: I have been practicing photography for eight years now. But to define or describe a photographic style, I feel, requires many more years of experience and practice. At this point, I find my photographic style to be based largely on intuition. Photography is essentially drawing with light, and every subject demands a certain kind of light, in order for it be presented for what it looks and feels like. I shoot mostly on a 5D Mark III and prefer working with natural light. For the process of shooting, I follow my instinct to shoot the experience of my subject. Although I usually tend to keep distance between the camera and my subject, there is always a sense of comfort in the frame. For the outcome, it is absolutely essential that I be satisfied with the work before I present it to an audience.

Neocha: Where is your favourite place in India for shooting landscape photography, and why?

Pragya Bhargava: I like being on the road. The landscapes you encounter on road trips can hardly ever be listed on a map or bound in a book. This is why I rarely plan my destinations or make advance bookings when I’m out shooting landscapes. I decide the terrain I want to shoot and set out in that general direction. Most of my traveling is by road and the landscapes punctuate my travel. Sometimes I gaze, other times I halt, but it’s not every time that I shoot.

Neocha: Are there any challenges you face when shooting landscape photographs, and what are they?

Pragya Bhargava: Recreating experience is an important part of my practice. Therefore, the biggest challenge for me with landscape photography is being able to do justice to the experience of landscapes. Visually, I may be able to portray what I see but the challenge lies in capturing the timelessness and ephemerality of landscapes while maintaining their tangibility, omnipresence and incorporating their multifaceted character, due to the years of layering and transformations landscapes have undergone, in a single frame.

Neocha: How far do you go in post-production?  How important is post-processing in making a landscape photograph?

Pragya Bhargava: The landscapes define how far I go in post-production. With the aim to reproduce an experience and recreate an atmosphere, I use every tool at my disposal to get there. But there’s a fine line in processing that lies between under and over processing and I need to be on it. My process usually involves shadow recovery, highlight and contrast adjustments, levels and colour balance, preserving details in the extreme points, mostly during raw conversion itself. A raw image file is only half baked, processing and post-processing completes the process. They are tools, like the camera itself to translate ideas into finished products. Each of them have an equally important role to play.

Neocha: Who do you count among your biggest influences, photographically or otherwise?

Pragya Bhargava: The photographs of Ansel Adams and Cory Richards and the paintings of J.M.W. Turner have been huge inspirations for me, but Leonardo da Vinci has been the most significant influence in my life, especially professionally. Da Vinci was a polymath. To a layman who wants to understand him and his work, his ideas might seem all over the place, yet it was cohesive in his mind. In my journey as a student of science, I have a Bachelors in Fine Arts and a diploma in dance. I’m currently studying physics in order to learn more about geophysics to gain a better understanding of landscape dynamics to enrich my practice as an artist. I look up to Da Vinci and take inspiration from him and the thoughts he left behind in his works.

Neocha: Do you have guiding principles that you follow when you’re making pictures? Is there an underlying philosophy that binds all your work together?

Pragya Bhargava: It’s more of a routine now. I do my ground research, assess the situation, make myself comfortable with the situation and with the subject so they don’t feel like an outsider. I look at the light, the subject, my equipment, and consider my aim but stay flexible. I prepare for my shot and follow my routine to capture what I intended to shoot, but as a photographer, I’m not stubborn about the shooting. I’m prepared for the unplanned and to let go if chance offers an alternate opportunity. For me, instinct has always been a better guide than planning. What probably binds my work together is that no matter what I’m shooting, I try to remain true to my subject. I try to understand my subject first, taking its various facets into consideration, and try to present it with all its intricacies.

Neocha: You’ve also created conceptual works like Ode to the Landscape and The Yellow Brick Road, which still contain a strong focus on landscape. What is the allure of landscapes for you?

Pragya Bhargava: Every artist needs a muse and mine happens to be landscapes. The enigmatic character, constant change and ubiquitous grandeur of landscapes is what attracts me to them. For me, they are like people but infinitely more complex. I have an unfaltering need to understand their personality, history and character. Sometimes these landscapes seem to talk directly to me as a sensory experience or feelings they evoke, while other times I feel the urge to read into things that are left unsaid, thinking in terms of the stories that might have been.

Websitepragyabhargava.com

 

Contributor: George Liu Zhen

Dig Deep, Always

Dig Deep is an independent menswear label based in Singapore, their apparel is designed in and inspired by the East Asian region. Each collection focuses on a particular country within the region and aspires to convey certain elements of each country’s culture. Dig Deep juxtaposes traditional elements with the most rugged aspects of their respective countries to create premium garments for curious-minded people living in this homogeneous generation. Recently, Neocha sat down and talked to Choo, one of the founder of Dig Deep, to find out more about their inspirations and view on streetwear culture in the region.


Dig Deep是一个来自新加坡的独立男装品牌,设计充满东亚风情。Dig Deep的每一季的设计灵感来自东亚地区的不同国家,致力于把不同文化中的传统元素带进他们的设计。Dig Deep把这些传统元素和男装的硬朗相结合,为这个充满好奇心而又有些同质化的这一代人,创作出牛逼的服装。最近新茶和Dig Deep的创始人之一Choo聊了聊他们的设计灵感和对新加坡的潮流文化的看法。

Neocha: Within the context of Singapore, have you faced any difficulties in trying to start an independent fashion label? What are some of the more memorable experiences of starting this label?

Choo: We’ve actually encountered countless issues along the way due to nature of the fashion industry in Singapore. The difficulty of sourcing embellishments and fabrics was definitely one of the most challenging one we’ve had to overcome. By many measures, the local fashion industry is quite small when compared to other industries in Singapore’s economy. This led us to the sourcing of our fabrics and embellishments from more established markets in Japan, China and Vietnam. One of the most interesting things we did in starting Dig Deep, and still continue to do this day, is work closely with our pattern makers. Both ladies of whom are in their late fifties and have been perfecting this art for over the past thirty years. Pattern making is essentially a dying trade in Singapore, a skill that many can pick up with time but only able to master through countless years of experience and practice. Pattern making can be loosely defined as making the shapes for each component (e.g. sleeve, cuff, collar, bodice etc. for a shirt) of a particular type of garment and these shapes will eventually be used to cut the fabric according to the patterns before being sewn together. The pattern makers we work with exercise a great degree of judgement and precision in crafting the patterns according to our sketches, measurements, and inputs through fitting sessions. We actually rely heavily on these increasingly rare artisans to bring Dig Deep’s designs to life.


Neocha:在新加坡的大环境下,创立这样一个独立设计品牌的过程中有遇到什么困难吗?或者有发生什么有趣的事吗?

Choo:因为新加坡时尚产业自身的局限性,导致我们在做这个品牌时遇到了很多困难。目前布料和配件的供应是最大的困难。在很多程度上,本地时尚产业和新加坡其它产业相比规模是很小的,这让我们必须从更成熟的市场寻找供应商,像是日本,中国和越南。在成立Dig Deep以来,最有趣的事就是和我们的服装制版师们一起工作,两位年近六十的女士都有着超过三十年的从业经验。服装制版师在新加坡是一个快要消失的职业,服装制版也是个简单易学却需要多年经验和练习才能如火纯青的技术。制版可以简单定义为制作衣服的每个部件形状(如果做件衬衫的话,像是袖子,袖口,领子等等),根据这些形状裁剪出布料,最后进行缝制,我们的样板师根据我们的设计,测量和数据,能够超级精准的制作出我们想要的样板。想要把Dig Deep的设计转化为现实,这些越来越少的匠人使我们不可或缺的。

Neocha: Many would agree that Singapore is the financial center of South East Asia, and you come from a financial business background. In a country where it’s possible to have a comfortable career in finance, what led you to abandon this path and dedicate yourself to fashion?

Choo: I would say there weren’t any factors that pushed me to leave the world of finance, but rather I was pulled and drawn into the world of fashion by a number of factors; one of which was definitely the insatiable desire to create. I saw the creation of garments and Dig Deep as an avenue that would allow myself and my team to create a brand and products that hopefully many would be able to relate to. In fashion, the individuality beyond just the garments itself was also something that truly intrigued me. I have always found it very interesting how the same piece of garment could be part of such a disparate impression for two different people wearing it. The styling, the attitude, the age of the individual, their gender, their body structure, their tattoos or the lack thereof are all components that actually give the garments its character. To me, It’s really fascinating how people buy clothes with the mindset that it creates a certain persona or impression of themselves to others, or even to themselves. They’re generally unaware that their interaction with the garment itself is actually what gives the garment its character.


Neocha:我们都知道新加坡是的东南亚金融中心,你也曾在金融界工作。是什么让你放弃了金融业舒适的生活,转而投身时尚界呢?

Choo:其实不能说是什么原因让我离开了金融界,而是时尚界的很多东西深深地吸引了我,其中一个原因就是我很想搞自己的创作。我把服装制作和Dig Deep看做一个渠道,能够让我和我们团队创作一个很多人喜欢的品牌。我喜欢时尚的个性超越了服装自身,同一件衣服两个人穿,也会产生完全不同的效果,我觉得这很有趣。每个人的风格,态度,年龄和性别,甚至身材都能够给一件衣服带来不同的特质。对我来说,我觉得人们买衣服为自己或者他人制造某种印象,但是大部分人没有发现到他们自身与衣服的互动,这也给衣服赋予了他们自身的性格。

Neocha: Most Asian countries have westernized rapidly in the last few decades, and it’s kind of xenophilic on some levels. When you created Dig Deep, did you feel a certain sense of responsibility to make certain cultural and traditional aspects of Asia more accessible to the younger generation?

Choo: Most definitely. There are a number of reasons why we feel this way. One of the main reasons is this perspective that we all hold in the team, which is without knowledge of history, and the cultural, traditional aspects of different parts of Asia, we would not be able to appreciate the present to the fullest extent. It’s only by learning about the journey of how Asia has come to be where it is right now that one is able to understand where the future of Asia lies. The result of the rapid westernization of the East has most definitely brought about some benefits for Asia, but not without its disadvantages, such as the erosion of our own culture, tradition and aesthetics. These things have to be relearned due to the younger generation’s lack of exposure to these elements. The result of which is often an aversion to these seemingly archaic elements, often seen as being outdated and irrelevant to the current generation. What we aim to achieve here at Dig Deep is to generate curiosity and create designs for garments that we feel would be highly relevant to this generation and also serve as a catalyst for one to explore deeper into East Asia’s immensely rich heritage.


Neocha:大部分亚洲国家在过去的几十年里迅速西化,在某些程度上也有些崇洋媚外。当你在创立Dig Deep的时候,你是否觉得有某种责任去把一些亚洲文化和传统,变得更容易被年轻人接受?

Choo:那是肯定的。我们这么觉得是有几个原因,我们团队都认同一个原因就是,我们不会对今天拥有的一切心存感激,如果我们对亚洲的文化,历史和传统一无所知,只有了解过去,才能展望未来。迅速的西化的确给亚洲带来了一些好处,但是也带来了很多负面的东西,像是对于文化,传统和美学的侵蚀。这些我们都要重新去学习,也因为年轻人对这些缺乏了解,导致他们对这些看上去有些“陈旧”的东西产生厌倦,认为是过时的,或者跟这一代人没有什么关系的。我们想要做的就是让Dig Deep能够激发年轻人的好奇心,创作出现代人喜欢的服装,也希望能成为探索深厚东亚传统文化的一剂催化剂。

Neocha: How did all the minds behind Dig Deep meet and get together to start the brand?

Choo: A good friend of mine and I were actually having a conversation, about a year and half back, talking about how we felt that much of what we wore in both formal and casual settings was predominantly, or in most cases, entirely Western by nature. We then went on to speak about how wearing our traditional outfits was essentially left for rare occasions and we imagined how people would react if we wore it on a day-by-day basis; we envisioned most people might find it quite odd, and we’d most likely be ridiculed by some, which really got us thinking why that was the case. It became quite clear to us that the economic and political dominance of the West over the last few centuries have permanently altered our perception of our own culture, traditions, and arts, to the point that most of us have developed a sense of aesthetics or normalcy in dressing in a style that’s aligned with Western cultures. We felt that the underappreciation of the arts and culture in the Asian region was less a result of inferiority and more related to an underexposure of Asian elements. Thus, in order for Eastern aesthetics to be considered “normal” and “pleasing to the eye,” it needs more exposure. It was through this conversation that Dig Deep was manifested. We noticed the absence of an Asian-inspired high street brand in the global fashion scene and felt strongly there was definitely room for a number of Asia-inspired brands such as visvim and the up-and-rising IISE to appeal to the global audience, in what has become a rather homogenous environment for high street fashion. It is our hope that Dig Deep, along with other Asia-inspired labels, will be able to bring about a refreshing perspective on high street fashion.


Neocha:Dig Deep现在的主创们是怎么走到一起的?

Choo:大约一年半前,我和我一哥们在聊天,我们都觉得我们平时穿的正装和休闲服都太西方了。继续聊到我们只在一些节日的时候才会穿一些的传统服饰,如果平时也穿这些,别人会怎么看,我们猜别人肯定觉得很奇怪,甚至会被嘲笑。这让我们去思考为什么会变成这样,这显然是西方在过去几个世纪经济上和政治上的统治对改变了我们对自我文化,传统,艺术的认知。以至于我们穿衣风格也被西化了。我们觉得对亚洲文化,艺术的忽视,并非因为自卑,只是缺少对传统文化的推广。因此,为了让东方审美变成“正常的” “好看的”,这都需要对其更多的推广。自那时起,创立Dig Deep的想法就出现了。我们发现在国际时尚界缺少亚洲风格的高街时尚品牌,除了visvim和上升很快的IISE之外,还是有很多发展空间的。我们希望Dig Deep能够和其他亚洲风格的品牌一起给高街时尚带来一股新风。

Neocha: You guys insist on all-original designs, and there are many interesting details in each single one of your creations. What are some reoccurring concepts you try to incorporate when designing an outfit?

Choo: One of the concepts we constantly explore from collection to collection is the reinterpretation of certain iconic traditional elements and how we are able to respectfully transform and incorporate these elements into a particular garment, but in a unique and refreshing way. For example, our first official collection Dragon in the Concrete Jungle explored one of the legends of the East, the late Bruce Lee. We were particularly fascinated with Bruce Lee’s final film appearance before his passing, the 1973 classic Enter the Dragon. In that film, Bruce Lee can be seen wearing a particular type of pants in several iconic scenes. We saw the incredible structure and silhouette of the pants, which was extremely flattering to the male body; being slim at the waist, with strength around the thigh areas, before it’s tapered down near the ankle region, allowing it to elongates the legs. We adopted a very similar structure to our pants and not only that, the cloth used in securing the ankle regions as seen in the film was reimagined. What we created was essentially Bruce Lee’s pants. In the early design phase, we will also try to understand the functionality and reasoning behind why a particular traditional East Asian attire is the way it is, the reasons behind how the aesthetics of that attire has come to be. In our upcoming collection based around Japan, we researched extensively on a couple of facets of Japanese culture, one of them being the attire worn in the art of yabusame, a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese culture that originated in the Kamakura period.


Neocha:你们坚持原创设计,你们的很多设计中有很多有趣的小细节。当你们在设计一件衣服时,有什么你们很看重的理念吗?

Choo:其中一个理念,在我们每一季的设计中都在一直探索的就是,用一种新鲜且独特的方式,把一些标志性的传统元素转化和融入我们的设计中。举个例子,我们的第一季《Dragon in the Concrete Jungle》灵感来自东方传奇李小龙。在他离世前的最后一部电影,1973年的《龙争虎斗》中,在很多标志性的场景中李小龙都穿着一种很独特的裤子。我们能发现它的剪裁其实是很衬托男性身材的,在腰部的地方收窄,大腿部分相对宽松,最后在脚踝部分收窄,使其更显腿部的修长。我们把这种结构带到我们裤型设计中,在此之上,又重新设计了脚踝部分的设计,使我们真正意义上做了一条“李小龙”裤。在设计的初期,为了理解为什么设计成这样,我们努力去研究和学习亚洲传统服饰设计中独特的功能性。我们下一季的灵感主要来自日本,深入研究了日本文化的几个方面,其中一个就是在流镝马这个起源于镰仓时期的传统马上射箭项目时穿着的服饰。

 

Neocha: Many brands are starting to create more Asia-inspired apparel, and most of them keep it rather traditional, what would you say makes Dig Deep different from the rest?

Choo: There are a number of factors which set Dig Deep apart from the rest and chief amongst these is in our view, our perspective on East Asia which stems from the dynamic nature of our team. The heritage and influences of our team is quite wide ranging. On our team, we have Chinese individuals who have grown up in westernized societies, such as Melbourne and Singapore; a Eurasian whose heritage is part Polish and part Chinese, but whose nationality is American; and also a Shanghai native who has spent a large amount of time in Singapore. This diverse dynamism within the team allows for Dig Deep to have a highly varied and nuanced view of East Asia and affects how we interpret different elements of East Asia. This has a direct impact on the brand and all of our designs. Our individual opinions and perspectives are forced to interact collectively and the result of which are designs that stand apart. On the more tangible side of things, we place a lot of emphasis on the quality of our fabrics and embellishments along with the workmanship behind putting each garment together. We never compromise on the smallest of details for each garment. Every piece of garment is handmade, which allows us certain types of finishes and quality that would not be possible with machines.


Neocha:现在很多品牌都在做亚洲风格的服装,大部分都是尽量保留传统的风格,和这些品牌相比,Dig Deep有什么不同?

Choo:我认为,在几个方面Dig Deep与其它品牌不同,我们对东亚文化独特的理解,源于我们团队对自身文化和传统的影响。在我们团队中,有在墨尔本和新加坡这样西方社会长大的华人,一个波兰和华人的美籍混血儿,以及一个常年生活在新加坡的上海人。这样一个充满多样性和活力的团队让Dig Deep对东亚文化有着多样且细致的观察,能够更好地融合不同的东亚文化元素,这对我们品牌和设计有着直接的影响。我们每个人不同的想法和观点在一起产生化学反应,使我们的设计与众不同。在一些更实际的方面,我们强调用料的质量和缝制的工艺。我们也从不在任何的小细节做出妥协,花大量时间调研,只跟行业里最成熟的供应商合作,制作最高标准,耐用的服饰。不仅如此,每一件衣服都是手工制作,这让我们的服装达到了很多机器无法完成的质量。

Neocha: Traditional East Asian attires have a very unique look compared with traditional attire in other regions. What is your take on the aesthetics of traditional East Asian attire?

Choo: One of the major differences for traditional East Asian attire compared with traditional attire of other regions would most definitely be the evidence of strong hierarchal elements in traditional East Asian attire. It’s not to say that these elements aren’t present in the traditional attire of other regions, but the difference is really in how the hierarchal elements are expressed. In traditional East Asian attire, the aesthetics for royalty and higher ranking members of society revolved around mythological creatures, in addition to rich colours and embellishments. The unique look of traditional attire in East Asia can also be attributed partly to the environmental conditions of the region where seasons play a large role in what people used to wear to protect themselves against the environment. The iconic layering often seen in East Asian attire was mostly due the harsh winters in certain areas of East Asia and though it served a functional purpose, it has also become one of the more prominent features of East Asian aesthetics in the traditional garments. However, we are very often very cautious in generalising traditional East Asian attire under one category, as the differences from country to country, even within a country itself from region to region, or the different time periods have spawned numerous looks within East Asia. It is this dynamism within the East Asia region that we at Dig Deep, truly revel in.


Neocha:东亚传统服饰和其它地区的传统服饰相比是非常独一无二的。你对东亚传统服饰的独特美学有着什么样的理解?

Choo:东亚传统服饰与其它地区的传统服饰相比,最大的不同之一就是历史承载的深厚文化底蕴。这并非说其它地区的传统服饰不具备这些,而是东亚传统服饰有着独一无二的表达方式。在传统东亚服饰里,对于皇室或者贵族的服装设计,是围绕着神话中的麒麟异兽展开的,而且有着丰富的色彩和装饰。东亚传统服饰的独特美感一部分也是由自然环境决定的,这包括四季的变化,以及人与自然的对抗。其标志性的多层次穿法,也是源于东亚部分地区寒冷的严冬,而且能够因地适宜,这也成为东亚美学中最突出的特点之一。所以我们在把所以东亚传统服饰归为一个类时非常谨慎,因为不同国家,甚至是一个国家的不同地区,不同时期,都有着很多不同的着装风格。就是东亚地区这种多样性让我们Dig Deep十分地着迷。

Websitedigdeepalways.com
Facebook~/digdeepalways
Instagram@digdeepalways

 

Contributor: George Liu Zhen


Shanghai Auto Museum

As an enthusiastic car lover and a collector of Hot Wheels, I have longed to visit the Shanghai Auto Museum for a while. Following the hype of the recent 2016 antique car rally, Moving Legends, I made the pilgrimage to the holy land for Chinese car collectors – the Shanghai Auto Museum. Located in Anting, an hour’s drive away from Shanghai’s downtown area, the museum is China’s first dedicated auto museum. It was co-designed by the Architectural Design & the Research Institute of Tongji University and IFB from Germany and officially opened to the public in 2007.


作为一个热爱汽车的男青年,和风火轮小车的收藏者,对上海汽车博物馆向往已久。趁着近期2016年古董车拉力车:移动传奇热度,我拜访了上海汽车博物馆。在距离上海市区大约一个小时车程的安亭,我来这座中国藏车界的圣地。上海汽车博物馆是中国第一个对公众开放,以汽车为主题的博物馆,自2007开馆至今已近10年。博物馆建筑由同济大学建筑设计研究院和德国IFB共同设计完成。

I’ve been to most of the car museums in China and compared to the Changchun International Automotive Museum and Beijing Automobile Museum, the Shanghai Auto Museum was much more diverse and much more interesting. Many museums in China actually have this problem, where they might look spectacular from the outside, but once visitors are inside they will disappointingly discover a lack of noteworthy content. Being government owned, the Shanghai Auto Museum has outdone itself in so many ways. Being able to see the 1886 Benz Patent Motor Wagon, 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom 2, and the Hongqi CA-72, which was used during the Chinese national day parade in 1959, all on display in one place made for an amazing experience.


我去过国内大部分的汽车博物馆,相比吉林长春汽车博物馆的单调,北京汽车博物馆的主旋律,上海博物馆算是最具多样性的了。国内很多的博物馆普遍的问题是金玉其外,败絮其中,缺乏实质性的内容。上海汽车博物馆算是少有的稍有表里如一的政府性的博物馆了,从1886年的“奔驰一号”到1935年的劳斯莱斯幻影2,甚至是1959年国庆用的加长红旗礼车CA-72,齐聚一堂,为参观者创造了一次惊艳的体验。

The museum is divided into three pavilions: the History Pavilion, Antique Car Pavilion, and Exploration Pavilion, with a majority of the most interesting vehicles exhibited in the first two pavilions. The ticket costs 60 yuan and the museum has both Mandarin and English-speaking guides available. The first area is the History Pavilion, a space that houses a total of 27 cars, all of which represent milestones in automotive development. The guide told me the museum is continuously updating their collection, and by the next time I visit, there might be new additions to their collection. If you don’t know much about automotive history, this area offers a great learning opportunity. Besides the collection of rare vehicles, there are other points of interest in the History Pavilion, such as a wall that displays the changing gas prices over the last few decades and the speed records of some most famous racetracks around the world.


博物馆总共分三个分馆,历史馆,珍藏馆和探索馆,精华在历史馆和珍藏馆。票价60元,还有有中英文讲解员,不想花钱扫一下微信也可以,只是没有英文。咱们先从历史馆看起,历史馆大约有27辆左右的古董车,代表了汽车发展史上的一个个里程碑。馆员告诉我馆藏会定期更新,也许你来的时候就有更多了呢,如果你不太了解汽车的历史,这也是补习一下的好机会。历史馆中还有一些有趣的小细节,像是油价在过去几十年的变化以及一些知名赛道最快速度的记录。

The Antique Car Pavilion houses the most amazing vintage car and model car collection in China. In this area, visitors can browse more than 200 model cars in different scales, with a majority of them made by the famous German model car manufacturer CMC. The main section has 40 cars from 20 different manufacturers dated between 1900 and 1970. Iconic Chinese two-wheelers are also on display in this area, such as the Phoenix 28 bicycles, Xingfu 250, as well as the Yangtze and Donghai 750 motorcycles; all of them are of course kept in pristine condition.


二楼的珍藏馆就牛逼上天了。入口处有两三百辆不同比例的车模,其中不少是超级精美的德国CMC车模。主展区有来自20多个不同品牌,产自1900-1970年的40辆古董车。像是1902年的标志39型,1907年的福特S型车和1921年的劳斯莱斯幽灵。喜欢两轮的,往后走一点有中国人熟悉的凤凰大28,幸福250和长江750等,和十分稀有的东海750,当然了,所有的馆藏车都是车况完美的真车。

If you are a fan of American cars, you can spot the 1970 Pontiac GTO, 1957 Chrysler 300C, 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, and 1964 Ford Mustang. For Japanese car lovers, there is the 1967 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Datsun (predecessor of Nissan) 240Z, and 1966 Toyota Corolla. German car enthusiasts will be happy to see the 1964 Porsche 356C, 1960 BMW Isetta and 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL. For fans of Italian or British cars, the 1967 Jaguar Type-E, 1951 Jaguar XK120, 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV, 1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre, among others are also on display. During the 2016 Moving Legends car rally, you could actually spot many of these vintage cars being driven through Shanghai. There was so much to see at the museum that spending just a single afternoon there didn’t feel like quite enough time.


如果你是美系粉,这里有1970年的庞蒂亚克GTO,1957年的克莱斯勒300C,1954年的雪佛兰科尔维特和1964年的福特野马等。日系粉们,能找到1967年的马自达科莫兹,1970年的达特桑(日产的前身)240Z和1966年的丰田花冠等。对德系粉有1964年的保时捷356C,1960年的宝马依赛塔,1955年的奔驰300SL等。当然了,喜欢意大利和英国车的人,这里也有1967年的捷豹E型,1951年的捷豹XK120,1967年的阿尔法罗密欧茱莉娅GTV,1929年的宾利4 1/2 升等等,定能让你大饱眼福,在2016的古董车拉力车期间,你还能在馆外看到很多古董车型飞驰在路上。

The Exploration Pavilion has an interactive movie theater, engine models, and some concept cars, which admittedly was not as exciting to me as the first two pavilions, but definitely still worth visiting. Also parked there are vintage Ferrari Mondials from different years. Visitors wondering where all the cars come from might be surprised to find out that most of the vintage cars were donated by American philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring. When you leave, there is a gift shop at the exit, which offers many beautiful model cars for interested consumers, including models made by local Chinese brand Almost Real and the famous German brand CMC.


三楼探索馆有些互动性的电影,发动机模型,也有些概念车,但不如一二楼精彩,也是值得一看。目前还停放着三辆不同时期的法拉利蒙迪尔。很多人也许会好奇,这些车都是哪里来的?其实大部分的古董车来自美国慈善家肯尼斯·尤金·贝林的捐赠。离开时门口还有纪念品店,里面有大量精致的车模在售,其中包括知名的德国品牌CMC和中国本土品牌Almost Real。

All in all, any car enthusiast visiting the Shanghai Auto Museum will be impressed. No matter if you’re a model car collector like me or a fan of vintage cars, you can find something of interest at the museum. If you’re interested in seeing one of the most impressive collection of vintage cars in China, the Shanghai Auto Museum is definitely worth visiting.


总的来说,上海汽车博物馆可以说是所以汽车爱好者的梦想成真,不管你是喜欢收集车模的人,还是古董车爱好者,在这里都能看自己的心水。不管怎样,不出国门就能看到如此数量的古董车,上海汽车博物馆绝对是值得到此一游的。

Websiteshautomuseum.com

 

Contributor & Photographer: George Liu Zhen


网址shautomuseum.com

 

供稿人与摄影师: George Liu Zhen

The Singaporean Skate Scene

Singapore, otherwise known as the Lion City, is a warm tropical paradise with an ever-growing skateboarding scene. With more and more kids becoming interested in the sport, and with local professional skateboarders like Farris Rahman making his mark in several global competitions, Singapore’s skate scene is rapidly gaining momentum. From illegal to legal, subculture to mainstream, the scene has come a long way. Recently, Neocha sat down with Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman, the founder of Singapore-based skater collective Brain Juice, to hear his thoughts on Singapore’s skate scene and how local skate culture has evolved.


新加坡,也被称为狮城,是温暖的热带天堂,本地的滑板圈也不停的发展,从越来越多的人加入到这项运动中来,到本地的职业滑板选手Farris Rahman在国际比赛上取得更好的成绩,给本地滑板氛围带来更多活力。滑板在新加坡从非法到合法,地下文化变成主流文化,本地滑板圈走了一段艰辛的路。最近,我们和本地滑手Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman聊了聊他对于本地滑板圈的看法和新加坡的滑板文化。

Neocha: There are many skateparks in Singapore. Do you feel like locals prefer to skate in the parks or out in the streets? 

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: I personally prefer the streets, although nowadays, more skateboarders prefer skate parks as their go-to hangout spot. Many locals like to meet up there and enjoy a nice skate session. To me, a skate park is a place to learn and further develop your skills. It’s a place where you can boost your confidence on certain tricks before heading out into the streets and going down a huge set of stairs, gaps, or handrails.


Neocha: 新加坡有不少的滑板公园,你们更喜欢在公园里玩滑板,还是在街头?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 我个人更喜欢街头滑板,但是现在更多玩滑板的人更喜欢去滑板公园,因为他们是从那里开始接触滑板的。本地人喜欢在那里见面,玩会滑板,聊会天。对我来说,滑板公园是一个学习和练习滑板,增加自己对技巧的信心,然后你可以去尝试冲向街头,或者是尝试下楼梯和栏杆。

Neocha: Considering how Singapore has fairly restrictive laws, do you guys ever get into trouble for skateboarding? 

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: Well, there’s been some minor encounters with the police, with them wanting to check identification or getting kicked out from spots. I’m lucky to have never been arrested or have my board taken away.


Neocha: 新加坡的法律严苛,你们也有没有因为滑板遇上什么麻烦?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 好吧,就是些普通的小麻烦,像是警察查查你的身份证,或者被从滑板公园赶出来。但是我是幸运的,至少没有被抓起来,或者没收把我的滑板。

Neocha: With a background as a filmmaker, do you have any plans of making any films about Singaporean skateboarders?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: There has always been this idea, but right now I’m just finally finishing my national service. I’m slowly working towards it, but for the moment, I just want to take the time to enjoy skateboarding.


Neocha: 我知道你也是个电影制作者,有没有想过制作一部关于滑板的电影?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 我一直有这个想法但是我刚刚当完兵,总算完了,我正慢慢的开始计划中。但是现在啊,我只想单纯地享受滑板给我带来的乐趣。

Neocha: How does the general public feel about skateboarding in Singapore? 

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: Skateboarding is not something that the public generally approves of. To some people, they might see it as a nuisance, as vandalism, or as if we’re doing something illegal. The public does not see what skateboarders see. Take a set of stairs for example. Most people see them as simply something to help you get up or down, but we see them as a challenge. With the increase of popularity in skateboarding, I hope things will change and more adults will encourage their children to skate.


Neocha: 你们认为新加坡的公众对待滑板是什么样的态度?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 公众对滑板还是不太认可的。可能对于某些人,他们讨厌玩滑板的,认为我们破坏公物,做很多非法的事情。公众和玩滑板的看到的是不一样的,就拿楼梯来说,老百姓觉得这就是爬上爬下的,我看看到的就是挑战。现在滑板越来越流行了,我希望能够有所改变,更多的父母能够让他们的孩子去玩滑板。

Neocha: For most of the skateboarders in Singapore, do you feel like they’re looking to go pro or is it simply a hobby?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: I can’t really speak for others, but there was never a point in my life where I felt like I had to make it as a pro skater. I just feel like skateboarding is a passion of mine. I’m not focused on trying to be an all-out competitive skateboarder. But there are kids shredding and killing it to make their mark, like Singapore’s number one pro skateboarder, who made his name skating in global competitions. Singaporeans competing on an international level at big events such as the Street League and the Tampa Pro will certainly change people’s views of skating in Singapore. Hopefully, it’ll become motivation for the younger generation. Overall, if you love skateboarding and you work hard, I’m certain good things will come and a path will be carved out for you.


Neocha: 大部分新加坡玩滑板的是想要成为专业滑板选手,还是更多的只是爱好?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 我就光说说我自己吧,我从来没有想过最后一定要成为专业的。对我来说,滑板更像是一种情趣,而非拼了命要和别人比个高低。但是有些人还是拼尽全力,创造了成绩。就像新加坡第一的职业滑板选手,他在世界级的比赛中也滑出了成绩。能够参加像Street League和Tampa Pro这样世界级的比赛。这些都改变了对新加坡滑板圈的看法和激励年轻的一代,他们可以在滑板的路上走的那很远。总的来说如果心事真心爱滑板,努力练习,做个好人,好事自然会来,也定能在开辟一条成为专业滑板选手的路。

Neocha: How would you summarize skateboarding culture in Singapore? How does it compare to other countries in the region?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: It’s growing a lot. From what skaters wear to their skating styles, the skateboarders are even more diverse now. The only letdown is that Singapore recently had a few skate shops shutdown, and people have realized that skate shops in Singapore does not do well compared to skate shops in other places in the world. But no matter which part of the world we live in, skateboarding is a common language. We can just go out and skate, chill out, and have a good time.


Neocha: 你可以大体总结一下新加坡的滑板文化是什么吗,你们去过的其它地方有什么不同?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 已经进步了不少。玩滑板的人在衣着打扮和技巧上都有了更多不同的风格。唯一让人失望的事情是最近有些滑板店关门了,让人觉察到本地滑板店和其它国家的相比处于窘境。但是我觉得滑板就是滑板,这是一个通用的语言,就是出去滑吧,放轻松的去享受。

Neocha: What’s your take on skateboarding being in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, and being recognized as a sport internationally?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: Wow, I don’t know where to start. For me, it’s mixed feelings. Skateboarding to me has always been a lifestyle, a subculture for the misfits. But seeing it become commercialized and more accepted in the media now contradicts the public’s perception here of skating as being an illegal activity. Skateboarding is now a real sport. There was never a time before where I would consider it as a sport. Now, with the Olympics, it will probably attract a lot of business and marketing. You will probably see more people crowding the skate parks. With all this attention recently from the media about skateboarding, it is definitely quickly bringing everything from the underground to the mainstream. Whatever the hype is, skateboarding will always still be skateboarding. Just go out and skate.


Neocha: 滑板成为了2020年东京夏季奥运会的比赛项目,你对这事怎么看?

Muhammad Haikal Bin Abdul Rahman: 我都不知道从哪说起了。是一种很复杂的情绪,滑板一直都是一种生活方式,一个对于少数人的地下文化。看到它变得商业化和媒体化让我开始怀疑这个“非法的运动”(公众对滑板的印象)。但是你猜怎么着,它现在是项运动了,还参加了奥运会,估计会吸引很多商业活动和市场运作,也会有更多的人来滑板公园玩。但是媒体招来这么多注意力,让这个本来是地下的东西变得主流了。但无论怎么炒作,玩滑板就是玩滑板,快出去滑吧。

Contributor & Photographer: George Liu Zhen


供稿人与摄影师: George Liu Zhen

Art Island Naoshima

Setouchi Triennale takes place in spring, summer and autumn once every three years and lasts for 108 days. It is held on the 12 islands of the Seto Inland Sea, including Teshima, Megijima, Naoshima, and so on. With the largest number of installations and public works on display in Naoshima, this remote island is one of the most popular destinations during the Triennale.


瀬戸内国際芸術祭は、トリエンナーレ形式で3年毎に春から秋にかけて108日間開催されます。豊島、女木島、直島など瀬戸内海に浮かぶ12の島を舞台にアート作品が展示されます。インスタレーションやパブリックアート作品が最も多く展示される離島、直島は、芸術祭開催中最も人気が高い目的地の一つです。

Designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando, the Chichu Art Museum lives up to its name (chichu means “underground” in Japanese); a very large part of the museum’s compound is indeed concealed underground. Surprisingly, it manages still to use natural daylight as its main source of light. Through Ando’s masterful design, he has engaged in a conversation between architecture and nature. The museum is also exhibiting Time/Timeless/No Time from the iconic American minimalist artist Walter de Maria, Claude Monet’s large-scale oil painting Water Lily, as well as the American contemporary artist James Terrell’s Open Sky – an installation work using light as the medium. It is very rare to witness the work of impressionist, modern and contemporary art in one single museum. This alone would be reason enough to pay a visit.


世界的な建築家、安藤忠雄氏の設計による地中美術館は、その名の通り、館内の大部分が地下に隠れています。それでも意外なことに、ここでは自然光が主な光源として採り入れられています。その卓越した設計で、安藤氏は建築と自然の対話を実現しました。この美術館では、アメリカのアイコン的ミニマルアート作家、ウォルター・デ・マリアの作品「タイム/タイムレス/ノー・タイム」、クロード・モネの大規模な油絵「睡蓮」、さらに、アメリカの現代アート作家、ジェームズ・タレルによる光を媒体としたインスタレーション作品「オープン・スカイ」を展示しています。印象派、近代・現代アートの作品を一か所で目の当たりにできるのは非常に稀なことです。この点だけでも、一見の価値がある美術館といえるでしょう。

Another must-see museum is the Lee Ufan Museum. Widely considered as the most well-established Korean contemporary artist, Lee Ufan was also one of the leading artists of the Japanese minimalism movement, which has had a significant influence in the world of contemporary art. The museum opened in 2010, and is now considered an architectural masterpiece and one of Tadao Ando’s most iconic creations. In this semi-underground building, the main visual design elements are the dots, lines, and surfaces; these elements, which are central in the works of both Tadao Ando and Lee Ufan, perfectly compliment each other in the space. Some of Lee Ufan’s large-scale installations and his early paintings are also on display in the museum.


もう一つ是非訪れたい美術館は李禹煥美術館です。最も評価の高い韓国人アーティストとして広く認められた李禹煥氏は、現代アートの世界に大きな影響を与えた日本のミニマリズム運動において優れたアーティストの一人でもありました。2010年に開館したこの美術館は、安藤忠雄氏の最も象徴的な作品の一つと考えられ、まさに建築の傑作です。この半地下の建物の内部で焦点を当てられたビジュアルデザインの要素は、点と線、そして面です。安藤氏と李氏、双方の作品の中枢をなすこれら3つの要素が、見事にこの空間で互いに調和しているようです。館内には、李禹煥氏の大型インスタレーション作品と初期の絵画作品のいくつかも展示されています。

After seeing the museum, visitors can also take a walk to the peaceful harbour of Naoshima where one can get an award-winning ice cream for only 550 yen and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Even though walking is a fairly feasible option for getting around, there are also busses running to most parts of the island. One bus is even decorated in Yayoi Kusama’s signature pumpkin patterns.


李禹煥美術館を訪れた後は、直島の静かな港まで散歩し、賞の受賞経験もある550円のアイスクリームを買って美しい夕陽を楽しむのも良いでしょう。周辺は徒歩でも移動可能ですが、島のほとんどの場所にはバスも運行しています。草間彌生氏独特のかぼちゃ模様で装飾を施されたバスも1台走っているほどです。

Also located on the island is the Art House Project, where artists have turned empty houses on the island into works of art. Visitors can easily access all of the revamped buildings by foot after getting off at one of many convenient bus stops. For the purpose of protecting the artworks, photography is forbidden in most of the houses. A local volunteer told me all the works showcased for the Art House Project will be kept permanently. Most of the residential housing on the island are built with wood, standing one next to the other in close proximity. All the windows and doors are smaller than normal, bringing a different yet interesting experience for city dwellers who visit. Even the houses themselves come in rather small sizes. The gardens and plants around the houses are beautifully and neatly arranged in a traditional Japanese style. Wandering around, you might also spot interesting details that reveal the tasteful eye of the house owners, such as a cute Tanuki sculpture or artwork made of recycling cans.


また、直島では、アーティストらが島に点在する古い空き家をアート作品に変えるプロジェクトも見られます。数多くの便利なバス停の一つで下車すると、改装された古民家には徒歩で簡単にアクセスできます。なお、ほとんどの家屋では、作品を保護する目的で写真撮影が禁じられています。地元のボランティアによると、家プロジェクトで公開された作品はすべて永久保存されるとのことです。直島の住宅の大半は木造で、家々が隣接して並んでいます。窓や戸はどれも通常より小さく、都会から訪れる者に一種独特の印象を与えます。家屋そのものも比較的小さいものです。人家の周囲の庭や植物は、伝統的な様式で美しくきちんと手入れされています。この辺りを歩き回ると、狸の彫刻や空き缶を再利用したアート作品などの細部に、各家の持ち主の趣味の良さを垣間見られるかもしれません。

Besides all the interesting museums, the island itself also has a certain charm that it offers. The wooden walls and rusty metal factories add a natural texture to the island, giving it a sense of mysterious beauty that can only come with old age. Walking around, you’ll spot even more artwork, such as interesting silhouettes of people made with lines of wool, which are attached to walls throughout the area. They’re often quietly hidden away behind corners, waiting to surprise you when you turn around. It almost felt like these whimsical artworks were playing hide-and-seek with the tourists.


これら興味深い美術館の他にも、直島には当地ならではの魅力があふれています。木の壁や錆びた金属工場が、時を経たものだけが持つ神秘の美を醸し出し、この島の自然な質感を漂わせるのです。散策を続けると、この地域のあちこちの壁に、毛糸の線で人の形に描かれ、貼り付けられたアート作品なども見られます。これらの作品は、密かに角の向こう側に隠れているものが多いため、ふと振り返ると驚かされます。まるで、気まぐれなアート作品が観光客とかくれんぼをしているかのようです。

Not far from Miyanoura Port lies the famous polka-dot pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. It sits quietly by the sea and the water’s blue hues seemed to make the pumpkin’s yellow brighter than ever. Yayoi Kusama’s merchandise can be purchased at the Benesse House Museum, which also showcases other very interesting artworks. From there, you can head to a café located on the mountaintop to relax with a nice cup of coffee. It is the perfect place to bask in the sunlight, while embracing the gentle wind coming in from the beach. The tranquil vibes of the island, the cutting-edge architecture of the art museums, and the traditional Japanese houses all co-exist harmoniously, perfectly demonstrating the unique nature of Naoshima.


宮之浦港から程近い場所に、草間彌生氏の有名な水玉模様のかぼちゃがあります。海辺に静かに佇み、海の青い色調がかぼちゃの黄色をさらに色鮮やかに演出するかのように見えます。草間彌生グッズを販売するベネッセハウスミュージアムでは、他にも注目に値する作品の数々が展示されています。そこから山頂にあるカフェに向かい、のんびりコーヒーを楽しむこともできます。浜辺から吹くそよ風を受けながら日光浴するには最適な場所です。この島の穏やかな空気感、斬新な美術館建築、伝統の日本家屋、それらすべてが絶妙な調和で共存し、直島独特の自然を見事に示しているのです。

Websites:
setouchi-artfest.jp
benesse-artsite.jp

 

Contributor & Photographer: George Liu Zhen
Additional Image Courtesy of Chi Chu Art Museum


ウェブサイト:
setouchi-artfest.jp
benesse-artsite.jp

 

寄稿者&カメラマン: George Liu Zhen
Additional Image Courtesy of 地中美術館