Earlier this week Archinect interviewed me for their new series on architecture photographers.
I have updated Figure-Ground.com with two buildings from San Francisco:
I updated Figure-Ground.com with three buildings from Tokyo:
- Christian Dior Omotesando - SANAA
- Mikimoto Ginza 2 - Toyo Ito
- Tokyo International Forum - Rafael Viñoly
I still have about a half-dozen buildings that I have shot but have not had the chance to post.
I've finally gotten around to setting up a long-overdue feed for Figure-Ground.com. You can subscribe to it at: http://figure-ground.com/index.xml.
And the picture above is one I never put up before of Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall [Figure-Ground.com].
The media this week (and all month, really) has been wall-to-wall news, articles and essays about Beijing. Here's my contribution to the avalanche of Beijing coverage:
- Beijing [Figure-Ground.com]
- CCTV Headquarters - Rem Koolhaas/OMA [Figure-Ground.com]
- National Centre for the Performing Arts - Paul Andreu [Figure-Ground.com]
Incidentally, for the first time that I can remember, I'm actually excited about the Olympics. It has not much to do with the Games themselves, but everything to do with the host city and country. All the controversies surrounding this Olympics (the pollution, the media censorship, the crackdown in Tibet, the support of the Sudanese goverment) and the herculean effort the Chinese have made in successfully building a new Beijing that just screams money and power everywhere you look, have made the Olympics interesting again.
- Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972) - Kisho Kurokawa [Figure-Ground.com]
I've also expanded Figure/Ground's Tokyo (2005—2007) section to include photos from Fukuoka and Nagoya. Therefore, the section has been renamed "Japan" to reflect the expanded scope. Definitely take a look at the Fukuoka sub-section if you are interested in architecture. There are quite a few interesting buildings in that set.
I love Taniguchi's buildings. They're very elegant and understated.
- Toyota Municipal Museum of Art - Yoshio Taniguchi [Figure-Ground.com]
Another Taniguchi building I've photographed: The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures.
- Osanbashi Yokohama International Passenger Terminal - Foreign Office Architects [Figure-Ground.com]
Three recent works of Tadao Ando in Tokyo (pictured above from left to right: hhstyle.com/Casa, Omotesando Hills, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT). You see a definite departure from earlier works with the incoporation of lots of sharp angles and diagonals. I'm not sure I like this "new" Ando. These are pretty underwhelming projects compared to his earlier work like the Church of the Light and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
- Tadao Ando in Tokyo, 2005—2007 [Figure-Ground.com]
- Harajuku Protestant Church (2005) - Ciel Rouge Creation [Figure-Ground.com]
- Bangkok & Ko Phangan [Figure-Ground.com]
A selection of photos from four trips to Tokyo taken between April 2005 and December 2007.
- Tokyo [Figure-Ground.com]
Surprise, surprise, another update to Figure/Ground! Hot on the heels of the Indonesia travelogue, here's a small update featuring a few shots of Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel entrance (yes, just the entrance), moved from Tokyo and planted in an architectural history theme park near Nagoya.
I thought it looked extremely sad, having been torn not just from its location, but from the rest of the building as well. It's architecture without context.
The photos of the truncated building set against a lush mountain backdrop and overlooking a lake look just so ridiculously incongruous and wrong, so you won't see those here. Some of you are probably curious to see them, but I simply cannot do that to FLW.
- Main Entrance Hall and Lobby of the Imperial Hotel (1923) - Frank Lloyd Wright [Figure-Ground.com]
Photos from a short trip to Indonesia last May:
- Indonesia [Figure-Ground.com]
I can't believe it's been ten months since I last updated Figure-Ground.com. It's frightening how time flies. I've introduced a couple of minor tweaks to the site's look as well.
See also the Indonesia (May 2007) photoset on Flickr.
These photos are from a trip I took to Seoul over two-and-a-half years ago. I've been meaning to put them up but never got around to it. I'm actually at the airport on my way to Jakarta right now; hopefully, I won't sit on my ass for two-plus years before putting the photos from this trip up. I'm planning on going to some rather out of the way places in Indonesia so wish me luck! This is the first time I'm going somewhere where I need to take preventive medication (for malaria). I almost wanted to cancel my ticket after I read about all the horrible diseases I could contract there. Yikes.
- Seoul [Figure-Ground.com]
"We were told there were ghosts in the house. I decided the ghosts were ghosts of cubism." —Frank Gehry
A small update today: a few exterior shots of the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica. I took these after I went to see Eames House in nearby Pacific Palisades.
I finally got around to seeing Sydney Pollack's documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry last night and I remembered I have a few shots of his house which I never posted so here they are.
- Gehry Residence [Figure-Ground.com]
The documentary is okay, nothing too interesting. It's basically a 80-minute love-fest of Gehry and his work. I understand Gehry is a larger-than-life figure, but can the partners in his firm come off as any more in deference of him? Craig Webb, who by the way is a splitting image of Lyle Lovett, acted more like an awe-struck first-year student assisting his famous professor than a partner in a major architecture firm.
Some Gehry Quotes from the Documentary
On starting a new project: "I'm always scared that I'm not going to know what to do. It's a terrifying moment."
On a model he's working on: "That is so stupid looking, it's great."
On Alvar Aalto: "I would say my work is probably closer to him than any of the other previous generations."
On architecture: "What bugs me are these god damn rules that my profession has as to what fits and what doesn't."
I have put up a selection of photos from my trip to Egypt last month:
- Egypt [Figure-Ground.com]
The most memorable part of the trip for me was the night spent in the Western Desert. Some of my favorite shots are from there as well.
There is also a photoset on Flickr with some photos of me being a tourist, plus other miscellaneous photos from the trip.
Over in my Flickr photostream I have posted a set of photos of Yingge Ceramics Museum, located about half an hour outside of Taipei. There's not a lot of great architecture in Taiwan, modern or otherwise. For example, with the exception of a church by I.M. Pei (which I have yet to check out), no notable architect has built here. That said, this is one of the better buildings on this island. It's designed by a local architecture firm 竹間聯合建築師事務所 (Zhujian Architecture Studio). Nevertheless, it's nothing special. That's why it's not being featured on my architecture photography website Figure/Ground; but it's worth seeing what the state of modern architecture is in Taiwan so I've uploaded the set to my Flickr photostream. These are just some quick snaps I took with my dinky pocket digicam when I went to check it out a few months ago.
- Yingge Ceramics Museum 鶯歌陶瓷博物館 [Flickr]
 Well, actually, that's not entirely true. Supposedly some highway rest stop is designed by OMA but from the pictures I've seen of it, it's not close to one of their stronger works.
- Salk Institute - Louis Kahn [Figure-Ground.com]
Another Kahn masterpiece: Kimbell Art Museum.
PS: I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year!
I wanted to play around with IDNs (internationalized domain names, see Wikipedia for a primer). All of the individual words in my name—廖/Liao, 雨/Yu and 笙/Sheng—have already been registered (damn you domain squatters!), so I took 雨笙.com (in punycode form: xn--zvzm38c.com).
Most registrars (including my usual registrar GoDaddy) are not set up to handle IDNs, so I ended up using DomainSite. It sucks that I have to deal with all these different registrars for the domains I own: one for my IDN (DomainSite), one for my .ca domain (BareMetal) and one for everything else (GoDaddy).
Right now, 雨笙.com is configured to redirect here to liaoyusheng.com. I wonder how useful this IDN will prove to be. In verbal situations, I could see this being a better way to tell a Taiwanese person how to reach me on the web. The average Taiwanese is far more likely to remember 雨笙.com than the pinyin liaoyusheng.com since Taiwanese people don't know the pinyin system.
- Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels - José Rafael Moneo [Figure-Ground.com]
I have seen my share of Gehry buildings and this is his most refined and beautiful. Of course, Bilbao remains a more powerful work in historical context (and it is in a much more romantic setting), but in terms of pure forms, I think Disney Hall surpasses it.
- Walt Disney Concert Hall - Frank Gehry [Figure-Ground.com]
I promised frequent updates on Figure/Ground, so here it is: another set of photos, this time of the Eames House.
- Eames House - Charles and Ray Eames [Figure-Ground.com]
After laying dormant for close to a year and a half, my travel and architecture photography site, Figure/Ground, has finally been updated! Hopefully there will be frequent updates over the next few weeks as I put up all the photos from the past 2 years (I may not have had the time to update the site, but I didn't stop traveling or taking photos!).
First up, the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters (pictured above) in Los Angeles and the new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
- Caltrans - Thom Mayne/Morphosis [Figure-Ground.com]
- Guthrie Theater - Jean Nouvel [Figure-Ground.com]
teNeues has published a book, Ultimate Lighting Design, featuring quite a few of my photos (buy it from Amazon and earn me some measely commission). It's a 500+ page hard-cover book featuring the work of New York lighting design firm L'Observatoire. They've worked with all the top names in architecture and the book features an impressive list of cool buildings. I haven't yet seen the actual book, but from what I saw in the layout stages, it's full of beautiful photography (not least of all mine—I'm very happy with the photos I took for this book). Look for my work in the following sections: The Standard Downtown LA, The Standard Hollywood, Chateau Marmont (these three are André Balazs' hotels in L.A.), Jean Georges Shanghai, 66 and Perry St (these three are Jean-Georges' restaurants), and Beige (this one is Alaine Ducasse's restaurant in Tokyo).
With this, I have finally posted all the photos from Italy. Next up, Seoul!
Incidentally, this was actually the first thing we saw in Italy. As soon as we landed and checked into our hotel, we headed out to the Roman suburb of Tor Tre Teste to look for this church. It wasn't easy as we only had the name of the area and a picture of the church to go by. After a couple of transfers on the buses, we got to the area and just started showing the picture to random Romans to find our way there.
What did I think of it? Let's just say that I'm not a huge Richard Meier fan and this didn't do anything to change my mind.
- Jubilee Church - Richard Meier [Figure-Ground.com]
Continuing with architecture from my Italy trip, this is Tomba Brion, a cemetary and memorial for the Brion family designed by Carlo Scarpa in a little town outside of Treviso in the Veneto. If you are interested in more Scarpa, in the Italy entry on Figure/Ground, I have a photo of a footbridge he designed in Venice and some photos of Castelvecchio in Verona. The only photos left from that trip yet to come are from Richard Meier's Jubilee Church. After that, I'll probably take a break from architecture photos and work on travel photos from Seoul that I took during a trip way back in October of last year.
- Tomba Brion - Carlo Scarpa [Figure-Ground.com]
I'm slowly working my way through the backlog of photos I've accumulated since last October. This is the music auditorium in Rome designed by Renzo Piano. Still to come from the Italy trip are Richard Meier's Jubilee Church and Carlo Scarpa's Tomba Brion.
- Auditorium Parco della Musica - Renzo Piano [Figure-Ground.com]
I'm off to Tokyo in a couple of hours. I'll be there until Friday and then it's off to Shanghai until 5/5. It feels like I was just in those two cities, but it has been about half a year. Hopefully Shanghai doesn't grate on me as much as it did last time.
At long last I've put up the photos from my trip to Italy last November.
There are still architecture stuff from the trip that I have to put up (Meier's church in Rome, Piano's concert hall, also in Rome, and Scarpa's Tomba Brion), not to mention all the photos from the trips I took before going to Italy (Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Taipei). One of these days (hopefully soon) I'll get around to them...
In the meantime, take a look at these photos. For those of you that actually follow my visual narratives and go through the photos one by one, you'll be glad to know that I've implemented link prefetching. If you are using a compatible browser (test yours here), the photo page will automatically load the next one in the background while you're looking at the current one. Should help speed up the browsing process. Of course, if you jump around the photos non-sequentially, this is not going to help you.
And a reminder: You could use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the photos.
- Italia [Figure-Ground.com]
And a little narcissism:
- Yusheng in Italy [24 Photos]
Photo above is from the town of Assisi.
So, I pulled the trigger and paid for a pro Flickr account. In all my years on the net, I have only paid for a web service one other time. That was in 1996 for ESPN back when it was called "ESPN SportsZone" (with the URI espnet.sportszone.com, remember that?). At that time, all their columns were part of the Insider premium content, only news and scores were free. I continued subscribing annually until it went to all free content a few years back (around '99 or 2000?). Then, a couple of years ago they slowly started having premium content again, but I haven't re-subscribed as most of what I read on ESPN are still free. But at this rate, as they gradually put more and more columns behind Insider access, I'll probably end up subscribing again before long.
Anyway, this post is about Flickr, not ESPN. I've only played with Flickr a little bit these past couple of weeks, but I've seen enough to want to give them some money (USD41.77). The way I'm using Flickr now as a moblog, I didn't really need to upgrade to a pro account, certainly not before I have 100 photos in my photostream (the free account only displays your last 100 photos). But it's a cool product from a cool company, so I thought: "Why not?" The clincher was that they are based in Vancouver, my adopted home away from home. Buy Canadian!
See my photostream at Flickr (at the moment, it's mostly photos from my crappy cameraphone).
Four of my Gropius House photos have been published in a new book by Taschen titled simply Gropius. It's from their Basic Art Series and lists for US$9.99 (buy it from Amazon). It's a 96-page soft-cover book introducing Walter Gropius and his most important works. It may not be one of Taschen's fancier volumes, but it's comprehensive and has lots of photographs (some quite good). These are the four shots of mine featured in the book:
- View from garden: on page 74, full page picture
- View from southwest: on page 76, half page picture
- Front side: on page 77, small picture
- South side of the house with the terrace over the living space: on page 79, small picture
In a couple of hours, I'll be on the plane, beginning my 8-week, 4-city romp through East Asia (Tokyo->Taipei->Seoul->Shanghai).
I'm planning to use liaoyusheng.com as an outlet to post stories and photos from my travels that don't necessarily fit the type of narrative that I wish to maintain over at Figure/Ground. Figure/Ground started out life as the Rhapsody Travelogues. At first, it was very story-oriented: I would find pictures to fit the stories and anecdotes that I wanted to tell. Over the years, the emphasis on stories faded away and the photography took center stage. And that's fine, it's a direction that I consciously took. But that meant there are stories that I wanted to tell but can't because there are no good photographs to accompany them.
This is where liaoyusheng.com will come in. I'm planning to have frequent updates about the trip on this site during my travels. There might be stories or funny observations. Or maybe there will be photos that aren't necessarily great but show something interesting. And at the conclusion of the trip, I will still put up my customary entry on Figure/Ground.
That's all just a very long-winded way of saying: check this space often!
I've followed the herd and have converted the site to Movable Type. There are still some default templates that I have not customized so don't email me to tell me about them—I'm just too lazy to do them all right now.
I've added keyboard navigation to Figure/Ground. Now you can go through the photos with the left and right arrow keys. Tested to work in IE, Mozilla and Safari. Beyond that, I don't know and, frankly, I don't care.
After 9½ years, I have to say goodbye to my beloved domain name, rhapsody.com, as I have transferred the rights to it to Real Networks. ~ sob ~ Through all the changes of the last decade—I've changed jobs, addresses, phone numbers, even my citizenship—my email address/web presence had remained a constant. Silly little thing to wax nostalgic over in the grand scheme of things, I know, but what can I say?
From today on, my email address will be: firstname.lastname@example.org. O Canada!
Please update your address books. My travelogues will now be found at http://figure-ground.com. One small side-benefit to having a new email address: it should cut down on the number of spam I get daily. Since my address had been out on the net for almost 10 years, on web pages and usenet posts, I get more than 500 spam messages per day.
I've written a review of the Arca-Swiss Flip-Lock. If you own an Arca-Swiss Monoball B1 ballhead, read the review and see if you should invest in a Flip-Lock retrofit.