聚光燈下 : 【都市求生變形記—寄生之廟】
In the Spotlight : Parasitic Temples: A record of a city adapting to survive
Architect Po Wei LAI has worked overseas for many years. It took leaving Taiwan for him to realize what makes Taiwan so unique.
LAI observed how the baths scattered throughout ancient Rome reflected the desires of the ancient Romans. Upon returning to Taiwan, the architect noted the small temples on every corner and the even bigger temples just a few paces ahead. These temples surround us in our everyday lives. We are able to squeeze temples into the cracks and crevices between urban architecture, under freeway overpasses, or even between major expressways. These temples use ubiquitous, polytheistic, pervasive, and wondrous adaptation techniques to form parasitic relationships with the urban environment. They also embody the desires of the Taiwanese.
Just how many of these parasitic temples are there? Po Wei LAI and his team, Willipodia, spent seven years recording 108 types of parasitic temples. The team explored the relationship between the temple, the city, and the natural environment from an architectural perspective while simultaneously creating a 3D graphic record and analytic charts. LAI Po Wei especially notes that, “The nature of this phenomenon isn’t really important. What’s important is the phenomenon itself.” Much like how Up the River During Qingming is a record that gives us a sense of the urban environment in the Song capital of Bianliang, Parasitic Temples is significant in that the book records the lifestyles of the Taiwanese in the contemporary urban environments of Taiwan.
The Creative Path: Landscapes in the Eyes of CHEN Po-I
CHEN Po-I is a photographer who uses landscapes to monitor the issues of village relocation and changing topography in Taiwan. Following a series of projects including, An Actual Record of the Relocation of Hongmaogang, The Disappearance of Haikou Dunes, and Moving Tainan Railways Underground, CHEN returned to the temples of his childhood to shift the focus of his landscape photography towards temple courtyards.
Since 2019, he has used the daily activity and religious observances in temples across five counties, as well as the square within temple courtyards, to define the composition of his work. He superimposes thousands of fixed frames into a single shot of the temple square that transforms the temple courtyard into a stage where the parishioners are merely players. The hustling and bustling temple courtyard provide clarity, fantasy, and places where interaction between these individuals constructs a collective memory of Taiwan at the intersection of fantasy and reality.
The Temple Courtyard series created by CHEN Po-I is infused with the illustrious cultural history of Taiwanese temples, which represent an important fixture in contemporary landscapes. The temple maintains a constant position for decades despite the changing face of surrounding real estate. This inspired CHEN to photograph real estate around the temple while capturing the people inside the temple square to record the state of settlements outside the temple courtyards.
CHEN Po-I has been photographing temples for almost thirty years. Notable works include: The Exorcist where he captures the story of Jitong spiritual mediums, Pantheon exploring temple landscapes, Spirit Away showing temple fairs only for immortals, and NG Temple Fair a collage of different temple courtyards. CHEN Po-I is a true temple enthusiast who describes the temples as his roots. He also considers large temple courtyards to be the treasure trove of Taiwanese settlements.