Last Day, Back Online

posted by on 2009.10.29, under Uncategorized

So, it’s my last day in Beijing. I’m finally back online. I have one more day at the conference, and this is how I think I will spend my remaining time:

“Relishing no longer really knowing your way, avoiding anyone who would lead you
too directly to the goal, wandering around at random, almost purposely losing track,
travelling around, trying to forget where you come from, where you are and where
you are heading. Freeing yourself from your home, your achievements, all the
automatic behavior that defines us. Moving somewhere else not from obligation but
for pleasure, forgetting your roots, changing your language, profession, family; in
short, starting the adventure all over again, very soon realizing that this is never truly
the case. Doing things with no particular purpose, choosing to venture into unknown
lands or cultures, enjoying no longer being able to understand the connections
between the various things in front of you, finding yourself purposely lost in
information that you can never really use. Introducing new facts that call everything
into question, and enable you to shake off old beliefs, add one complexity to another,
blur distinctions, delve into chaos not to bring in any order but to enjoy getting
beyond simplistic models. Learning to get lost so as ultimately to work out your way
better and choosing to approach disorientation as a realm of possibility rather than
only the “overtones of utter disaster” described by Kevin Lynch.”
– Ruedi Baur, A contextual approach to design information. Or: what can we learn from the analysis of disorientation?

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Slow Train to Shanghai

posted by on 2009.10.22, under China

After my lovely meeting with IDN magazine (which I spent in the bathroom, tossing my cookies), we went to a restaurant for our last meal in Hong Kong before getting on the train. I managed to further impress the community by lining up a row of chairs in a restaurant and lying down on them and sleeping through the meal. This wouldn’t have been so bad if only the waiters saw this – when we walked in, the restaurant was empty and I have vague memory of Gigi saying, “line up a row of chairs and let her lie down”. This sounded like heaven, so I let them do it. The restaurant was empty and I was running on zero. When they woke me up after the meal, the restaurant was packed. I was in back of a table-full of Chinese people, eating away. I let them guide me to the bus.

Somehow I got on the train. Somehow I climbed up onto the upper berth and went to sleep. I was in the upper, the one that looks like it’s falling over. I could lie down, that’s all that matters.

My Upper Bunk

My upper bunk

I did use the bathroom throughout the night, but woke up in the morning, around 7:00, feeling human again. We watched the countryside pass on the way:

Somewhere in China, About Three Hours Outside of Shanghai

Somewhere in China, about three hours outside of Shanghai

When we got to the train station, it was evident that we were really in China, and no longer in the very western world of Hong Kong:

Take An Easy Walk

Take An Easy Walk

We had lunch (I bought “biscuits” (crackers)), dropped our things off at the hotel, and went straight to Meikao, a leading advertising agency. They showed us their work, which has a beautiful, combined esthetic of western modernism and traditional Chinese. They are known for promoting a “New Chinese” sensibility:


Beer Ad

Throughout the presentation, they talked about a Global Vision, combined with China Passion. Their work is proudly Chinese, and they take that pride to an exquisite esthetic:

An ad for a new TV, one so thin "it could be rolled in a scroll"

An ad for a new TV, one so thin "it could be rolled in a scroll"

They presented a series of such pieces, including a series for tires—yes, the tires you put on your car—that is to die for. After discussing the ideas they presented briefly, they showed us a slide show they had prepared showing the differences between East and West. Comparisons of perspective, utensils, and the best was the comparison of reading. Traditional Chinese writing goes from top to bottom. Your head moves up and down. Yes. Western writing goes left to right. Your head moves side to side. No. Yes and no… chopsticks and forks, axonometric and linear perspective. Abstracted shapes and representational.