Well, I love it here. The place is beautiful, packed, alive, and somehow very, very easy. I met with Vincent King at The University of Hong Kong today and he asked me how the culture shock was and I honestly replied, “I’m not having much culture shock at all yet.” Of course, this is the way to avoid culture shock – be a tourist, staying where you want to stay, doing what you want to do.
I started the day at Hong Kong University. Took the metro from the hotel, it was so well laid out, I was a natural by the second stop. The information is clear, easy to follow, and the cars are one continuous snake, no scary jumping from car to car like New York. The stop for HKU is in a giant, very British mall. Marks & Spencer, Vivian Westwood, etc. And, of course Starbucks, but more on that later.
I finally figured out how to leave the mall (figuring out the exits at the mall was harder than the entire subway ride), and walked into a beautiful space—Hong Kong University.
The Graphic Design department is in the College of Language Studies, which is a really fascinating idea. I had lunch with Victor (a British ex-pat who runs the area). While the positioning of Graphic Design in the Language School was simply expedient (“there was no where else to put it when we started the department”), the strategic possibilities are huge. And, this encourages more discussion about where Graphic Design needs to be. So many of us are beginning to agree that it has changed so much in the past number of years that it doesn’t fit neatly in any one spot any more. Unquestionably, business is an easy alliance, but there are also rich relationships with journalism and linquistics – at least as rich as the possibilities of aligning it within a visual arts discipline.
One thing was very evident in the school. The American story that “yea, China works hard, but we are the creative people” is just a myth. The work the students were doing is incredibly creative. I saw experiments with type and light and media that were very rich.
One piece was metal beads strung from an armature in the shape of an area of Hong Kong. These were suspended upside down, and you looked into a mirror to see the effect of the strings. The suspended pieces were covered by a black cloth, at first glance it really did look like the beads were standing upright. And, you were invited to move the beads by putting your hand under the curtain to set the beads in motion. This was really interaction – even from this small demonstration, it was obvious. The US has no monopoly on creativity. And this continued arrogance will be our downfall….
On that note, I went in search of two things: Cat Street, the old market street and a cup of coffee. I was going to try to make it on tea here, but I woke up, had a cup of ceylon, then a cup of jasmine, then broke open the tiny pack of Nescafe in my room, and still had a headache from lack of caffiene.
I found a great place for a macchiato in the giant mall that housed the metro – Pacific Coffee. Then I just had to visit Starbucks in Hong Kong for my second one. Pacific Coffee’s was better.Rejuvinated, I went in search of Cat Street, an old Market area.
I wandered around the general vicinity for some time, and found the Man Mo temple by accident.
Then I tried to find Cat Street one more time, and wound up completely turned around, incapable of finding the street I was on (Queen’s Boulevard disappeared somewhere along the way) and decided that downhill was a good thing. I went down and found myself at the subway. Remember that, downhill is a good thing.