Thursday, 17 April 2008

Boom! Boom! Vroom!

Taipei is the home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, the 101. From my studio window I gaze out at it. It’s so tall the top seems to be in a different climate zone with swirls of cloud often hanging around it.

When they were building the 101 they realized that it was so tall it was going to interfere with the flight paths of planes from the Taipei city airport. Now planes take a wide arc around it but I always wonder what if one pilot forgets the new flight path.

When you visit the 101 it really is an incredibly well built and run building. Ordered, clean, calm, efficient and smooth. A world far removed from the surrounding streets where hordes of motorcyclists jostle and weave for the advantage of beating the next traffic lights. Some bikes spew acrid smoke while others twist and turn, mounting sidewalks for shortcuts with seeming impunity. Their riders casually smoke’n’ride, shirts flap in the wind, flip flops hang precariously close to the tarmac. It seems that, on average, once a month I come across a motorcyclist sprawled on the ground, the result of a bump or clipping a car or a shunt.

Everyday I see the survivors hobbling around with scuffed legs and arms the result of a ‘tarmac tussle’. I often ask myself if they’ll ever ride again. The answer is probably yes. I modeled my characters, the Dancing Boys, on these people – carefree and careless.

Here’s a detail of a rough sketch for my next project featuring the Dancing Boys, ‘Boom. Boom! Vroom!’ (click on it to get a clearer view). One has crashed his scooter into the 101 which is feeling the full effect of the bump. Below ground cockroaches scuttle around out of sight. Meanwhile high in the sky another carefree and careless Dancing Boy is bare back riding a plane as it hurtles through the sky. He’s being chased by others who gleefully prance along in the plane’s jet stream. Then there are the rap dancing Dancing Boys who gaze in wonder at the catastrophe unfolding before their eyes. But it doesn’t stop them. They see this kind of chaos happening every day in their world.

Once the sketch is done I’ll trace it onto silk and start cutting out the image. I just gotta make sure to cut it so that the writing comes out positive!


Gillian said...

My goodness - how on earth does anyone survive the traffic there?

That first shot of the 101 is beautiful - rather like an old Japanese print, with that fading recession of the mist.

I'll look forward to seeing the finished artwork - getting the words right would need a lot of concentration, I'm sure.

Patrick said...

I'll echo gillian; I can't wait to see the finished piece. By the way, I've just given you the "you make my day award". If you've got the time and the inclination, stop by my blog and check out the rules.

Mike hemsley said...

Ahh! Freedom! Hair and clothing flowing in the fumes! Just lately I have been watching the local TV news a little. I have noticed that there seems to be a regular 'scooter spot' where cellphone video of talented riders is shown. Shaky footage, obviously shot from the back of another scooter - I really hope it's not shot from the front - shows a helmeted rider sandwiched between two barehead buddies. 'Aha!' I hear you say, 'that's an everyday sight'. But no, there's a third passenger embracing the front of the scooter like a koala on a gumtree. Only a lot faster. And a lot less fluffy.