Guqin Jungle Mashup

Nicholas has been working on some beats and sent me a snippet of jungle beats today. I opened the file but forgot to turn off my iTunes, which was playing Chinese guqin music I have been really into lately. The result was a surprising mashup that is pretty awesome. Take a listen to a snippet, and stay tuned for some more polished mixes in the near future! Have a listen below.

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Hepnova dedicates Green Island Serenade to Ai Weiwei

HEPNOVA is dedicating our cover version of Green Island Serenade (綠島小夜曲) to jailed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. As a song that was popular in Taiwan, China, and across the Sinosphere, we think it is a poignant symbol of cross-strait solidarity. On the surface, the lyrics are a pop song about a man admiring a silent woman from afar, but it has also been interpreted by many to be a veiled protest against government censorship and oppression.

We hope you enjoy the song, learn it’s meaning, and pass it on.

You can also sign a petition by Change.org or Avaaz.org calling for Ai Weiwei’s release.

Ni Hao You Doin’?

Ni Hao You Doin’? – A new Hepnova shirt on Zazzle in collaboration with Joey G.

We were hanging out in Little Italy/Chinatown tonight and Joe came up with this brilliant bilingual pun that celebrates the confluence of cultures in a pizza/scallion pancake slice of Lower Manhattan with classic New York wit and attitude.  Here’s to pasta and to potstickers and to Sino-Italian-American friendship! Ni hao you doin’?

Buy the Ni Hao You Doin’ shirt on Zazzle

Ni Hao You Doin'? shirt
Ni Hao You Doin’? by Hepnova in collaboration with Joey G

Lee-Sean & Michelle Do Flushing

Michelle and I headed out to hitherto terra incognita Flushing, Queens today in search of some authentic Taiwanese and Chinese food.  Armed with a printout of a New York Times what-to-eat-map, we walked over from the last stop on the 7 train to the Flushing Mall.

Above: Michelle and Mouse.

When we walked into the Flushing Mall, it looked strangely deserted (and a little run down), but we followed our noses and finally found out that all the action was in the food court.

Above: We shared some Taiwanese favorites: oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and steamed rice cake in a bowl with pork, mushrooms and shrimp (碗粿).  I had to go off the veggie wagon when dealing with the food from the homeland! 😉

Below: A bowl of handmade beef noodle soup (手拉牛肉麵).  The noodles were thick and chewy and the beef extremely tender.  The broth was a little different from the typical Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup broth, which tends to be darker because it contains soy sauce and sometimes tomatoes.  This broth was light-gray and fragrant.  It reminded me of Vietnamese pho soup.

We also shared a scallion pancake (蔥油餅) and a cup of soy milk (not pictured).  The scallion pancake was amazingly crisp and light, but the soy milk had a strange off taste that happens when one burns the soybean pulp while making the soy milk.

I couldn’t help snapping this photo of the “Bland Houses” sign.  Funny, creepy, and definitely spot on.  Despite the savory food, Flushing was indeed very bland architecturally.

ICM Midterm: Portrait of Mao

UPDATE 22 Feb 2009:
I have written a new concise description of the Portrait of Mao:

The Portrait of Mao is a 42 inch by 42 inch color print on archival paper. The image was generated by a Processing sketch I wrote, which reads pixel color data from an image file and replaces each pixel with a text character with the same color as the original pixel. In the case of the Portrait of Mao, the source image was obtained from a Cultural Revolution-era LP cover of revolutionary songs featuring Chinese leader Mao Zedong and a bright, motley array of proletarian workers, representing different ethnic groups in China. My Processing sketch used this source image and replaced the pixels with the Chinese-language text of The Little Red Book AKA Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, a required text for every Chinese citizen during the Cultural Revolution.

In creating the Portrait, I wished to explore how text and images play a role in political propaganda and how they serve to construct a cult of personality around a paternal and pop-cultural icon. We know that words and images have persuasive and seductive powers, but how, and why? In reappropriating the propagandistic images and text and by depicting the controversial leader in an irreverently kitsch, Pop-Art way (Andy Warhol’s Mao paintings are an obvious point of reference), I sought to deconstruct the aura surrounding such a well-known figure who is still revered by millions in China.

The fusing of words and images also plays on the pictographic and ideographic nature of the graphemes used in the Chinese language. Chinese characters are simultaneously words, images, and symbols. In the Portrait of Mao they become both semantic and graphic building blocks of a text, an image, and an ideology.

Original blog post from 29 Oct 2008:

I presented my ICM midterm project yesterday.  I wanted to explore how text and images play a role in political propaganda and how they serve to construct a cult of personality.

The image above is just a scaled-down version, the real version is a 42 inch x 42 inch poster.  The poster consists of a text mosaic derived from a scan of a Cultural Revolution era LP cover of propaganda songs.  My Processing program reads the color information in the pixels of the source JPG and replaces it with characters from the Chinese version of The Little Red Book.

Here is a close up of the text mosaic, taken from the Technicolor Dream Coat guy on the bottom right.

I hope to one day present the poster in an over-the-top kitsch setting.  I want to frame it with red Christmas lights and build a “shrine” to the Chairman, with flowers and Tsing Dao beer bottles.  I also have another poster in the works featuring the Dear Leader composed out of the Korean-language text of his On the Juche Idea.  Ultimately, I want to create a triptych, but I haven’t decided on a third subject yet.  Uncle Ho?  Or maybe Grandpa Marx?

Here is a snapshot of me presenting the piece to my class.  Photo credit: Catherine White.