Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The art of photographing gods - a Taiwan Temples podcast

Two friends and occasional collaborators, Robert Kelly and Rich J. Matheson, are working on a project called Taiwan Temples. Believing Taiwan's Buddhist/Taoist/folk shrines are worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status and worldwide acclaim - but haven't received any such recognition because of the island's political isolation - the two are assembling pictures, videos, audio- and mini-essays about what they describe as an "outstanding branch of southern Chinese architecture, and the dynamic folk culture that surrounds it."

They recently released their first podcast. It's about Wu Tai-pu, a wedding photographer who in his spare time takes portraits of god statues in temples across Taiwan. For this podcast he was interviewed in Mandarin by Rich J. Matheson, and I was pleased to help out by doing the English-language voice-over. To listen to this in-depth discussion, which ranges from getting permission to take photos to spirit writing and supernatural possession, go here.

The image above shows the roof of Fongtian Temple in Chiayi County's Xingang Township. These days, it's best known as the southernmost point on the annual Mazu pilgrimage which sets out from Dajia's Jenn Lann Temple each spring. 

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