Hear a Ginkgo Leaf Falling 聽到飄零的銀杏葉

I finished a design project. I had some time on my hands. I sat with my legs crossed, my eyes closed. I blocked out distractions, thoughts, and sensations. I concentrated on the sounds I heard. It was difficult to hear with focus at the first beginning. Gradually, I became aware of layers upon layers of overlapping noises.

The coo, hoot, twitter and chirp of birds from the back yard. The distant grind and groan of a car. The strident shouts, cries and chatter of children on the playground. The steady hum from the refrigerator in the kitchen. The pounding, heavy footsteps from the staircase in my walk-up apartment building. The unidentified snorts, laughter, bangs, honks, squeaks, creaks and whistles.

Twenty minutes latter, I opened my eyes. I stretched my body, and I heard a voice in my mind: more practice, and bigger ears, I could get to hear a ginkgo leaf falling on the sidewalk of Mott street in NoLiTa.


Perspective 觀點

New York Downtown Style: Chinese version vs. Taiwanese version

The old Egyptians drew the head in profile but rendered the eye as if it were on a front view – the body is more recognizable from front than side. However, arms and legs are more clearly described from the side.

Cubism combined glances taken from different angles at different moments into a single composition. A picture that wasn’t meant to look like anything but itself.

My first book New York Downtown Style (bilingual), first introduced to the reader in 2006, is now released in China with a new design by the Hong Kong born graphic designer Lu Zhi-Chang (Simplified Chinese: 陆智昌). Looking back and forth between the first and second covers, I could sense the difference from each other in composition, temperament, and tempo. In Lu's work (the left image), forms are more solid, enigmatic, and cooler. And to Lou Hsin-Mei (Traditional Chinese: 羅心梅), her approaches are more joyful , funkier and sweeter.

Different cultures, different times, different designers – different points of view.


A Rose Is Not a Rose 不是玫瑰的玫瑰

The American historian Alice Morse Earle wrote, "The fragrance of the sweetest rose is beyond an other flower scent, it is irresistible, enthralling; you cannot leave it. I have never doubted the rose has some compelling quality not shared by other flowers...". Seen in this light, the fragrance experts claim that the rose perfume creates a mysterious atmosphere and state of mind conducive to romance.

Although the words rose and fragrance go together like hand and glove, rose is my least favorite scent. I rather exclaim over color and beauty of a rose in a full bloom than smelling it from a perfume bottle. More than any other sense, smells keenly evoke memories and feelings for me.

A rose fragrance with gourmet touches makes me ill. Worn by a person who easily lost himself in the rage. It’s truly a horrible smell!

Last night, in a gallery opening on Broome Street in SoHo, I was having a drink and gazing at the artwork in the fashion crowd. A peculiar rose smell suddenly hit my nose and it was like a nasal déjà vu – I shivered, a chill rushed down my spine. I had to leave right away because the sickening smell permeated my nostrils.

To me, a rose doesn’t lose its color in the rain, but it does lose its fragrance in my olfactory memory.

Inspired by René François Ghislain Magritte, I conjured up an image of rose in a contradictive context : the rose is not a rose, because it does not smell.