Taiwan’s poet rocker Wu Bai is known for his music career with his band China Blue comprises dummer Dean “Dino” Zavolta, keyboardist Yu Ta-hao (nicknamed Big Cat) and bassist Chu Chien-hui.
The reason he picked up a camera to start shooting around – as he wrote on this book Wu Bai Story (《伍佰故事》) – was that he wanted to get himself a background on his computer. And he started with colour photos, only switching to black and white films when he travelled in Siem Reap, a Cambodian town where no colour films are sold.
Apart from music and occasional acting gigs, Wu Bai travelled extensively. In this book – as he put it, he went to Tokyo to take photos of Japanese office workers. From his perspective, he was curious if these office workers feel tired for their lifestyle – everybody follows the conformity of the society, puts on the same suits, walking in the same direction, eating at eateries after work. And he wrote very bluntly – don’t they feel stupid?
His private visits to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore were interesting as well. Around the KLCC area he saw a traffic police issuing a ticket to a motorist, and he captured the moment. The officer saw it and asked Wu Bai to come forward, reprimanding him very sternly. Wu Bai recalled that he could only keep on saying sorry to avoid further trouble.
In Singapore he visited Orchard Road and some places around there. Those who frequented that area would find his photos particularly familiar. Those photos provided some insight into the records of Singapore in 2007. Which reminded us that things are already quite different in the city state in 2017.
Apart from Japan, a country where Wu Bai often visits, he also visited the UK. He went to Manchester and bought a ticket to watch a match at Old Trafford. He comments that it is very different from live football match on your TV, and you have to concentrate a lot to follow the game very closely.
His London trip gave him the impression that British are not good at socialising with others. This conclusion was derived from his experience at a rock gig in a London pub where different bands performed. He saw a British guy, who ‘wanted to say something but swallowed his words’. And they parted without talking to each other. If in Australia I guess he could have a handshake with his new friend and started the conversation with the line ‘Good day mate’.
Wu Bai did not talk much with strangers and new-friends-to-be, but he dared himself to take photos of strangers right in front of them. Which makes me wonder where did he get his courage from, although he sometimes chickens out and takes photos of strangers’ shoes.
Strangers’ shoes and caught-unprepared-moments. These are really peculiar angles captured by this Taiwanese rocker.