Jonathan Van Smit lives in Hong Kong and captures documentary-style street photography between the hours of 11pm and 4am. He’s one of the most open and interesting guys I’ve ever met: the kind of guy that makes you want to put the mic away and be mates. His gritty, black and white captures are almost always shot from-the-hip and tell a story of Hong Kong’s underbelly.
It’s been a very busy month, being on the road filming a research video with enovate and launching a new music video project with my friend Charles Lanceplaine. Let’s talk about the music videos first. The most recent one, filmed in Taipei is embedded in this post (watch it here if you’re inside China)
“We All Want To Be Young in China” is a video I concepted/directed for enovate (edited by Giuseppe Farina). It’s a 3-minute crash course on the evolution of contemporary youth culture in China. I really hope it inspires young people in China and educates those outside China on some of the influences on this increasingly important and ever changing consumer group.
Those in China sans VPN can view it here.
The video was inspired by the popular online video from Box1824 called “We All Want To Be Young”.
It’s been a couple months in the making, and I couldn’t be happier to release it for all to read. Filled with text and photos, the China Outlook dishes up some much-needed insight into the evolving youth culture of Mainland China. Keeping with THE PUSH SHOVE’s penchants, this publication focuses predominantly on developments in Chinese sub-cultures, and is organized into four areas:
- Youth culture beyond Shanghai and Beijing
- The expanding underground music scene
- 2011 the year of Action Sports
- The Virtual – Actual Network
[via The Push Shove]
Yesterday, was the first day in the court hearing addressing the proposed ban of gay marriage in Iowa, which has been legal in the state since 2009. I’d challenge anyone to make a more compelling case for the legalisation of gay marriage than 19 year-old University of Iowa student Zach Wahls did in his impressive 3-minute testimony.
Yes, the chap in this photo is for real. He’s one of the real life, crime-fighting vigilantes dishing out justice on the streets of Naples, Italy. There’s an entire online registry of people just like him patrolling neighborhoods all over the world.
It’s been happening for a few years and made the news in Seattle last week. But I felt it relevant to post after recently reading about our own masked vigilantly here in Shanghai, in an entertaining short story by local indie music aficionado Andy Best.
Check out Andy’s story “Mantis vs. Phantom“. A very entertaining read.
Shanghai 5 is a documentary of the development of the the city’s skate culture and their on-going love affair with it’s dreamy urban architecture. The debut screening was held at The Source, back in early December and I really wish I could have made it along. Late or not Shanghai 5 deserves to be written about. More after the jump.
Yesterday Mattias and I rode our bikes to the outskirts of Shanghai to check out the world’s largest skate park (‘SMP International Skate Park‘). We ran into seven year-old Xiao He, comfortably dropping-in and rolling around the various banks, hips, fun boxes, rails, ledges and hubbas. He told us he’d been skating for one year. For me it was further evidence of a growing mainstream acceptance of alternative sports and sub-cultural movements like skateboarding, fixed-gear cycling, punk, indie music, urban art and sneaker culture. After all, his parents had to buy the equipment and drive him to the skate park every weekend for the past year.
Shots of Xiao He in action after the jump.
A hilarious new video spot from Chinese athletic company Li-Ning. According to chinaSMACK, a number of Chinese sites are predicting Chinese expats in the US to take offence. But I think, if anyone, it’s the mainstream American population who are most like to take offence. See for yourself below.
Earlier this week Diederik van Middelkoop of Massive Music emailed me their latest music video, “Shanghai, Shanghai” featuring rapper ‘TK’ Tang King. It’s a really fun clip, featuring glimpses into all the iconic scenes you encounter everyday, living in Shanghai.
After the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and the millions and millions of visitors who came and went, the message still lingers on in Shanghai: ‘Better City, Better Life’
Film Director Bas Roeterink, music house MassiveMusic Shanghai and Rapper Tang King (‘TK’) sat down, took that message, and spun it around.
‘Make a Better City, Have a Better Life’.
Beijing indie-pop rockers Queen Sea Big Shark played at Shanghai’s Mao Livehouse on Friday night. I’ve had people in the (China music) industry tell me their live show was over-rated. Friday night was anything but. The venue brought great sound and front gal Fu Han brought a visual feast of a show and bag loads of intensity. The set flirted between club music and their signature guitar-pop and B52s-baselines. One friend aptly described the mix as almost Bowie-esque.
20 images from the show below. And a playlist to stream while you browse…
My first attempt at a technique called “lens wacking” or “free lensing”:
A short film about our neighbours.
The couple downstairs in our Shanghai laneway compound spend every afternoon dicing up fresh vegetables and cooking fresh noodle pasta. Then at 9pm, they wheel it out onto the intersection at the end of our laneway and fry-up woks full of tasty vegetable noodles until 5am.
Between the laneway and the intersection is one of the most popular fruit shops among residents of the French Concession. The local business owner stocks a huge range of hard-to-get imported ingredients and fresh produce, which has earned her the name ‘Arugula Lady‘ among expats.
For 5 kuai, you can eat like a king in Shanghai.
Song is a special Daytrotter Studio recording of ‘Ghosting’ by Freelance Whales. Download the whole session free.
Five live tracks from two of China’s most influential indie punk acts and one incredible, ‘free folk’ act. Filmed almost exactly 12 months ago in Brooklyn’s powerHouse Arena. I love the film grading and production. Feels like it could have been filmed 30 years ago. Very special performances.
Wrote a post yesterday about JR’s work. Went and check out his latest exhibition opening at 18Gallery on the Bund tonight in Shanghai. JR himself (+team) was at the gallery and I managed to catch him to ask a few questions that I was keen for answers on. I also found out the locations of some of his Shanghai pieces.
Pervasive street artist JR, who was just awarded the TED Prize, is opening his latest exhibition ‘The Wrinkles of a City’ in Shanghai tonight. His work is characterised by intimately-shot black and white photographs, super-sized and pasted in remarkable urban locations. There’s always a strong humanitarian message in his works.
Here’s a selection of really interesting images from Nick Peden. Nick recently returned to Shanghai, after a research adventure through greater China, focusing on youth culture in the country’s second-tier cities. These images remind me why I love living in this part of the world.
[October 12, 2010] George Michael has been released from prison after serving half of an eight-week sentence for crashing his car while under the influence of cannabis. [via Guardian]
To mark this day, here’s Lindsay Anderson’s “Foreign Skies” documentary of Wham!’s 1985 China tour. Wham! was the first western band to tour China, consummating the 10-day tour with a show, attended by 10,000 screaming fans at the Workers’ Gymnasium in Beijing.
The unveiling of China’s innovative, congestion-alleviating new bus design caused a web storm this week. But what hasn’t been released yet is what the inside of such a groundbreaking concept will look like. Here’s the answer.
[image credit: Rasmus Weng Karlsen]
A few months ago Danish duo Reptile and Retard completed a massive and very debaucherous tour of China. Here are some of the highlights published by Vice Magazine this week.
Swiss artist and my good mate, Ian White (aka Cutterskink, aka ARAB) recently dropped into Shanghai for a visit. Among some of the the mischief while he was here, we thew some paint up in an incredible abandoned old building. Check out some of the stills from the area on flickr.
C.Custer posted an interesting retrospective on the ChinaGeeks blog this week, discussing soft power, censorship and how the Wu-Tang Clan became unlikely ambassadors for China and its traditional culture. So what do 90s east-coast hip-hop, the Confucius Institute, a 1987 film by Steven Spielberg and an Australian electro-pop duo have in common?
The US names and shames the world’s worst piracy offenders. The release, circulating news wires around the world couldn’t come at a more opportune time for two of the main offenders. From 28 May–4 June 2010, a league of Canada’s key music industry innovators and decision makers travel to China for the mainland’s largest music industry business conference –transmitCHINA.
BBC Radio 4 correspondent, Rajan Datar, went to a recent gig at one of Beijing’s major live houses and asked a handful of Chinese youth to name their favourite bands. Their responses were varying combinations of the acts listed below.
Oasis, Joy Division, Lady Gaga, Rolling Stones, Ting Tings, Tom Waits, Blur, Johnny Thunders, Ramones, Smashing Pumpkins, Suede, Radiohead, The Doors, Iggy Pop, Sex Pistols.
Above: The making of the Hifana+Nike Music Shoe.
In August last year Converse stamped a giant Chuck Taylor star on the Chinese indie music scene with its hugely successful Converse Love Noise campaign, engineered by Shanghai agencies W+K and Split Works –and awarded Ad Age China’s Top Marketing Campaign for 2009. The campaign was centered around local artists in five key cities across China and incorporated live music, live art and a filmed documentary, featuring two of China’s buzz acts, P.K.14 and Queen Sea Big Shark.
The article above discusses insights into the failures of marketing efforts targeting China’s Youth, and recommendations moving forward. Finally, hard numbers to prove that youth don’t have to belong to one tribe. In fact, the study cited in the article above suggests that Chinese youth dip in and out of a number of different sub-cultural tribes simultaneously.
The most over-observed, polite conversation point in Shanghai: the tardy arrival of the new (warmer) season. Rather than pine about how much we missed the weather, with it’s beautiful blue sky, tweeting birds and golden morning sun, we celebrated it’s company with a delicious home-cooked stack of thin pancakes — not crepes — thin pancakes. I’m not going to explain the difference, you’ll just have to trust this former skeptic that one indeed exists.