Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31

The day started kind of slow-then caught up as usual. 

We went to a walking mall on the way to an interview with a journalist living in Beijing and working for Al Jazeera English.  Very insightful.  

Next, we visited the Green Tea House, called a combination of Chinese Culture and Alice and Wonderland, on our way to dinner at the Belagio restaurant.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 30

We didn't move far from our own Hutong to finish filming the local block of music stores- many of the shops not only demonstrated their wares but gave us the history of the instruments, as well. 

Our next stop was the park outside of the Forbidden City, this hill was created from the excavation that created the lakes around the area.  For something like 25 cents, we encountered a wealth of performance.  Walking a few feet would bring you to a large choral ensemble singing old war songs-walking a little farther and you see Hip Hop dancing grannies. Various traditional instruments we saw hanging in the stores were brought to life by people of all ages.  Mixed among the opera and hacky-sackers, was a real, old fashioned political debate. 

We kept climbing until we got to the temple, inside you could see a huge cast Buddha and outside you could see a great view of the Forbidden City.

As if that weren't enough, we all piled in a Taxi in time to meet a Phd student studying energy use, for an interview on his campus.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 29

We found ourselves in the art community near the 798 District, in the studio complex redesigned by Ligang. He opened the doors to one of his galleries, first, before showing us around his private workspace. His interview gave an interesting perspective. His generosity extended to introducing us to the neighboring artists.

Next, we returned to the 798 Red Gate location for an interview with Reg Newitt, the manager there.

Friday, March 28, 2008

March 28

A rainy, cold, cold day. We started off with a very successful interview with Green Peace China, they wanted an advance copy our questions, which seemed like a bad sign, but they were very available and forthcoming during the talk.

The rest of the day we had pre-interview set up meetings, first with a member of Al Jazhera then with an artist named Dr. Laurens Tau. Both were very productive and informative.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 27

I am having a hard time typing right now: But, we visited Beijing University today and then we went to see a Acrobatics show.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 26

At 5:00 am I woke up for whatever reason- so I took the time to back up our hard drive on the spare, after reformatting it which seemed to fix the bugs.

At 8:00 am we chartered a taxi for the day, which took us to what is reportedly the most beautiful part of the Great Wall, only 45 minutes away from Beijing I have to be skeptical, but it WAS amazing. We even got to slide down-can't wait to post that video.

After we got back we went to an historic tea house where many traditional chinese forms of entertainment kept us as engaged as the heads of state they have hosted in the past. Acrobatics, magicians, voice mimics, martial artists, and more were all a spectacle.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25

Were having a medium to large problem with our media storage- were officially out of tapes and our efforts to back up the hard drive keep resulting in error statements. The biggest issue is time because at an hour of hd video uncompressed is basically 30 gigs, multiply each filming hour to two cameras and logging tape takes forever...

Meanwhile, the 798 District was our first stop, THE RED GATE GALLERY's sister location allowed us to film before we visited THE GALLERIA CONTINUA where we got to see an installation by Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Our next stop was the Tea Street where there are over 600 tea shops within one mile.

Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24

Our first stop on this clear but windy day was to an ex-government official in charge of Wildlife Conservation and Protection. He had been to the United States including a trip to LA for the Olympics During this trip he oversaw the loan of China's National Treasure: Panda Bears. His feedback was incredible-afterward he insisted on taking our crew out to lunch for some of Beijing's famous PEKING DUCK. After our meal in which we peppered he and his wife with additional questions- he gave us some great candid reflections.

Next, we went back to the Olympic buildings for shots with the blue sky...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

March 23

Another busy day: We met a contact of Ye's at a hotel for an early interview as well as one with a friend of his afterward. (Enduring skeptical looks before and after the event.)

Next, we tried to take advantage of the blue sky by going to the the Kunlan Hotel for their rotating view of the city. We set up two camera's at opposite ends so we could capture the whole panorama in half the suggested time: an 2 hours and 5 minutes. It only took half that anyway, which we discovered by the time we finished lunch.

This is Easter Sunday, so it seemed appropriate to take a tour of a Buddhist temple before making our way to South Cathedral for a Catholic Mass. They even had Easter Eggs for the congregation.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

March 22

We made a quick tour of the music shops for a lengthier exploration later on. Next, we visited the Red Gate Gallery located in the only surviving Ming Dynasty Tower. The Director a Australian named Brian Wallace gave us an interview as well as letting us film the current show.

Afterward, we filmed some semi-destroyed hutongs on the way back to The Place, which we visited briefly two days ago. Today, it was supposed to house the Beijing chapter of a World wide simultaneous pillow fight. Unfortunately, the police shut it down before it even began.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March 21

Our scheduled meeting with the Director of the Red Gate Gallery was postponed until Saturday- so we extended out morning logging session in to an all day affair. The respite from a hectic pace was welcome.

Josh took over work on the computer while myself and Kevin went out to scout out the music equipment district out for a later documenting session. The weather was cold enough to see your breath following a light rain in the morning. The goal is to photograph all the music stores and record a sample of audio from within for an eventual website that will make for a simulated walk down this hutong area.

This process will become even more important as it is applied to areas to be demolished. Meanwhile, I found out that Michelangelo Pistoletto has an installation in town, so I contacted his representation with a request to film there.

I noticed that our website is unavailable here, as well as this blog site so I won't be able to adjust anything until I get back to the states.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 20

We went to the new Business District first thing this morning. Our first interviews went really well. First, and expatriated businessman from America, then his chinese colleague.

Afterward, we ate at a nearby dim sum restaurant which ended up giving a lot of helpful information, as well.

After a short errand, our contact introduced us to a film maker currently living in Beijing, who was filming a series for Al Jazeera. Comparing notes was very helpful. Before we headed back to the hutong for the night, we stopped by, THE PLACE. The overhead display was amazing, I can only imagine what it will be like to watch the Olympics there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 19

We got up at a normal hour, 8:30 Beijing time. Kevin working on our navigation, I drawing the courtyard in my sketchbook while eating a "swiss breakfast" of Muselli.

The main two Olympic Buildings, the Bird's Nest Stadium and the Natatorium were our main objective. Construction precluded much of a view from almost every angle besides gaps in the temporary work walls. Still, Digital Beijing loomed impressively while workers ducked under swinging gaps in the fence to return to work.

Along the partially completed sidewalk tourists, both foreign and native, gawked at the buildings from atop piles of material outside the fence. As we walked along the perimeter pedestrians walked in step and around the workers who were plodding along at their various tasks in a relaxed manner.

An hour of circumnavigating led to a traffic check point which afforded us an excellent view of the Structures unmolested with fence to block the view. Citizen's took turns taking their pictures from young to old in front of the Stadium in the great distance.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 18

We woke up at 5:00 am to make it to the TEMPLE OF HEAVEN before dawn. Unfortunately, a sand storm negated a clear view of the sky.

People come to what was described as, "The Largest Architectural Complex in the World." to practice various forms of exercise.

Later, we found the URBAN PLANNING MUSEUM.


Monday, March 17, 2008

March 17, 2008

I arrived in Beijing at one in the afternoon, ahead of schedule. The cab that was sent from the hotel took me to the the "hutongs" the infamously plural alley ways where you can easily get lost. The airport was covered with Olympic Posters, and as my driver's young companion told me me, This is Beijing: lots of traffic.

In fact, it seemed like we almost got into two accidents before we even pulled onto Airport Expressway. From this road I could see the Skeleton of DIGTAL BEIJING, the media brain stem of news in China, once it is finished.

People weaved in an out of traffic with little care, and people on bikes were everywhere. Besides the buildings which are being either renovated or repaired everywhere, the traffic is what made the biggest first impression.

Once, I was dropped off at THE RED LANTERN, one of the oldest hotels in the area, I was picked up on a bike and brought to one of the three halls of the hotel located blocks apart from each other. People cross over streets wherever they please, and I was cautioned to pay attention on the sidewalks, too, where it is not umcommon to see a car drive by.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March 9, 2008

DeLuca leaves for Beijing, tomorrow, and I do a week later.

Despite all the planning up to this point, there is much to do.

Were splitting up our equipment as a safety precaution, hard drives, cameras, all split down the middle- while planning to purchase the bulky non electronic equipment there.

Besides working on our shooting script, which won't stop until we leave China, getting the print materials ready will be the last chore to finish in the States.