一頁台北 翻開閱讀的共享聚落

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2017 / 8月

文‧吳靖雯 圖‧林旻萱 翻譯‧Jonathan Barnard


在虛擬當道的年代,我們仍需要實實在在的圖書館。50年的數位資訊洪流,沖不散五千年的知識載體;人們的短期記憶日益薄弱、轉瞬即逝,幸好生活中還有一兩處收納長期記憶的物理空間,大隱於市。

 


原本拿起手機欲拍照的動作停留在半空中,隨即又放了下來,擺進口袋。這裡是已收藏了兩千多本攝影書的地方,何須再製造一兩張影像?按下快門鈕都顯得多餘。也只有攝影愛好者會建置這樣的一個空間,連名稱都有哏:Lightbox(燈箱),簡潔明亮一如其名。

「Lightbox」:攝影圖書室

攝影技術相關的名詞不少,何以「燈箱」雀屏中選?創辦人曹良賓不疾不徐地解釋:「燈箱是用來檢視底片的設備,我希望這個空間是有能量感的,就像一個會發光的盒子。透過這些攝影書,讓喜歡攝影的人在這裡交互激盪、產生火花。這應該是充滿快樂光明的事情。」有趣的是,雖然都屬於藝術範疇,取名「Lightbox」,正好也能跟別名「白盒子」的美術館,或是俗稱「黑盒子」的劇場做出區分。

談到創辦初衷,原來跟曹良賓兩項個人經驗有關。2014年末,他的首本攝影集申請國家文化藝術基金會補助出版;然而出了書後,「路只走了一半,然後呢?」他開始思考攝影集還能對哪些人產生意義,又能引起哪些人的興趣。再者是參與了國立台灣博物館的「台灣攝影史綱研究計畫」。身為作者群之一,曹良賓蒐集台灣早期攝影史料的過程,發現資料散佚各處,分析研究更顯困難。「所以我後來要成立攝影空間就想到,台北不缺展覽空間,但可以閱讀、自主學習,供攝影同好會晤討論的地方很少,在座談之餘的社交功能,也許未來轉移到更大的空間會更完善。」

影像消費如此氾濫的時代,人們注意力更快被吸引,卻也更快的遺忘。在網路大海中搜尋、瀏覽圖像儘管便利,卻缺乏系統與順序,易流於零散破碎,曹良賓認為:「攝影書恰恰介於原作與數位檔之間,美術館不一定有充裕經費買攝影原作,攝影集會比較容易,何況書又是一個作者的意志和創作脈絡的展現。」

群眾募書,集結兩千冊

目前高達2,272本的藏書量,是集結五湖四海、眾人之力積累而成。首先曹良賓傾囊將自有400本攝影書捐出,此舉吸引了政治大學教授郭力昕,把手邊書籍打包成24箱,親自載送至圖書室,工作人員花了三個多月才整理完成。日本當代攝影季刊《IMA》特地空運三大箱自家雜誌來台;美國紀實攝影大師羅伯.法蘭克(Robert Frank)在曹良賓造訪紐約之際,贈送了數本經典攝影集;曹良賓赴巴黎文化交流時攜帶了十幾本台灣攝影集準備捐給當地單位,事隔3個月後,法國國家圖書館寄來一疊文件,上頭印有每本書登錄上架的明細。也有讀者在粉絲團私訊留言,詢問是否有某位日本攝影家的專書,在得知不在現有館藏的情形下,直接在網路上下訂,收件地址寫的是該圖書室。

館藏書籍分類中,以占了半數的攝影集為最大宗,其餘為攝影史、攝影評論、攝影雜誌、攝影展圖錄等。隨著書目增加,除了考量將圖書室搬遷到更大的場地外,曹良賓也擬將攝影技術、電影錄像等相關面向的出版品納入館藏陣容。

「書籍來源大可以申請預算編列一次購足,但這種方式比較個人化又無趣;後來認識不同的捐書人、志工或聽眾,一年來也慢慢達成兩千本的目標。」對他而言,「眾籌」的過程更有意思,迄今已累積190位捐贈者,如此一來也能跟不同攝影社群多接觸,了解他們對當代攝影的疑惑或興趣所在。

社團雖然容易吸聚同好,另一方面也免不了讓入門者產生藩籬與隔閡感,「我們希望有專業性,但不要有社群的封閉性,讓社團在拓展同時也能有不同領域的人進入,這對我們而言是重要的。」除了書籍互換,Lightbox亦邀請海外攝影工作者來台分享或舉辦工作坊,期望促進本地攝影圈與國外攝影社群的對話。

預定於2018年修復完工的「國家攝影文化中心」,以台灣攝影史、攝影藝術、攝影資產之研究、典藏、展示、教育及推廣為成立宗旨與發展定位,跟Lightbox攝影圖書室又有什麼不同?

曹良賓指出,中心並無特設藏書空間,現行的圖書分類法亦不足以涵蓋當代攝影發展的多元性,仰賴機構藏書不易,故成立專門圖書館有其必要性。「有別於美術館設的圖書室,我想專注在收集、整理並推廣台灣攝影出版物,有點像在做Archive的事情。」

美國著名藝術評論家蘇珊.桑塔格(Susan Sontag)在其著作《論攝影》(On Photography)中提到,書籍是安排照片最具影響力的方式,同時還擔保了它們的壽命。在儘管紙本印刷規模逐年下滑,攝影前景同樣不被看好,而Lightbox的出現,期能匯集攝影能量,聚焦台灣攝影價值,使本地攝影文化自覺也自決,並持續發光發熱下去。

「不只是圖書館」,創新空間

月上柳梢頭,人約黃昏後。把桌椅搬到一旁,場地都清空出來,紅男綠女陸續抵達,爵士樂早已從門縫間飄出,原來「不只是圖書館」,正展開一場充滿冒險精神的實驗。

這不過是某個周末的景象。更多數時候它是安靜閒適的,和整個園區的熙熙攘攘形成強烈對比,一進門便盡數濾去了外頭的喧囂。窗櫺是溫潤的,書架是冷硬的;雜誌是新潮的,光陰是緩慢的。設計書籍滿室,還有小巧迷你的3×3展覽間,甚至舉辦過講座、市集、音樂會和搖擺舞會……。

欸~先把鏡頭拉回棚內正題,這兒的主角可是「書」:館藏超過3萬冊、逾百種國內外設計雜誌,包含平面、工業、建築、服裝、美術、工藝等類目,每年進書都會視情況檢視調整;今年起還新添許多國內外獨立雜誌,呈現非商業類的個性氣息。

針對如何選書的問題,現任館長劉芳表示,除了留意設計趨勢潮流,與出版社或代理商詢問推薦,也會參考獨立書店的陳列。

只要稍微瀏覽一下館內的藏書,便會發現很多並不與設計直接相關,例如食品營養、攝影、音樂、美學思考等。「我們也補上了藝術生活(的相關書籍)。設計不該只是被侷限在物件上,而得靠生活需求來支撐。如果只是著重在設計品,容易流於隨波逐流,一味追尋國外角度;一旦加入藝術面,就可以有更多獨立思考的想法,不會只是設計的結果。所以在(設計)前期的所有相關環節,也會列入選書考量。」

網路發達的現代社會,為什麼我們還需要看書?設計資訊俯拾即是,何必要走一趟圖書館?劉芳提出三點理由:首先,資訊氾濫的時代,更需要書籍的存在。網海汪洋,大多是複製貼上、重複性高,書籍有時反倒會是更有效率的選擇。網路並非萬能,如果是需要系統性了解特定歷史文化型態的主題,例如服飾辭典或中東設計,找書會比上網大海撈針見識到更多內容。

其次,在網路上找資料時,搜尋結果排行在前的較偏主流型態,「做設計找到自己的觀點是很重要的」,翻閱不同時期的書籍可以給予不同的刺激。第三,通常網路容易導向同溫層,但有時候靈感偏偏就會來自於平常不熟悉或未接觸過的人事物。「書籍跟圖書館的必要性就在這裡,可以均質地呈現知識。」

跨界延伸,扭轉傳統觀念

這座圖書館不只是一處空間,也是個媒介;每次策展主題都會跟其中一種設計類型相關,希望導引入場觀眾看見一部分館藏,例如剛結束檔期的刺繡展,可以吸引對服裝設計或立體雕塑有興趣的人,進而在館內挖掘更多相關書本知識內容。

館方在考量邀請設計師辦展時,偏向實驗性高、發展未臻成熟的點子,「否則就給設計博物館展就好。」劉芳笑道,這是個什麼創意都可能發生的場域,她們正試著扭轉傳統對圖書館的觀念。

著眼於功能整合,目前座落於園區內製菸工廠北側二樓的圖書館,將於九月搬遷至一樓的「台灣設計館」旁;民眾逛完設計博物館後,可接續到圖書館閱覽相關書籍。屆時的空間設計也會與現有的工業風不同,想一窺它華麗轉身的朋友,別忘了把握機會來走一遭。

英文

Turning Over a New Leaf—Taipei Libraries Find Their Way in a New Era

Wu Ching-wen /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

In an increasingly virtual age, there is still a need for bricks-and-mortar libraries. A 50-year flood of digital technology cannot wash away the 5000 years when books were the planet’s main receptacles of knowledge. People possess largely short-term memories that seem ever thinner and more fleeting. Fortunately, two physical spaces devoted to long-term memories are nestled within the city of Tai­pei. 

 


 

A visitor holds a phone in the air as if planning to take a photo, before quickly putting it back in his pocket. The place he is in already holds more than 2000 books of photo­graphs. What would be the point of taking any more? Pressing the shutter button would seem superfluous. The builders of this place simply had to be photo­graphy lovers, a fact that is apparent in its name: Lightbox. The space is as simple and bright as its appellation.

Lightbox Photo Library

From the large vocabulary related to photographic techniques, why choose “lightbox”? Founder Tsao Liang­-pin offers this thoughtful explanation: “A lightbox is a piece of equipment that is used to inspect negatives and slides. I hope that this space will have a certain sense of energy, like a box that emanates light, and that these books of photographs will allow lovers of photo­graphy to gain stimulation from crosspollination that creates mental fireworks. It ought to be suffused in joy.” Although all three items fall within the realm of the arts, a lightbox should be distinguished from a “white box” (an undecorated museum room) or a “black box” (a small and simple theater).

The founding of Lightbox stemmed from two of Tsao’s personal experiences. In 2014, his first photo­graphy collection was published thanks to financial support from the National Culture and Arts Foundation. After the book came out, he had the feeling of being on a journey and stopping half way. “Now what?” he thought. He began to consider potential meanings that his photo­graphs would hold for certain kinds of people and how to attract those persons’ interest. Then he took part in a research program on the history of photo­graphy in Taiwan sponsored by the National Taiwan Museum.

A member of the authors’ group, Tsao discovered as he gathered materials on the early history of photo­graphy in Taiwan that related documents and materials were widely scattered. That dispersion made the research more difficult. “Consequently, when I later considered creating a space connected to photo­graphy, I thought about how Tai­pei—despite having plenty of exhibition spaces—lacked places where lovers of photo­graphy could look at books and engage in study on their own. Likewise, there were few places where they could hold discussions with fellow enthusiasts. In terms of the social exchange functions that go beyond lectures, we may need to move to a larger, better equipped space.” 

More than 2000 donated volumes

Tsao first donated 400 volumes himself. That move attracted the notice of Professor Kuo Li-hsin of National Cheng­chi University, who packed his own collection into 24 boxes and personally delivered them to the library. It took staffers three months before they had sorted through them all. The Japanese quarterly IMA shipped by air three large boxes of photo magazines. When Tsao visited New York, the American documentary photography master Robert Frank gave him several outstanding volumes. And when Tsao went to France on a cultural exchange program, he brought several dozen volumes by Taiwanese photo­graph­ers to give to government institutions there. Three months later, French counterparts sent a stack of documents to him, with a detailed list of their contents on top. Some readers who are members of fan clubs have called in asking if the library has a certain volume by this or that Japanese photo­grapher. When the answer is no, the callers have been known to place an order for the book, with the recipient’s address given as the library’s.

Collections of photo­graphs comprise most of the books here. Books on the history of photo­graphy, photo­graphic criticism, photo­graphy periodicals, photo­graphic exhibition catalogs and so forth make up the rest. As far as Tsao is concerned, the “crowdfunding” process is a particularly intriguing way of building the collection. So far, 190 donors have provided books. In this manner, Lightbox can keep in contact with the various quarters of Taiwan’s photographic community and gain an understanding about their concerns and interests regarding contemporary photography.

While social interest organizations can easily attract groups of likeminded individuals, they can’t help but also engender a sense of barriers and divisions. “We hope to be professional without becoming exclusionary. We want the group to expand by drawing in people from different realms. It’s very important to us.” Apart from the exchange of books, Lightbox also invites foreigners working in the field of photo­graphy to come to Taiwan and hold workshops here. The aim is to spur conversations between local and foreign photo­graphy communities.

In On Photo­graphy, the renowned American arts critic Susan Sontag noted that book collections provide the most impactful method of arranging photo­graphs and that they also ensure that the photo­graphs live on. Although the book industry is in decline and the future of photo­graphy doesn’t look too bright either, there is the expectation that Lightbox can gather energy from within the field of photo­graphy and focus on the value of photo­graphy for Taiwan, so that the culture of photo­graphy here will gain a sense of self-awareness and self-determina­tion, and will continue to shine in the years ahead.

Not Just Library: A space for innovation

Upon entering, one immediately notices that Not Just Library somehow filters out all the hubbub from the Song­shan Cultural and Creative Park outside. The latticed windows provide warm light, and the black metal bookshelves offer a calm and cool ambience. Although the many available magazines cover all the latest trends, time moves slowly here. Apart from the books about design, which fill the space, there is also a small three-meters-square exhibition space, which is used to hold lectures, concerts and swing dances….

There are more than 30,000 volumes in Not Just Library’s collection, including works related to graphic design, industrial design, architecture, fashion, and arts and crafts, as well as over 100 domestic and foreign periodicals. Each year’s additions to the collection are calibrated to meet changing needs. This year many domestic and foreign periodicals have been added, with an emphasis on those of a non-commercial nature.

Regarding the question of how to select books, the current director, Leslie Liu, apart from paying attention to design trends and taking suggestions from publishers and agents, also keeps an eye on independent bookstores.

You only need a quick look around to discover that there are many books here that aren’t directly or exclusively related to design. For instance, there are books on cooking and diet, photography, music, aesthetics, and so forth. “We have also bolstered our collection of books about art and lifestyle,” Liu says. “The term ‘design’ is no longer restricted to objects. Rather it should be defined as anything or any endeavor that supports life. If the focus is placed solely on designed objects, it is easy to get lost in the currents and end up blindly adopting a foreign perspective. With a more aesthetic approach, there can be greater consideration given to independent thinking and less exclusive focus on design results. Consequently, the earlier [more theoretical and philosophical] stages of design also get considered when choosing books.”   

With the Internet so well developed in modern society, why still read books at all? When it’s so easy to get information about design, why make a trip to the library? Leslie Liu cites three reasons: First, in an age of information overload, there is an even greater need for books—since amid the oceans of information, so much has been copied and pasted or is otherwise redundant.

Second, when you go online to search for information, the first links listed in search engines are likely to be more mainstream in orientation. Yet “when designing, it is important to have your own point of view.” By leafing through books from different eras, you can gain different kinds of stimulation. Third, the Internet too often fosters echo chambers. But sometimes inspiration comes from contact with individuals with whom you are unfamiliar. “The necessity of books and libraries is found herein: They can provide equal access to different levels of knowledge.”

Subverting traditional concepts

The library is more than a space; it is also a medium. When holding exhibitions, its curatorial themes are all related to some form of design. The goal is to get the public to become interested in its collections. Take, for instance, the embroidery show recently held in the 3 x 3-meter exhibition space. It attracted people who were interested in fashion or sculpture to come into the library and find related books. 

When the library considers which designers to invite for exhibits, it leans toward those who are highly experimental, with ideas that are not fully mature: “Otherwise, they’re better suited for an exhibition at the design museum,” says Liu with a laugh. This is an arena where creativity of any kind can happen. They are subverting the traditional conception of a library.

With the goal of bringing greater functional integration, the library is being moved in September from the second floor on the north side of the old tobacco factory in the Song­shan Cultural and Creative Park to the Taiwan Design Museum on the first floor. After finishing at the museum, visitors can go to the library to check out related books. The new space represents a departure from the original venue’s industrial style. Don’t miss the opportunity to see for yourself the makeover in store for this old Tai­pei friend.

 

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