Interview with inverselive ( RIĆOR ) in Taipei


When I asked inverselive ( RIĆOR ) by email for an interview, the reply I got said, a lot of people who’ve seen only the photos think I’m a girl, but I’m a man, is that okay with you? It’s true, I’d completely taken the photographer to be a woman. The photos have that kind of delicacy.

inverselive ( RIĆOR ):

We’d agreed to meet at a café inside Eslite Bookstore, a large shop that takes up all four floors of a brand new building in a shopping area in Taipei. The atmosphere is similar to the Junkudo bookstore chain in Japan.

The two young people who appear before me are so stylish, it makes me feel a bit awkward.
inverselive ( RIĆOR ) is a tall, smiling young fellow, and accompanying him is Jasmine, one of his models, who has come as an interpreter.
They’re both quite tall.

The interview is in English. And now and then, we communicate by writing.
Putting aside the question of why two “Asians” have to speak to each other in English, straight ahead into the interview.
The statements in brackets are comments by the interviewer.

What year were you born?


So, for your generation, the internet is something that’s always been there, right?

Yes, that’s true.

Are you from Taipei?

No, I’m from central Taiwan.

The suburbs?

Well, it’s really more a rural area than a suburb.
I came to Taipei to go to university.

It sure rains a lot in Taipei.

It doesn’t rain this much where I’m from.
But the weather in Taipei has a kind of ambiance, and I kind of like it.

You live alone?


Are you a student?

Yes, at the university. I major in industrial design.
There’s always so much homework, so it’s hard.
[It sounds like it’s the same for art students everywhere.]

And when you graduate?

When I graduate, I want to become a designer or a photographer.

When did you start using Flickr?

I started on Flickr last May.
So, it’s been almost one year.

What led you to start using Flickr?

It was popular at school.
I was bored, and it seemed interesting.

Is Flickr a popular site in Taiwan?

Flickr isn’t so well known in Taiwan.
It’s only caught on in the art schools.

Are there websites for mobile phone photos and such in Taiwan?

No, there isn’t anything like those sites you have in Japan.

Sometimes the photos on Wretch come filtering down the net in Japan. Is it well-known here?

Wretch? Oh, Wu Ming. I think more people here use it than Flickr. [Apparently he knows the site by another name. We figure it out by writing it down; the literal meaning of the Chinese characters is “no name”.]

What kind of music do you like?

I listen to a lot of old movie soundtracks.

Name three of your favorite musicians.

Joe Hisaishi
Ennio Morricone
Deserts Xuan

What designers do you like?

Marc Newson
Jasper Morrison
Ross Lovegrove

What photographers do you like?

Mika Ninagawa
Daido Moriyama
[It seems that the information on Japanese photographers is very up-to-date.]

There aren’t any Taiwanese photographers who you like?

No, no one in particular.

What’s the reason you got started in photography? Do you like photos?

No special reason, I just like it.
I mean, I think that’s one of the great things about photography – there’s no need to explain it in words.

Have you ever been to Japan?

Yes, three times.
About a week all together.
Tokyo is interesting because you can feel all the energy.
Harajuku and Akihabara and Shinjuku and so on.
I like Ura-Harajuku the best.
[I’m sure if he were walking around that area, he’d fit in perfectly.]

Have you been to any other countries?

I went to the U.S. when I was very small, but I don’t remember it.

Do you ever think about working overseas?

Yes, I would like to try working overseas, in Tokyo, or in Europe or somewhere else.

Most of what you have up on Flickr are portraits. What’s your reason for taking portraits?

I do photograph other things too, but the portraits are all I’ve put up on Flickr.
Because I guess I feel that the portraits come out pretty well.
But I don’t really know the reason.
I don’t really think verbally when I photograph.

When did you first start taking photos?

About a year ago.
[So, right around the time he started using Flickr.]

Your models are friends?

I do photograph friends a lot, but if I see someone around town who looks good, I’ll photograph them too. I’ll stop if they get angry, but I explain as much as I can. For instance, I tell them, I want to take your picture because you’re so beautiful.

You use film, don’t you.

Yes, because I like film cameras, and good digital cameras are expensive.

Can you still get Polaroid film in Taiwan?

You can buy it on the internet.
[I have a look at the film he uses, and it’s Fuji.]

Isn’t the Mamiya RB67 heavy?

It’s heavy, but it’s a good camera and it’s cheap.
I use a Nikon FM2 too. [A camera that photography school students in Japan use a lot.]
They’re heavy, but I always have both of them in my backpack wherever I go.

[After a bit, he starts photographing. Angle-shots of profiles, like I’ve seen on Flickr.]

Does he always snap away like this? (To the model.)

Yeah, he does. (Laughs)

After that, general chatting.

[I’ve been thinking about how to handle the typefaces when I bring this all together as the section for East Asia. Designing it with a mix of traditional Chinese characters, simplified Chinese characters, hiragana and hangul would probably be quite a task. I decide to ask him what he thinks about it.]

What’s your impression of traditional Chinese characters, simplified Chinese characters and hiragana?

I feel that the traditional Chinese characters have greater beauty than the simplified Chinese characters.
You can buy magazines from Japan around town, and I’m used to seeing them.
So, it doesn’t bother me design-wise if Japanese (hiragana) is mixed in.

In Japan, when we talk about Taiwan, there’s Takeshi Kaneshiro, but his Japanese is a little off and he’s done only one TV drama. How’s his Taiwanese?

His Taiwanese is almost perfect, but I guess you can tell he’s not quite native.
[It must be tough.]

Is Hou Hsiao-Hsien famous?

He’s very famous. The place where he filmed has become a tourist spot – it’s a rustic, pretty town.

Translated by Seth Yarden

No comments: