bauhaus
imaginista
●Edition 4: Still Undead / ●Edition 2: Learning From / ●Edition 3: Moving Away / ●Edition 1: Corresponding With
Mar. 15–Jun. 10 2019
Exhibition

bauhaus imaginista, Berlin

  • Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
  • John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557, Germany

bauhaus imaginista is a narrative of the international histories of the Bauhaus. After its founding in 1919 the school was in contact with other avant-garde movements worldwide. Since March 2018, the research project has been tracing transnational relations, correspondences and narratives of migration going beyond the years the Bauhaus was active as a school and revealing its significance for the present-day. Now bauhaus imaginista culminates with an expanded overview at HKW. Its global interconnections and local manifestations have never been shown in this magnitude before.

Josef Albers, Detail of Loggia Wall, 1967, College of Science, Rochester Institute of Technology, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019, photo: RIT Public Relations Department.

The title bauhaus imaginista hints at the imaginative possibilities that were opened up by the Bauhaus and the multilayered interpretations that the term still denotes today. Between archival materials and contemporary contributions, the project translates historical perspectives into contemporary questions: How might culture be reimagined in the spirit of the Bauhaus as a social project today? What kinds of institutions would such a project need? And in what ways does the Bauhaus still stimulate visionary practices and discourses today

The exhibition discusses avant-garde art schools in India and Japan as parallel histories of modern educational reforms. It traces the study of pre-modern crafts at the Bauhaus and by Bauhaus students in North and Central American exile as well as their politicization in post-revolutionary Mexico, independent Morocco and Brazil. It shows translations of Bauhaus design approaches in China, Nigeria and the Soviet Union, but also the innovative use of media at the Bauhaus, which impacts art and pop culture even today.

Following exhibitions, symposia and workshops in 2018 in Rabat, Hangzhou, Kyoto and Tokyo, São Paulo, Lagos, Delhi, New York and Moscow in collaboration with the Goethe-Instituts and local partners, the first three chapters of the exhibition and research project will be brought together at HKW and, for the first time, the fourth and final chapter will be shown. Still Undead explores experimental work with light, film, photography and sound based on Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s Reflecting Color-Light-Play. The apparatus will be demonstrated at the opening of bauhaus imaginista.

Arieh Sharon and Eldar Sharon, University of Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, Osun, Nigeria, 1960s, Arieh Sharon Digital Archive, Yael Aloni collection.

With works by Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Arthur Amora, Gertrud Arndt, Ruth Asawa, Kader Attia, Lena Bergner, Lina Bo Bardi, Farid Belkahia, Susie Benally, Nandalal Bose, Mohamed Chabâa, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Lygia Clark, Alice Creischer, Muriel Cooper, Zvi Efrat, T. Lux Feininger, Luca Frei, Walter Gropius, Brion Gysin und Ian Sommerville, Trude Guermonprez, Sheila Hicks, George Hinchliffe and Ian Wood, Kenneth Josephson, Renchinchirō Kawakita, György Kepes, Paul Klee, Kurt Kranz, Otto Lindig, Elisa Martins da Silveira, Doreen Mende, Hannes Meyer, Takehiko Mizutani, László Moholy-Nagy, Max Peiffer Watenphul, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Hélio Oiticica, The Otolith Group, Nam June Paik, Lygia Pape, I. M. Pei, Margaretha Reichardt, Geraldo Sarno, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Ivan Serpa, Arieh Sharon,Soft Cell, Rabindranath Tagore, Paulo Tavares, Lenore Tawney, Frank Tovey, Edith Tudor-Hart, Stan VanDerBeek, Andy Warhol, Marguerite Wildenhain, Margarete Willers, Iwao and Michiko Yamawakim, and many more.

Two conferences will survey the critical potentials of the Bauhaus today: On March 16, political imaginista will discuss strategies of resistance against the neo-right as well as questions of Internationalism, cultural appropriation and the politicization of art, technology and pop culture.

With Kader Attia, Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan, Rustom Bharucha, John R. Blakinger, Beatriz Colomina, Alice Creischer, Iris Dressler, Kodwo Eshun, Thomas Flierl, Christian Hiller, Nataša Ilić, Susanne Leeb, Sebastian de Line, Doreen Mende, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Gloria Sutton, Mariko Takagi, and Paulo Tavares.

The second conference on May 11-12, A New School, discusses the Bauhaus based on examples from China, India, Morocco, Nigeria and the United States in the context of the development of experimental educational practices across boundaries of time and space.

bauhaus imaginista is curated by Marion von Osten and Grant Watson in collaboration with the researchers Elissa Auther, Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan, Regina Bittner, Gavin Butt, Helena Čapková, Anshuman Dasgupta, Tatiana Efrussi, Thomas Flierl, Erin Alexa Freedman, Anja Guttenberger, Christian Hiller, Yuko Ikeda, Maud Houssais, Eduard Kögel, Toni Maraini, Mariana Meneses, Jin Motohashi, Partha Mitter, Luiza Proença, Daniel Talesnik, and Hiromitsu Umemyia.

Takehiko Mizutani, Study on simultaneous contrast (class of Josef Albers), 1927. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.

●Documentation
●Slide Show
Photo Documentation of bauhaus imaginista Exhibition Opening in Berlin

Photos: Laura Fiorio/HKW → more

●Slide Show
Photo Documentation of bauhaus imaginista Exhibition in Berlin

Photos: Silke Briel and Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik → more

●Artist Work
Sketch One: Lotte and Hermina — Script-Reading and Screening by Wendelien van Oldenborgh

The script that the artist Wendelin van Oldenborgh created for bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect as a public moment is an insight into the development of her larger film project which will premiere as a contribution to the bauhaus imaginista exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, March 2019. It features archive material around the personas Lotte Beese and Hannes Meyer, Hermine Huiswoud and Langston Hughes. → more

●Artist Work
To Philipp Tolziner

For the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect at Garage Contemporary Museum of Art, the contemporary artist Alice Creischer has been invited to respond to the personal archive of Bauhaus architect Philipp Tolziner. She produced reading of material relating to the architect’s socialist backgrounds and his work in the Soviet Union.  → more

●Artist Work
Des-Habitat / Revista Habitat (1950–1954)

Des-Habitat interrogates the ways in which Indigenous arts and crafts appeared within discourses and imaginaries of modernity through the lens of Habitat, the arts and design magazine created by architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1950. Instead of the content shown in the images of Indigenous objects, the project interrogates the context from which they emerged as signifiers of modernity in Habitat, examining how Habitat itself, by virtue of its language and visual design, functioned as framing device that concealed that context and its inherent colonial structure. → more

●Artist Work
Research Project

Looking into the history of objects, into their original practical and social function as well as into the circumstances of their transition to European and other countries of Western civilization, the artist Kader Attia aims at conveying the full identity of the objects and to follow the traces of their disappearance that still can be discovered today and call for repair. → more

●Artist Work
Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa — A Film about the Ife Campus

Zvi Efrat, 2019, film stills from the exhibition video projection, 25 min, color, sound, English.
Courtesy of the artist. → more

●Conference Program and Video Documentation
political imaginista — 12 March 2019

Starting from the historical materials and findings of the exhibition in Berlin, the panels of the conference aim to consider these in relation to the background of contemporary concerns, politics and action. International artists, researchers, journalists and activists will examine a series of political issues arising from the project’s research. These include reflections on nationalism and colonialism, the limits of internationalism and the politicization of digital cultures. → more

●Conference Program and Video Documentation
A New School — 11/12 May 2019

The conference A New School places the Bauhaus in the context of art and design schools in China, India, Morocco, Nigeria and the United States. Practitioners and theorists from academia, architecture and art discuss the influence of the school on experimental educational theory from a contemporary perspective. What kind of art and design training is needed today? → more

●Correspondent Report
A New School — Report of a Conference at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin – 11 May 2019

What is education; what are its means and ends; and when is it time to re-examine and re-imagine current educational practices? These are questions which the Bauhaus asked in its time and the exhibit bauhaus imaginista prompts us to ask of ourselves.

The conference A New School at Haus de Kulturen der Welt, Berlin on 11 May 2019 drew the intersecting contours of these questions and challenges through perspectives from Brazil, China, India, Germany, Great Britain, Nigeria, Rwanda and the USA. → more

●Location and Partners
Location and Partners of the Exhibition in Berlin

The exhibition bauhaus imaginista is open from 15 March until 10 June 2019 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. 

 

bauhaus imaginista is a collaboration between the Bauhaus Cooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, the Goethe-Institut and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW). → more

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A Cold War Bauhaus
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The Bauhaus is renowned for its contribution to modernist architecture and design. Less known but equally significant is its pioneering role in opening up a transcultural network that created the conditions for global conversations on art and design as early as the 1920s. → more

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The Third Reich was in ruins, the surrender not yet signed. An architect painstakingly working his way through the debris to the Schöneberg town hall found a sign on the door of the building authority with his name. Appointed to office by the German Communist Party (KPD), city counselor Hans Scharoun immediately looked around for his people: “I’ve looked everywhere for you, where are you? Here we go!” → more

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The Legacy of Arieh Sharon’s Postcolonial Modernist Architecture at the Obafemi Awolowo University Campus in Ile-Ife Nigeria

The significance of Arieh Sharon’s postcolonial modernist architecture at Obafemi Awolowo University Campus at Ile-Ife is multi-dimensional. Built between 1960 and 1978, at first glance the campus core consists of an ensemble of modernist buildings. In this article Bayo Amole examines some of the physical and conceptual characteristics of the campus master plan and core area design in order to illustrate their significance as examples of postcolonial modernist architecture—identifying the most important aspects of their legacy, which has continued to guide the design of the campus as it has developed over the course of more than a half century. → more

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Towards a Tangible Pedagogy — Dimensions of Tactility at the Bauhaus

In the epistemic context of a fundamental skepticism towards the existing knowledge system, the Bauhaus school was in pursuit of “unlearning”: dismissing conventional learning and promoting pre- linguistic, intuitive approaches- which also led to adoptions of non-academic modes of perception and included an interest in pre-modern knowledge systems. → more

●Translation
Letter from Asger Jorn to Max Bill — February 12, 1954

Asger Jorn read of Max Bill’s plans for the new Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm (HfG), a school modeled after the Bauhaus, in the British Architects’ Yearbook 1953, where Bill had placed a promotional article to attract prospective students and teachers. Excited by the possibility of participating in a new democratic pedagogical experiment and in pursuing his interest in fusing art and architecture, he wrote to Bill, inquiring about the role of art at Ulm and expressing his desire to secure a teaching position.

This is a translation of one of the letters Jorn send to Bill. → more

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The Design of Information Overload — A Cold War Story

In 1959 Charles and Ray Eames presented their multi-screen film Glimpses of the USA inside Buckminster Fuller’s golden dome at the American Exhibition in Moscow. This propaganda project on behalf of the United States Information Agency  was part of a series of experiments into information overload as a new form of communication and persuasion. What was radical in 1959 has become every day. We are surrounded everywhere, all the time, by arrays of multiple, simultaneous images. The idea of a single image commanding our attention has faded away. It seems as if we need to be distracted in order to concentrate. → more

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Lichtwechsel — An den Übergängen vom Kaleidoskopischen zum Stroboskopischen

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●Interview
Interview with Filmmaker and Photographer Ronald Nameth — On filming Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the influence of the New Bauhaus

Ronald Nameth has been working with film, electronics, video, and digital media from the 1960s until today. In addition to Warhol, Nameth has collaborated with several key figures in the arts including musical innovators John Cage and Terry Riley, photographers Aaron Siskand and Art Sinsabauagh, as well as many other artists and performers. In this interview with bauhaus imaginista he recalls how the New Bauhaus method of teaching allowed him to explore the nature of various media to better understand the medium itself and its creative potentials. → more

●Article
Weltkunstbücher der 1920er-Jahre — Zur Ambivalenz eines publizistischen Aufbruchs

Um 1900 erschienen die ersten Kompendien und Handbücher über sogenannte Weltkunst. Nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg explodierte dann die Anzahl der Publikationen über außereuropäische Künste. Diese fanden auch sogleich Eingang in die 1919 neu etablierte Bauhaus-Bibliothek. Diese Buchreihen lassen erkennen, unter welchen Bedingungen nichteuropäische Kunst in den 1920er-Jahren rezipiert wurde: als Inspirationsmaterial, als Ausdruck der Kanonkritik an einer europäischen Hochkunst und als Plädoyer für die Aufhebung zwischen Kunst und Kunsthandwerk, aber vor allem auch welches Verständnis von „Welt“ hier reproduziert wurde. → more

●Article
Light as a Creative Medium in the Art of György Kepes

Design works employing light refraction, fixation, and reflection were already a feature of László Moholy-Nagy’s teaching at the Bauhaus. When in the summer of 1937 Moholy followed Walter Gropius’s advice and accepted Norma K. Stahle’s invitation to head the New Bauhaus in Chicago, he lay great store by György Kepes’s help in setting up the school in the New World. → more

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The New Culture School for Arts and Design — Launched in 1995

The New Culture School for Arts and Design in Ibadan, Nigeria has involved the development and construction of a space for creative people working in many different media in order to advance their professional proficiency in the fine arts, theater, music, film, photography, design, writing and more. → more

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From Social Democratic Experiment to Postwar Avant-Gardism — Asger Jorn and the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus

The project bauhaus imaginista would be negligent if it did not address the artist group referenced by its title, the Mouvement Internationale pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste (International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, or IMIB), founded in 1953 by Danish artist Asger Jorn together with a handful of French and Italian colleagues. Many of the theoretical and artistic positions advocated by the IMIB were developed dialectically in response both to the historical Bauhaus and the reconstitution of a Bauhaus-inspired pedagogical program at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) in Ulm. → more

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The Extension Buildings of the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau — Documents of the Formalism Debate in the GDR

The former ADGB Trade Union School is regarded today as an icon of modern architecture. Designed at the Bauhaus under the direction of Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer together with the students of architecture, the building ensemble still stands as a paragon of collective work, reform pedagogical ideas and analytic architecture. Less attention has been paid to the extensions to the school, planned 1949–51 by Georg Waterstradt. These buildings stand as a valuable testimony to the vigor of GDR architecture. The “formalism debate” led to a rejection of Bauhaus architecture, and thus, the set of political-architectural principles exemplified by the Trade Union School. → more

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Bedsit Art in the Leeds Experiment

In the 1970s the city of Leeds was noted as home of “the most influential art school in Europe since the Bauhaus,” and a thriving punk and post-punk music scene. Gavin Butt explores a small art school milieu in which avant-garde experiments in photography, performance, film and sound art gave shape to non-conformist presentations of the body and of sexual and gendered identity. → more

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In the Footsteps of the Bauhaus — Its Reception and Impact on Brazilian Modernity

Through the strong German-speaking minority and its active work in the creation and mediation of culture in the spirit of modernity, the application of Bauhaus formal language, especially in the first phase of Brazilian modernity, has played a considerable role. It was only with the equation of German culture with National Socialism and the ensuing intolerance of German protagonists that these architectural and cultural activities were severely disrupted. In Brazil during this period, a style of modernism based on the principles of Le Corbusier finally gained acceptance. The impulses of the Bauhaus, however, which were not perceived for many years, were also reinterpreted and further developed within Brazil, although they remained occulted in comparison to the public reception of Corbusier. → more

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Reclaiming the National — Against Nationalism

The question of how one resists populist nationalism is both obvious and fiendishly difficult. This sounds like a paradoxical proposition, and, indeed, it is. I am inspired by an early critique of nationalism which bears an uncanny resonance in today’s world: a critique that was made in 1916 by the Bengal poet and visionary, Rabindranath Tagore, during a lecture tour in Japan, in the midst of the First World War. → more

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Latter-day Bauhaus? — Muriel Cooper and the Digital Imaginary

The Bauhaus is a monument—a book with the physical heft to match its scholarly ambition. Published in 1969 by the MIT Press, The Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago stands fourteen inches tall, ten inches wide, and two and-a-half inches thick, weighing in at over ten pounds. It is the revised, expanded, and redesigned translation of editor Hans Wingler’s 1962 German tome Das Bauhaus, 1919–1933: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin. Muriel Cooper, the MIT Press’s first Design and Media Director, consistently rated the book as one of her proudest achievements among the nearly 500 she would design or oversee during her tenure. → more

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“The Attack on the Bauhaus” — A Collage that Became a Symbol of the Closure of the Bauhaus

For the Yamawaki couple, their studies at the Dessau Bauhaus ended with the closure of the Dessau site. Iwao’s luggage for his return home also included his collage Der Schlag gegen das Bauhaus. It was first published in the architecture magazine Kokusai kenchiku in December 1932. Iwao let the collage speak for itself, publishing it without comment. → more

●Article
Communitas … After Black Mountain College

In the wake of Black Mountain College’s dissolution in 1954, two former students Paul and Vera Williams, left North Carolina and founded Gate Hill Artists’ Cooperative about an hour’s drive outside of New York City. “The Land,” as the Coop was often called by the artists, composers, filmmakers, choreographers, poets, and potters who built their homes and studios in this rural setting, evinced many of the pedagogical lessons of the Bauhaus translated through the American educational experiment in combining art and life that was Black Mountain College. → more

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Santiniketan — Rules of Metaphor and Other Pedagogic Tools

This essay was occasioned by the Delhi exhibition of the Hangzhou chapter of bauhaus imaginista and the accompanying seminar in December 2018. The overarching brief of the seminar was to discuss the pedagogic aspects of schools in various parts of the world that are relatable to the practices of Bauhaus. Specifically, the essay attempts to capture the foundational moments of Kala Bhavana, the art school in Santiniketan that, incidentally, also steps into its centenary year in 2019. → more

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Vision in Motion —> Information Landscapes — From Stage Props and Camouflage Techniques to Democratic Apparatus and Cybernetic Networks

The examination of approaches, models and strategies for a redefinition of visual culture, the control of images and the shaping of perception made former Bauhäuslers interesting to the American establishment. Their knowledge was incorporated in the development of democratization tools that aid in the fight against fascism and, later, were strategically used against Eastern Bloc countries during the Cold War. → more

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Festive and Theatrical — The Mask Photos of Gertrud Arndt and Josef Albers as an Expression of Festival Culture

Costuming played a central role at the Bauhaus. Gertrud Arndt’s mask photographs (a series of 43 self-portraits) derive directly from these Bauhaus festivals. As well as a series of nine color photographs taken in direct succession at Black Mountain College in 1940 by Josef Albers. → more

●Article
Moving Away from Bauhaus and Ulm — The Development of an Environmental Focus in the Foundation Programme at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad

The National Institute of Design (NID) came into existence at the intersection of postcolonial aspirations to design a new nation and the new citizen and Cold War cultural diplomacy. It was located in Ahmedabad, a medieval western Indian city on the banks of the river Sabarmati, famous for its textile mills and as the place where Gandhi began his anti-British campaigns. Initially it was housed, perhaps quite appropriately, in a museum building designed by Le Corbusier where discussions began on the appropriate educational philosophy and pedagogy: Who would produce new lotas for the new nation? Who would teach them and how? → more

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The Latent Forces of Popular Culture — Lina Bo Bardi’s Museum of Popular Art and the School of Industrial Design and Crafts in Bahia, Brazil

This text deals with the experience of the Museum of Popular Art (MAP) and the School of Industrial Design and Handicraft, designed by the Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, in Salvador (capital of the state of Bahia), Brazil. Such a “school-museum” is based on the capture and transformation of latent forces that exist in Brazilian popular culture. → more

●Video
Reading Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture in North America, 1957

In the 1960s, the interest in a regional and vernacular architecture evolved into a sort of counterculture against the prevailing modernism in the USA. Sybil Moholy-Nagy’s book is an early document of this movement and today a classic of architecture history. It features buildings and construction techniques that emerge from social practices and whose builders remain anonymous. They include Amerindian settlement forms, Mexican pueblos and churches, as well as barns and houses of the first European settlers. → more

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“The Art!—That’s one Thing! When it’s there” — On the History of the Arbeitsrat für Kunst in the Early Weimar Republic

Even though the progressive artists of the interwar period ultimately failed in their plan to realize the new, egalitarian society they had envisioned, their influence was lasting. The international avant-garde produced some of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, some members of the Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Workers council for art) occupied important positions at the Bauhaus—above all, its founding director Walter Gropius. → more

●Article
Vernacular Architecture and the Uses of the Past

In sending out the manuscript of Native Genius in Anonymous Architecture to a publisher, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy added a note on the “Genesis of the manuscript,” which is quite revealing about the intellectual trajectory that gave rise to it. She positioned herself as first and foremost a traveling observer, learning from direct contact with artefacts and buildings, curious about their histories and willing to interpret material evidence and local narratives. → more

●On-Site Report
Weaving Reflections — On Museology and the Rematriation of Indigenous Beings from Ethnological Collections

One primary question leading up to the bauhaus imaginista workshop and symposium had concerned the extent to which Bauhaus artists had been culturally informed by and subsequently appropriated Indigenous art. This essay examines ethnographic and natural history museology and how Indigenous cultures are perceived, translated and exhibited through Westernized perspectives that are informed by a philosophical subject-object divide. → more

●Article
Modern Vernacular — Walter Gropius and Chinese Architecture

This essay explores the connection between Walter Gropius and I. M. Pei, as well as the influence of the one on the other. After completing his studies, I. M. Pei worked with Gropius on plans for a university in Shanghai, which he subsequently realized in Taiwan, than in association with Chang Chao-Kang and Chen Chi-Kuan. → more