Thursday, March 12, 2015

Three-wheeled Recycling Rigs

Context. That which surrounds, in a temporal and geographic sense, and links a concept to the firmament. My way of saying, there's a story behind every photograph.

I've been so tied to taking quick and easy photos with my phone for the last year that when I finally got around to using my DSLR, its batteries were dead. I tried to order some online, but the supplier said they were on back order, so I cancelled the purchase. Months later, I was at Guanghua Market and saw the type that I needed, so I picked up two.

When was I finally motivated enough to go out and take some photographs of my favorite subject, scooters in all their variety, my trusty Kymco died halfway to the city. It wasn't really dead, but it wasn't going to start till I took care of a fuel line problem, so I parked it. And then I got on a bus and rode it into Xindian. Then I took the MRT to Gongguan, and switched to a U-Bike. 

My destination was the edge of an old military dependents community, the closest thing Taipei has to squatter camps. One of the occupations for people living in these areas is collecting recyclable materials. They drive around in their three-wheel trucks, powered by motorcycle engines, picking up plastic, cardboard, metal, and glass. And at night, they park them outside their homes.

I have no idea where these are made, or by whom, but I admire the spirit of those who drive them. The vehicles carry no license plates, and the drivers ignore or follow traffic laws as they wish. The three-wheelers each have a unique character linked to that of the owner, and there is a beauty in their anachronism.

Modern Taipei rises all around, but these motorized ox-carts trundle down boulevards and narrow alleys alike, gathering what others reject.