• CNgai

Geneva, Vienna, Salzburg, Stockholm, New York (05.08-26.2019)

On May 8, 2019, my family embarked on a 2.5 week vacation to visit Geneva/Switzerland, Vienna/Austria, Salzburg/Austria, Stockholm/Sweden, and then New York City/USA. The last time that I had travelled out of the country was roughly 6 years ago. This time around, with passports up to date, I became more excited as the time came because I wasn't sure what to expect. With no expectations, I was ready for my mind to be blown by the art, food, and culture of each country.


Geneva, Switzerland

May 8-14, 2019

The first night we arrived there, we started planning where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see, and look at the bus system. We eventually found that using Apple Maps was one of the best navigation apps to use as it gave us where to walk and which buses to take. I really enjoyed using the bus system as it was pretty clean, you could alert the bus to stop at one of the stops by using one of the buttons attached to the standing rods, and see what stops were coming up on the small tv screens located towards the ceiling.


Geneva is the French-speaking side of Switzerland as opposed to the German-speaking side so we were able to practice what French we knew as well as learn more being immersed in the culture each day. I found that I was able to use what I had learned in ballet to also gather more context.

Curator : Marco Poloni ~ In collaboration with ECAL

Centre de la Photographie Genève: This particular modern art museum held the exhibition When the air becomes electric during 30 April to 2 June 2019. This exhibition showcased nine artists, former students of art schools in Lake Geneva, who have demonstrated a commitment to photography. By reading the description of each work, a window was created using the lens of each artist's eye. I was able to see each artist's perspective and digest the concept they presented which was extremely thought-provoking.


From acheiropoetic aesthetic to “acid rain” raves in Japan, each artists’ concept, captured in the medium of photography, was almost too big for the room that these were held in.

What struck me is that each element of each piece was intentional. For example, Douglas Mandry's work which were two groups of images taken from his Monuments series. The first group was photographs of mountains lithographed onto fabric taken from tarpaulins used to hold the meltdown from glaciers. The second group was photograms of ice in the process of melting derived from those same glaciers. "Through these two sets of images, romantic in the first case and empirical in the second, Mandry attempts to convey the slow disappearance of the Alpine landscape due to the effects of the anthropization of the atmosphere." (Site).

What opened my eyes about Mandry's work is that even the fabric was involved in the process as it became the medium of choice rather than using typical photo paper. To me, this demonstrated creativity and thoughtfulness about how the environment has adapted to human's needs.


We also attended the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève and the Musée d’Art Modern et Contemporain (Mamco) as they were within the same complex. They were both under renovation so they only had one floor open to the public.


Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève

This museum was within walking distance so we checked this place out as well. I learned what ethnography actually was which opened my mind to the ability of connections via trade and more. There were so many items that have been acquired from different countries that we spent a few hours walking around looking at all of the miscellaneous objects.

CERN

We first toured the MICROCOSM exhibit located in the research center. You get to follow the path of the particles from a bottle of Hydrogen, through the network of accelerators, and then on to collision inside vast experiments. I got to see various parts of the Large Hadron Collider and learn about the different particles such as antimatter, W and Z bosons, and how new particles were made through collision. Reading about the four experiments of the Large Hadron Collider blew my mind - I was definitely geeking out a it. I didn't take physics in college so being able to view the applications of physics in this perspective of research is fascinating to learn about. This kept my curiosity brewing. The scientists also store the results to then cumulatively analyze the data found from the experiments.

With my background in web development, the icing on the cake was learning that the World Wide Web was created at the CERN. What I learned that I didn't know before: up quark, down quark, gluons, magnetic dipoles, and that the magnets are used to keep the particles centered.

After the LHC tour, we toured the Globe of Science and Innovation. The Universe of Particles exhibit challenges the viewer to confront the questions of contemporary physics that is tackled daily by CERN via the Large Hadron Collider and other accelerators. I got to learn more about particles and their parts in comprising the Universe. I also got to hear scientists speak about their favorite mysteries regarding Why do particles have mass?, What is the destiny of the Universe?, Are there hidden dimensions?, What are the dark secrets of the Universe?, and Why has antimatter disappeared? (Site).


Gelato Mania

Ever since I've visited Rome, Florence, and Venice, I have gained a love for gelato and have managed to always have some wherever I go. When I saw that there was gelato in Geneva, we got gelato every day - I even planned where we would eat dinner around the nearest gelato location. My favorite place was Gelato Mania and we went to one of the three locations each day.


Vocabulary Used

French Travel Phrases Cheat Sheet

Vienna, Austria

May 15-20, 2019

The AirBnB that we stayed at was absolutely beautiful. It was in the middle of Old Town Vienna located on Blumenstockgasse 5, 1010 Wien, Austria right next door to Il Melograno. We ate at the Il Melograno on our fourth night due to the location being so convenient.


Museum of Applied Arts (MAK)

My favorite exhibition was the traveling exhibition, Chinese Whisperers.

The title CHINESE WHISPERS refers to the children's game of the same name which is based on whispering messages from one person to another. The permanent transmission results in distortion of content and meaning. The idea of repetition and distortion can be understood as an ironic allusion to intercultural communication. The MAK's look at Asia is reflected in the historically grown MAK Permanent Collection with objects from China, Japan, and Korea. European history of materials was formatively influenced by trade with Asian arts and crafts and the exchange with Asia had an impact on the development of modernity.
Descending Light with a Missing Circle by Ai Weiwei

It was beautiful to see Chinese Contemporary art as it gave me a sense of connectedness to China's current struggles. The particular concept of patterns eventually making reality made me think of about my natural patterns and how those can relate to Chinese proverbs and discipline. I was able to find the artist’s concept easily relatable through my inherent approaches to discipline.


Haus der Musik

Having recently taken an interest in digitally composing music, I found this interactive sound museum quite informative on a scientific level. When you first walk in, on the way to the first floor, there is an interactive staircase that mimics a piano keyboard. It was so much fun exploring movement while moving up and down on the staircase.

While there are 4 floors to explore, my favorite floor was the 2nd floor - Sonosphere. You get to discover and explore sound phenomena - how cool is that? There were several musical experiments and interactive exhibits regarding how sound is produced, what sounds are made of and how they can be transformed into music, and how the body perceives sound and music.


Museum of Illusions

This was one of the most fun places that I have been too. There were different illusions to play with. One of my favorites was a small octagon-shaped room with floor-length mirrors. I spent a good 30 mins, collectively, in there taking dance videos as it multiplied the images that I was creating. Another favorite illusion was a box room getting smaller due to the floor being an incline. It was fun to move and dance around as you could experience the space shifting and how your body fit into the space. The picture shows the last illusion of the exhibit where if you took a picture and then changed the orientation, it would look like you were walking along the wall.


Volksoper

We got to see Die Zauberflöte at the Volksoper. This was my first time seeing a live opera and I got to experience it through the perspective of opera glasses. The opera singers blew me away and I was able to enjoy it even more thanks to the English subtitles that were shown at the top of the stage. There was not a specific dress code but we did dress up a little for the occasion.


Hofburg Palace

We got to walk through the Imperial Apartments, the Silver Collection, and the Sisi Museum. What caught my eye was the portrayal of Elisabeth’s lifestyle and then her tragic death. The pressure of her responsibilities as Empress trapped her from experiencing the free lifestyle that she desired and thus resulted in her having severe depression. In response to the responsibilities that we face today with every day life, I feel that we can relate to different extents based on each person's situation.


A Day in Salzburg, Austria

May 17, 2019

View from Hohensalzburg Fortress

We booked a day trip to Salzburg, Austria while we were staying in Vienna. The drive was roughly 3 hours each way yet we had a hilarious and safe driver who was full of stories to keep us entertained along the way. Our driver was a former race car driver and martial artist who became a bouncer which led to his next job where he was a bodyguard for the prime minister of Croatia.

We went on a guided tour and walked through the Mirabell Palace Gardens, the Chapter Square, the Cathedral Quarter Terrace, the "Love Lock" Footbridge, the bridge along Salzach Riverbank, and Saint Peter’s Cemetery & Catacombs (Petersfriedhof).

We also took an alpine lift to the Hohensalzburg Fortress which had the best view of Old Town.

Wolfgangsee near Saint Gilgen

On the way back to Vienna, our driver made a special stop (not part of the day trip tour) to show us the beautiful Wolfgangsee lake. It was a gorgeous spot to take pictures and enjoy nature. It was the perfect way to end the day trip.


Vocabulary Used

German Travel Phrases Cheat Sheet

Stockholm, Sweden

May 20-24, 2019

Vasa Museum

What amazed me is the gigantic size of the ship - almost unreal. I'm not much of a history enthusiast, but it was very cool to experience the different parts of the ship and learn about the lifestyle. I also learned the importance of not rushing engineering or adding more cannons for the sake of decoration - sometimes minimalism is key.


Tekniska Museet (National Museum of Science & Technology)

I got to admit - I geeked out seeing the different exhibits. A favorite was the 100 inventions exhibit that showcased the most important inventions in history rated by the Swedish people. In this exhibit, the Internet and the Mobile Broadband modem 2006 were showcased. Since I just visited the CERN a week ago, I felt the connection between the idea of the internet being created in Switzerland to now seeing how the internet is involved in Sweden as well as the Americas.

Another favorite exhibit of mine was MegaMind which articulated where good ideas come from. There were five different sections: 1) Collect, 2) Connect, 3) Create, 4) Inspiration, 5) Future Lab. I truly appreciated this as an artist and engineer because you create and apply. In the upper level of the MegaMind exhibit, there were a few stations where you could make music with your mind via neural networks or using different light combinations. As an aspiring music creator, I was there for a good half hour just pushing different buttons and making different lights appear.


Nobel Museum

It was encouraging to see all of the different Nobel prizes awarded along with the Nobel Laureates. What stuck out to me was the Cultures of Creativity permanent exhibition.

What is creativity and how can creative activity best be encouraged?
Which is more important to the creative process: the individual or the environment?

This particular exhibition showed what milieus inspired select Nobel Laureates in making a breakthrough in their work. A physicist would give a piece that was involved in the research while a literary write chose to share a clothing item or object that sparked the idea.


Royal Palace

The articles of clothing along with the jewelry and weaponry transports you into a different time period. I feel that with technology progressing so much it distances you farther from these times yet it is eye-opening to see how life was in the 1700s. My favorite part of the palace was getting to see Sweden Queen's Crown in the Treasury at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. (More about the history)


Dansmuseet

The Dansmuseet focuses on movement in all forms, about physical art, with no ties to traditional concepts of dance. It was interesting to see the evolution of dance in different countries. The one exhibition, GASTAR, GENERALS AND GODDESSES, was memorable as it featured masks, stage models, stick and shadow dolls, costumes and art from Japan and China.


Vocabulary Used

Swedish Travel Phrases Cheat Sheet

New York City, New York, USA

May 24-26, 2019

Vessel (TKA)

This structure and landmark of Hudson Yards just opened March 15, 2019. In order to go inside this spiral staircase (154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs) you will need to book tickets up to 2 weeks in advance here. We were not able to get tickets in time, however, the outside is just as cool to take pictures in front of.


Metropolitan Museum of Art

After visiting multiple art museums, it was interesting to regain a pulse on art in the United States. This was my first time visiting the largest art museum in the US and I appreciated the vast collection. I got to see my childhood favorite piece which is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat. I first saw this painting in a book, Mama's Perfect Present [Diane Goode]. It holds nostalgia for me and the relaxation that the state of being carefree brings.


FROZEN

I got to see Disney's FROZEN on Broadway which was amazing!! We got our tickets through TKTS where you can get "Same-Day Theatre Tickets at Up To 50% Off". Their flagship location is at the heart of Times Square. For an evening show, we started waiting in line around 3:00 PM.

Summary

It is truly a blessing to be immersed in the culture and lifestyle of several different cities and countries. My perspective has been broadened to where I can appreciate other cultures and understand the experiences that other people go through based on their location. I have also been inspired by the artists' stories and concepts that they have shared with the world and the impact that each person can make. It is a collaboration between the artist and the viewer to come to a common point of understanding which breeds growth and knowledge of a perspective that is different than your own. As I continue with my life path, I hope that I can be just as inspiring to others.

© 2020 by CNgai.

Website made by Courtney Ngai

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