Within these walls- a tour of Chiayi PrisonReturn
TELDAP e-Newsletter (December, 2011)
Within these walls- a tour of Chiayi Prison
Taiwan Digital Archives Expansion Project/WANG, Pei-Yu
The Prison System is also called Correctional System, Prison Administration System or Penal System but, no matter what name you give it, the aim is to make prisoners correct their ways so they become law-abiding citizens so that society can remain free, stable and peaceful. A prison is a place that combines the functions of segregation, punishment and discipline. Prisons have gradually changed as civilization has developed from to places of terror, disease and chaos to places where rights are taken away and reformatory education given.
For the average person prisons are places of great mystery. Because of its nature as a place of segregation and detention a prison cannot be a public space; they exist in society but are separate; they are a mechanism through which society rejects certain people but are often located amidst ordinary people living their everyday lives, the result being that while many people understand the function of a prison they only have a hazy impression of what they actually look like inside.
In 2011, The marks of a Century of history-Chiayi PrisonDigital Archives project, directed by Xu Hui-min of National Yunlin University of Science & Technology ’s Department of Cultural Asset Preservation, digitized the buildings and history of the prison and posted the results online so we can now see behind the prison walls in the most convenient way.
The prison, only preserved through the efforts of the GIO, the Ministry of Justice and local government, has obtained funding and is moving in the direction of becoming a prison administration museum.
No. 209, Tai Dou Keng, Chiayi East
Taiwan’s detention system was first implemented in the Qing Dynasty, however, the first prison was only built after the Japanese took control in 1895. In the early part of Japanese rule the Taiwan Prison Order and Provisional Prison Regulationswere promulgated but were fiercely resisted by the people and, with the political situation still unstable, the Japanese were unable to thoroughly implement these two laws. Police stations and military police buildings were used as temporary prisons to solve the problem of where to keep prisoners. In November 1895 the Japanese established Chiayi Prison in a house in the old city (roughly in the area of Zhongshan Road today), turning some of the rooms into cells and calling the prison the Chiayi Office of Tainan Prison.
In 1906 Taiwan was struck by the Great Meishan Earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter Scale, and Chiayi was badly damaged, with the prison totally destroyed. After this the Japanese built the Chiayi Branch of Tainan Prison at 209 Tai Dou Keng in the east of the city. The building was built using sturdy Formosan red cypress and was completed in 1922.In 1947 the name was changed by the National Government, first to the 2nd branch prison of Taiwan No. 3 Prison and then Taiwan Chiayi Prison and was also expanded, the additional cell blocks, workshops, halls, offices taking the area from 1201 ping (ping=3.3 square meters) to 1482;it wasn’t big in comparison with today’s Hsinchu prison but had a complete range of functions.
After 1945 when the National Government took over Taiwan the prison population gradually increased to 500 prisoners, leaving it, having a legal maximum number of prisoners of 328 and only 176 cells, seriously overcrowded. In 1994 the prison was moved to new premises in Lucao Township, allowing the old prison to retire. It was listed a national historic site in 2005 and is managed directly by the Ministry of Justice.
Chiayi Prison’s gateway
Panoramic filming provides an all-round view of the prison interior
In 1776 the constitution of the US state of Pennsylvania advocated that detention was used in place of corporal punishment, emphasizing the confinement of each prisoner in individual cells day and night, preventing contact between them and the passing of messages. This model stressed the spirit of self-refection. Two famous prisons in history, Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia and Pentonville Prison in London were also intended to give prisoners the opportunity for self-reflection. Prisoners were locked up one to a cell and the layout of the buildings was radial in shape so that prisoners could be watched over by the minimum number of guards.
Pennsylvania Prison, Chiayi Prison and Abashiri Prison Museum, Hokkaido, Japan are among the best preserved old prisons in the world. With the efforts of the Japanese government Abashiri Prison has become a world renowned museum. Chiayi Prison, only preserved through the efforts of the GIO, the Ministry of Justice and local government, has obtained funding and is moving in the direction of becoming a prison administration museum.With her knowledge of architecture and historic site restoration Xu mei-min, was able to sense the importance of making a digital record of Chiayi Prison and put forward the The marks of a Century of history- Chiayi PrisonDigital Archives project. The project won funding from the National Science Council and a digital record of the building structure was made.
A schematic diagram of a woven bamboo clay covered wall
Xu Hui-min said “Chiayi Prison’s building type includes wooden buildings from the Japanese era, RC buildings, mixed wood and RC, brick and reinforced brick buildings, the differences the result of building and repair at different times. In the area of architecture, the mission of digital archiving isn’t only to reserve information, a more important mission is to keep a periodic record of how the buildings look. This is the only way to grasp its significance and extend it to the development of the whole city.” Under Xu’s guidance, the team members painstakingly carried out the digitization of the prison’s interior structure. With respect to technology, the joint principal investigator, Zeng Yong-kuan, designed a hanging camera arm that allowed people’s shadows to be avoided; it filmed all around at a fixed angle, allowing a 360 degree record of each building to be made.
Simulated reality returns the spirit of the place
The prison buildings are radial in shape, this allowing the prisoners to be watched by the minimum number of guards
The structure of the first and second factory buildings
“When a building is preservedit isn’t just an empty frame that is saved, in addition to the structure and techniques, culture, history and changes in the system also have to be saved, for example saving cultural relics or using a simulation method to recreate the atmosphere of a certain space..” Both Xu and Zeng believe that preservation has to be “total”that is, as well as the building, the spirit of the place also has to remain.
A schematic diagram of a woven bamboo clay covered wall
Over the last year the archiving team has taken over 100 panoramic interactive images and more than 10 structural 3D animated films. After suitable altering of color, copying and editing they are now shown on the website. The website uses a simulated situation method with added sound effects, multiple angle views and zoom function so the user can feel like they are actually in the prison and can also see higher places and complex structures more clearly. Also, the rich changes in the multi-media materials are good for the creation of atmosphere. As the mouse moves, the screen becomes a kind of magic door us through which we go into Chiayi Prison, experiencing the 100 old prison’s narrow and dark cells, the tension and of solemnity of the central platform, the quiet sweat of the second workshop and the suffocating feeling given by the high walls.
The digital archives open the door to Chiayi Prison, a place of dread avoided by most people in the past but now a space of knowledge and history. Through the website the various cultural assets and architectural features can be disseminated and, in the future, digital archives will be important reference for historic relic preservation, restoration and urban planning. With the creation of the digital archives and the plan to turn the prison into a museum, the once forbidding century old prison has undergone a transformation in 2011 and now is a public space that welcomes the public with open arms.
Publisher：Fan-Sen Wang, Vice President of Academia Sinica Editor-in-Chief：Zong-Kun Li Publishing Department：Taiwan e-Learning and Digital Archives Program, TELDAP Executive Editor：Sub-project: Digital Information - the New and Creative Way of Communicating Mailing Address：The Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica
No.130, Sec. 2, Academia Rd., Nangang District, Taipei City 115, Taiwan TEL： (02) 27829555 ext:310 or 183 FAX： (02) 2786-8834 E-mail：firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue：TELDAP e-Newsletter (December, 2011) Publish Date：12/15 /2011 First Issue：02/15 /2007（Published on 15th every 2 months）
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