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Monday December 6th, 2010

Here at Wonderful Machine, we’re keeping up with the global economy. (Hey, somebody’s gotta do it.) That’s why we’ve run an ad in the Chinese edition of Lürzer’s Archive. This magazine reaches not only China, but also Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

To appropriately anchor ourselves in the media world of China, we reached out to our photographer Virgile Simon Bertrand, who bases his work there. Virgile published a particularly interesting photo in Vogue China. It was shot near a film set where the Chinese actor Liao Fan was working. “The background shows houses that were built in the 1920s by wealthy Chinese migrants returning from America or Australia,” Virgile explained. “It’s located in a rather remote part of Guangdong province, making the overall shoot rather difficult.”

These difficulties were compounded by the rain and cold, but Virgile still describes the shoot as “totally amazing.” He borrowed geese from local farmers, with the intention of “going back in time and shooting the scene as a believable autochrome.”

Here in the Wonderful Machine office we went through a long session of self-criticism about the tagline. There was a great deal of concern that many American idioms, which made amusing references to geese and other aquatic fowl, would sound crazy in translation to Chinese. (There was also some concern that irate farmers would call us, expecting a free goose.) I proposed the catchphrases, “A single spark can start a prairie fire,” or “Let a hundred flowers bloom,” but these were rejected fairly quickly. Finally, with the help of Virgile’s polyglot friend, we came up with a phrase literally meaning “touched by a spark,” with the sense “inspired by an idea or opportunity.” We run the risk, of course, of starting a prairie fire.


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