The modern city of Kaohsiung has an efficient, high-tech subway system. Recently, Taiwan has put up the high-speed Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Corporation that allows commuters to travel between the major cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung in just 90 minutes. Modern transportation and communications technologies are really amazing, but the real standout in the Kaohsiung subway system is a simple MRT transfer station. As passengers transfer back and forth from the Red Line to Orange Line, they cannot help stopping momentarily to see The Dome of Light inside the Formosa Boulevard Station.
The Dome of Light is an extremely colorful and attractive public art installation consisting of 4,500 individual pieces of colored lead glass. It is the world’s largest domed underground station, which adds a whole new meaning to modern Kaohsiung art and public utility. It is definitely a must-see. A good number of people come to this MRT station not to get a ride, but specifically to get a glimpse of this amazing public artwork.
Created by Narcissus Quagliata, a well-known Italian glass artist, it took almost four years to complete the Dome of Light. The artist himself supervised the shipment, setting up, and installation of this public masterpiece, using the station ceiling, walls, and columns of the MRT station as canvass. Quagliata created a full-scale blueprint that was translated into 4,500 lead glass panels that when put together covered a 660-square meter area. The Dome depicts several stages of human life according to the elements: “water” pertaining to the womb or the beginning of life, “earth” pertaining to growth and prosperity, “light” pertaining to the creative spirit, and finally, “fire”, depicting death, destruction and rebirth. The overall message is one of love and tolerance.
To better understand the artwork, visitors may pay for a NT$30 audio guide that gives a comprehensive explanation (in English) of the key features of the Dome. There are just so many details in the artwork that a viewer could spend plenty of time seeing its entirety without truly understanding the overall message.
Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second most productive city, primarily for its busy port. Located in southwestern Taiwan, this harbor city is called the Harbor Capital of the country, as it generates substantive revenue from the millions of cargo shipments it receives every year. Kaohsiung port is the 6th busiest and most successful port in the world, which is a huge accomplishment considering the size of Taiwan.
Thanks, to the Dome of Light, Formosa Boulevard MRT Station is now teeming with events and activities, including pre-nuptial and wedding pictorials, social gatherings, and the 2009 Human Rights Exhibition that celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident. It was near this station where Human Rights opposition leaders were violently dispersed on December 10, 1979. A number of opposition leaders were arrested that day, including Chen Chu, who is now mayor of the city of Kaohsiung. Also, located inside the station is the Human Rights Learning Studio, which regularly hosts activities that educate the public about human rights.