Archive for November, 2005

Torturing Nurse videos

The American label “Roil Noise” has made a web release (for free) of Torturing Nurse‘s live videos. Click here to get the links of video files.

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Qiu Zhijie’s take on “Playing John Cage”

UPDATE Dec 3: A severe mis-translation was corrected, thanks to iSub (see his comment on this post).

UPDATE: the translation of Qiu’s blog post is now completed. (4:14 am, Dec 1)

Chinese video artist QIU Zhijie(邱志?)blogged about his visit to Arnolfini (center of contemporary art) in Bristol, UK. I’ve translated the part about the ongoing sound installation exhibition “Playing John Cage”. Participants of the exhibition includes Alvin Curran, Ryoji IKEDA(池田亮?), Rolf Julius, TAKAGI Masakatsu(高木正胜), Kaffe Matthews, Carsten Nicolai, Akio SUZUKI(铃木昭男), Michael Prime and more.

In case any of you are going to read the original Chinese version, it would be necessary to note the two mistakes made by Qiu.

1. The name of the exhibition was mis-typed as “Playing with John Cage”.
2. The name of the art center was mis-typed as “Anotoni”.

Also, Qiu’s blog is hosted by Blogcn.com, which is one of the most famous and most notorious blog hosts in China, do not feel frustrated if you have problem accessing the blog. In fact, I can’t access it right now (no, it’s not about censorship), the original text appeared in summary on my Bloglines RSS feed, so yes, it’s imcomplete, I’ll finish it as soon as I load Qiu’s blog.

Zen is about robustness, vitality & being truthful, not deathly stillness & silence

by QIU Zhijie, translated by Lawrence Li
(the following text is an abridged translation of the original one)

…An exhibition titled “Playing with John Cage” (sic) is also on, this is mainly a sound installation exhibition, the scale is much smaller than I have expected, and I don’t see too many good works either. One passable exception on the 2nd-floor is an installation composed of mushrooms attached with alligator clips, all put inside of a glass container. Another work is nothing but a bunch of boskage up-side-down, arranged into a circle to enclose a couch, on which the audience would listen to the sounds in the venue. It’s amusing to hear YAO Yirong(姚??)said that the sound of the piece is actually audible to him. So, to have this piece exhibited is valid & justifiable at least in his case. Most sound art compositions are derived from John Cage’s so-called “chance operation”: picking up some daily noise & making them into music. One example [on the exhibition] is a sound art piece called “Music on the Table”, which is played from iPod and must be listened to via earphones.

In fact, Cage’s understanding of eastern culture is very superficial, in my opinion. He only knows that nothingness is good, void/blankness is better than fullness, he thinks this kind of thinking of Chinese is cool and he just follows it. The fact that English-speaking people translated I Ching into “I Ching: A Philosophy Based on Chance” also shows their limited understanding of our system: the indeterminacy of giving, the inevitability as a result of intentional control. Westerners can’t wait to express their appreciation of indeterminacy and void/nothingness because they think it’s so subtle, sophisticated and esoteric to be like this. Therefore, their perception of Zen Buddhism has always been limited & pretentious. The fact is, Zen is always about robustness, vitality and being truthful, not about deathly stillness and silence. The western approach to Zen is bound to lead to that kind of total stillness and silence. This is fake Zen mis-interpreted by Japanese.

It’s true that the Chinese thinking system has never been in favor of rational control on any level, hence we have tons of discourse about the superiority of void over fullness, “to change according to the circumstances” has always been our philosophy. But, this kind of thinking shall not be automatically equated with Dada-ist indeterminacy or chance. Rather, it’s about facing the actuality with skillfulness, not about invalidating the rule-breaker with mis-teaching. The Diamond Sutra says: The Buddha-teaching must be relinquished; how much more so mis-teaching! We relinquished words in order to free our perception, but this was never meant to sing praise for ignorance: The knowledge must be relinquished; how much more so the ignorance! Therefore, after we transcend the mundane into the divine, we still have to descend upon earth again; after we perceive the void in the fullness, we still have to return to fullness, thus we will be more rich, calm and tranquil inside. So The Buddha can be found in this mortal coil, Zen can be found in the seams on the walls. The saints are not born divine, they achieve divinity through their labour for the mundane. Or even, on a higher level, we regard the act of differentiate between void and fullness as a barrier to a higher truth.

People like John Cage, all they know are to abandon knowledge in favor of ignorance, to abandon action in favor of inaction, can’t imagine that such a figure is regarded as some kind of gurusin the west.

[The English version of the script in The Diamond Sutra is that of A. F. Price’s translation, which can be read here.]

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Dickson Dee’s Japan tour (timeline)

Following my previous post on Dickson Dee’s Japan Tour, here’s the detailed information, from Dickson’s own blog.

(LI Chin-sung ?劲? is Dickson’s Chinese name)

– Dec. 8 – 10: LI Chin-sung + HAINO Keiji(?野敬二)@ CCA Kitakyushu [workshop & concert] (curated by Akiko MIYAKE 三宅晓?/CCA Kitakyushu)

– Dec. 12: LI Chin-sung, Tetsuo FURUDATE(?馆彻夫), ADACHI Tomomi(足立智美), Astro, Tatsuya YOSHIDA(?田达也)@ Stormy Monday [concert] (curated by FURUDATE)

– Dec. 14: LI Chin-sung, Zbigniew Karkowski, Tetsuo FURUDATE, ADACHI Tomomi @ Fourth Floor [concert] (curated by FURUDATE)

– Dec. 15: LI Chin-sung, Zbigniew Karkowski @ Musashino Art University, Tokyo [lecture & small concert] (curated by Karkowski)

– Dec. 17: LI Chin-sung, guest musician @ Yokohama Triennial [multimedia performance] (curated by Maco Miyazaki)

More info about Dec 12 & 14 show here.

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Admin: typeface of GNO

I have never figured out why the fonts of Global Noise Online look so much better on Mac than on PC (my main browsers are Flock/Firefox), and I have to say that the web-based control panel of WordPress.com still has much room for improvement (for example: no font-setting button! I think one can do that buy dig into the HTML code but that’s never the preferred way though I know how to do it). Sorry, PC users. I will rent my own server and switch to WordPress.org template soon, hopefully that would provide more customizability.

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2pi Festival 2005 photos

Guilin-based experimental musician Ronez has some photos of 2pi Festival 2005 (GNO’s report, official website) posted to his blog, check it out.

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Introducing the band – 21floor

I mentioned an experimental group in Guangzhou by the name of “21st-floor Sound Unit” in this previous post, now it’s about the time to unveil the mask.

21floor (the title has been changed to this) is a Guangzhou-based experimental group composed of Justin ZHONG Minjie(钟??), LIN Zhiying(林志英) & Zafka (ZHANG Anding 张安定), both Zhong & Lin have been working with sound for several years, Zhong already has two self-released albums and a series of live performances (including one at Nuit Blanche festival, Paris, 2004) on his portfolio, and Lin also has one album out and a wide exposure nationwide. Zhang used to be the lead guitarist of the Shanghai-based post-rock act “Prague Spring“, but he has been making sound art under the alias of “Zafka” for about a year now. These three are clearly the most prominent sound artists in the South China.

Below is the text about the unit’s debut appearance as well as the statement of purpose, written by Zafka, the original Chinese version can be read here.

The KTV project proposed to the 2nd Guangzhou Triennial by 21floor(二??一楼), which was aborted due to the lack of an appropriate venue, is having a second chance of life now.

If the negotiation with the owner of the KTV goes smoothly this Wednesday, the show is going to be on mid-December (the best day would be Dec 17 Saturday night). This will be a free but invitation-only concert, the attendees will be selected in the fashion of a sociological research, and each of them will receive a special invitation. There will be an after-concert party on which you can talk and play and get stupid with the artists. The first concert will be about urban soundscape/field-recording/phonography more than anything else.

We look forward to making the KTV project into a continuous series, with the aim of digging the “possibilities of KTV”: to “Karaokize” the experimental, to “experimentalize” the Karaoke.

The official website of 21floor is under construction, the unit considers itself to be a multimedia group rather than just a soundart trio.

Last but not least, 21floor will do field-recordings at the 2nd Guangzhou Triennial and release an album based on them afterwards.

In a word, 21floor will use the room (and the built-in speakers and amps) of a KTV in Guangzhou as the venue for their first performance, the concert will be on either Dec 16 or 17, come back soon for updates.

Related info:

Zafka’s podcast

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Torturing Nurse’s new split with Armenia

Yet another brand new item to the already massive (well, compared to other Chinese experimental acts’) discography of Torturing Nurse! This time it’s a split with American hardware noisician Leonardo Sabatto (aka Armenia). Sabatto released the split under his own label called Bizzarre Audio Arts.

The artworks can be viewed here. (designed by XU Cheng)

Some of Armenia’s works can be downloaded in MP3 format here.

GNO wrote about Torturing Nurse before, read it here.

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