Welcome to Guangzhou again, Robin.

I’m in Guangzhou now and will stay here for 3 days working as Robin Rimbaud‘s oral interpreter, the Sound and the City project is getting pretty big, City Pictorial (Guangzhou-based lifestyle magazine distributed nationwide) did a 10-odd-page feature about it, featuring interviews, an essay on urban sounds by Hong Kong cultural critic/film specialist Lawrence K.L. PUN(潘國?), and a “favorite sounds list” by 3 journalists of CP, even the Editor’s Note – titled “Sonic City” – is about the editor-in-chief’s personal perception of sounds in Guangzhou. 5,000 copies of “Flower Echo” – the CD that Robin made for the project – are being distributed for free with the magazine. This afternoon during my 15-mins-stay at the British Council Guangzhou office, there were already 2 people coming in asking for the free ticket to the Scanner/WANG Lei concert this Friday night, several thousands of the tickets were printed, the organizer probably over-estimate Canton audience’s enthusiasm.

It’s good to see that MSMs in China has developed an interest for sound art/new music, though many (all?) of the reports simply miss the point. For instance, in the feature by City Pictorial, they interviewed 3 “sound collectors”: one in Beijing, one in Shanghai and one in Guangzhou (that’s me). The Shanghai interviewee (who is a fashion designer) talked about her obsession with recording her favorite music in the radio with cassette recorder. Despite the fact that she has a wide range of interests for music genres (from Peking Opera to Beatles to Quincy Jones to Tchaikovsky), it seems to me, judging by the text, that she’s more of a conventional music lover rather than a person who has a particular interest in sound (no, she’s definitely not an follower of John Oswald ^_^). Therefore, the interview somewhat makes the feature less coherent.

One may argue that the media people’s ignorance of sound art, or experimental art, or anything cutting-edge in general, is universal, which reminds me of this Wall Street Journal column by Terry Teachout (got the link from BuzzMachine). Mr. Teachout sees blogs about art as potentially more important a platform of art criticism than mainstream media. I don’t really care about what the guys in MSMs think about sound art but we do need more blogs for serious discussion/discourse about it, and I hope GNO can contribute to this process.


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