Soundart in GZ Triennial

Hi all, sorry for the hiatus, I’ve been working hard to meet a deadline for my daily bread in the past few days, blogging would be a luxury during such a period. Also, despite that I have quite a lot to say about the 2nd Guangzhou Triennial (apart from this), I choose to reserve them because a). GNO is about sound art more than anything else, other contemporary art forms will be touched only if there is a sound art facet attached to them; b). the Triennial is simply too complicated to talk about.

Just to let you know some sound art-related facts here: As the sound designer of CAO Fei(曹?)’s theatre piece staged in the first day of the Triennial, CHU Kim-fai(朱剑辉, aka Double Fish)appeared on stage with the local Canton-rap group “Cicada“(?). Speaking of the theatre (which is merely a juxtaposition of numerous parodies of Canton pop culture), sound-wise, it’s a pity that everybody had a mic attached to them, so all the sounds you heard came from the in-house loudspeakers. As a result, the spatial quality of each actor/actress’ voice was lost. According to a theatre-savvy friend, this has been the common practice of Chinese theatre performance for quite a while.

Scanner (Robin Rimbaud)’s sound installation is 2 pairs of speakers mounted on the wall, each has a flash-based compact MP3 player connected to it. One of the 2 players plays the original music in the  Flower Echoes album, the other plays only the human voice recording (reading of street names, place names in Guangzhou, in both Mandarin & Cantonese) used in it. I went to the Triennial in the opening day, when the noise made by the crowd was so dominating that the installation can hardly be heard.

Another sound artist, Justin Bennett‘s work is a 24-hour recording of a specific site in Guangzhou (when I asked Mr. Bennett where, he didn’t seem to be able to recall), which was then edited into a shorter version and was played in a multi-channel system. It didn’t draw too much attention, at least not in the first day, my speculation is that the visitors to such a Triennial always want to actually “see” something with their eyes, so a darkened space with no visual elements failed to appeal to them.

These are pretty much all the on-site sound art events there, in December there will be an off-site event curated by a mysterious “21st-floor Sound Unit“, we’ll keep you updated on this.


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