In the second edition of the reScores series, I invited four artists from the East (Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo) to re-interpret cult directors from New York. reScores no. 2 functions as an attempt to reveal the sounds that shape our perception of the space that lies in between romantic idealism and visual wit found in moving pictures.
The series continues to draw parallels between sound art and film directors. As well, this on-going investigation encourages the audience to appreciate the rich dynamics of sonic art — an open-ended artform that continuously rebels against any labeling of the term 'sound art'. The artists presented are Miki Yui for Sofia Coppola, Feng Hao for Stanley Kubrick, Dennis Wong for Jim Jarmusch, and Edwin Lo for Darren Aronofsky.
A crucial aspect of working with sound as a medium is the environment in which it's presented. Like listening to an airplane cut across the sky, Miki Yui's sounds flirt with the listener as she amplifies the psychoacoustics of these moments. If we look at Yui's body of work, whether they are sound installations, compositions, or performative works, it is always the simple gestures that she creates which clearly suggests something else. And what is this something else? If we replace presence with absence, perhaps we arrive closer to what the artist is revealing.
Beijing-based artist Feng Hao creates aggressively sharp and textural tones that are as unexpected as a sudden blow to the face. Feng works with unpredictable patterns that somehow build-up a narrative not unlike scenes found in A Clockwork Orange. There is something very primitive about the sounds he employs, yet they feel refined and of this day. Hao works with electronic and acoustic instruments, and uses the 'accidental' chord to his advantage — plucking memories from a deep void. Clearly his technique evokes the avant-garde, rooted in destructive impulses with violent bursts that are carefully arranged.
Listening to the work of Dennis Wong is a durational experience and can sometimes be quite uncomfortable. Dennis Wong (a.k.a. sin:ned) utilizes noise and drone, resulting in a dense physicality that you can almost see and feel. In his series Noise to Signal, Wong created a platform or perhaps a movement that puts a framework around noise practices outside of the traditional boundaries of music. What if these activities are given the context of performance art? Wouldn't this objectify his practice? These settings require a different sort of attention and patience of an audience, which then allows something else to unfold. Wong's stunts trigger pain, though emotionless with a neutral standpoint that can be quite existential, falling between black and white; light and shadow.
Architecture of sound. It is an often-used term, but what does it truly mean? Edwin Lo addresses these ideas in a personal quest through his series Auditory Scenes. With these works, he reproduces the sonic environment of his father's work place, an oil supply ship, through field recordings and compositions. Listening to the series conjures images of large barges, abandoned ships and an overall nostalgia for the sea. The titles for his works inform these visions — Sea Wall, In Between the Distance, Mourn, and Tides in Limbo. Through his father, the artist has access to oil tanks and barges docked at the harbors of Hong Kong. As Lo documents these sites with recordings, what is revealed to us are tonal vibrations that resonate from the architecture. Because of the physical materiality of these spaces, the sounds can produce dramatic effects. Listen closely and you will hear decay, rust, grime, darkness and melancholy.
Studio headphones or reference speakers are recommended for experiencing the sound-based works in this feature.
Helen Homan Wu is a curator and producer in the fields of cross-disciplinary art, intermedia and site-specific projects. The co-curator and producer of numerous intermedia art events and exhibitions, she is the founder of Opalnest. Recent projects include Art Basel's 'Paper Rain', a short video for Marina Abramovic, Creative Time / ICI's 'Living as Form — the nomadic version' and Today is the Day Foundation's inaugural launch events.