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Category4D Foundation II – G8

Sound Art Research

Tate Museum defines sound art as “Art which uses sound both as its medium (what it is made out of) and as its subject (what it is about)”


Since the advent of the digital age, sound art has certainly evolved into an interesting medium of endless possibilities. Artists are currently able to generate visual imagery in response to sounds, employ sounds as a means of interactivity as audience control the art through motion sensors, pressure pads and voice activation. I feel that traditionally, art has been very focused on light. So it is intriguing to ponder what does sound reveal that light doesn’t or is unable to?


Upon doing my research on sound art, I found an artist that certainly amazes me. Although he is still by far a traditional sound artist as he did not live in the digital era, I think that his works are a great answer to that question I was thinking about, about the possibilities of sound.

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) is an American artist, sound art sculptor and modern furniture designer. Fascinated by sound since his childhood and he went on to fascinate the world with his sound art. In fact his sound works are still so popular that thousands them are in high demand at auction houses.

Bertoia was very much inspired during his childhood when he observed Hungarian gypsies using pots and pans to create rhythms. It was the vibrations from these wares that left a deep impression. So in the 1960s, he started to create the series of works he would name ‘Sonambient’.

“Sonambient” are a collection of uniquely crafted sound sculptures, including gongs and “singing bars”. These are sound sculptures that mostly work from the reverberations of the materials to create ethereal sounds. The artist arranges tall tonal wires in a certain fashion such that the pieces will strike each other to create a wonderful sound.

The fascinating thing is that his sculptures are like snowflakes, no two pieces are alike, as he was interested in exploring the endless possibilities of a different or richer sound with varying size rods. This is an artist who is truly obsessed in the medium that he has chosen to venture and create in.

Bertoia also did interesting works in collaboration with others to record his “Sonambient” music into eleven albums. These tracks created are haunting and mysterious. The chime of the rods and bars are contrasted with the thunderous clasps of the gongs.

Hence I find that this is a great example of sound art that can achieve what art is unable to with just plain visuals. Bertoia ability to go to great lengths to engineer such exquisite works has certainly captivated me and deserves the greatest admiration. I believe his works will continue to reverberate in the artworld and live on.


On a side note, relating back to my 4D class, I have seen how my classmates have used sound in their 4D projects and it is really great to see how sound can make the communication all the more effective. Especially so in the library installations as there are quite a few works that use sound and I see that as a good choice of alternative presentation of an artistic experience because the library already is very ‘visually noisy’. So those works managed to reveal the subject matter, the artist intention, etc, in a way that plays out well amidst the visual clutter of the library.

Book Return Paranoia

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Medium

Installation work; color-printed zine, 8 pages, double-sided, 14.8 x 21 cm; wooden holder, 7.5 x 19 x 5 cm


Artist Statement 

Book Return Paranoia is a visual response to my multiple misadventures with bookdrops. These are times when items I returned are not registered properly. I then face the irony of having to explain why I should not be fined for not returning items that I have indeed dutifully returned. Hence I become increasingly paranoid when I approach a bookdrop. There is a strong compulsion to prevent such misunderstandings and protect my integrity as a decent library user. This has culminated into Book Return Paranoia, an odd read that I created to warn others and share my peculiar experience.

But the questions still surface incessantly.

“Is it returned? Or is it not?”

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Details of Pages

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Concept / Process

The cover page was really just for entertainment purpose and to grab attention, I just thought about the frustration of receiving the library fine and my newfound uneasiness with the bookdrop and just made a face. Added the extra silhouettes that emanate from around me to attempt to create a sort of ‘wave of my paranoia’.

I went really simple in terms of colors and layout as I wanted the zine to be easy to read. Used simple pictures or vectors to illustrate the points. Everything was done in Photoshop where I used an A4-size canvas to format and adjust the layouts. After which, I had to arrange the pages in printing order (covers, inside-covers, page 2 & 5, page 3 &4) then I used two staples to do a simple saddle stitch binding for the zine. I went to Daiso to find a simple holder for my zine to be placed in (budget installation 😀 )

For the tips and tricks, they are things I actually will do except for the sound recording but maybe I should try that too because like that will have more evidence! Hopefully this will soon wear away because after going through the process of this installation project, I find that I kinda overreact on this issue and it will certainly become a self-joke in the future.

Yeah so this is my simple installation, placed in the place I thought was most interesting to work with at the library.


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Research: In and Around the Library

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Welcome to ADM library…

it is like any other…

featuring…

 

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books.

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shelves.

 

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dvds.

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students.


 

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first thing that interests me is the book drop. I have had quite a few bad experience at NLB because the book drop did not register my returned items and was sent emails to go pay the fine for something I had returned. So it resulted in a few of these episodes of back and forth with the NLB staff to check into the matter. So I am slightly paranoid when I go bookdrop. More recently I even take photos of myself returning books just in case. But haven’t had such issues with ADM library (yet?!) haha. makes me want to think how are my items collected, how the library is run?

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next to bookdrop is the section where the so-called featured books are featured. it is empty at this moment…

From experience of using the ADM library, usually when I return books here, I would be compelled to go in to see some other titles which I most likely would then borrow.

this part of the library seems at once where old info and new info collide.


 

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I find it quite interesting the spaces that are concealed and revealed through the placement of the books. Sometimes we see other interesting titles next to the ones we are at. Sometimes we see it on the shelf behind this shelf. Sometimes we see other people browsing over there. Are they looking for the same thing as us? Sometimes the other person sees us staring from the shelf.

There is this really voyeuristic feel and because of the need to be quiet that interaction feels awkward.

 

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The other thing is this quest of searching for a book. Sometimes it is really not easy. The spine might be very inconspicuous, the index very hard to pin point. I have done sourcing for references in here for my art history essays. Each time I can spend afternoons just walking around, sitting about. In search of the information I need. And that is a really interesting journey, which arguably can be much simply done on the internet.

What then is the relevance of the physical book?


 

lastly, I am intrigued by some of the quiet random spaces here. like this one. table chained to the pillar with chair by the window. who sits here? who does work/ read books here? my thought was they initially placed the library catalogue browser which has been removed. so this space is there now for people to use if they may…

I like how it is constrained yet open at the same time. it is just like how we behave in the library itself. we have to observe the quietness, yet we require to be open to the wealth of information.

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Overall feeling:

library seems to be a very static environment. not much energy around. people are all absorbed in their work.  I have the impression not many people actually borrow the books to read though.

On personal note, I think library is like going on a quest to find something. ADM library is really great. Back in JC I did not have such a diverse catalogue to choose from.

So I think that this project might allow me to see how the sort of static, small spaces in the library can be a huge experience for an adventurer hunting for a read.

风中飘逸 (waywardness of the wind)

风中飘逸 (Waywardness of the Wind), 2016 Feb, HD 720p, 5mins, digital video.

What I wanted to achieve was to sort out the different feelings I get about Ann Siang Hill and how it all coalesces to a singular feeeeel which is the quietness that I really like about this place. In all spirit of waywardness I allowed my pen to dance me along. Ann Siang Hill has a great history, culture and change that is all happening and coexisting in just the right amounts for now. That’s why I like this place as compared to touristy Chinatown opposite the road. But I am slightly worried that a few years later, this place might be over-run by tourism too. So I just hoped that through urbansketching, film and even a little bit of poetry, I can delve into a feeling that the thoughts that flutter in the wind. And express my hope that such urban leisure spots in Singapore can remain as they are and continue to develop naturally without the external input of redevelopment policies.


 

For the video process, I filmed most of it myself, so i did require some problem solving. The shots of me going up the stairs were actually filmed by strapping my camera amongst the trees on the lane below. That’s why there is a gentle swaying about.

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As for the voice over, I had to write a script and record it in a relatively quiet room. It was better for me to express myself in Chinese.

I had to match and sync all that in with the music. So I managed to roughly split the video into 3-acts:

  • My discovery of Ann Siang and the stark contrast to the surrounding Chinatown.
  • My urbansketching journey and the discoveries of the place.
  • My afterthoughts and reflections on future developments of the place.

 

I know that this is not a drawing or a 2D project, but I really got caught up in the moment. I could not stop drawing at the place so I ended up going there thrice in the past week to get the footage because I will spend the time sketching and not noticing the time. Then I’ll realize that I need to go back the next day to ACTUALLY DO FILMING. Would have gladly spent the whole recess week over there.

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Here is the sketch that I did:

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2016 Feb, 150 × 841mm, pen on paper


And here is the bit of poetry I wrote. It is actually  the 天净沙(tien jing sha) verse arrangement from the Yuan Dynasty poet 马致远 (ma zhi yuan).

绿荫 旋梯 鸟花

书香 咖啡 溜达

音乐 彩灯 酒吧

我 执笔画下

风声飘逸的 (唦唦)

I like how he used the poetic form  of the  散曲(san qu) to evoke a sense of wandering, and so I attempt to emulate that.


 

Also just considering that if this work were to be actualized for an exhibition, I would definitely like to have my drawings framed up outside the viewing room for the video footage. This project has been really refreshing and as an urbansketcher, I see potential in using film as a medium to carry my sketches in it. This might be a future consideration for my next urbansketching excursions.

Research: A visit to 安祥山 (Ann Siang Hill)

安祥山 (Ann Siang Hill) is an enclave of cultural heritage, untold stories and quiet peacefulness. Rare, in the bustle of modern day Singapore city centre, especially when it is just at the edge of the busy and touristy Chinatown. There is a lot that interests me here. And  I really like the Chinese name of this place which means blissful mountain.

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It is not a very huge place. Club street, Ann Siang Rd and Gemmill Lane pretty much delineates the perimeter of the little hill.

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Some brief history: Up till 1892, this was the house and estate of Chia Ann Siang, a rich Hokkien Sawmiller from Malacca. Before that some rich white guys grew nutmegs in the area. The rest of the houses started lining up the street in the next 40 years after Chia’s time. This place also used to be a Cantonese graveyard. It was also a popular place from the illiterate Chinese to get letters written and sent to their hometowns, and they called this place 青山亭 (pavilion of the green mountain, i.e. a place to connect with home in China)

But now,

This place is home to various Chinese clan associations. I went into one called the 广惠肇李氏书室 (Kwong Wai Siew Li Si She Shut) once before and discussed Chinese calligraphy with some old guys. This a Cantonese family clan that are still actively promoting Chinese literature education and culture till today. There are also some huge houses that are very overbearing and the word ‘FORBIDDEN’ is almost spelt out  loud by the looming gates that guard them.

There is also an active and exquisite hipster-clubs-and-cafes-lineup in this area. Such as the Screening Room which shows some films from time to time in the 3rd level of the building. After watching, you can head up to the roof to chill at the bar there. There are also many other cafes in the area. Just google lady iron chef and you should find something nice.

There are also bookstores and some ‘atas’ art galleries here. People don’t really want to talk to you though (less the old guys at the clan house), so I think there is a lot of stories that are untold about this place here. But it is okay because I like to explore and wander.

So the lack of human interaction  sort of naturally bring you to the more deserted parts in an already rather empty Ann Siang Hill. Ann Siang Hill park – Back alleys riddled with interesting passageways, refreshing greenery in an urban garden, romantic spots to sit in the park. I find that Chinatown is just saturated with touristiness so it is really refreshing to come close to the edge and let the quiet lanes and nature transport you away.

At the end of the park path, there is Amoy Street Food Centre which has really great food. ‘Lor Mee’ on the 2nd floor here is a must try. A cup of ‘Teh Tarik’ and the ‘Sarabat Biscuit’ to compliment it is the real enjoyment. My parents used to frequent this place when they went on dates.

Interestingly, my girlfriend and I come to this place often too. We did not know the coincidence of my parents frequenting this place, when we started to visit it. But it has been awhile since I went to visit this place, because she is studying overseas now and I do not come here alone that often (if not too EMO already, right… )

So brings me to the main thing I like doing here recently is to sketch, because the buildings are so full of character, I spend ages just admiring them.

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To sum it up, 安祥山 (Ann Siang Hill) is a place that has a comforting sort of quiet, there is so much heritage going on in the details and stories here, even with modernization and the conservation the new things like clubs and cafes prove to be really exciting and artsy as well. There is good food, nice foliage and great memories here for me. I think that coming back here last week to see what kind of an artistic response I can give for this project is really refreshing. I realized that  I really forgot about enjoying in this place except that last semester I had some filming going on here but that did not count as we were busy working and I could not stop to relax the way I do here.

I actually want to spend more lazy days sketching and eating here, like I used to 🙂

Homeward Swirls (photo series)

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A Projection of Memory

Still Photography, 8 images, 4065 x 3049 pixels each.

This work was titled in retrospect to match the title of the final film. The title speaks for the work. This is a projection of my memory of walking home, which may (or mayn’t) have been distorted in the recesses of my mind. I intentionally created a disconnection of space and time through the use of projection, inspired by the rear-screen work of Cindy Sherman, where a believable-unbelievable environment can created. I juxtaposed this with the use of personal items in my hall where I reside on campus so as to encapsulate these found objects to give off a surreal-ity.  The viewer can read it conceptually or in the form of narrative. This open-endedness offers, I hope, a distorted, faraway feeling that I wish to express.

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The set-up for framing the projection shots.

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The preparation for the shot involving the vacuum cleaner “sucking out” the projection image.

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Still images has a somewhat a daunting constrain that I think impeded me in this project, simply because I had more to tell than it was possible to convey through such a delivery of presentation. Admittedly, I do not see myself as have much experience or aptitude for photography. I do not comprehend the design rules involved, like say the rule of thirds, in which how they create an aesthetic quality. To me, these feel like the safe routes and I will not use them for the sake of staying safe. I wished to convey the concept of a break in dimension, a sort of paradoxical space if you will, and the search for a method of visual communication led to the use of projection. I was in a situation with no equipment and low budget, so the solutions devised and creative problem solving routes taken would have to be simple and to the point. So it was definitely easier in the further development of the project into the moving images as I could convey more and express more. The ‘fan spinning shot’, ‘stop-mo’, recurring imagery like the ‘finger walking’, all these were much easier to come up with and readily blended straight from my brainstorming into execution, much like impasto onto the canvas by the Post-Impressionists.

Sound is definitely a main factor in my work. I have begun thinking, in fact, since the capturing of the still images of not just how my work is seen but also how it sounds. The class critique elated me to the fact that they were similar in opinion as I was that my work was a sound of distortion, of disconnectedness. Hence I sourced a soundtrack done in the style of alternative rock from the 70s, with a Russian blend to it, which I hoped brought out that “out-of-placeness” when partnered with the visuals. Another sound I captured was the whirring sound which I repeat everytime we get back to the “fan spinning shot”. That was actually the sound of the light switch played backwards, to give this vagueness of a kind of foreign sound, akin to both a sound a time machine in sci-fi movies would make and a film projector would give off. I felt no need for voice-overs, as to me the medium is the message and I believed that I conveyed somewhat sufficiently and that I could be assured and allow the viewer to fill in their response from the law of enclosure.

Homeward Swirls (Film Short)

卷土重来: 记忆的投影 (Homeward Swirls: A Projection of Memory)

Digital Video and Stopmotion, 04:55mins, 1280 x 720 pixels

躺在地上,对着风扇,试想如果风不再吹?伸出手,却捕捉不了它。追,不禁跃入想象的汹涌,记忆的涟漪。也许,也许这一切只是一种投影。影片播完了,离席去向何处?忙得晕头转向,才了解到有多时没真正回家里走走。卷土重来吧,我这归来的孩子。

When the swirls of imagination and memory coincide in incandescent flashes, will I still know every inch of home? I embark on a homeward swirl in a projection of memory to a most familiar yet unfamiliar version of my house. Have I awoke on a Saturday having returned home the night before, or am I really just lying in my campus residential hall room tired from a session of area cleaning?

a film by Fabian Kang

 

 

 

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just some interesting things:

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this scene was filmed from this angle:

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I certainly was a little apprehensive as I looked upon my camera hanging from its precarious position, but it was a good venture. I enjoy finding cheap methods for effects and Film back in its experimental days really intrigues me with that charm of hurried and effective film solutions.

The reason for these shots to be emphasized a lot is

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When I am alone, I really like to dance my fingers on surfaces to create some sounds just to break the silence. So I thought that it would be an interesting way of “walking home”, as the representation of home going is a rather surreal one in my film.

At 03:35 of the film, you might notice something a little perculiar about this shot.

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Apart from the different presentation of the screen where I had it split into 2 parts, there is actually 2 frames where my parents are framed in the shot. Working on this film made me think that not only I have spent less time at home, but I really do see / interact with my parents a lot less these days hence that split second.

 

Made for SAM: First visit of 2016

残响世界(realm of reverberations) by Chen Chieh-Jen, 2014, Video installation with four blue-ray films and documentation, 23:56, 26:07, 23:33 and 26:56 mins

One of the works I would love to talk about in the “Time of Others” is 残响世界 (realm of reverberations) by Chen Chieh-Jen. I particularly enjoyed this work by this energetic artist whose artistic practice has been much centered around the biopolitical issues of globalised Taiwan. The setting of the work is the Losheng sanatorium which was built during the Japanese Colonization to house lepers. The place is however being demolished to pave the way for a new metro station. Chen’s work is a documentation of this event, a vent for the emotions of the previous occupants as their long regarded sanctuary faces erasure along with the memories built around it.

A series of photographs at the entrance served as a prelude which drew me into the projection room to view the film. Usually video art fail to impress anything much on me. However, this work is certainly emotionally engaging as I can feel a genuine emotion from the person behind the lens and not just a pretentious attempt to be artsy. The film is very de-saturated, there is a melancholy and slow feel to it. The music creates a throbbing undertone which incessantly builds up an aura of uneasiness and intrigue. Camera angles are very voyeuristic, mostly framing the characters as we walk along with them to see the last of the sanatorium. I felt like I was a ghost watching their struggle with the reality of erasure. I was just short of immersing in the original on-site installation. This image below is actually quite sad, the audience are mostly the people of the sanatorium watching a film featuring them as they are “their only audience”.

Finally I would add that, I refer to this work using the Chinese title, not just because it is in Mandarin, but this expression in the language resonates more in my engagement with the work.

“torri” photo series by Shitamichi Motoyuki, 2006-1012, 5 photographs, C-type print, 100 x 150cm

Another work which stirred some interest for me is this little photo series by Shitamichi Motoyuki. We are looking at only 5 of many photos he took over the course of 6 years. Their titles are “Taichung, Taiwan”, “Saipan, USA”, “Saipan, USA”, “Geomundo Island, Korea”, “Sakhalinskaja, Russia” from left to right, all of which are places that imperial japan once stepped a foot in. The recurring imagery of the “torri” which japanese for “gate”, is the evidence leftover of the enormous presence of the imperial might. These silent guardians once held a meaning as the borders of a great empire but now which the change of borders and the tide of time, their very existence is being erased.

In the 3 photographs on the right you can see the physical torri rather clearly. The middle of those 3 is hidden by the vegetation but it’s form is still not eluded too much. I looked at these 3 first, as it was immediately recognizable that the “torri” is the main subject and recurring theme that binds these images in the artist’s narrative. Therefore the 2 on the left puzzelled me as I did not see a simmilar structure of the “torri”. Then I realized that it was the artist’s great use of chance and framing. The rightmost one shows people sitting on a bench in a park. Closer inspection reveals that the bench is actually the “torri” but it has fallen on it’s side and this convenient piece of rubble doubles up as a seat for the park-goers. The second one is totally missing the “torri”, however there is a strong use of directional lines and we are drawn up the staircase placed in the centre of the image, where at the end the trees frame the sky into a gate, metaphorically suggesting that the “torri” used to be and now ceases to be.

Overall I felt  the exhibition to be rather incomprehensible, some works were unengaging and affected my perception of them as only upon reading the explanatory text could I try to piece a muddled idea of their meanings together. However the afore-mentioned work are certainly effective as I was visually and emotionally engaged in an artistic dialogue with the artist without need of his physical presence or aid of exposition.

groovy monday

Hello,

I am Fabian and here is my idea of dancing:

 

my mother always bade me have an umbrella ready when going out. It is good advice.

and this (below) is my favorite project from last semester, it is a group film project titled “En-Scene”. I’m not going to tell you what it is about, you have to watch it yourself, but it is definitely cooler than my umbrella dance.

https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/mzaw001/2015/11/17/g7-final-project/

Also,

would like to share another project I did with a couple of friends for the N.E.mation competition. Here:

have a good start to the week and the semester!!