a word about compilations

On the occasion of the release of the cassette compilation of experimental music, “There is no music from China” (published simultaneously in China and New Zealand by Zoomin’ Night 燥眠夜 and End of the Alphabet Recordings respectively), I wrote this text expressing why I think the compilation format is so important. Where it occurs the experimental music scene in China is truly vibrant, but doesn’t have many outlets for expression, is under pressure as it often antagonises authority in any number of ways, and so can be difficult to locate and understand for outsiders. So for the artists in China a compilation such as this is really helpful for creating visibility for their activities, which in turn cements their own practices in relation to their peers.

Compilations are great. Where before there was an amorphous set of individuals working away on their respective projects, whose relationship to their peers and their history was far from amounting to the self-understanding of a distinct grouping or a “scene”, along comes a compilation and magically makes concrete those relationships and gives form to those potential arrangements. This works well both for the artists, giving them a sense of identity based on relativity, and also for the audience, who perhaps were unaware such connections existed. And hence a scene is formed. It’s something of an illusion, of course, but serves as a useful public face for those involved.

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First steps researching experimental sound culture in Osaka

With half a day free while visiting relatives in Osaka, I had an opportunity to start looking into the sound scene here. This ever-so-slight beginning will be supplemented by future visits, to develop an understanding of this city’s sonic culture. This post is a starting point from which to look into the infrastructure that exists in Osaka for practices connected with sound, including the venues, artforms, and producers involved.

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UNCUT TALKS: Three Interviews with China’s sound workers

Over the past few weeks I’ve begun a series of interviews for the “Uncut Talks” sound magazine, a project initiated by the artist Ma Yongfeng of forget art. At this point I thought I would pull together the first three interviews which (coincidentally) have all been with Chinese sound artists and musicians. Future interviews will venture into other creative fields. Ma Yongfeng and the Italian curator and artist Alessandro Rolandi have also added their own interviews to the Uncut Talks site, so please take a moment and check them out, I think there is something for everyone there!

Yan Jun talks about his “Living Room Tour”:

Sheng Jie (gogo) talks about her audio-visual practice:

VAVABOND (Wei Wei) and Li Jianhong talk about improvisation:

GeoSlant: Shan Studio and Gigonline: Don’t wake the neighbours

Sheng Jie (aka gogoj) and Shan Studio

Shan Studio, 3-2-302# Sweetness Home, No.29 Huayuan Hutong Dongxiang, Andingmennei, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China

It’s midnight, Beijing-time, and in the darkened living room of a small apartment near the city’s second ring road, two figures quietly attend to their bank of equipment. The performers, Taurin Barrera and gogoj, appear not entirely there, in a world of their own, working away in an environment with few sounds filling the room aside from the rustles of their movements. Projected on the wall beside them are gogoj’s wave form lightening strikes, reacting to some unheard input, building from simple shaped waves through to complex smears and many-dimensional structures as the feeds become ever more complex. The silence in the room contrasts starkly with the sounds and visuals each performer is producing within the walls of the equipment and immediately dispersed away online to a small audience which has gathered from around the world to experience False SIP, Shan Studio’s first Gigonline.

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Michael Yuen announcement notes

Quoted from my gallery’s announcement of a new artist:

CPU:798 is delighted to welcome Michael Yuen to our roster1 of artists. Michael’s work encompasses a plurality2 of media3, and he is already well-known4 in his native Australia for a body of exceptional works making use of light5, sound6 and performance7. With Michael joining CPU:798, we are building on our mission8 to present the most interesting new media9 artists from both inside and outside of China today10.

Over the past few years Michael has divided his time equally between Australia11 and China12, and in both environments13 his works have investigated the nature of public spaces14 and how small events and interventions15 can have large-scale effects16 on those spaces and the people in them.

  1. What would be the appropriate collective noun for this?
  2. Plurality: perhaps plenitude. Or plethora.
  3. ‘New’ media as opposed to ‘traditional’ media.
  4. see his biography
  5. e.g. Flash. Also includes sound as part of the piece.
  6. e.g. Pulse. Also includes light as part of the piece.
  7. e.g. Follow. Developed because of the specific difficulties creating a sound or light piece in an urban environment where the ambient noises and visual clutter would mask the elements of the work.
  8. see statement on website
  9. see note 3
  10. expanding the gallery’s focus out from photography per se
  11. Adelaide
  12. Beijing
  13. How different are they, and how does this manifest itself to the artist and through his work?
  14. Particularly differences in the nature of public spaces. I have never lived in Australia (I visited Sydney once for 3 days), but from my experience from living in China, comparing this to the UK and Europe, the Chinese use their spaces in very particular ways. The spaces may be the same, or in many ways comparable, or completely different, but people here in China occupy them in a very characteristic way. It is a confluence of character (habit, tradition), architecture (in the sense of a human planned external controlling affect on the occupants), environment (a ‘natural’ external affect), and immediate practicality (an internal affect) which all go to suggest what happens there.
  15. sound and light work in this way – materially discrete
  16. an effect is that we experience them as an artwork (something removed from everyday life;or, something like everyday life which makes everyday life suddenly seem strange?). They assert themselves, make themselves known. Distract or attract attention. Trip up, disturb, unsettle.