Thu, Feb 7 2013 As part of Moderation(s), the year-long
collaboration in 2013 between Witte de With, Rotterdam, and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong,
curators-in-residence Latitudes have invited artist Samson Young to develop a day-long tour of Hong Kong retelling
the city and artistic concerns through personal itineraries and
2013, Heman Chong, Hong Kong, Incidents of Travel, Moderations, Samson Young, Spring Workshop, tour, Witte de With
To complement the tour, please check the archive of twitter and facebook and SoundCloud posts.
"Incidents of Travel: Hong Kong"
by Samson Young
7 February 2013
am very envious of artists who are able to describe their practices in a
manner that is concise, succinct, and consistent. To tell one’s
life story is also to confess. I purge my catalogue of works and
rebuild my identity (as told by images, sounds, and
self-descriptions) every couple of years. Moderation(s)
asks that I create a
tour that “articulates the city and (my) artistic practice through
routes and waypoints.” Are routes and waypoints more authentic than
a studio visit? Are the vernacular, the eccentric and the marginal
more “real,” in the same way that punk is real and techno
apparently isn’t? The pressure to define the unique and the
authentic is perhaps growing more urgent with globalization, but
behind each assiduous defence of the authentic lies what Regina
Bendix calls “unarticulated anxiety of losing the subject”
During this tour, I eavesdrop on my own works in the
presence of six others. We take an early morning sound-walk around
the Kwun Tong industrial district, visit a site near the City Hall in
Central where the now-demolished Queen's Pier was once located, and
trespass the frontier closed area near the Hong Kong-China border. In
between locations, we listen to recordings of music and/or read texts
that have informed my work one way or another.
The sound walk begins at 75 Hung To Road in the industrial district of Kwun Tong.
75 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong
begin the tour at 75 Hung To Road. I will conduct again a sound walk
that I created back in 2009. Participants of the sound-walk follow me
on a route through the Kwun Tong industrial district. To create this
work I walked the same route a number of times at different dates and
times, generating one full recording in each walkthrough. I then
edited these recordings into a single soundtrack, to which the
participants listen during the sound-walk. During the sound-walk, I
follow my own footstep by listening to the sound marks in the soundtrack, to ensure that I am in sync with my recorded presence.
Samson Young leads us while listening to the 44 min. soundtrack "Kwun Tong Soundwalk" on mp3 players.
Young takes us through the bus station.
Photo: Spring Workshop.
Condemned industrial buildings around Kwun Tong.
Around Kwun Tong's shops and markets. Photo: Spring Workshop.
|More condemned buildings. When Young recorded the soundtrack in 2009 these places were still open, a proof of the swift gentrification of Kwun Tong.|
A short pause at Yue Man Square Rest Garden. Photo: Spring Workshop.
Soundwalk-ing in a bus terminus. Photo: Spring Workshop.
Bei Tsui, Frontier Closed Area
was born in Hong Kong but mostly educated in Australia. I’ve always
felt that children of Mainland Chinese parents had an easier time
answering the question, “Where are you from?” They simply say,
“I’m Chinese.” I always feel more natural saying I’m from
Hong Kong, rather than plainly stating that I’m Chinese. Or, if I
say I’m Chinese, I feel the need to add the footnote that I was
born in Hong Kong. I am frankly confused by all of this. For the
longest time, I avoided identity politics in my work, but the national
education saga in 2012 prompted me to revisit this issue.
Kong and Mainland China are physically separated by the ShenzhenRiver and a great wall of wired fencing, and south to the border are
restricted zones known as the Frontier Closed Area. Entry into the
Frontier Closed Area without an official permit is strictly
forbidden. In October 2005, the then chief executive Donald Tsang
announced a proposal to drastically reduce the Frontier Closed Area.
In February 2012, 740 hectares of land were initially opened up for
public access. The proposal will be implemented in phases, and other
areas will soon follow suit. Since July 2012, I had been systemically
collecting the sound of places and/or objects that separate the two
regions. I recorded the vibration of the wired fencing with contact
microphones and the water sounds of the Shenzhen River with
hydrophones. I rearranged these recordings into sound compositions. I
then re-transcribed these sound collages into graphical notations.
Walking through the fields that border China.
Nearby Kaw Liu Village.
Pig farm guarded by angry dogs.
New development to house relocated villagers following highway construction.
|En route. Photo: Spring Workshop|
Self-build constructions/storage along the way.
Young introducing the making of the soundtrack "Liquid Borders" we are about to listen to.
Since early 2012, 740 hectares of land have been opened up for public access, and buildings have been constructed nearer the fence which runs along the Shenzhen River.
Bordering the fence while listening to the "Liquid Border" soundtrack.
Sound recording. Photo: Spring Workshop
Queen’s Pier in Edinburgh Place.
Queen's Pier was a public pier in central in front of the City Hall. For
decades it served not only as a public pier but also as a major
ceremonial arrival and departure point. The pier witnessed the
official arrival in Hong Kong of all of Hong Kong's governors since
1925; Elizabeth II landed there in 1975, as did the Prince and
Princess of Wales in 1989. On 26 April 2007, the pier officially
ceased operation. The government’s plan to demolish the pier to
make way for a new highway was met with fierce opposition by
conservationists. Despite the public outcry, Queen's Pier was
demolished in the February of 2008.
was living in New York when all of this happened. In 2009 I composed
and directed a music theatre work entitled “God Save the Queen.”
The work started out as a requiem for the Queen’s Pier. It evolved
into a hymn to the structures, both physical and symbolic, of my
teenage days – which were also the last of the colony’s. The
performance was accompanied by a mixture of live footage from five
theatre-based CCTV cameras, and pre-recorded clips of screen icon
Helena Law Lan (who often played royalty for TV), dressed as the
1956 City Hall building that connected with the now-demolished Queen's Pier in Edinburgh Place.
|Photo: Spring Workshop|
lotus pond, University of Hong Kong
was what you might call a “straight-down-the-center” composer to
begin with. For over a decade I operated only in the concert in the
capacity of a composer of the Western classical tradition. Now I do
all kinds of weird things in all sorts of weird places. Chan
Hing-yan, my mentor during my years at HKU, had a looming influence
on me. I think a lot of what I do today is a reaction against what (I
imagine that) I’d learnt during those formative years – a sort of
a “creative misreading” as Harold Bloom would put it.
To end the tour Samson reads a passage of his dissertation about his approach to music composition and cultural politics.
Talking nearby the
lotus pond at "Hong Kong U". Photo: Spring Workshop
Samson Young (1979) is a composer, sound artist and media artist. Young received training in computer music and composition at Princeton University under the supervision of computer music pioneer Paul Lansky. He is currently an assistant professor in sonic art and physical computing at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. Young is also the principle investigator at the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Musical Expression (L.U.M.E), and artistic director of the experimental sound advocacy organization Contemporary Musiking.
In 2007, he became the first from Hong Kong to receive the Bloomberg Emerging Artist Award for his audio-visual project “The Happiest Hour”. His brainwave non-performance “I am thinking in a room, different from the one you are hearing in now” received a Jury Selection award at the Japan Media Art Festival, and an honorary mention at the digital music and sound art category of Prix Ars Electronica.
Festival presentations and honours include Prix Ars Electronica (Austria 2012); Japan Media Art Festival (Japan 2012); Sydney Springs International New Music Festival (Australia 2001), the Canberra International Music Festival (Australia 2008), ISCM World Music Days (Australia 2010), MONA FOMA Festival of Music and Art (2011); the Bowdoin International Music Festival (US 2004), Bang on a Can Music Summer Music Festival (US 2005), Perspectives International Festival of Media Art (US 2009); Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (Germany 2006); Dark Music Days (Iceland 2008); Kuala Lumpur Contemporary Music Festival (Malaysia 2009); amongst others. His music received performances by Hong Kong Sinfonietta, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, London NASH Ensemble, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Bang on a Can and summer institute fellows, Network for New Music, New Millennium Ensemble, SO Percussion, Sydney Song Company, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, MIVOS Quartet, among others.
All photos: Latitudes | www.lttds.org (except when noted otherwise in the photo caption)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.