Experimental media project
My Role: Photo shooting, sound recording, audio editing, showroom design.
Individual work (based on  group project)

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

This project was:

This is a collage project I made when I was earning my first Master’s Degree course in Creative Media. I individual developed based on a group sound project I made with my groupmates on a module called Expanded Media.

My favorite course :

Expanded Media – This module looks at what happens when media forms overlap and interact. What new forms are created? What histories can be drawn upon? How does collaboration inform creative practice?

In this particular project:

I made this project to reflect and discuss how bad childhood experience can negatively affect affect adult life and how do they feel about those bad memories. This idea came from the real experience of my dearest friend L, who suffers from depression for years since he witnessed his mum attempted suicide several times and finally committed it when he was 14-year-old.

The technology of creative media:

I created a space allow people to experience the actual feelings of the depressed patients in an immersive and sensual way, through hybrid media forms such as sound, images, space and light.

I wanted to present a complete bad dream to the viewers. The initial idea was inspired by the trailer of a film named ‘Double Exposure’ (Dir. Li Yu, 2012). This film released two different visions of trailer, the first is ‘sound only’ and the second is ‘image only’.

In first one-minute ‘sound only’ trailer, fierce argument and dialogue between characters could be heard clearly. And the frame only shows obscure images without telling any information of the film. Another one-minute ‘image only’ trailer contains vivid frames of the scenes from the film, but silence. I thought this is a creative approach to present a film’s trailer, each trailer is connected to another but audiences could not get complete information from an individual one. They could reveal the content of the film only if they both were watched. Therefore, I wanted to use the similar approach to divide my project into two parts: ‘sound only’ and ‘image only’.

For the sound part, different with the original soundscape ‘nightmare’, I made a slight change on the narrative structure. The new sound narrative is following the formation of equilibrium (snoring, sound of sea, wave and seagulls), disequilibrium (gradually entering the nightmare, sound of drowning, struggling under the water) and resolve with a new equilibrium (crawling towards the shore, sound of alarm clock and back to the real world). The reason for made this change is this part needed to be connected to another part of image, which would form a complete narration of dream.

Inspirations

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I had countless conversations with L, he told me all his nightmares and the depression he suffered from bad dreams – like being suffocated in the water and choking to death. “It feels like drowning in the sea, I was so afraid and helpless even though I knew it was just a dream. I tried so hard to struggle and crawl back to land, I remember ever details of this dream, how salty the seawater I swallowed every time I scream for help, the sound of seagulls and waves every time I out of the water, and the freezing water surrounding me….The worst part, I dreams this particular dream repeatedly and I have no idea when will it happen again.”

L feels a special connection with a Belgian artist René François Ghislain Magritte and his works.

René François Ghislain Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought provoking images that fell under the umbrella of surrealism. His work challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality. On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. This was not her first attempt at taking her own life; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Léopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. She was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river, dead. According to a legend, 14-year-old Magritte was present when her body was retrieved from the water, but recent research has discredited this story, which may have originated with the family nurse. Supposedly, when his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Magritte’s paintings in 1927–1928 of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including Les Amants (The lovers).

Same tragedy experience made L feels a special connection with René François Ghislain Magritte.

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It is a union that suggests the essential mystery of the world. Art for me is not an end in itself, but a means of evoking that mystery.” — RenŽ Magritte on putting seemingly unrelated objects together in juxtaposition

René François Ghislain Magritte became well known for a number of witty and thought provoking images that fell under the umbrella of surrealism. His work challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.

(Resource from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René_Magritte)

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Thus, we also took some pictures like:

  • A face under white sheets. The idea is that this face has to scream, or struggle under the sheets, to give the impression of pressure, or a claustrophobic dream.
  • Hands under white sheets, trying to escape as well.
  • Pictures of the seashore, or the sea.

Sound

Quotations from reading materials:

  • McCombe, Christine, 2001, ‘Imagining Space through Sound’, Proceedings UK and Ireland Soundscape Community Conference: Sound Practice, Darrington.

Depending on the sound, the space in which we hear it may be more or less important in understanding what we hear. If we listen to someone speaking or a string quartet playing Haydn, the space in which we hear it may be less significant than what is being said or played. If, on the other hand, we are listening to the sound of Glasgow Central Station at 5.30pm on a Friday, where we are hearing and what we are hearing in some ways amount to the same thing. We are listening to the space. If we listen to a recording of Glasgow Central Station played through headphones in our living room, we imagine that space.

  • Licht, Alan, 2007, SoundArt: Beyond Music, Between Categories, New York: Rizzoli, pp 84-85.

Compare sculptor/painter/architect tony Smith’s famous quote on highway landscapes as art-“There is no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it”-which was prompted after driving on the unfinished New Jersey turnpike with this quote from Michael J. Schumacher, proprietor of the Diaspason sound art gallery in Manhattan: “Sound is experience, so there’s no point in trying to make it into an object as a collector’s piece. So I’m trying to create situations where people come to it as experience, and value that.

 So, if noise is, or can be listened to, as “music,” what is, well, noise? Edgard Varese said noise is any sound one doesn’t like.” Cage’s answer is, “Silence is all of the sound we don’t intend,” and he professed to welcome street noise in his city home: I wouldn’t dream of getting double glass because I love all the sounds. The traffic never stops, night and day. At first I thought I couldn’t ‘t sleep through it. Then I found a way of transporting the sounds into images so that they entered into my dreams without waking me up. A burglar alarm lasting several hours resembled a Brancusi.”

Quotations from reading materials:

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  • LaBelle, Brandon,2007, Background Noise: Perpectives on Sound Art, London: Continuum, pp201-215.

The soundscape is the sonic environment which surrounds the sentient. The hearer, or listener, is at the center of the soundscape. It is a context, it surrounds and it generally consists of many sounds coming from different directions and of differing characteristics…. Soundscapes surround and unfold in complex symphonies or cacophonies of sound.

From mountaintops to city streets, lakesides to sidewalks, glaciers to small villages, the soundscape is that which exists and of which we are a part, as noisemakers, as listeners, as participants. It locates us within an aurality that is extremely proximate under our feet and at our fingertips- while expanding out to engage the radically distant and far away, from birdcalls from above to winds whistling from remote horizons. The soundscape is all sounds that flow and get carried along in the full body of the sound spectrum, from above and below audibility, as pure energy, molecular movement, in fractions of sonority that integrate through a reciprocal intersubjective human experience with the earthly whole.

Case study:

  • Electroacoustic compositions- ‘Dry’. 2001, by Christine McCombe.

Christine chose to return to purely electroacoustic composition which, given the subtle environmental sounds and ambience, is ideally heard through headphones. In Dry the material is derived entirely from source recordings made in two venues: the Infirmary Street Baths – an abandoned Victorian Baths in Edinburgh; and the Warrender Park Baths – a still functioning baths of approximately the same period. The composition is constructed as a dialogue between these two spaces, between absence and presence, past and present.

  • McCombe, Christine, 2001, ‘Imagining Space through Sound’, Proceedings UK and Ireland Soundscape Community Conference: Sound Practice, Darrington.5.jpg

“The source recordings made in the Warrender Park Baths are readily identifiable; the sounds of splashing water, the regular lapping of a swimmer, the laughter of children are all very clear aural clues as to the type of space. Such a sound environment has very strong associative qualities and one can assume that many people will have memories of having visited a swimming pool at some time in their lives. The recordings taken in the abandoned baths are much more ambiguous and in some ways problematic. The solution seemed to be to articulate the space in some way. The Infirmary Street Baths had various physical/architectural features which I wanted to somehow capture in sound. The acoustic characteristics of the building created by the high gabled ceiling and the large empty tiled swimming pool beneath, the network of pipes, doors, the gallery of cubicles each containing a large cast iron bath – all of these elements had a sonic potential which could help capture something of the identity of the space.”

This sound sculpture explored the musicality of sounds hidden within the structure of the London Millennium Foot Bridge. This bridge is alive with vibrations caused by the bridge’s responses to the collective energy of footsteps, load and wind. This sonic world is inaudible to the ear when walking over this bridge. It was revealed by the use of the accelerometers (which are vibration sensors) that are listening to the inner dynamic motions of the bridge. Harmonic Bridge was realized by installing a network of live accelerometers on different parts of the Bridge in order to acoustically map in real time its hidden musical life. The live sonic mapping was translated into an acoustic sculpture by carefully rendering sounds from this listening network into a spatial matrix of loudspeakers. This sculpture did not only render the natural acoustic movements of the Bridge, but tuned the presence of this live sonic data to the characteristics and architecture of the two spaces in which the work was presented: the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, and the Main Concourse of Southwark Station of the London Underground.7

The presence of Harmonic Bridge in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gave new meaning to this bridge being a metaphor for linking St. Paul’s and the Southwark side of the Thames. The low percussive tones of the bridge produced in response to wind and the loading of the large structural cables resonated with the acoustics and 100 hertz of the Turbine Hall, creating an immersive and sensual experience for visitors. The work entered the space as a slow moving wave, emerging from the ground tone of the background hum and then slowly decaying back into it.

Images

I looked some fine art photographers’ works, there were two photographers whose works have crucial influences on my work. They are Robert ParkeHarrison, and Chi Peng.

  • Robert ParkeHarrison is a photographer, best known for his work (with wife Shana ParkeHarrison) in the area of fine art photography. Robert: “We create works in response to the ever-bleakening relationship linking humans, technology, and nature.

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These works feature an ambiguous narrative that offers insight into the dilemma posed by science and technology’s failed promise to fix our problems, provide explanations, and furnish certainty pertaining to the human condition. Strange scenes of hybridizing forces, swarming elements, and bleeding overabundance portray Nature unleashed by technology and the human hand.”(Resource from: http://www.parkeharrison.com/statement)

Rich colors and surrealistic imagery merge to reveal the poetic roots of the works on display. The use of color is intentional but abstract; proportion and space are compositional rather than natural; movement is blurred; objects and people juxtaposed as if by chance in a visual improvisation that unfolds choreographically. At once formally arresting and immeasurably loaded with sensations—this work attempts to provide powerful impact both visually and viscerally.

  • Chi Peng is a photo artist who seems to channel an enormous cultural shift in his native China. As a very young artist, he was the focus of much attention within art circles – especially his works such as Sprinting Forward, Catching, Perception, Apollo in Transit, and Mirage. According to Chi Peng, “These works have a heavy tone of escapism.”

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His works express a youthful mind and a symbolic elusiveness. Elements present in almost every work are playfully derailed from reality, floating and independent.

With the techniques I learned from the works above, I took a group of picture for my expanded project – image part.10.jpg

This group of images is presenting the insides of the dream world, weird affair, phantom, and dim scenery. They were arranged in the chronological order, from entering the dream, losing in the forest, rushing on the hill. And the last picture is about struggling with the sea wave, which is connected with the following nightmare of drowning.11

Presentation

I visited an exhibition in Tate Modern: A Bigger Splash, Painting after Performance. Some interesting art works I thought them might be useful for the further project. I got an idea from this exhibition space that, if I can play the soundscape in thus a dark, closed space, and project the images on the wall. That would be good.12.jpg

My another inspiration is  a project called My Bed which is a work made by the British artist Tracey Emin created in 1998. It consisted of her bed with bedroom objects in an abject state, and gained much media attention. The idea for My Bed was inspired by a depressive phase in the artist’s life when she had remained in bed for several days without eating or drinking anything but alcohol.

She described all those chaos is a snapshot of the her life after a traumatic relationship breakdown. It shows the real herself at a very depressed time: “I think now people see the bed as a very different thing. With history and time, the bed now looks incredibly sweet and there’s this enchantment to it. I think people will see it differently as they see me differently. And there are things on that bed that now have a place in history.”

For the project presentation, I planned to use two connected rooms to present this project, which the first room is setting up for a dream world. It is quiet only with the sound of snoring, a bed also was installed for making audiences realize they entered someone’s dream.

The second room is the major space that plays the soundtrack, and it was split up by visible ropes which help to create an atmosphere of trapping in a nightmare.13.jpg

The left layout is the ideal space for the presentation that has a bright space to display the images, then a small dark room to play the soundscape. But I couldn’t find such a space for free. So if I display the project in creativity zone, I have to use the entrance space to show the images by plasma screens. And major space presentation would very similar with the previous project (nightmare) presentation. Therefore I have to work out another approach to use this space effectively.

Because the narration in my project is about a man trapped in a nightmare, I wanted to present this concept in an abstract, but obvious way – twine the space by rope. I hope that when viewers come into the space, they could receive a strong atmosphere that they were trapped.14.jpg1516.jpg

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