Hadaka:K, Sonic Edge


Sound art is still a rather mystifying concept to most arts punters in Singapore. Mention sine waves, beeps and glitches to the average man on the street and he’d think you were having computer problems. To add to the equation, sound art, like any other genre of contemporary art, can be sub-divided into a multitude of sub-genres that explore a mind boggling array of of sound forms from minimalism to plunderphonics. (A readable primer: Prick up your ears, The Guardian) What makes sound art so fascinating is its lack of boundaries. Without visual cues or a defined space, an arena takes on new energy, where soundscapes leapfrog over our heads and swirl around us with near physical tension, harnessing the power of a much neglected sense in our visually-oriented world.

Hadaka:K is the latest initiative by veteran sound artist, Yuen Chee Wai and together with Venzha Christiawan, George Chua, Dickson Dee, Atsuhiro Ito, Jin Sang Tae, Otomo Yoshihide, Vu Nhat Tan and Zai Kuning, the 9 artists will be taking over the Esplanade Theatre Studio for 3 days of sonic surprises. I shot Yuen a few questions in the hopes of finding out more.

‘Hadaka’ is the Japanese word for ‘nude’ and ‘K’ in this case refers to the colour black, how does the upcoming performance convey these two concepts as a whole?

Hadaka is an ongoing series that aims to create and introduce more awareness about the idea of sound. It’s meant to invite the audience to denude their preconceived notions and their allusions of music to sound. K, denotes black. It accents. It shades. It shadows. It augments characteristics the rest lacks. Black hides. Black embraces a sense of mystery. Black tells of extremes. Black is the colour of the night.

Black is a figment of memory. Black is. It is the result of a culmination – a combination of all the processes of the previous hadakas. It is so singular yet it is a multiplicity of colours. With this in mind, the artists shall attempt to work, talk, collaborate, in creating, nothing. Yet everything. Hadaka: K is a void. It has a pull. It is like a cavernous black hole. It will keep pulling one in.

Hadaka: K is a collaboration between 9 artists hailing from 6 countries. How did you come across each of the collaborators and why did you invite these particular ones?

I have met and worked with almost all the artists previously. They each present a strength in character and also are important players of the field of experimentation from the countries they work in and come from. Part of the aim of this hadaka is to join the dots / nodes of all the main players in Asia to culturally define an Asian identity in its avant garde. Historically, it has always been Euro-centric, but Asia is slowly gaining in prominence. and perhaps this hadaka will play an important role in making that change.

All of the artists hail from Asia. In your opinion, how has sound art developed in the region? In Singapore in particular?

Experimental music is definitely gaining in popularity in Singapore. The region around is slowly picking up as well and that’s a good sign. Listeners are becoming more adventurous in their listening patterns. Maybe in another 5 years, experimental music might just become the norm. I have always lamented that this place historically lacked an indigenous music industry, unlike Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong and japan. It might have been different here if there was such an industry much earlier on.

For three days, there will a open studio style workshop before the nightly performance. What is the aim of the workshop? What form of interaction will there be between the audience and the artists?

The open studio workshop is intended more for the artists to dialogue and perhaps start some form of collaboration going for future projects. Otomo previously had the Asian music forum 2 years ago, that initially focussed more of the northern parts of Asia but this is perhaps the first time we are integrating South East Asia with parts like Japan, China and Korea. Perhaps next time, this can continue on as a travelling entourage, where forums / dialogues / performances can happen in different parts of Asia and having more Asian countries join in.

The performances are meant to be fluid and amorphous, and for it to be so, presumably, the artists have to be able communicate with one another through sound or otherwise. Could you give us an idea of how it works — are there any sound or visual cues? Does familiarity with each other’s work and style play a big part?

It is all in the spirit of improvisation.

Hadaka:K is part of the The Studios Season. 12 Sep – 14 Sep 2007. 2 – 5pm, open studio workshop (free). 8pm, performance at the Esplanade Theatre Studio ($30 for a 3-day pass).



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