Hong-Kong, November 2014
12 & 13 November 2014, my second stay in Hong-Kong, for the Mentorship Program initiated by soundpocket, organization devoted to listening and sound art in Hong-Kong.
1. Mai Po Nature Reserve
The two first days of this very busy week were spent in Mai Po Nature Reserve, a waterland managed by WWF since the 80’s, settled in the New Territories, just at the border with Shenzhen, China.
I was accompanied by four gentle persons from soundpocket and another artists, therefore we already kind of started the workshop in the field. These marshes are hosting numerous species of migrating birds. Unfortunately those days were quite windy, so we haven’t chance to record a lot of their songs. But we could observe some and listen to echolocation calls from bats.
Mai-Po is a precious shelter for the fauna, but one can feel the extreme pressure of the urbanization and development of the city nearby. Even during the middle of the night, we had no need for flash lamp because of light pollution, and of course the sound of the chinese car horns, music played in the streets. The space between the nature reserve and the chinese territory is impressive : some waterland, but also a huge intertidal area of mud where live a fantastic number of amphibian fishes, showing this fascinating mating behavior and producing some delicate gurgling sounds when they jump.
I am visiting this kind of places because I want to listen, know and understand more about these hybrids environments. And I still have no idea what I will do with the recorded sounds, but if there is piece created, I would like to dedicate it to the Birds Between Two Systems (which might be an appropriate title).
2. Chai Wan
First day of the workshop with a group of young artists from Hong-Kong, all having some interest for developping their sound practice and listening.
The aim of the workshop is of course listening to the environment and field recordings, but the topic is also to think about the relationship to the shore, to the sea. So we first visited a very humanized seaside, the harbour in Chai Wan, where some transportation boats are picking some recycled wastes.
After 10 minutes, we were expelled from the “public” harbour, not having the authorization, but soon the participants spread in the whole surroundings, bringing back some great listening anecdotes, doing some sound recordings on their own, and together we made some listening exercises.
3. Tung Ping Chau
For the second day, I wanted to invite the participant to a (quite long) trip by boat towards a lovely little island at the limit of Hong-Kong. Tung Ping Chau is tiny, but listening and recording takes so much time than even with a full day, we only visited less than half of this beautiful place. The geology of the island is very specific, creating very special cavities where the gentle waves are doing interesting sounds. Some of the seashores are more dramatic. Underwater recordings were also one of the keypoint of our day. Unfortunately some participant took this too seriously and unexpectedly explored the underwater environment in a radical way, falling in the sea with clothes and gears. Tung Ping Chau is remote but large numbers of tourists are visiting it. Fortunately it is still well preserved, and relatively quiet. Coming back from the island, by night, I have been impressed to see that the city lights of Hong-Kong are very concentrated, in only a limited area of the archipelago.
4. Listening and discussing
The third meeting happened indoor, at soundpocket headquarters. We had a listen to some recordings and very interesting discussions about perception of an environment, the physicality of sound phenomena, the meaning of sounds, influence of recording techniques and technology on our listening. The participants of these three days were all incredibly attentive, each of them were able to bring to the collective discussion some interesting perspective, providing different approach and subjectivity.
The recordings, and some complementary documents (listening anecdotes and drawings done during the listening exercises) are included into the Library, a project by soundpocket. Please visit the first page of our program and discover the sounds of those two area.
The next step of the Mentorship Program will happen in March 2015 : the participants will accompany and help for another workshop inviting other general public to focus on listening.
5. Other encounters
During the free time of my stay, I could visit and meet two other very interesting places.
The Kadoorie Farm : an animal rescue center with sensitization of general and young public about nature. Their approach to conservation and education also include listening propositions, cultural and artistic activities. A great meeting with great people, I hope we can develop some collaboration.
Other Musick : if you have free time in Hong-Kong a Sunday afternoon, you must visit this small but intense shop for vinyl records and CDs, with tons of industrial, ambient, electroacoustic treasures.