Murder at the Taipei Biennial 2016, for Ting Chaong-Wen

Murder at the Taipei Biennial 2016, for Ting Chaong-Wen

In 2014, Taiwanese artist Ting Chaong-Wen invited me to record a murder ballad.

He had found some old records of Taiwanese Opera, based on a story that happened during the WWII. A soldier murdered one of his friend in the sugar cane fields of Erlin, a village in the South West of the island. We visited a possible location of this event, and equipped with a battery-operated turntable, we played the records in site. The songs and music were spread among the sugar canes, interweaving with the chirps of insects, the voices of the wind and distant traffic. I recorded this whole environment of sounds. Ting Chaong-Wen created an installation “The Ballad of the Strange Case of Erlin (Er lin qi an)”, using the original records, mirrors, sugar crystal and these sound recordings, first shown at IT Park, Taipei.

This work is now shown as part of the Taipei Biennial 2016, which title is Gestures and archives of the present, genealogies of the future at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, between Sept. 10 2016 and Feb. 5 2017.


Murder: Er lin qi an is an “archaeology of sound” piece created by Ting Chaong-Wen and sound artist Yannick Dauby. The artists play a record of the Taiwanese ballad detailing the incident at the sugarcane field where the body was dumped all those years ago. The singing of the story is combined with noises recorded on site. The collision of different sounds in this soundscape creates cracks in time and space that enable viewers to experience the same location at different points in time. In addition to sound, the site installation also includes pieces of melted cane sugar placed on and around records on a long mirror on the floor. This ingeniously crafts a sensory arena made up of visual, auditory, and olfactory sensations. Viewers can linger in the work and experience the changes on site. The slowly melting pieces of sugar or movements in shadow and light refracted from the mirror allow them to perceive the flow of time hidden within the shape and form of the piece. The mix of materials impels us to perceive time as something kinetic. The entire process brings to mind quantum entanglement and, through interaction, it brings us face to face with the ghosts of the past.

(photo by Ting Chaong-Wen)