TIDF 2018 - Exhibition KINO-EAR

TIDF 2018 – Exhibition KINO-EAR

For the Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2018, I have been invited to curate (!) an exhibition introducing audio/radio documentary and field recording practices.

KINO-EAR:Audio Document / Audio Documentary

This exhibition, definitely one of the most intense project of the year for me, was something I was wishing since a decade : opening a listening space, with documentation, offering a non-exhaustive array of works related to listening and documenting. It was organized by TIDF, under the guidance of the programmer Wu Fan 吳凡, with the precious assistance of Winnie Lo, and hosted at TheCube Project Space, a gallery I am lucky to regularly collaborate with, runned by Amy Cheng and Jeph Lo.

Date | 11 May – 8 July, 2018
Opening | 12 May,2018 3pm
Special Screening|
At the End of Sound – A Portrait of Yann PARANTHOËN (8 June, 2018 7pm)
In the Stillness of Sounds (9 June, 2018 6:30pm)
*Both with post screening discussions  with Yannick Dauby.
Venue | TheCube Project Space (2F, No. 13, Aly. 1, Lane 136, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei, Taiwan)
Hours | Wed to Sun, 2-8pm (closed on Mon. and Tues.)

Introduction and presentation :

Recordists are people who observe the world with audition rather than vision. Through microphones and headphones, they interpret their sonic environment : the sound recording tools sometimes act as a filter, sometimes as an enhancer, revealing details and/or creating a distance. The recorder allows to keep traces of acoustic events, in a non-neutral way since it recall to us the sounds that have been modified by the position in space and time, the gestures and the equipment of the recordists.
Through a refined process of selection, recordists sometimes propose to share their listening experiences, creating *Audio Documents* that would trigger a new perceptual experience for the audience.
Occasionally, they would work with those sounds by slicing the sonic matter, assembling fragments of sounds – editing (montage) and mixing. The result is a construction of a discourse, of a narration, *Audio Documentaries*.
Etienne Noiseau, an activist and author of radio documentary, expressed a very good point about what the label “documentary” means. For him, it is not a genre of creation, but it is a feature, a quality. A sound work that we can describe as documentary is a work that keeps or deploy a direct connexion with the world, with what we can call “the reality”. KINO-EAR is an opportunity to practice listening and it offers an array of sound works based on field recording (sound recordings made outside of the studio), at the cross-roads of journalism, ethnography, ecology and sound art.

KINO-EAR is designed into two spaces:

In a listening room will be presented a program of one hour and half of audio works, in the way of a “cinéma for the ears”. It will include three commissioned audio documentaries from Taiwan. Yannick Dauby (FR/TW) “Forests” is based on the natural soundscapes of mid-high altitude mountains and interviews with people in an intimate relationship to the forest. Yen-Ting Hsu (TW) “Waterland” is a manifesto about being an islander and is devoted to the people living by the Ocean. Nigel Brown (AU/TW) retraces the sounding activities of the little workshops settled in the middle of Tainan city. These three commissions have also been played in cinéma theatre, at SPOT – Huashan (check the previous posts).

In the same program, a seminal work will be played, “Voices of the Rainforest” by Steven Feld (USA), an anthropologist who could be described as Jean Rouch audio-successor. This piece relates the daily sounds of the Kaluli people of Papua New-Guinea, with whom Steven Feld worked during thirty years.

Among the other works presented : a collaboration between Pali Meursault (FR) and Jeanne Robet (FR) with the voice a hidden passenger, an ethnomusicological research by Eisuke Yamagisawa (JP) about gong culture in Vietnam, a short trip in a NYC cab by Gael Segalen (FR) and a good morning in India by Isabelle Stragliati (FR).

In the exhibition space, two works mostly based on sound but also on text and accompanied by photographs will suggest the invisible.


Peter Cusack (UK) documents the “Sound from Dangerous Places”, more specifically he explored the area of Chernobyl where the nuclear accident happened in 1986 : sounds in the ghost towns, stories and songs of people still living there, voices of the fauna and signals of radiometers.

David Toop (UK) visited Yanomami people in 1978. “Lost Shadows : in Defence of the Soul” let us hear the voices of shamans in trance. These audio documents are both intimate and spectacular, and if we can’t accompany the shaman in their travels, they come with complementary descriptions and reflexions by the recordist.

Yann Paranthoën (FR) was a radio producer who spent almost half a century editing sounds and creating radio documentaries. As an homage to his work, we are showing “Au fil du son” a film by Pilar Arcila. The film was also projected during two evening in the gallery (check the previous post).

Félix Blume (FR/MX) is a sound recordist, who regularly he creates short video pieces, such as the series “Wildtracks”, related to the most improbable dialogues between recording technology and the location.

Arte-Radio is an UFO. Since 2002, this unique and hyper-active webradio gathered a hundred of radio producers, for a total exceeding 2000 audio works. Most of them are audio-documentaries, with an extremely wide range of length and topics. We selected a few of them, in between Japanese cicadas, death rituals in Tibet, knives sharpening, muezzins of Istambul and songs of Paiwan people.

We have also selected three longer pieces, which are all exploration and description of specific location : Antarctica by Philip Samartzis, an island of Okinawa by Marie Iwata & Eisuke Yanagisawa and a region in the mountains of Georgia by Nicolas Perret and Cédric Anglaret

We also gathered a few sound works realized in Taiwan, describing the landscape, the fauna and its human inhabitants. Among these pieces, some naturalist recordings by Laila Fan and Jiang Po-Jen, some explicit interactions in Taipei city by Huang Dawang and Zhang You-Sheng and other wandering in urban areas.


Last but not least, the audience will enter the gallery with an in-site diffusion of the recordings of voices of merchants by Susi Law (HK), with the help of the collective ear soundpocket (HK). “Come and listen even though you are not going to buy it!”


And finally a great news, this exhibition has been pre-selected for the Taishin Arts Awards.

Nomination for Taishin Arts Awards
reasons of nominations translated by Wu-Fan.

Nominator: WANG Sheng-hung

KINO-EAR has left a suspense worth pondering for the contemporary art community in Taiwan: how can the research of art be inspired and propelled through discussions emphasised on ‘field recording’? Having built a rich soundscape collection in Taiwan, the curator, Yannick DAUBY, together with TheCube Project Space which has always been paying much attention to the culture of sound in Taiwan, created a non-visual-oriented interface for contemplation, which neither falls into the cliché of collecting ‘artefact’, nor does it have the anxiety of creating an object for aesthetic purposes. The exhibition makes proper use of the listening space in TheCube, along with moderate employment of documents and photos, arousing audiences’ memories and interests in listening.

Although the many documentary films made by pioneering visual-anthropologist HU Tai-li have paid much attention to various dances, rituals and singings in tribal culture, they are, however, still prone to attaching to the narratives of documentary films. DAUBY’s way of field recording has made people concentrate on the potential narrative and imagination created by environmental sounds. In spite of the condition of TheCube Project Space being somewhat under satisfactory for the scale and ambition of KINO-EAR’s rich collection of sound pieces from various countries, the exhibition still managed to establish a starting point to prompt all sorts of performance collaboration projects, forms of sound installation, or even reflections on way of exploration. All of which is undoubtedly worth anticipation.

Nominator: SING Song-yong

Whilst taking place parallel to Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF), KINO-EAR also exists independently. Through the ‘cinema for the ears’, curator Yannick DAUBY introduces three audio documentary commissioned by TIDF, presenting profound reflections on ecology, indigeneity and declining industries. Meanwhile, the exhibition also includes anthropological field recordings, such as Steven Feld and the Kalulis in Papua New Guinea, and David Toop and the Yanomamis in the Amazon basin. The exhibited sounds span a wide spectrum, including generic daily sounds from various locations, folk music, sounds in Chernobyl, as well as cicadas in Japan, funeral rite in Tibet, knife-sharpening in Istanbul, sound of a muezzin, Payuan songs, and many more themes. After the project ‘ALTERing NATIVism: Sound Cultures in Post-War Taiwan’ in 2014, KINO-EAR can be ‘heard’, in recent years, as an interdisciplinary project curated through systematic combinations of sound and reflections on ecology and history.


Two reviews of the exhibition
Extracts translated by Wu Fan.

1. Echo-logy: “KINO-EAR: Audio Document / Audio Documentary” as An Interdisciplinary Event

By Song-yong Sing

(Original text: http://talks.taishinart.org.tw/juries/ssy/2018061114)

The styles and approaches of the curator, artists and directors present a clear context with a certain degree of similarity, while each maintaining a local touch. Apparently, sound, as the main subject of either the exhibition or the “Documemory” section of the film festival, enhances imagination, performance, and non-physical characteristics; more importantly, sound is a form of expression that reflect aesthetics, ethics, and politics, covering a rather broad ecosystem, especially the interactions between various organisms and environments, energies and physical or non-physical matters. In terms of concept, Yannick DAUBY’s realisation help transpose and advance both Dziga VERTOV’s “Radio-Ear” and Jean ROUCH’s “Cine-Ear”. In other words, industrial or mechanical sounds should not be regarded as praises to modernism but rather reverberations of a disaster or decline. Peter CUSACK’s Sounds From Dangerous Places (2002) is an excellent example: In varying sizes, ten pictures of ruins (a Ferris wheel, a kindergarten, a stone coffin, etc.) on the wall echo the sounds from the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster (the wind, the beep of radiometer, the chirp of birds, the croak of frogs, etc.) The incorrespondence between the images and sounds, the starch contrast between the hell-like village and the vibrant sounds of wildlife paint a picture of memories forgotten by the world. What is more, Jiātíng Gōngchǎng, a commissioned work by Nigel BROWN, documents the rhythmic mechanic noises coming from small-scale home factories in Tainan, as well as the oral history of the workers. The repeating sounds of machinery and the voices of the interviewees overlap and in turns submerge each other, mixing grieve, frustration with nostalgia, and indicating the decline of a traditional industry.

Another distinctive feature of the exhibition is the cross-regional cultural survey, paying a contemporary tribute to Jean ROUCH’s “Cine-Ear”. Two apt examples are David TOOP’s work about Yanomami people’s shamanism, heterophonic music and rituals, Lost Shadows: in Defence of the Soul (1978), and Steven FELD’s Voices of the Rainforest (1983). In addition, two commissioned works, Waterland by HSU Yen-ting and Forests by Yannick DAUBY respectively portray fishermen in a West Australian fishing port and the indigenous people living up in the Taiping Mountain. The former features sounds of sea waves, seagulls, bustling market, fishermen complaining about the unsatisfactory catch in recent years, and a nature-loving young woman praising the deep-sea world of sperm whales. The latter is filled with chirps of insects and birds as well as indigenous people’s words on hunting skills, logging, land preservation and traditional agriculture. Besides the longing to return to a traditional way of life, the preservation of nature is indeed the core of both Waterland and Forests, making audio documents and audio documentaries an unquestionable part of the dialectics of the abovementioned ecosystems.

This not only showcases part of the curator’s collection of folk sounds from home and abroad, for example from ARTE Radio and “Taiwan Sound Catalogue”, but also presents a sonic manifesto of a return to nature. Apparently, the former resonates with the “Folksong Collection Movement” half a century ago and the “Altering Nativism: Sound Cultures in Post-war Taiwan” exhibition four years ago; the latter further connects sound with ecology and induces listeners to slide their bodies into landscapes and soundscapes that seem increasingly distant from our daily lives. Hence, in my opinion, we witness the birth of a curatorial approach or method that connects sound, nature and body, or rather, that celebrates “Echo-logy”, especially when we sit quietly in the dim auditorium or the “listening room” of The Cube and imagine, as we turn on the switch of “Cine-Ear”, an unknown world of both acoustical unconscious and deafening reverberations.

2. Follow the footsteps of recordists and hear the world: the “KINO-EAR: Audio Document / Audio Documentary” exhibition

By Tomtom Chuang

( Original text: http://thepolysh.com/blog/2018/06/16/audio-document-audio-documentary/)

All these sounds may seem ordinary. Of high or low pitch, they each tell a story of their own. But there are also sounds that are distant, as if coming from an unreachable far-off land. Co-organised by TIDF and The Cube, “KINO-EAR: Audio Document / Audio Documentary”, an exhibition curated by French sound artist Yannick DAUBY takes field recording as a focal point that connects sensory experiences, ecological environment, interviews and sound art.

The auditory perception is unavoidable. While we may be able to choose whether or not to perceive other senses, the vibration of sound waves reaches our eardrums via air or other material medium, like the sound of a mosquito flapping its wings still reaches us in our sleep. Coincidentally, sounds of mosquitoes are also very present in David TOOP’s Lost Shadows: in Defence of the Soul, which documents the recordist’s journey to explore the Amazonian Yanomami people and their shamanic rituals. By adjusting his distance to the sound source, the recordist was able to depict the deep forest he visited and add a hint of mystery to the unusual voices of the shamans. While sounds lead they way, detailed written accounts by the recordist also reveal his movements while recording, the Yanomami people’s caution and intention towards outsiders, the process of the shamanic rituals, and how badly the recordist got bitten by mosquitoes.

In comparison with life in the Amazon, The Daito Islands by Marie IWATA and Eisuke YANAGISAWA portrays a much tamer life, where owls in the forest sing almost on a regular basis, where there are faint but squeaky cries of bats as well as heavy sounds of sea waves in typhoon season. The ordinary patter of rain appears in this audio documentary, too, for the local sugarcane farmers pay much attention to the sound of rain hitting rooftops, because the rainfall has a significant influence on the harvest of sugarcanes.

Immersed in all these fantastic and distant sound compositions, we seem to get a better understanding of the foreign land we have never been to, through these sounds in focus, along with some text, images and maps. It is as if we are in this tunnel where there is only sound and no light, but as soon as the recordist turns on the recorder, the light somehow sneaks in, and we finally realise what the world is like.


Photos during the opening by the team of TIDF.