What Potions Have I Drunk of Siren Tears    鮫人之淚

Date: 18 September - 16 October 2016
Artists:  Cheuk Wingnam 卓穎嵐, Alex Yiu 姚少龍
Venue: A+ Contemporary, Room 106, Bldg. 7, 50 Moganshan Road, Shanghai, China
Organizer: Contemporary Musiking Hong Kong
Co-organizer: A+ Contemporary
Sponsor: Hong Kong Art Development Council

installation view

Selected Works

Alex Yiu 姚少龍
Song to Daphnis    子不語之歌
2016      Book, texts, photos, world map, red line, pins, and cassette tape

Cheuk Wingnam     卓穎嵐
Avaritia - Extravagant Notion of Aluminum     貪婪 ‧ 奇想
2016     Aluminum cans, spring, and electronic controller

curatorial statement

As Greenberg stood on the peak of modernism, prescribing the aesthetic principles that artists of each different medium should comply with in order to secure the advancement of art, contemporary art had quietly begun to demolish the con nes of media; John Cage, inspired by Rauschenberg’s“White Painting”created the composition“4'33"”as a means to consolidate the concepts of readymade, spatial aesthetics, music of silence, chance and more, eliminating the distinctions between visual and sound aesthetics. He began bridging the creative possibilities of the two senses, and involving visual elements in all succeeding sound arts while drawing support from various contemporary art strategies to examine the intrinsic qualities of music and sound. The poet’s sonnet proposes references to the siren singers in Greek mythology; through alchemy, the sirens’enchanting ability is converted into tears, something tangible. The works of Cheuk Wingnam and Alex Yiu serve to express two of the directions that the new generation Hong Kong sound art partakes in; this time, the two artists aim to dissect the performance nature of music and its connoted social consciousness as their creative approach.

The human race has long invented instruments to create music; performers manipulate the instruments through various methods to invent music, while instruments and performances have established an entrenched bond. Some of Cheuk Wingnam’s works appear to be inviting people to come up and perform while they are, in fact, rejecting human interactions; her work No Sense of Touch holds out a hand, as if asking the audience for a handshake, but THEREMIN is actually hidden within, an instrument only to be controlled when the hand is placed within a certain distance from the installation, the sounds uttered bear a trace of resentment as if resisting human touch. The violin installation work ak7 shou3 maintains a resistance to humans, replacing the“bow” with cassette tapes against the magnetic head on the violin. During live

performance, another electronic device is attached on the ngerboard, eradicating traditional positions: the closer your ngers are to the bridge, the lower the sounds it makes. The violin music installation reminds one of works of Laurie Anderson or Rebecca Horn; nonetheless, their works aim to alter the sounds of instruments or to mimic human movements while Cheuk’s work often delivers an element of humor, overturning the relationship between human and instrument as though the instrument is actively defying its performer.

Alex Yiu’s work Remember that Lesson about Time proposes music video as the carrier, inscribing the lyrics from the video with characters of the same pronunciation, encouraging its audience to recite them before realizing that it, indeed, is a popular song. The artist uses the unique“one pronunciation, multiple characters”quality of Chinese characters, and through word shifts, he illustrates the concept of“Différance”as proposed by Derrid – that language is the process as memories are comprehended. The video jammed with glitches shatters the supposedly flawless visage of the digital. In this electronic world, malfunctions become everyday nuisance and they are quickly eliminated, but the same cannot be implied with real life glitches. The lyrics of“This is My Home”were written by James Wong, a prominent Hong Kong lyricists, for the Queen on her visit to Hong Kong in 1986; the lyrics depict precisely the Hong Kongese’hopes and expectations of their land during the 1980s after its economic take-off. Thirty years later, Hong Kong had undergone numerous crises and turmoil; through algorithm, the artist converts the music while withholding traces and fragments of the lyrics, implying that the Hong Kongese are faced with a no longer familiar land. Alex Yiu emerges from music and lyrics to comprehend the relationship between language and sound in an attempt to broaden the horizons of sound art.