Future Memories I : Talking Drums Radio/Shen Sum-Sum-Future Excavation 2.0

Artist of Future Excavation 2.0: Shen Sum-Sum
Artists/Groups of Talking Drums Radio: Hong-Kai Wang, Wu Shi-Fong, Pomin Wu, Lee Min-Ju& Chen Siao-Chi, Shen Sum-Sum, Chi Po-Hao, Manray Hsu, Musquiqui Chihying, Au Sow-Yee, Chang Wen-Hsuan, Huang Da-Wang, Yang Cheng, Trapped Citizens, Teng Chao-Ming, Wu-Yue Taiwanese Opera Troupe, Lab of the Distant Relatives, Yannick Dauby, Tsai Wan-Shuen ……
Date: 2019. 4. 27–6. 23 (Thurs. – Sun., 2-8pm)
Venue: TheCube Project Space (2F, No. 13, Aly. 1, Lane 136, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei, Taiwan)
Hours: Thurs. to Sun., 2-8 pm
Opening: 2019. 4. 27 (Sat.) 3–6 pm

TheCube Project Space is pleased to present the first phase of the Trilogy of Future Memories: Talking Drums Radio and the accompanying solo exhibition Future Excavation 2.0 by Shen Sum-Sum from April 27 to June 23, 2019.
Treating “sound” as the medium and “broadcasting” as the technique, this project is intended to tackle the issue as to how artists respond to the contemporarily reconfigured relational networks between humanity and technology as well as among the multitudes who use the internet, given digital messages have become the primary vehicle for people’s emotions and connections today.

Talking Drums Radio marks an evolutionary progress in TheCube Project Space’s long-term endeavor on sound cultures research. The curatorial team constructed a recording studio at the exhibition venue. In the first phase of this project, more than 20 participants, including artists, scholars, poets, musicians, playwrights, internet activists and other cross-cultural practitioners, were invited to the studio, where they recorded experimental sound works that will be broadcasted in the form of online radio (http://talkingdrums.tw/).

The installation Future Excavation 2.0 by Shen Sum-Sum echoes Talking Drums Radio. The Berlin-based artist will create an immersive, historic relic-like domain of listening, where a synthetic voice recounts the myth of Genesis, playing out a post-human sound scenario and imagining the myth of a new species amidst the interlaced mythological narratives of humanity and artificial consciousness.

As far as it is concerned, Talking Drums Radio and Future Excavation 2.0 serve as a manifesto for the initiation of the Trilogy of Future Memories comprised of an international exhibition and a research project with a duration of 2 years.

∎ About Talking Drums Radio

Technical and Project Consultant: Yannick Dauby
System Designer: Jeph Lo
Radio Studio Construction: TheCube Project Sapce, Art War Company

Invented in the early 20th century, radio broadcasting used to be the most readily and easily accessible source of information, music and drama for the multitudes. It was also a tool of perceptual experience that builds consensuses among different individuals and groups, just as what media theorist Marshall McLuhan claimed the power that radio retribalized mankind. Actually, he invoked the metaphor of “tribal drum” to represent radio and the sound it broadcasts.

Talking Drums Radio, the title of this project, owes its inspiration to McLuhan’s idea of “Radio: the tribal drum,” and derives its connotation from a discovery by English naval officer and explorer William Allan during his voyage to the continent of Africa—the tribal members are able to communicate complex and even highly poetic messages (e.g. declaring the birth of a baby, and asking the tribal members to attend a funeral at dawn) with one another by means of simple drumbeats.

Nowadays, people are much more familiar with radio broadcasting as a medium, and even its function of information transmission is almost completely replaced by the Internet—multifarious audio-visual services such as selected and online streaming have become more popular ways of communication. However, as a bitter legacy of the strict radio frequency regulation imposed in the martial law period, the works of art based on radio broadcasting have been few and far between in Taiwan to date. Can Taiwanese artists contemplate and discover a new possibility for artistic practice by employing radio broadcasting and sound as their creative media?

To carry out this experiment, TheCube invited sound artist Yannick Dauby to serve as technical and project consultant. In addition to giving workshops on sound recordings, a recording studio is designed and constructed in TheCube. The first phase of this project features more than 20 groups of participants, their recorded works are broadcasted in the form of online audio streaming from 27 April 2019. Apart from these broadcasts, artist Chi Po-Hao developed a composing system that can automatically compose sound according to different temporal and ambient parameters on a daily basis, and use these pieces of music to connect each radio broadcasts.

∎ About Future Excavation 2.0 

By dint of the associations evoked by the narrative voice and the media resonating with it, this work is intended to play out a post-human sound scenario and imagine the myth of a new species amidst the interlaced mythological narratives of humanity and artificial consciousness. Following the work Future Excavation (2018) of the same series, this work treats narrative as the method and voice as the medium, harnessing the power of mythology to identify commonalities in the stream of the humankind, giving prominence to speech.

Projecting artificial voice, Future Excavation 2.0 recounts the stories excerpted from American writer Raymond van Over’s book Sun Songs: Creation Myths from around the World (1980), and rewrites them into the myth of Genesis of future living beings written in kind. Within this scenario where the past, the present and the future overlaps and interweave, the artist sees the sound of the voice assistant today in our time as a hybrid product, created in the process of human’s evolution towards machine, and uses it as a medium to join the future and the time immemorial together. In his book Myth and Meaning, Claude Levi-Strauss mentioned the structural and functional signatures that mythology left in Western music. Based on this finding, Future Excavation 2.0 is nothing short of an experiment on the specific linguistic rhythm at the harmonious and discordant narrative tempo of Chinese language.

Comprising containers equipped with built-in speakers, this work is planned to be installed in a scene covered with sandy soil. These containers are made of clay, which echoes the material for the creation of humankind commonly mentioned in a majority of folklore by coincidence. Here, the material again becomes the vehicle of the sounds/souls.

Our ancestors’ attempt to define the concept of “human being” found expression in ancient mythology about the origin of modern humans. Who are we? What makes us human? The answers to these questions can be found in myths of Genesis which contains many highly elaborated descriptions about the creation of humankind. These stories that have been recounted and perpetuated since ancient times metamorphosed into “myths” after the emergence of the scientific system, and we’ve in turn played the role of the Creator exactly because of sciences, which ushered us in an era, when everything we do is intended for “humanization,” anthropomorphism (i.e. android) and human creation (i.e. cloning). On the other hand, how would these artificial “beings” describe the origin of their species after they developed a sense of solidarity and began to collate their historical context? Intangible sound and tangible media, Future Excavation 2.0 takes the form of story-telling to offer the audience synesthetic experiences, thereby establishing a trinity of three relational entities: “human,” “human-making” and “artificiality”
– Clay Production Assistant | Keegan Luttrell, Violaine Toth
– Technical Adviser| Ilya Selikhov

∎ About Artist Shen Sum-Sum

Shen is a Taiwanese artist / sound-designer and recordist based in Berlin. While continuing to work on film productions, she also moves onto sound installation and performances. Her interest lies in the imaginations and perceptions which could be evoked by hearing experience, and the symbolic and narrative characters which are naturally carried in sound. Her works mostly deal with the manipulation of spoken words, and hope to seek interpretations and discourses in cultural phenomena and its social and historical aspect through the form of sound art.

∎ About the Trilogy of Future Memories

Subsidized by the 2018 Visual Arts Curatorial Project of the National Culture and Arts Foundation, the Trilogy of Future Memories is a three-phase project focusing on the information society and the future of humanity. This project is launched in 2019 and will also include an international exhibition by the end of 2020 at MoCA Taipei.

Artist of Future Excavation 2.0 | Shen Sum-Sum
Artists/Groups of Talking Drums Radio | Hong-Kai Wang, Wu Shi-Fong, Pomin Wu, Lee Min-Ju& Chen Siao-Chi, Shen Sum-Sum, Chi Po-Hao, Manray Hsu, Musquiqui Chihying, Au Sow-Yee, Chang Wen-Hsuan, Huang Da-Wang, Yang Cheng, Trapped Citizens, Teng Chao-Ming, Wu-Yue Taiwanese Opera Troupe, Lab of the Distant Relatives, Yannick Dauby, Tsai Wan-Shuen ……
Curators | Jeph Lo, Yi-Cheng Sun
Date | 2019. 4. 27–6. 23 (Thurs. – Sun., 2-8pm)
Opening | 2019. 4. 27 (Sat.) 3–6 pm
Venue | TheCube Project Space


Sponsor | National Culture and Arts Foundation, TUNG HO STEEL
* TheCube Project Space is sponsored by National Culture and Arts Foundation, Department of Culture Affairs, Taipei City Government, RC Culture and Arts Foundation and Dr. Chen Po-Wen.

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