Silver Noise: Sound Circuits of Peninsula Malaysia in Parts, on Exile (Sow-Yee Au)
Malaysia is not Malaysia in its entirety. The peninsula stretching from the
southern part of Thailand and located in the north of Singapore, has ironically
constructed the mainstream historical narrative of Malaysia. Here is a story
that begins with exile. A tune or a song being heard while in exile had then
become a self-dialectical allegory of a newborn country in the second half of
the 20th century, affecting the complicated relations linking the Indian and
1876, Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II was put into exile in Seychelles,
accused of being involved in the assassination of J.W.W. Birch, a British
colonial officer in Perak. Seychelles is an island located somewhere in the
southern Indian Ocean which used to be colonized by French as well as later by British.
The island had been a place for exile of political detainees under British
administration for a long time. The Sultan on exile listened to songs and tunes
played in parties on the island and was particularly fond of one of the tunes.
tune grew from steps of the “Others” then dived into the national anthem of a
newly established country more than half a century later. It was said that the
melodies of Malaysian national anthem were the creation of a French musician in
the 19th century. The
melodies were then adapted into different versions, including Mamula Moon, a song with Hawaiian style laid-back melodies.
This formed a strange opposite against the lyrics in the national anthem of
Malaysia, “this is the land where my blood shed.” Mamula Moon as well as its various transformations, including Terang Bulan which is a popular folk song in the Malay Archipelago, remains banned until
today in Malaysia.
Silver Noise: Sound Circuits of Peninsula Malaysia in Parts, on Exile is a construction process of the resisting consciousness and self-reflection. Just like what Friedrich A. Kittler argued in his book Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, “And what transpires then is indeed a strange and unheard-of silver noise. Nobody knows who is singing…”
in 1978 in Malaysia, she now lives and works in Taipei. Au’s works focus mainly
in questioning, exploring as well as expanding the relation between images,
image making, history, politics and power, through video installations and
other mediums. Sow-Yee’s recent works focus on re-imagined history of Malaysia,
South-east Asia and its related region from perceptions and ideologies bounded
by the Cold War.
is a finalist for the 2018 Asia Pacific Breweries
Foundation Signature Art Prize and Han Nefkens
Foundation – Loop Barcelona Video Art Award 2018. Sow-Yee’s works
were exhibited in MMCA (Seoul), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), HKW (Berlin), Shanghai
Rockbund Art Museum, Singapore Film Festival among others. Sow-Yee is a guest
writer for online magazine No Man’s Land and
co-founded Kuala Lumpur’s Rumah Attap Library and Collective in 2017.