Listen to the city
“sound in the city”, a series of immersive exhibitions organised by the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, encourages people to become walkers and experience the city’s soundscape.
"sound in the city" introduces a new way to experience our city by merging the tangible and intangible. Technology and aesthetics come together to highlight a different relationship between ourselves and the environment, reminding us to be open for any stories that may unfold.
“We often define a city visually, which is what anime and comics do so well, but sound is often neglected, or only supplementary. However, once we focus on sound, it gives us a rich narrative that sparks imagination, allowing us to embrace a city’s memories and history in a new way. It is the opposite of what we usually do to narrate a city and we find that very intriguing,” said Ivy Lin, Curator of Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre.
New media artist Keith Lam has been invited to embark on a project that explores memories, and documents the sounds of this city in transformative ways.
Inspired by Yasi’s novel “Shuffle Reality–Cities of Memories, Cities of Fabrications”, Lam asked three talented creators to wander through their own chosen parts of Hong Kong while recording their progress on mobile digital devices. With the sound waves turned into sound sculptures and also captured visually, each person’s journey is presented in a unique audio space designed to show a conversation between these individuals and their cities of memories.
Photographer Wing Shya roamed the streets of Central, where the vibrant nightlife attracted people speaking many different tongues. Editor-in-Chief of City Magazine Nico Tang walked through Sham Shui Po, an old district with its own distinctive sounds. Harmonica musician CY Leo traversed his home base Sha Tin, where the quiet night was occasionally broken by his own whistling. Lam was a passive follower on these adventures, noting the artists’ different pace of walking and their interaction with the people and surroundings.
The title “Shuffle Reality” denotes a reality that is real and fabricated at the same time. Lam said: “It is a perspective that falls between virtuality and reality, because we are only composing our version of Hong Kong from fragments of memory. My other agenda is to explore this through mobile phones, because now that we are always attached to one, we are able to record sounds with their exact locations at the same time.”
The collaboration of writer Chow Yiu-fai and comic artist Justin Wong takes the audience on a tour of the historical heart of Hong Kong via a custom made mobile app. Starting from Statue Square and ending at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, each walker will be guided to find 13 “if’s” with encounters of cross-media elements including sound, poems, images, installations and urban landscapes, to experience the interaction between sight and sound, and to feel a different kind of “animation”.
“I want to ask the question of whether we can still have “if’s” in this city. Can there still be room for imagination and possibilities?” said Chow.
From a queen’s statue to a king’s statue, the journey asks a lot of “if’s”. Walkers are asked to take the 13 “if’s” quietly, slowly and lightly. Wong revealed that initially the journey was supposed to end at the Hong Kong Park but Chow had mistaken it to be the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.
“The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens turned out to be a very suitable destination because it has become quite mysterious. Many young people have never been there, while older people see it as a distant memory. So the journey from Status Square to there would be all about finding hidden memories,” Wong added.
Freedom from Within
Artist Tam Wai-ping offers an immersive personal journey that takes the audience from the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens back to the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre.
Starting from the day of his birth, through his growing up and his own experience of the city, Tam inspires you to embark on your own. His work will induce imaginations about time and the city, while imaginaries will be invented and intervened in different spaces and be re-interpreted by different paths. Through the search of sensations about “time” and “city”, one’s inner self will be pursued to set free.
“sound in the city”
Venue: Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre (7A Kennedy Road, Central)
Date: from now until January 27, 2019
For details, please visit