Wong Chun-hoi is the co-organizer and musician in experimental music collaboration “diode”. Currently an independent sound designer, he sometimes makes art.
http://wongchunhoi9.com/my-work/
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The Library: You have mentioned that the first time you were aware of the element of sound in the context of a social movement was during the “Withdrawal of the Crappy Electoral Reform Assembly”?

Wong Chun-hoi: That was in 2010, when I just entered university. It could be considered the first time when I went out on the streets and came to grips with a social movement or a protest. The sound from the “Withdrawal of the Crappy Electoral Reform Assembly” was shocking, because a musical instrument called the Vuvuzela—originally used during the FIFA World Cup South Africa to cheer up a team—was deployed by protestors as a tool of resistance. The sound from people collectively playing this instrument was amazing.

The Library: Under what circumstances would they blow on the vuvuzela?

Wong Chun-hoi: At that time, I was watching live broadcasts on Chater Road at the old Legislative Council. There were always some exciting moments, like when Cyd Ho Sau-lan said something powerful, as though she vented for all of us. And when the pro-government camp spoke, the people outside were either very angry, or the host would lead everyone to make catcalls. So this instrument ended up being used. Now that I think of it, it really felt like an empty show of force, and I don’t know who it was blown for. But it felt stunning being in the middle of it all.

The Library: Did you play it yourself?

Wong Chun-hoi: I did. As early back as a month or two before the assembly, that thing could still be redeemed at KFCs, so they were brought over by the protestors themselves. At the same time, you could also buy it in toy stores at Apliu Street; but now it’s gone. I actually play woodwinds myself, so I’m rather sensitive in this regard. That instrument felt so lo-fi and was played outdoors. Now that I think about it, it was truly unforgettable.

The Library: Speaking of lo-fi, I remember listening to your analysis of the public address system in the “Anti-Northeast New Territories Development Plan” protests. Could you talk a bit more about this?

Wong Chun-hoi: At the time of “Anti-Northeast New Territories Development Plan” (ANDPP ) protests, there were organizations like “Caring Hong Kong Power” that started to appear. At locations like the new government headquarters, Tim Mei Avenue, and outside the CITIC Tower, the Citizens’ Square was still open at the time, so protestors at the Tim Mei Avenue Citizens’ Square would congregate towards the direction of Harcourt Road. On the other side, there were organizations like “Caring Hong Kong Power” that were opposed to ANDFF. In these situations, both sides had PA systems like microphones and loudspeakers and so on.

On the ANDPP side, it was more hi-fi, and the speakers were better, with a solid bass; you could imagine this being used in a normal outdoor concert or address. On the other side, Caring Hong Kong Power, who were against the ANDPP, used loudspeakers like hand-held loudspeakers used by coaches in elementary schoolyards. Although I was in front of a set of very good PA system, paradoxically, most of the time, I only heard the speeches by the Caring Hong Kong Power side. With those speakers, they played “Under the Lion Rock” and the national anthem, and then they also said things like “Now the government is building homes for you—you don’t want it, and then you say you’re poor.” Together with the earnest admonishments, it was really hard for the ears—hard for the ears in terms of the senses or emotions. Yet it so happened that you had no way of resisting these sounds prickling you.

The Library: You were rejecting them but have not been able to resist?

Wong Chun-hoi: Right, there was no way of resisting. Even if we had something called the “cocktail party effect”—which is when you talk to me now, focusing on me, you can temporarily ignore other sounds—but when the sounds from the grounds outside are really loud, forcefully and suddenly coming out with loud hammering sounds, there is no way for you not to listen. I felt it was the same with Caring Hong Kong Power because the human ear is more sensitive to higher sounds. I believe they had completely no conscious intention of doing this—they only had those one or two pieces of PA equipment but they were very effective. With one heart and one mind, they aimed to counter-protest, to screw with you. So in terms of the politics of a place, they did something very effective.

The Library: I watched your interview on Apple’s “Animated News”. Outside the new government headquarters, you discovered fake frog and bird sounds?

Wong Chun-hoi: One night during Occupy Central, it was still possible to cross the bridge along that road with the roundabout along Tamar Park, and I heard birds and frogs constantly calling out. It was at night, with lots of people, and under the roundabout there was a projection being screened. I thought it was odd, believing they were really frogs and birds. I don’t know why I would have such feelings. Maybe because it was too chaotic, too noisy, or perhaps at the time I wouldn’t have thought it was strange.

The Artificial Frog and Bird
0 9:15 PM, 12/12/2014, Outside the New Government Headquarters

  

The Library: Is this the “cocktail party effect”?

Wong Chun-hoi: No. I think nowadays with garden design, you would put in some elements to make people get a sense of nature. Especially new pavilions and gardens would play some bird, insect, and water sounds with little speakers; these are artificial sounds. It didn’t use to be like that. Instead, you would build a fountain. The sound of a fountain has a broad spectrum which can cover up other sounds and make you feel it s not as noisy—like the design of the Peninsular Hotel, which makes you a little more comfortable. Now that I think of it, it’s satirical, but during the Occupy period, I didn’t notice this at all. Only on the night I was interviewed by Apple’s “Animated News” did I notice these things. Before I had always thought they were real bird and frog sounds, but those sounds, no matter if it’s cloudy or sunny, Occupy or no Occupy, were always there.

The Library: Getting back to your recordings, you made some recordings during the Umbrella Movement. What kind of state were you in when you were recording?

Wong Chun-hoi: I would record, I would take the recording device out, but I could not be as impulsive as Samson (Samson Cheung Choi-sang). Since you had a recorder in hand, you would rush forward—that was what I thought. Why didn’t I do that? I felt it was a bit effected and sentimental; whenever the slightest thing happen, I would bring my recorder and want to record these—for me, I couldn’t really justify that. Did I collect the sounds to make my own work? Or to leave my name in history? Or what is it? I had not resolved these contradictions, so I didn’t do it. It was my choice, after all, to decide when to take out my recorder.

The Library: How did you choose?

Wong Chun-hoi: The first prerequisite of recording is safety, which is to make sure everyone is safe when recording. I have no interest in things that go “Bang! Bang!” I don’t think sound can effectively help us grasp things that go “Bang! Bang!”.

The Library: Does “Bang! Bang!” refer to those extraordinary historical moments?

Wong Chun-hoi: Right. I feel “historical moments” are what video journalists have to capture with their camera microphones on their shoulders.

The Library: What sounds did you collect in the end?

Wong Chun-hoi: Mainly sounds of people walking and some ambient sounds. I only recorded in Admiralty, I didn’t go record in other occupied areas in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. Actually I was greedy; at that moment, I wanted to gather all of the ambient sounds. Every time I crossed the bridge, I was stunned how the streets were full of people. I feel every time with these social movements, there would be lots of photographers and videographers who would come and collect a whole bunch of images and videos. It’s beautiful—but then they would end up being accompanied by Beyond’s [1]“Combat for twenty years”. Maybe it’s because I have some “film people” around me. I am wondering if they would be able to make use of it afterwards.

The Footsteps
11:35 PM, 10/18/2014, 金鐘

  

On the bridge, whether at night or in the afternoon, it was a very ordinary street, but once you listened carefully you would know it’s different—because there were no car sounds. I don’t know how to say this, but it’s the proportion of sounds of traffic and human sounds. Even though there was this ecology that maintained itself for three months, the place constantly changed. Towards the end of November, when the crowds were thinnest, I went over once to Occupy at the same time of day, and already I couldn’t hear what I heard from two weeks ago. These I have no way of recording. I can only recount my experiences like this; I don’t know how to capture them.

[1] A Cantopop song (Chinese: 抗戰二十年)

 

王鎮海是實驗音樂團隊 “diode”成員之一,現職獨立聲效設計師,時而創作。http://wongchunhoi9.com/my-work/

聲音圖書館: 你說過第一次在社會運動的場境意識到聲音的元素是「撤回政改爛方案集會」?

王鎮海: 那是2010年的事,當時我剛上大學,這可算是我初次走上街認識的一個社會運動或示威抗議。「撤回政改爛方案集會」的聲音很震撼,因為一個原本是南非世界盃用來打氣,叫呼呼塞拉(vuvuzela)的樂器被抗爭者用來作示威工具,這個樂器集體吹奏時的聲音是很震撼的。

聲音圖書館: 他們在甚麼情況下會吹呼呼塞拉(vuvuzela)?

王鎮海: 那時候在舊立法會遮打道那裡觀看直播,總有一些令人興奮的時刻,好像何秀蘭說了一句很厲害的話,好像幫大家出了一口氣;而建制派發言,外面的人便很憤怒,或者主持會引導大家向他們喝倒彩,於是便用到那件樂器。現在想起我覺得是虛張聲勢,而且不知道是吹給誰聽的。但我身在其中,覺得很震撼。

聲音圖書館: 你自己有沒有玩?

王鎮海: 我有呀。早在集會一兩個月前,那件東西還可以在KFC換領到,所以那件樂器是抗爭者自己帶去的。不過鴨寮街的玩具店在那段期間還可以買到,現在沒有了。我本身是吹管樂的人,在這方面會比較敏感。這件樂器,這麼lo-fi(低精度),又在戶外吹,現在想起來,覺得很難忘。

聲音圖書館: 說起lo-fi,我聽過你分析「反東北規劃大集會」的擴音系統,可否多說一些?

王鎮海: 在「反東北規劃大集會」時開始有「愛港力」等組織開始出現。在新政府總部、添美道和中信大廈外面那些位置,當時的公民廣場仍然開放,抗爭者就在公民廣場添美道向夏慤道方向聚集;另一邊便是類似「愛港力」的反對「反東北規劃大集會」的組織。這些場合兩方都有麥克風、喇叭等擴音系統。

「反東北規劃」那邊是hi-fi,喇叭比較好,低音沉實,你可以想像是正常戶外音樂會或講座用到的。另一邊反對「反東北規劃」用的是以前小學操場那種訓導主任會拿著說話的喇叭。面對著一套很好的擴音系統,我很多時候反而只聽到愛港力那邊的發言。他們用那些喇叭播獅子山下,播國歌,又說「現在政府為你建屋,你又不要,又在說窮」。加上苦口婆心的說話,聽起來是很刺耳的,感覺上或情感上都是很刺耳的,但偏偏就是這種刺耳令你無法抗拒。

聲音圖書館: 抗拒但是沒辦法反抗?

王鎮海: 是啊,沒有辦法反抗,即是我們有一樣叫cocktail party effect的東西,就是你現在聽我說話,將注意力投放在我身上,暫時將其他聲音置之不理;但若果外面地盤的聲音真的很大聲,而且很有力地突然發出兩下打樁聲的時候,你沒有辦法不聽。我覺得「愛港力」就是這樣,因為人耳對高音是比較敏感,我相信他們是完全無心的,他們就只得那一兩件擴音工具,但卻很有效。他們一心一意要反,就是要搗亂。所以在一個地方的政治觀而言,他們做了一件很有效的事情。

聲音圖書館: 我看了你在蘋果「動新聞」的訪問,你在新政府總部外面發現了假青蛙、假小鳥的聲音?

王鎮海: 佔中那段時間,有一晚,那時候仍可以過天橋,沿天馬公園那條路落迴旋處,我在那裡聽到小鳥、青蛙不斷在叫,那是晚上,有很多人,下面迴旋處正在做放映會。我覺得很奇怪,以為那是真的青蛙和小鳥。我不知道為甚麼會有這樣的感覺,可能因為太混亂、太嘈吵,又或者是當時已經不會覺得很出奇。

假的青蛙、假的小鳥
0 9:15 PM, 12/12/2014, 新政府總部外

  

聲音圖書館: 這是不是cocktail party effect?

王鎮海: 不是。我想現在做園林設計的都會放入一些元素,讓人有大自然的感覺。尤其是新的亭園都會用小喇叭播放一些小鳥、昆蟲、流水的聲音,那是很人工的聲音,以前不是這樣,反而是建做一個噴水池,噴水池的聲音頻譜(spectrum)闊,可以蓋過其他聲音,令你覺得沒有那麼吵,像半島酒店的設計,會令人感覺舒服一點。我現在想起覺得很諷刺,但在佔領期間,我完全沒有留意這個東西,在我被蘋果「動新聞」訪問當晚才發覺這些事情。之前我一直都以為是真的鳥聲蛙聲,而這些聲音不論是陰天、晴天、佔領、不佔領,都在那裡發生。

聲音圖書館: 說回你的錄音,雨傘運動期間你做了一些錄音,錄音時你是處於一種甚麼狀態?

王鎮海: 我錄音,我拿錄音機出來,但我不可能像Samson仔(張才生)那樣衝。既然拿著錄音機,便衝前去,我是這樣想的。為甚麼我沒有這樣做?我覺得有點風花雪月,風聲鶴淚時,我拿著錄音機,想收集這些東西,對我來說也不太好意思說得過去。收集後是想拿來做自己作品?還是想留芳百世?還是怎樣?我尚未解決到這個心情上的矛盾,所以沒有這樣做,這是我甚麼時間會拿錄音機出來的取捨。

聲音圖書館: 你是如何取捨?

王鎮海: 首要的契機就是我安全,或者是大家都安全的時候去做錄音這件事情。我對於嘭嘭聲的東西沒有興趣。我也不覺得聲音可以有效地幫到大家去理解那些澎澎聲的東西。

聲音圖書館: 「澎澎聲」是指很震撼的歷史時刻?

王鎮海: 是的,「歷史時刻」我覺得那是記者攝影師膊頭上攝影機那枝麥克風要收集到的東西。

聲音圖書館: 你最後收集了甚麼聲音?

王鎮海: 主要是人走路的聲音和一些大環境的聲音。我只是在金鐘錄音,沒有去旺角、銅鑼灣其他佔領區錄音。其實我很貪心,那一刻,我想把整個大環境收集。每次經過天橋,我都很震撼這條街道充滿人。我覺得每次有這些社會運動,總很多攝影師,做錄像的人走出來,收集一大堆影像,很美麗,卻偏偏會用Beyond的抗戰二十年來襯托。可能是因為我身邊有些做電影的人,我在想他們之後會否用得到。

腳步
11:35PM, 10/18/2014, 金鐘

  

在天橋上,無論晚上或下午,那裡就是一條很普通的街道,但是細心聆聽便知道是有所不同,因為沒有車聲,我不懂說,是車聲與人聲的比例。即使是維持了三個月的一個生態,這個地方都不斷轉變。十一月尾最少人的時候,我去過一次佔領區,在同一時間,已經聽不到那些兩星期前的事情,這些我都沒辦法記錄下來,只可以這樣說回經歷,我不知道如何捉著這些。