Review by Mark Chung Ching 鍾正的回顧

Listen 來聽 /

air (wind) > whistle

It was purely coincidental that I already had an undeveloped idea related to wind, and then soundpocket proposed “air” as the theme of this residency. So I decided to further develop my work about wind during my stay in Tsunan. Instead of using Hong Kong House as an exhibition space, it became a space for experiments.

Wind is the movement of air; one can feel and/or hear it, but wind in itself is not visible. If you are not in the wind, you can only tell of the movement of the air when you see objects shifted by it, or using other technical means. My experiments focused on making the movement of air visible and/or audible by using Hong Kong House as an instrument, making the doors and windows of the building whistle. The whistling sound is produced by a stream of air passing through the gap between the doors and windows. This almost unnoticeable but universal force is made perceptible by the sound of the whistle, and it also manifests the dichotomy between indoor and outdoor spaces. My idea was to figuratively perform an invisible force between private and public life but metaphorically explored the possibility of the whistling of doors and windows for demonstrating the inescapable forces we all experience in everyday life.

I was traveling to this agricultural and aging village for the residency at a time when rice seeding was almost complete. No tourists came during the public holidays or before the opening of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. I departed from Tokyo and got off the train at Echigoyuzawa Station, I was immediately surrounded by empty buildings and clean air. I got on the bus at two in the afternoon with three elderly people and a driver in his fifties, I did not have enough small bank notes or spare change, but I still needed five hundred Japanese yen more for the ride. The driver let me get off the bus, although he was wearing an ambiguous smile. A colleague of Asai-san (the person in charge of Echigo-tsumari Kamigo Clove Theatre) welcomed me at Hong Kong House, and she briefly explained the utilities of the house and then left. My time alone in this empty house began. I saw two or three people in the village daily. The two young employees working the afternoon- and night-shifts in Family Mart (a convenience store nearby) and I were responsible for bringing down the average age of the community. It felt like I was in a village with plenty of empty houses.

I had a routine of exploring the Tsunan area before lunch every day. I spent my mornings wandering around the community or hiking up the nearby mountains with the bear bell Yang gave me before the trip. I tried to explore a way to live and locate myself in this remote and vacant village. In the afternoons, I usually spent my time in Hong Kong House. I was developing a performance with the whistling doors and windows. I spent the first few afternoons experimenting with the most common/the simplest causes of movement of air and the equalization of air pressure differences. My plan was to create a constant atmospheric pressure difference between the indoor and outdoor spaces of Hong Kong House, so that I could create a continuous whistle through the windows and doors. Soon I learnt that the house was simply too big for the ventilation devices to lower the atmospheric pressure, and a whistling sound could not be created in such a way.

Every day I heard the constant white noise coming from Shinano River, singing birds, leaves in the wind, buzzings of different unknown insects, kids playing in the kindergarten, the occasional vrooming of cars on the main road… other than my phone conversations, I barely spoke to anyone, and I hardly heard anything else.

Asai-san came by a few days later and took me to meet the village head and three other neighbouring households; those were the first face-to face conversations I had had in a few days. Though we only had simple introductions and casual conversations, they were genuine and satisfying. Other than the inevitable talking I did during grocery shopping, this was the first communication I made with the locals.

After this brief introduction by Asai-san, the village no longer felt as empty. I started to keep open all the doors whenever I was in the house. I began ordering lunch boxes from the Izakaya restaurant, where the owner would deliver them with extra portions every day. After a few days, she started to dispense with her lengthy greeting, and instead would walk directly into the house and place the lunch box on the kitchen counter. She kept telling me not to clean the box every day … There was another lady living behind Hong Kong House and she would frequently bring juice and fruit over. We were both eager to talk so we started making little conversations using Google Translate.

I began taking longer trips by train to the other villages/towns nearby. Sometimes I would also do longer bike/hiking trips. Asai-san came and visited me as if he was making an occasional visit to an old uncle. He would drive me around the river valley and sometimes we would reach smaller and even emptier villages. The silence of the area became more joyful to me.

One of the morning walks brought me to a large field in the farmlands of Oaza Kamigoteraishiotsu. Other than farmland, the dirt roads, and irrigation canals, no other man-made structures were visible in these fields. I heard nothing but an owl hooting, and after another fifteen minutes, three birds singing to each other. It was like nature had enabled its own noise cancellation, and let the birds sing undisturbed.

Around the tenth day of my stay, I became overwhelmed by the silence, of both the audible and mental kind, of this place. I started to find pleasure in things I would normally have ignored. There were times when I just sat in front of the house enjoying the breeze while smoking a cigarette. Spontaneously, I started to experiment with the natural wind and how to make the doors whistle with it. I spent one whole afternoon playing with the widths of the gap between the wooden sliding glass doors, waiting for a short breeze and listening to the subtle differences in pitch and tone of the resulting whistle.

I would also leave the doors wide open throughout the day and wait for the wind; I performed whenever there was wind. I did some research online and found that this whistling is a phenomenon called Helmholtz resonance. Hong Kong House acted as a resonator, and when the wind entered through the doors a whistling sound was created. Looking up more about Helmholtz resonance, I learnt that by playing the resonating frequency as the resonator, wind will also be blown out of the cavity through the doors and windows. By playing with different resonating frequencies, the pitch of the sounds created from the resonator would also be different. I planned on incorporating this in my subsequent experiments.

But my breakthrough in finding out about the Helmholtz resonance was quickly followed by 612 [1]. My daily routine was immediately replaced by watching live streams all day. The silence amplified the atrocities shown in the streams to an unbearable point. I felt an uncontrollable and illogical urge to participate in the movement. I blindly believed that geographical distance, not my fluctuating emotions, was the barrier to my engagement in the movement. I irrationally asked soundpocket to change my return flight, bought the lady next door a gift, left a note thanking them all for their hospitality, and left Tsunan.

[1] On 12 June 2019, riot police officers turned downtown Hong Kong into a tear-gas-filled battlefield as they pushed back against protesters who tried to storm Hong Kong’s Legislative Council over the proposed extradition bill.

空氣(風)> 哨聲



我造訪這個老齡化的農村之際,正值水稻播種快要完結的時候。沒有遊客在公眾假期或越後妻有大地藝術祭開幕之前來這裏。我從東京乘火車出發,在越後湯澤站下車,立即就被空蕩蕩的建築物和清新的空氣圍繞著。下午二時,我和三個老年人和一位五十多歲的司機一同上了巴士。我身上沒有足夠的小額鈔票或零錢,而我仍欠 500 日元來付車資。儘管面上帶著曖昧的微笑,司機還是讓我下了車。淺井先生(越後妻有上鄉劇場館的負責人)的一位同事在香港部屋迎接我,她簡要解說香港部屋的設施就離開了。我在這所空房子裏的孤獨時光開始了。每天,我會在村裏遇到兩三個人:兩名分別在 Family Mart(附近的便利店)上日班和夜班的年輕員工連同我降底了這社區的平均年齡。感覺上我就像在一個有很多丟空了的房子的村落裏。


每天我都聽到信濃川不斷發出的白噪聲、鳥兒的歌聲、風中的樹葉、各種未知昆蟲的嗡嗡聲、在幼兒園玩耍的孩子、偶爾在路上駛過的車聲…… 除了電話通話,我幾乎沒有和任何人談話,幾乎聽不到其他聲音。


經淺井先生簡介後,這村落不再感到那麼空虛了。從那天起,每當在香港部屋,我都會打開所有的門。我開始從居酒屋外購便當,店主每天都會給我送來額外多的份量。過了幾天,她不再使用冗長的問候語,而是直接走進房子裏來,將便當盒放在廚房的櫃檯上。她不停告訴我不用每天清洗便當盒子…… 香港部屋後面住著另一位女士,她經常會帶果汁和水果過來。 我們都渴望交談,於是我們開始使用 Google 翻譯進行小小的對話。





但在我找到關於亥姆霍茲共振的突破後不久,就發生了 612 事件 [1]。我的日程立即被全天觀看網上直播替代了。寂靜使網上直播中顯示的暴行之聲音擴大到難以忍受的地步。我感到一股無法控制而不合邏輯的衝動去參與這場運動。我盲目地相信地理距離才是阻礙我參與運動的障礙,而不是我波動的情緒。我意氣地要求聲音掏腰包更改我的回程航班。我給隔壁的那位女士買了禮物,留下一張紙條感謝他們的熱情款待,就離開了津南。

[1] 2019 年 6 月 12 日,反對逃犯條例修訂草案示威中,防暴警察向試圖衝入香港立法會的示威者推進,把香港市中心變成充滿催淚氣體的戰場。