The Umbrella Movement – Field Recording Investigative Project
雨傘運動 – 田野錄音調查
Text 文: Law Yuk-mui/ 羅玉梅
English Translation 英譯 : Winnie Chau/ 周潁榆
A Timely Opportunity – The Umbrella Movement
‘The Umbrella Movement – Field Recording Investigative Project’ was initiated in January 2015. By early May, we have interviewed eight artists, including Fiona Lee Wing-shan, Wong Chun-hoi, Takuro Mizuta, Samson Cheung Choi-sang, Wong Fuk-kuen, Tse Chun-sing, Steve Hui Ngo-shan and Solomon Yu Tik-man.
In fact, it was over a year ago, the topic of ‘Sound and Politics’ was laid down in the project proposal of The Library by soundpocket. The occurrence of the Umbrella Movement gave this investigative project a timely opportunity – it obliged us to situate the circumstance and response to this topic; that is, how one experiences sound, observes sound, understands sound and responds to sound through recording in a bona fide social movement, as well as using sound as a tool of resistance. This investigation takes the Umbrella Movement as a case study, where artists investigate sound and its associations or interpretations through their actual participation and experience.
Hence, ‘The Umbrella Movement – Field Recording Investigative Project’ is an investigation of first-hand materials, instead of an integrated analysis of sound and social movements. Our principle is not to repeat the existing works and dedicated efforts of different groups of people, e.g. ‘Umbrella Movement Visual Archives & Research Collective’ organised by Sampson Wong Yu-hin that aims to capture citizens’ creative power and spatial creation in the Occupy movement, which focuses on visual and material preservation; the discussion on music and social movements between Lam Ah-P from indie band My Little Airport and musician Adrian Chow in City Magazine issue 459; the cover story of Fleurs des Lettres issue 53 on the Occupy movement, which compiles a collection of poems about the Umbrella Movement; “Sound and Sensibility – a Brief about the Order and Desire Under the Umbrella Movement” by AhKok Wong under the feature “Resistance and Resonance Between Taiwan and Hong Kong” in New Society Special Issues 3. I believe there are even more analyses and discussions all over online or print media, which we are yet able to reach and digest, as they keep accumulating and moving forward. Through this investigation, apart from putting together sound recordings of the artists, we hope, more importantly, to present another aspect of the Umbrella Movement from the angle of ‘sound’. In particular, we take sound recording as an artistic practice, looking into its characteristics and techniques, as well as the factors that constitute the recordists’ listening experience in the space of a social movement.
A Meta-proposition ‘Field Recording’
Before the investigation, many people told me there would not be much sound recording on the Umbrella Movement and there would even be fewer people who would record sound systematically. Regarding the situation, artist Yannick Dauby pointed out when he listened to Samson Cheung’s recordings, “Sound is not a medium to make people react, but listening needs people to take time and think about.” This indicates that sound doesn’t have the active or immediate function to motivate people to take part in a social movement. Therefore, sound recordings, as well as the compiling and releasing of sound recordings, isn’t an action that entails a sense of urgency. In fact, many artists got back and re-listened to these recordings just because of the interview we did with them. For instance, Steve Hui was reluctant to re-listen to his own recordings for emotional reasons. Among the eight interviewed artists, only Takuro Mizuta had edited and compiled his recordings and uploaded them on the internet within a short period of time.
Initially, we began from the aspect of ‘sonic material’. After completing the eight interviews and collecting over 30 sound clips, we got to know the artists’ recording motives and methods, the picking and choosing during the recording, and a succession of related experiences and reflections…All these become an inseparable part of the recordings. Published in Wire, Salomé Voegelin’s ‘Collateral Damage’ discusses the practice of field recording in the new generation. She points out, “[E]xciting field recording does not record the field but produces a plurality of fields. It neither abandons the reality of the recorded, nor does it take it for granted, but works with it, responds to it, understands it as one imprint in the landscape made by the body of the recordist.”
Thus, field recording underlines locality and authenticity, while emphasising the recordists’ responses in the moment at the time of the recording, as well as all sorts of consciousness before and after the recording.
Three Points – ‘Actuality’, ‘Consciousness’ and ‘Collateral’
‘Actuality’, ‘Consciousness’ and ‘Collateral’’ refer respectively to the ‘Actuality’ of the ‘field’ in the recordings; the recordist’s ‘consciousness’ in situ, and the ‘collateral’ of sound and image of the medium of recording. This is concluded from the eight interviews. It is mainly about understanding the recording from the recordist’s view, rather than supposing an angle that overrides the recordist’s self-consciousness.
Hence, field recording consists of the locality and authenticity of sound, as well as the recordist’s consciousness. As Solomon Yu said, “There is the so-called ‘point of hearing’.” ‘Point of hearing’ is the way of thinking of the person behind the recording device. The direction the microphone points to is also a matter of choice. As for the choice, it involves the recordist’s observation and responses in situ, his accumulated past experience and his recording habits and techniques. All these are part of consciousness in the field recording practice.
In ‘Field Recording as Sonic Journalism’, Peter Cusack hails Mazen Kerbaj’s Starry Night as ‘one of the most stunning field recordings of the past decade’. On the nights of 15 and 16 July 2006, Mazen Kerbaj documented the sounds on the balcony of his flat during Israel’s summer war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Cusack described the recording, saying “[t]he perspective reveals the city’s geography, a major aspect of its current political context and a very personal response to the situation.” This ‘personal response’ makes me think of Wong Fuk-kuen’s whimsical notion of ‘subverting the ordinary’. One of Wong’s sound recordings presents the sound of people walking up and down the stairs on the kerb between the two main roads in Admiralty. During the time, someone recited poems. Wong described the stairs as ‘something that only appeared in the Occupy Movement’. Certainly, this is based on his idea that the Umbrella Movement ‘subverted the ordinary’. Indeed, within the vast-scale Umbrella Movement, everyone was able to find a way to read the space of this city. As On Wai-chun says in the prologue of Dung Kai-cheung’s Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City (Chinese version) , “All experiences, all existences, once collected, recorded and marked, can break away from one particular time and space to become a world that breeds and extends infinitely.”
Before talking about the ‘Collateral’ of sound and image, I would like to borrow further from Peter Cusack’s analysis on field recording to make a remark on our investigation. Cusack points out that field recordings “give basic information about places and events by virtue of the sounds, and their sources, we identify.” Nevertheless, he continues, “field recordings convey far more than basic facts. Spectacular or not, they also transmit a powerful sense of spatiality, atmosphere and timing.” He adds, “[T]hese factors are key to our perception of place and movement and so add substantially to our understanding of events and issues.” I recall my spontaneous impression when listening to Samson Cheung’s ‘Gau Wu – Mind Your Step’ for the first time: ‘very nomadic’. The regular sound of the traffic light and the yelling of people – at times high and at times low, at times far and at times close, manifest not only a strong sense of space and atmosphere, but have also written down the sonic trajectory of the crowd’s movement.
What is worth mentioning is that Samson Cheung and Solomon Yu both drew comparisons between image and sound, whereas Wong Chun-hoi pointed out directly that the sound of a historical moment is “what the microphone of the video camera has collected on a photo-journalist’s shoulder.” Steve Hui thinks that “the sound accompanying images is also sound. You can even just listen to the sound of an image from long ago without looking at the image.” What I want to point out is more than just the comparison between sound and image. There is also what Steve Hui describes as ‘sound accompanying images’ – the collateral of sound and image. In ‘Field Recording as Sonic Journalism’, Peter Cusack mentioned ‘Tsunami Diary’ by Jon Snow on U.K.’s Channel 4 News. At the 18th minute of the news clip, it shows the stricken region at 5 p.m. after the tsunami. Coming from the public broadcasting system of the devastated city was the ringing of school bell to signal the school day is over and its melody was The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’. Peter Cusack laments this clip has rarely been broadcast. As for me, I excluded sonic materials accompanied by images right from the start. This is perhaps an inadequacy of this investigative project.
Lastly, I have chosen from every interview a number of sentences and phrases –‘Good Morning’, ‘Cloudy Day, Sunny Day, Occupy, Not to Occupy’, ‘Live Tweeting’, ‘ Gau Wu’, ‘Subverting Ordinary’, ‘One photo, One Recording’, ‘Imagination of Freedom’ and ‘A Village’ as the titles of the interviews. At a glance, they look like a group of keywords on the Umbrella Movement.
We will continue the investigation to compile and publish the recordings as CDs*. If you have any comments or ideas, you are welcome to contact us at email@example.com.
*Thank you to all supporters on FringeBacker. Our DAY AFTER翌日[2014. 9.29 – 12.12] CD Album is released. If you would like to support the work by The Library by soundpocket in buying the CD, please press here for more details.
 Dung Kai-cheung, Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City (Chinese version), Linking Publishing, 2011, 7.
《雨傘運動 – 田野錄音調查》由二零一五年的一月展開，直到五月初， 我們一共走訪了八位藝術創作者包括: 李穎姍､王鎮海､水田拓郎､張才生､黃福權､謝振聲､許敖山和余廸文｡
早在一年以前，在聲音圖書館的年度計劃裡，經已擬訂了「聲音與政治」的專題，雨傘運動的發生是造就這項調查的一個契機 — 迫使我們更設身處地去思想這個題目。即是在一場確確實實的社會運動的處境裡，人如何經驗聲音､觀察聲音､理解聲音､對聲音作出反應進行錄音；以及使用聲音作為一種對抗的工具。這項調查就是以雨傘運動作為案例，以藝術家的直接參與經驗去探討聲音和它可能被聯想或解讀的方向。
因此，「雨傘運動 — 田野錄音調查」是一項一手資料調查而非對聲音與社會運動的整合性分析。我們的原則是不重覆各界人士的工作和所付出努力，例如由黃宇軒策劃的「雨傘運動視覺文化庫存計劃」，以「捕捉佔領運動中、公民的創造性和空間生產」為目標，針對視覺和物質的保存；《號外》雜誌第459期，〈林阿P與周博賢談音樂與社會〉就音樂與社會運動進行的討論; 《字花》第53期專題〈佔領事典〉結集、整理雨傘運動的詩歌; 「反抗＆台港共鳴」新社會香港專刊第三期，黃津珏寫〈聲音與情感──略述傘下的秩序與欲望〉。相信，有更多在網絡流通或傳統紙媒傳播的分析和討論，我們尚未觸及以至消化，因為它們一直不斷在累積和進行。藉著此項調查我們除了將創作者們的聲音資料整理出版，更期望「聲音」這角度，能呈現雨傘運動另一面向，特別是以錄音作為藝術實踐，它的特質與技巧，以至錄音者在社會運動空間裡的聆聽經驗構成。
起初，我們只是以聲音資料 (sonic material) 的方向去調查｡到完成八個訪問，搜集到30多條聲帶，了解到藝術家的錄音動機與方法､錄音時的選擇與取捨，以及一連串與之相關的經驗與反思⋯⋯這又構成了與錄音不可分割的部分｡Salomé Voegelin在Wire發表的〈並置的破壞〉，討論到新一代田野錄音的實踐時指出「令人興奮的田野錄音並不只是記錄田野，而是生產出多個田野的複數體。田野錄音既不完全拋棄所記錄的現實，但也不會覺得這種紀實式的紀錄就是理所應當的，而是要以所記錄的現實為工作起點，對它作出回應，意識到這個所謂的紀實其實是錄音者的身體在風景中留下的一個印記。」
Peter Cusack在《田野錄音作為聲音新聞》 中指出 Mazen Kerbaj的〈星夜〉是過去十年最出色的田野錄音之一。2006年7月15和16日，Mazen Kerba於自己寓所的露台錄下以色列反對黎巴嫩真主黨的戰爭聲音。Peter Cusack形容錄音「揭示了城市的地理，主要是它當下的政治環境，以及對此情境的個人反應。」這「個人反應」讓我想到黃福權對於「顛倒日常」的趣味想像。黃福權其中一段聲帶是人們在金鐘兩條大馬路中間的石壆位的樓梯結構上上落落的聲音，期間有人在唸詩。福權形容這樓梯結構是「因為佔領運動才會出現的東西。」當然，這是基於他把雨傘運動視之為「顛倒了日常」的想法｡ 的確，在雨傘運動的大環境裡，每一個人都可能找到一個閱讀這城市空間的方式，就像安維真在董啟章《地圖集》的總序所言「一切經驗，一切存在，一經集之、錄之、誌之，就可以脫離單一的時空，成為無限衍生和延伸的世界」｡
在說聲音與影像「並置」的表現前，我想進一步借用Peter Cusack 對田野錄音的分析為此項調查下一個備註。Peter Cusack指出田野錄音是 「憑藉聲音提供與地點和事件相關的基本信息，還有我們所確定的來源。」然而，「田野錄音所傳達的遠遠超過基本的事實；無論壯觀與否，它都傳遞出強烈的空間感、氛圍和時刻……這三個因素正是我們對地點與移動的感知的關鍵，並且大大增加我們對事件與議題的認識。」記得第一次聽張才生的《鳩嗚之過馬路要小心》的直接反應是「好遊牧」。規律的交通燈聲，忽高忽底、忽遠忽近的人聲叫喊，不但表現出強烈的空間感與氛圍，更寫下了人群集體移動時的聲音軌跡。
值得一提的是張才生和余廸文都分別就影像與聲音作出了比較，而王鎮海更直接指出歷史時刻的聲音是「記者攝影師膊頭上攝影機那枝麥克風要收集到的東西」；許敖山認為「影像生出來的聲音都是聲音來的，你甚至可以拿著很久以前的影像，不看影像，只是聽裡面的聲音。」我想指出的不只是聲音與影像的比較，還有許敖山口中的「影像生出來的聲音」- 聲音與影像的「並置」的表現。Peter Cusack在 《田野錄音作為聲音新聞》中提及了英國第四頻道新聞台 ，Jon Snow的《海嘯日記》 。在新聞片段的第十八分鐘，採訪當地的下午五時，海嘯過後，滿目瘡痍的市鎮的公共廣播系統傳來了放學的鐘聲，旋律是披頭四樂團的Yesterday。Peter Cusack感慨這些片段很少被報道出來，而我是在調查開始時就排斥了影像媒介的聲音，這或是此項調查不足的地方。
最後，在每一篇訪問裡，我抽取了一串字句或詞語 –「早晨」 ､「陰天、晴天、佔領、不佔領」 ､「Live Tweeting」､「鳩嗚」､「顛倒日常」､「一張相片，一段聲音 」､「自由的想像」和「一條村」作為訪問的題目 ，瞥看起來就像一堆有關雨傘運動的關鍵字｡