In September 2018, Taiwan’s Minister of Culture Li-chun Cheng visited Paris and signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) as a means to promote the Ministry’s policy on sound technology development and art-culture integration in Taiwan. This MoC orientated the Taiwanese-French academic and technological cooperation in the field of sound art, and stipulated the establishment of the “Taiwan Sound Lab” at the C-LAB, aiming not only to explore the frontier of the coalescence among culture, art, and new sound technologies, but also to build a stronghold of sound art R&D and creation in Asia. To announce the inauguration of the “Taiwan Sound Lab” and the ensuing reciprocal exchange projects between the C-LAB and the IRCAM in three major dimensions (i.e. creation, research, and education), the two parties are going to present the elaborately organized “C-LAB Sound Festival: Diversonics” from 22 to 30 November 2019. This engrossing festival will beckon, inviting the visitors to bask in the dynamic and pluralistic aura radiating from the multiple works of sound art.
Taiwan Sound Lab: The First 49.4-channel Experimental Theater in Taiwan
After two years of groundwork, the C-LAB—IRCAM transnational sound engineering team employed the concept of “embeddedness” to build the “Taiwan Sound Lab” — a brand new, professional sound theater — in the rear wing of C-LAB’s Art Space I, so as to show its respect to the history of this military relic. This theater is equipped with a 49.4-channel surround sound system. Besides, the multi-layer acoustic absorption walls and the floating floor are installed for vibration isolation, making it an ideal venue for sound artists and music composers to present their works in Taiwan. Moreover, considering the rich diversity of transmedia performance, the team adopted the detachable seats with a maximum capacity of 75 spectators. The “Taiwan Sound Lab” will inaugurate this November, accommodating not only concerts, theater pieces, and sound art performances, but also small-scale theatrical troupes, thereby providing sound artists and theater practitioners with premium, professional services.
2019 C-LAB Sound Festival: Diversonics — Sensory Stimulation through Audio Mixing Regeneration
Titled “Diversonics,” the first C-LAB Sound Festival is aimed at reflecting the sheer diversity of sound art. It seeks to challenge the traditions and embody the spirit of experimentation in different fields by fusing various forms of sound performance with technologies of all stripes. In addition, the exhibitions and workshops of the festival welcome public engagement, from which the visitors can listen to the sundry soundscapes they produced. Serving as the overture to the festival, OPUS, a mesmerizing blend of classical music and electronic sound, will be delivered by renowned audio-visual studio 1024 architecture (France) and Quartetto Maurice (Italy) at the outdoor area of C-LAB’s Art Space I on 22 November.
Furthermore, four pieces of brilliant works from home and abroad will greet the visitors at the “Taiwan Sound Lab.” The first is Re: A Morning in Taipei produced by the C-LAB in collaboration with the Taiwan Film Institute. Two famous composers—Giong Lim and Chia-Hui Chen—were commissioned to make the soundtrack for this work from contemporary perspectives on Ching-Jui Pai’s A Morning in Taipei (1964), which created riveting dialogues that transcend spatiotemporal confines. The second is A Song within Us, an experimental short film co-produced by Taiwanese director Fangas Nayaw and the “Taiwan Sound Lab.” It features the hybridization of aboriginal music, virtual reality (VR), audio interaction, and Ambisonic spatial sound. The third is Fragments of Extinction by Italian sound scholar David Monachi. Based on scientific research, he collated the eco-acoustic complexity of the remaining intact equatorial forests and represented it with the lab’s loudspeaker array, allowing the visitors to experience the remnants of nature’s original soundscapes. Finally, Good Vibration, a trilogy by Taiwanese audio-visual artists Aluan Wang, Lien-Cheng Wang, and Ting-Hao Yeh, serves as the coda to the festival.
In C-LAB’s Art Space I, there are also three contemporary experimental works of sound art, including Pockets of Space by OpenEndedGroup and Natasha Barrett, Sound of the Wind by Chung-Kun Wang, and AQUA AR by a transdisciplinary audio-visual team. Taking the forms of technological audio-visual media and digital interaction, these works not only offer the visitors unprecedented listening experiences, but also guide them to explore the potential of contemporary sound from the dimensions of humanities, technique, machinery, and device.
The festival does not confine its venues to the C-LAB. The “C-LAB Sound Festival – Technology vis-à-vis Music Concert” is going to be staged at the Taipei Zhongshan Hall on 23 November 2019. Violinist Shien-Ta Su (Taiwan) and sand painter Hoichiu (Hong Kong) are invited to collaborate with the Taipei Chinese Orchestra and the Tainan National University of the Arts to choreograph a refreshing, technological version of The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto, in which classic musical repertoire and VR images are incorporated to perform an innovative audio-visual experiment. The Paris-based instrumental ensemble L’Instant Donné will also perform several contemporary electroacoustic works.
Having Fun Together—“The C-LAB’s Great Voices” Karaoke Competition
To familiarize the neighborhood residents with its planning and reform, as well as to relive the nostalgic memories of the craze for Taiwanese pop music that swept the Chinese world with the export of Karaoke equipment from Taiwan, the C-LAB specifically organized “The C-LAB’s Great Voices” Karaoke Competition as the teaser event of the “C-LAB Sound Festival.” In November, the “Friday Night Karaoke” and three editing workshops titled “Make My Own MV Workshop” on Sundays are held as warm-up exercises. Meanwhile, the retro Karaoke tape named The Girl in the Rural Area Is Getting Married meticulously made by the C-LAB prompted its neighborhood residents to make a beeline for registration. A new type of artistic intervention in the community is thus taking shape.
The climax will come with “The C-LAB’s Great Voices” Karaoke Competition on 29 November (19:00). The C-LAB will transform its professional 49.4-channel theater into a ring for singing competition open to its neighborhood residents and interested public. This event allows the visitors to sing at the top of their voice and personally experience the state-of-the-art equipment of the “Taiwan Sound Lab,” thereby rendering technological media more relevant to folk culture.
Starting from this strategic cooperation with the IRCAM, the C-LAB expects to develop a global network of strategic partnership among the sound art circle, the groves of academe, private experimental institutions, and industries. At the first “C-LAB Sound Festival,” the “Taiwan Sound Lab” upholds the spirit of sound diversity and presents the vital values of contemporary culture by enlisting pluralistic support from Chinese traditional music, sand painting, glove puppetry, aboriginal culture, VR/AR, artificial intelligence, cinema, and Karaoke. In sum, the C-LAB will continue to forge itself into a techno-art research center for the convergence of creativity, and carry out transdisciplinary, innovative experiments at home and abroad, so as to galvanize and animate Taiwan’s artistic and cultural ecology.