Sonic Territories, monumental loudspeakers to the people


The tension of sound memories can be formidable when associated with events with dramatic political meaning. They stay in the collective memory, and can resurge if allowed to. Kinmen Island, is the closest Taiwanese island to mainland China (less than 6.5 km away). During the cold war in the 1960s, the antagonism among the two governments led to increasing tension. The Taiwanese erected colossal towers of loudspeakers, broadcasting anti-Communist propaganda towards the other side of the sea. Some of these monuments to recent history are still there, like the Beishan one. The so called “broadcast walls” are 10 meters tall, and able to house 48 loudspeakers, producing sound which can be heard up to 25 kilometres away, at full volume and in the right wind conditions. It was active until the end of 1970s and often featured female voices singing propaganda songs. On the 60th anniversary of the “Second Taiwan Strait Crisis” (when PRC shelled the island to attack the Chinese Nationalist Party ruling over Taiwan and backed by the USA), there was a performance with loudspeakers produced by local sound artist Wang Fujui. Him, Augustin Maurs, Hsia-Fei Chang, and Ada Kai-Ting Yang ran a workshop leading to the performance, called “Sonic Territories”, which featured local people’s and artists’ voices merged in a broadcast projecting both inward and outward. The intervention re-scaled the building’s original function to normal people, giving them the voice which was overcome by the governments of the past. The quieter, but listenable production has given back the use of the giant instrument to those who were around and couldn’t speak loudly. The controversies of such a de-humanising technology were able to emerge and be re-elaborated collectively, as patterns and single voices. The reconfiguration of the sound medium, down to the single person, can be a revolutionary act.


Sonic Territories (Kinmen part) – August 2018