About the Exhibition

In the present era, one in which internet streaming is both a dominant cultural phenomenon and an extension of related technologies, the development of recording technology has also fostered a more sensitive human ear toward audio listening systems, transforming our auditory senses in the process. However, do we still maintain some conscious sense of deconstructing and reconstructing the perceptions established from within the personal experiences these technological frameworks shape, or even through the exploration of technological boundaries themselves? If the “authenticity” of the sound conveyed by any particular medium of playback has ceased to be the central focus of modern listening, then how might we think in a renewed manner about the vast amount of digital sound currently produced?

The emergence of recording technology in the nineteenth century liberated sound from the abstract system that relied on visual notation. As various forms of sound transmission media became more accessible to the public, this allowed for sound to be transmitted and recorded in its own form, disrupting the relationship between people and sound. Today, electronic and hip-hop music has achieved mass popularity through its use of existing music, sound sampling, and remixing to produce tracks that are now widely accessible. However, despite the fact that recording technology has indelibly reshaped the world of human hearing, the mass reproduction and distribution of sound on vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, and today’s digital software and streaming media — as well as the increasing sophistication of sound engineering technology — has created discernible barriers between people, recording technology and communication media.

The concept of “L’Objet Sonore” (Sound Object) was introduced by composer and founder of Musique Concrète, Pierre Schaeffer, in 1948. Before this point in time, sound was thought to exist in a relatively abstract and extrinsic form. With the advent of recording technology, the creation and reception of sound were no longer bound to the site of its performance, and the recorded sound came to be conceived of as a concrete object in and of itself one independent from the processes of documentation and reproduction. Despite this development, at the time when Schaeffer presented his renowned concept, it was still regarded as an innovation primarily from the composer’s point of view. However, when regarded from a more contemporary perspective, even though recording technology has to some extent mastered the objective conditions of the recording process, the subjective choice of sound modulation, the spatiotemporal dynamics of any given environment, and the kinds of equipment selected, all have a significant impact upon the outcome of a recording. Furthermore, across various forms of playback, the audience’s ability to listen can be affected as sound is, for example, deformed and distorted by the hiss and frequency response of analog media, different digital decoding systems, and digital streaming, or the differing compression ratios of various platforms. Moreover, as listeners, individual audience members are each unconsciously involved in the process of modifying sound through their choice of playback equipment or their desired listening method.

From another perspective, the popularization of recording technology and the mass distribution of recordings has led to the appearance of a fixed, authoritative version of sound. However, the particular body of sound that has emerged as a result has done so according to the contours of contemporary conditions. It now seems that, as if provoked by the modulations of both recording and playback systems, sound has taken on an appearance of unprecedented flexibility providing a unique listening experience to each individual. For many people living in Taiwan, when hearing the piano pieces Für Elise or The Maiden’s Prayer, what first comes to mind may not be the image of a formally-dressed pianist performing in a music hall, but rather the distorted reverberations emanating from the MIDI file broadcast to indicate the imminent arrival of a local garbage truck. A feeling experienced when listening to at a live recording of a rock band in the 1970s, whether pressed onto vinyl or replayed on a streaming platform, will be hard to replicate in the minds of those who attended that live performance. Yet, at the same time, for most people who have only heard that recording through other forms of media, the authenticity of the sound is not the focus, as each moment of playback is deformed to realize a uniquely personal experience.

Organizer  |  Confluence Experience
Co-organizer  |  TheCube Project Space
Advisor  |  Ministry of Culture

Exhibition Coordinator  |  Sophie CHEN
Streaming Technician  |  Allen HAUNG
Technical Execution  |  Mad B Ltd.
Photographer  |  Yu-Xun CHANG
Translators  |  Man-Chun CHAO,  John STEPHENSON
Special Thanks  |  Jyun-Ao Caesar,  Zhi-Ming FENG,  Lin Wu Tong Luo
Confluence Experience © 2022