during the music festival this year, i participated as an invited artist, creating an installation along with siki sufin and futuru tsai. my piece, “the current shift,” will also appear at the east coast scenic management committee’s site at Tolik (Duli) during the next year

for the installation, curators gave us the challenge of creating an outdoor piece on the topic, “masi’ac”– an interval between tides i’ll call “the current shift”

in sowal no ‘amis, si’ac is brief window of time, an interval, between ebb and flood tides (or vice versa) in which stark currents shift and pull. in this moment, all sorts of movements and modifications are at play: because sea creatures come out to take advantage of the current shift, it is a time of crisis, of danger and opportunity. all sorts of hunters and predators come out, including spearfishermen and shellfish gatherers. during the current shift, one may gather more in twenty minutes than one might in an hour or so

the installation presented several challenges

siki sufin “caught off guard by the masi’ac,” sculptural installation (structure for the pieces futuru tsai “life and death between ebb and flow” and dj hatfield “the current shift”)

for one, how does one present the sound of the kasi’acan? using my hydrophones would be too cheap. for this reason, i thought of how masi’ac could be a metaphor and interviewed people about crises and opportunity in their own lives

secondly, the installation was outside. i couldn’t use my normal equipment for making a sound installation indoors, for fear of the elements. moreover, the installation was cheek by jowl with one of the three stages for the music festival (and not too terribly far from another of the stages). but this problem is where i learned something new about my craft

normally, i think of headphones as at best a workaround. useful when a curator wants to include more than one or two soundworks in an exhibit, headphones let one not have to deal with problems associated with a space, including ambient sounds, bleed from other installations, and resonant properties of the room. however, i hadn’t thought that headphones might actually create a space of their own, a kind of shifting out of the existing space into a different, more intimate one. but, i will admit, the vey challenging outdoor space did cause me at first to freak out!

the current shift (detail of headphones)

it was with initial disappointment that i procured small, cheap usb players and reasonably good headphones in contrasting colours. combining the headphones with bells used on traditional regalia gave more visual interest and a kind of interactive quality, where the bells would jangle as people touched the headphones, put them on, or took them off. i realized, too, that multiple sets of headphones could let me focus in the editing on one particular story, which would only be available when those visiting the installation used that set of headphones

moreover, the transition in the space was from a noisy ambient background to a quiet, intimate space in which one narrator told part of a story of their own kasi’acan in a more forward and to the centre position in the mix, over the sound of waves and cicadas. thus the interaction from being in the space, to putting on headphones, to taking off the headphones would actually model the movement of the si’ac: the ways that shellfish and other sea creatures find places to settle, hide, and restore themselves at ebb tide, emerging when the ocean masi’ac, from frenetic activity to rest and reflection

curator lee yun-yi listening to “the current shift” before the opening of the ‘amis music festival

learning more about how headphones create space was an unforeseen consequence of the installation space. if you get a chance, go see Siki Sufin’s sculpture “caught off guard by masi’ac” at Pacifalan (‘Atolan ‘Amis Nation, Dulan), Futuru Tsai’s video installation “life and death in the changing tides”, and my sound installation “the current shift” (both at the East Coast Scenic Management Area facility in Katomayan, Tolik (Duli))

see also the link to a description of my piece at the Taiwan East Coast Land Arts Festival website: TECLandArts

here’s also a link to a soundcloud mockup of the piece: