This is an independent and long term art project. Through living in a courtyard in a village amongst a fast developing modern city like Shenzhen, I build an independent thinking and experimental art project—creating ‘conversation’ with the frogs. Using tradition Guqin and new media art to build a long term conversation with the frogs, second nature represent my art form and attitude of life. Based upon this action, I rethink the contrast between modern city life and the Eastern free spirit to express the wish of artists nowadays, to bound with nature.
After years of observation, started from March 2015, I put five pottery jars in different size into a shallow pool in my studio, and attracted a group of frogs named Hylarana Daunchina to live in there. I used the size difference of the pottery jars to change the volume and tone of the frogs’ sound, the sound of the frogs coming from the jars mixed with the sound of Guqin playing composed into a different sound. And through these everyday interactions, a massive amount of video and audio records were made, and I edited them into individual audios and experimental music pieces in new media art forms.
During the ‘conversations’ with the frogs, I invited serval international sound artists to have three individual sound exhibitions. Through which formed a long term independent art project with individuals and free style, it presented many vivid artistic pieces, and enhanced the possibility and combination of new techniques and new art.
In the upcoming days, I will continue to play Guqin to the frogs, keep this habitual life style until the frogs go into their hibernation every year. Open art projects will continue to invite various artists with different art form to participate and interact in this independent project, in order to produce a new art form through one concept, and form a ‘cross-border’ discussion and research subject in future art trend.
Sound Expriment No.1
8pm July 11th 2015
Si Ke Song (ChaoZhou zither), Li Ting Qiu (YeHu), Qing Miao (stringed instrument & singing), Luo Jun (vertical bamboo flute), Li Hui Ming (shakuhachi), Wang Liang (Guqin), Piji Shen (Guqin)
Fifteen live audiences
I invited Musician friends from Chaozhou to play music with the frogs, as Chaozhou Opera is the folk music I experienced since my childhood, and so this frog sound interaction begun with Chaozhou style music, which represented certain sentimental hometown memory from a newcomer. This sound experiment was major in field improvisation.
Sound Expriment No.2
8pm July 18th 2015
Freelance Artist Piji Shen
Japanese New Media Artist Macoto Cuhara
HongKong Sound Artist PAL PAL aka Paul Yip
Fifteen live audiences
Japanese New Media artist Macoto Cuhara programming design an Infrared sensor according to the frogs’ sound. Once the frogs corak, the sensor will make beeps and emit cross infrared ray at the same time. There were five sensors in this device, the position was aimed right to those five pottery jars, and formed a new media art piece.
Sound Expriment No.3
8pm Auguest 29th 2015
Piji Shen, Dickson Lee, Macoto Cuhara, Zen Lu, Wang Liang, Li Hui Ming, Shuizi.
Twenty-five live audiences
I sent the audio records of the frogs’ sound with my Guqin playing to three different artists and asked them to create art pieces inspired by these records and bring them back to interact with the frogs on live set.
In the third interaction with the frogs, Hong Kong sound artist Dickson Lee sent back five experimental sound pieces, they were put into five small sound boxes and placed in different position to compose into a sound device.
Japanese New Media artist Macoto Cuhara also designed a program with interaction between the Morse code and the sound of the frogs, he used Morse code to translate the sound of the frogs into a mysterious language and interacted with Chinese characters displayed on video.
About Hylarana Daunchina
琴蛙，学名仙琴水蛙 Hylarana Daunchina (Chang)，两栖类动物，属蛙科。
QinWa, accepted scientific name Hylarana Daunchina (Chang), class Amphibia, family Ranidea.
It was discovered by Zoologist, Prof. Zhang Meng, during the Republican Period of China in Emei Mountain. This special frog’s body is only 5cm long, flat head, slick brown back with grey spots. It has long vocal vesicles on both side of its throat, they swollen into round drums while croak, and vibrate in resonance through air.
Hylarana Daunchina’s sound is different from the other frogs, it has a strong rhythm, elegant like the sound of Guqin, which is why it is named after. The male Hylarana Daunchina has very unique vocal vesicles on both side of its throat, they swollen into round drums while croak, which make it sounds vigorous, rich and dulcet. One frog croak, the others will follow.
The great poetry master in Tang dynasty, Li Bai, once stayed in Wannian temple for months, and often listened to a Monk from Shu Playing his lute, so the local people came up with a tale that Hylarana Daunchina transformed into a young girl in green dress to learn playing lute from the Monk from Shu. It even had a saying that Hylarana Daunchina’s croak sounds like music because it listened to the Monk from Shu playing lute all the time.
On Hearing a Monk from Shu Playing His Lute
李白 (唐代) Li Bai (Tang dynasty)
A monk from Shu his green lute brings
Coming down the west peak of Mount Brow
He sweeps his fingers o’er its strings
I hear the wind through pine-trees sough
A running stream washes my heart
With evening bells its echo’s loud
I do not feel the sun depart
From mountains green and autumn cloud